Teaching the Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments, Political E-mails &
from the Rev.
Have you, like me, been
receiving a lot of email notes about political candidates? Some of these
emails, like the political ads on TV, are not true. Before you forward
an e-mail to others about anyone, political candidate or any other human
being, please remember the Ten Commandments: "You shall not bear false
witness against your neighbor" (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20). Our church’s
explains it: “Q. 112. What is required in the ninth commandment?
A. That I do not bear false witness against anyone, twist
anyone’s words, be a gossip or a slanderer, or condemn anyone lightly
without a hearing. Rather I am required to avoid, under penalty of God’s
wrath, all lying and deceit as the works of the devil himself. In
judicial and all other matters I am to love the truth, and to speak and
confess it honestly. Indeed, insofar as I am able, I am to defend and
promote my neighbor’s good name.” Please keep this biblical teaching in
mind when you get political email or see ads on TV.
Please encourage your online friends and
all political candidates to keep this commandment. If you have
questions about the truthfulness of any ad (and you should about any
ad), check it out at the web site for the Annenberg
Political Fact Check,
a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of
Pennsylvania which is “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for
voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S.
politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S.
political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews,
and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both
journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and
Pastor Bruce Gillette
Bruce Gillette and his wife Carolyn have
been the co-pastors of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington,
Delaware since 2004. They wrote the study and action guide for the 216th
General Assembly (2004) report on
Transforming Families and Active
Parenting Now for the Faith Community: A Biblical and Theological Guide,
a revision of Freda Gardner's original church guide to the very popular
Active Parenting, for teaching parenting skills in churches.
Along with his plea for a little
truth-telling, Bruce Gillette sent this note (which we're posting a bit
late for Oct. 5, its proper date for the lectionary!) about teaching the
significance of the Commandments.
Ten Commandments, Politics and Truth
Last week I taught two workshops on
ministries with families for a presbytery-wide event.
This coming Sunday (October 5th) the Old Testament lectionary is the Ten
Commandments. I asked the workshop participants if they knew the
"Big Three" by heart. Most people knew the Lord's Prayer and
the Apostles' Creed, but many admitted they and their children did not
the Ten Commandments. I shared with them the simple sermon for
children of all ages titled "Ten Commandments and Ten Fingers" that is
part of the PCUSA Peacemaking Program's World Communion Sunday packet in
Commandments and Ten Fingers” is still available online at the PCUSA web
site and also
single page handout).
Beyond knowing the
words of the Ten Commandments, this political season gives Christians a
clear opportunity to apply them to their daily living. The media is
filled with news stories that the presidential campaigns will become
increasingly negative in the final weeks before Election Day. In this
troubling context, Christians need to remember especially the Ninth
Commandment and live it out faithfully.
positive ways of teaching the Ten Commandments in our churches
The Rev. Bruce Gillette of First Presbyterian Church, Pitman, NJ,
sent this note following the announcement of the Supreme Court decision.
On May 29th the United States Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 vote to
allowed the removal of a monument of the Ten Commandments from the front
of an Indiana city hall. A lower court had ruled that the display
unconstitutionally endorses religion.
This ruling will surely inspire more discussion about church-state
issues, but there should be no debate among Presbyterians that we need
to be teaching the Ten Commandments in our churches and homes to counter
biblical illiteracy in our churches and society. The following is a
collection of resources to help in efforts to teach these foundational
beliefs and ethics:
And check out a comment from Americans
United for Separation of Church and State.
An excellent resource on the Ten Commandments and their meaning for
us today is our PCUSA's proposed Study Catechism (see Questions 89-119
). We have published a set of
these questions and answers from the catechism in serial form (a page at
a time) in our monthly church newsletter.
The March 26, 2000 issue of Homiletics had a creative way
shared by David Sauer to teach the commandments using ten
adapted his ideas for a children's sermon and a later pastors' column.
"Gifts of Love" is a hymn paraphrase of the Ten
Commandments by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette that has been used in the PCUSA
Covenant People curriculum and is also found in her book Gifts of
Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship (Geneva Press, 2000).
Presbyterians Today magazine had a good one page Bible study
on the Ten Commandments
The Lutheran magazine has a helpful guide for parents on
teaching their children what the Ten Commandments mean to children.
Christianity Today has a helpful editorial against Ten
Commandment political tokenism.
Here are four resources (three books and one video) that should be
donated to every church (and public?) library:
| A Christian Primer:
The Prayer, the Creed, the Commandments by Albert Curry Winn|
The Ten Commandments by William Barclay|
The Truth About God : The Ten Commandments in Christian Life
by Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon|
A Short Course on the Christian Faith (includes two video
lectures on the Ten Commandments) by Dale Bruner|
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS IN VERSE
Above all else love God alone;
Bow down to neither wood nor stone.
God's name refuse to take in vain;
The Sabbath rest with care maintain.
Respect your parents all your days;
Hold sacred human life always.
Be loyal to your chosen mate;
Steal nothing, neither small nor great.
Report, with truth, your neighbor's deed;
And rid your mind of selfish greed.
Blessings on your ministry.
Grace and Peace, Bruce
Bruce & Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, Co-Pastors
First Presbyterian Church, Pitman NJ
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!