Law/Torah and America

In their book The Day America Told the Truth, James Patterson and Peter Kim prepared what they viewed as the actual “Ten Commandments” by which people live in postmodern America, those rules include the following:

– I don’t see the point in observing the Sabbath;

– I will steal from those who won’t really miss it;

– I will lie when it suits me, so long as it doesn’t cause any real damage

– I will cheat on my spouse—after all, given the chance, he or she will do the same;

– I will procrastinate at work and do absolutely nothing about one full day in every five.

James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Plume, 1992), pg. 201

Sound like what you’ve observed in everyday life? Perhaps even like what you ultimately live by? There is a moral crisis wracking America, and worse still it is at epidemic proportions in American churches. The source of the problem is multifold but one primary cause is that post-modern churchianity has jettisoned God’s torah as having anything to do with their life.

Philip Graham Ryken said:

Good teaching on the law and the gospel has never been more badly needed than it is today. We are living in lawless times, when disrespect for authority has led to widespread disdain for God’s commandments. People are behaving badly, even in church. Part of the problem is that most people don’t know what God requires. Even among Christians there is an appalling lack of familiarity with the perfect standard of God’s law, and of course the situation is worse in the culture at large. This ignorance undoubtedly contributes to the general lowering of moral standards in these post-Christian times, but it does as much damage to our theology. People who are ignorant of God’s law never see their need for the gospel. As John Bunyan explained it, “The man who does not know the nature of the law cannot know the nature of sin. And he who does not know the nature of sin cannot know the nature of the Savior.

As a group we have failed to internalize the following truth (also quoted from Philip Graham Ryken:

The law is what shows us our need for the saving work of Jesus Christ. Then, once we come to Christ by believing in the gospel of his cross and empty tomb, it shows us how to live for his glory.

Philip Graham Ryken, Written in Stone : The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2003). pg 8.

Let us pray that God will restore His truth to our hearts and to the hearts of our brothers and sisters (but first to our own).

Today, Father, may your words be always in front of my eyes; may my hands be engaged in the practice of your commands.

I recall the power of your outstretched arm in redeeming us from the house of bondage, and today I will lean on that same arm for strength to live in a redemptive manner. May I be honored to partner with you in the repair of the world.

May it be your will and may it be my will, YHWH, our God, and God of our forefathers, that my mind, my hands, my feet, and all the senses You have given me be subject to your service.

Blessed are you, YHWH our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his Son and sanctifies us with his commandments. How precious is your kindness, O God!

Long, Nathan A., The Offerings of Our Lips (Fort Wayne, IN.: Nurture, Inc., 2006).

2 thoughts on “Law/Torah and America

  1. Nate, good post. One of the things that use to irk me when I was involved in a particular Christian group is that they dropped a lot of catch phrases like, ‘sanctification’, ‘holiness’, ‘righteousness’, ‘salvation’, etc, but they never seemed to define these terms in a suitable manner. I became very frustrated at the lack of the proper understanding and ability to teach about these words.
    I remember one particular time, with great respect, I called a former pastor on the carpet after a daily coporate prayer gathering. He use to ‘prophecy’ that the entire church was going to ‘another level’ of glory in the Lord. I asked him what did this mean, because surely ‘going to another level’ would be evidenced by some physical change in the congregation. He gave me a horrible scoul and told me that I just didn’t get it, that we are going to a higher level spiritually. Well, that was the beginning of the ‘end’ of my tenure at this particular congregation. I still shudder when I drive by their marquee and see catch phrases like, “God can’t do anything on the earth without our permission in prayer.” Oy vey!

  2. Nate, let me clarify what I meant by words like ‘righteousness’ being used as a catch phrase, as these words themselves are more than catch phrases. Like when a few nights ago I saw a popular female preacher on Day Star television hoopin’ and a hollerin’ about priestly garments and that God has called us to holiness. But she never goes into how to live holy, but starts in on the blessing of sowing in to the ministry of ‘this network’ and using all kinds of slogans and sayings to get the audience all worked up and primed to sow that special seed. Of course, the audience was shouting back, flailing their arms about in the air saying, “Come on, Sista’! Preach it!” But there wasn’t actually any substance to what she was saying. It’s that kind of stuff that annoys me, and grieves me, because it’s this kind of shallowness in the church that has put them on a slippery slope of being nothing more than anemic believers who have been much an embarassment to the gospel of Messiah. Harsh words, maybe judgemental, but it’s got to start with the house of God, and somebody has got to wake them up. Thank God someone was honest with me when I was full of that mess.

    Whoa….sorry Nate, I’ll step off my box now.

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