The Ten Commandments Commission: Where do Seventh-day Adventists Stand?
It reads like a “who’s who” of the faith community: James Dobson, Paul Crouch, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Chuck Colson, Gary Bauer, and leaders of powerful Christian organizations like Trinity Broadcasting Network, National Religious Broadcasters, and Family Research Council. What has drawn all these leaders and organizations together is to rally round the Ten Commandments. They are all supporters of the Ten Commandments Commission. How do Adventists relate?
Seventh-day Adventists have long championed the new covenant promise of God to write His law upon the human heart, and in the mind, so that we experience inner transformation of character and life. Jesus clearly taught that there was no conflict between faith and works, salvation and obedience. “If you love me,” Jesus said, “keep my commandments.” John 14:15. Jesus also taught that He did not come to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. Mt. 5:17.
For more than a century, many Protestant churches have taught that the law of God was “nailed to the cross,” and that Christians are under no obligation to obey God’s law. Seventh-day Adventists, by contrast, have always upheld the vitality of God’s law, and insisted that it remains the enduring standard of moral and spiritual conduct.
With recent public and legal controversies over the place of the Ten Commandments in public places, and on government property, the Christian community is rediscovering and placing new emphasis on the importance of God’s law for recovering the moral foundation of American life. Seventh-day Adventists encourage all who seek to honor God’s law, and to turn attention to the importance of obedience to God.
For this reason, Seventh-day Adventist religious liberty organizations, Liberty Magazine, the North American Religious Liberty Association, and the Church State Council, have joined together in urging the observance of “Written In The Heart Sabbath” on May 6, 2006, the day before the Ten Commandments Day promoted generally in Christian churches. More information about observing this day can be found at www.WrittenInTheHeart.org. We can support the work of the Ten Commandments Commission in urging Americans to honor the Ten Commandments, and to recover its value for their own lives.
The work of the Ten Commandments Commission also extends to political issues that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not support. The Commission is protesting Supreme Court and lower court decisions regarding the display of the Commandments on government property. They see these legal battles over the Ten Commandments as part of a war between Christians and secularists over the moral heritage of the nation. Seventh-day Adventists cannot conscientiously join in this culture war.
Seventh-day Adventists understand spiritual warfare in spiritual terms. Paul writes: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. Seventh-day Adventists understand that the only true path to moral reform is genuine spiritual revival. The state cannot change hearts, only God can. Moral reform must come from the inside, not because of symbolic public displays, or legal and legislative reforms. We do not join in the legal and cultural battles over the public display of the Ten Commandments, not because we are indifferent to the importance of God’s law, but precisely because we recognize its sacredness and importance.
We are convinced that the work of promoting the Ten Commandments belongs to the church, and not to the state, and further, that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,” Philippians 4:13, including promoting a proper respect for the Ten Commandments.
May 7 is being promoted as the “First Annual Ten Commandments Day.” We do not expect the public controversy over the Ten Commandments to fade away anytime soon. It has been more than thirty years since the Supreme Court abortion decision in Roe v. Wade, and the abortion issue is still front and center in American politics. The Ten Commandments could easily become just such a polarizing political issue. This would be unfortunate. We do not need to turn the law of God into a political battleground.
What we do need is to understand the sacredness of God’s law, and its relevance to our own lives. We need to let God shape our own characters, our attitudes, motives and conduct according to His law, by writing His law upon our hearts.
Finally, we support the petition circulated by the Hope Channel, which states:
To the Ten Commandments Commission:
As fellow believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, we want to encourage you in your work to uphold the Ten Commandments. We agree that our society has strayed far from God. People need to accept Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. This will prove to be the only enduring solution for our world’s problems. Recognizing your purpose is to honor God’s eternal law, we encourage you to:
- Invite Christians to repent of their sins. As Christians live according to Bible principles we will have the integrity to change society.
- Call Christian leaders to NOT teach the Ten Commandments have been nailed to the cross. We find it difficult to lead the lost to Christ and honor the Ten Commandments while the church teaches God’s law was abolished.
- Call upon believers to be loyal to all ten of God’s commandments including the fourth. The seventh-day Sabbath was given to bless society and help mankind stay connected to their Maker.
- Commit to NOT urge the government to legislate the first four commandments that define how we are to worship God. True worship can never be forced by governmental decrees. God only accepts the service of love.
Print and Sign the Petition. [clay--this linked to http://www.hopetv.org/site/1/docs/10_Commandment_Petition_rev3.pdf, which is no longer active. so maybe delete the "print and sign" all together?]