FIRST-PERSON: Another battle over the Ten Commandments

ATLANTA (BP)--Some "John Doe" who prudently wishes to remain anonymous, notified the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) that the Ten Commandments are posted in a breezeway outside the courthouse in Barrow County, Ga.

Since the ACLU (Anything Christian Looks Unlawful*) seems to thrive on attempting to strip away all vestiges of Christianity in America, they jumped at the opportunity to flex their corporate legal muscle in Georgia just as they did in Alabama recently.

Eddie Elder, chairman of the Barrow County commissioners and his six colleagues dismissed the first notice from the ACLU and gave little thought to the matter until a second letter was received threatening a lawsuit unless the Decalogue was removed. Though this is tragic, this is nothing new.

The same kind of thing happened in Cobb County, Ga., over a decade ago. Then-Roswell Street pastor Nelson Price and commissioner Gordon Wysong led the charge in combating the ACLU in their efforts to rid the Cobb County schools of the Ten Commandments.

I remember when the Bible was read each morning in the public schools and prayer was offered by the teacher or perhaps by the principal over the intercom system. Our school assemblies were often chapel services with local pastors called upon to preach a sermon. A school principal permitting such an expression of religion today would face the risk of retribution or removal or both.

For all intents and purposes, prayer has been removed from the schools. Nativity scenes have been removed from public view. Efforts have been made to remove "In God We Trust" from our coins and currency. Schools no longer have "Christmas Holidays", but "Winter Holidays"; and "Easter Holidays" have been replaced with "Spring Break."

I heard Herb Revis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Florida, say, "It is no wonder that having removed the Ten Commandments from our schools we now must pass out condoms."

The elimination of the law of God will pave the way for anarchy in our land.

The Ten Commandments remind us that we are fallen creatures. The Bible says that the law is our schoolmaster, designed to reveal our sinfulness and help us see our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24).

Today's philosophy has man, not God, at the center of the universe. Modern man does not want to be reminded that he is a sinner, that he is not self-sufficient. So he says, "Away with the Ten Commandments. I don't want anything that can remind me of my failures and frailties. I will base my religion on my understandings and observations, not some archaic set of rules."

Actually, Friedrich Schleiermacher, known as the father of modern liberalism, may have been the one who gave birth to the insidious philosophy that is rampant today and which has now become full-grown. He propagated his teachings at the beginning of the 19th century and purported that religion is not so much a matter of doctrine, but of feeling, intuition and experience. When Schleiermacher opened that door, he cast great aspersion upon the fundamentals of the faith.

Why? Men would rather rely upon their own experience or feelings than "the faith that was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Sinful creatures would rather attempt to eliminate the truth than have to be confronted by it.

The trend today is to eliminate the Ten Commandments, disavow the inerrancy of the Scripture, complain about the offense of the cross and ultimately dismantle Christianity.

The gradual, insidious fashion with which we were once being stripped of our religious freedom is now happening openly and blatantly. A society that has adopted the postmodern philosophy refuses to accept absolute truth. Sometimes even professing believers, unknowingly influenced by the prevailing culture stressing "felt needs," will "adjust" the teachings of Scripture to accommodate their own misdirected whims.

We can retreat into our Christian "communes" and live unobtrusive lives or we can stand up for Christ. Some say that there is nothing we can do, that we are victims of a secular culture that rules the day. But if the early disciples living in a corrupt society could turn their world upside down for the cause of Christ (Acts 17:6), can we attempt to do less?

Jody Hice, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Bethlehem, Ga., requests our support as they fight the good fight of faith in Barrow County. Please visit their website at www.thoushalt.org.


* the author's interpretation of the acronym

Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

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