A few weeks ago I wondered aloud about the idea of “moral orthodoxy”–whether there was some sort of corresponding standard of right moral practice that functioned comparably to the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed when it came to theological orthodoxy. Since then, we’ve chatted about the issue with the Mere Fidelity boys, and Trevin Wax has had an extremely helpful post arguing that defending the faith is about life, not just doctrine.
Still, neither of these discussions weighed in on my suggestion that the 10 Commandments ought to be considered as a specific standard summarizing an orthodox Christian moral theology, or whether there was any sort of biblical reasons for thinking it could function that way. Imagine my delight, then, to run across this passage by Kevin DeYoung:
The rule for holiness is the law, in particular the Ten Commandments. Christians don’t always agree on how to view the law (something I’ll say more about in the next chapter), but historically the church has put the Ten Commandments at the center of its instruction for God’s people, especially for children and new believers. For centuries discipleship instruction (catechesis) has been based on three things: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments. If you wanted the basics of the Christian faith, you learned these three things. And if you wanted to know how to live a holy life, you followed the law of God summarized in the Ten Commandments.
You may think of the Ten Commandments as a painful memorization exercise for five-year-olds, but the “Ten Words” (or Decalogue) from Exodus 20 are central to the ethics of the New Testament. For Jesus and the apostles, the Ten Commandments provided a basic summary of God’s ethical intentions for everyone everywhere.11 When a rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, “You know the commandments,” and he listed the commands in the so-called second table of the law (Mark 10:19). The only “horizontal” command he didn’t mention was “do not covet.” And that’s because he wanted to expose the rich man’s greed. True, Jesus used the law in this instance for its convicting power more than anything else, but it still shows the place the Ten Commandments held as a summary of God’s will (cf. 1 Tim. 1:8–11).
We see the same thing in Romans 13:9, where Paul rattles off four of the commandments and makes reference to “any other commandment.” What’s amazing is that Paul says in verse 8, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Then he moves on to the Ten Commandments. Obeying the commandments is how we fulfill the law of love, and love is at the heart of holiness (v. 10). If you care about love you will love to obey the Ten Commandments.
—The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Kindle Locations 645-660). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
While DeYoung isn’t looking to weigh in specifically on the question I was asking, his line of argument here seems to give biblical, and especially New Testament heft to my suggestion.
Soli Deo Gloria