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Toward a Culture of Freedom:

Reflections on the Ten Commandments Today

By Thorwald Lorenzen

Toward a Culture of Freedom

Toward a Culture of Freedom:

Reflections on the Ten Commandments Today

By Thorwald Lorenzen

A highly accessible examination of the contemporary meaning and relevance of the Ten Commandments.

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Available as: Paperback

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ISBN: 9780718891930

Specifications: 229x153mm (9x6in), 260pp

Published: August 2008


The Ten Commandments belong to the "classics" of Western culture. They are an authoritative part of the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures. Since they come to us from an ancient past, it is both necessary and worthwhile to enquire what they may mean for us today.

Thorwald Lorenzen contends it is important to hear God's invitation to an alternative lifestyle: "you shall not kill", "you shall not commit adultery", "you shall not covet". His thoughtful reflections on the commandments for today's tumultuous world begin with the God who "speaks" ten words to liberate God's people from oppression. Grounded in God's liberating "yes", the ten words are neither laws nor rules. They are elements for a culture of freedom in which people are invited to celebrate life.

Written in plain language, this is a work of immense value to both pastors and laypersons, and an excellent study aid.


1. When God Speaks, God Says "Yes" (Exod 19:16–18, 20:1, and Deut 5:1–5):
     Overture to the "Ten Words"
2. When God Acts, God Liberates (Exod 20:2 and Deut 5:6):
     Continuing the Overture to the "Ten Words"
3. Who or What Is Our God? (Exod 20:3 and Deut 5:7):
     The First Word
4. Idol or Icon (Exod 20:4–6 and Deut 5:8–10):
     The Second Word
5. A Name Is More Than a Word (Exod 20:7 and Deut 5:11):
     The Third Word
6. Celebrating Freedom (Exod 20:8–11 and Deut 5:12–15):
     The Fourth Word
7. Generational Responsibility (Exod 20:12 and Deut 5:16):
     The Fifth Word
8. Becoming Servants of Life (Exod 20:13 and Deut 5:17):
     The Sixth Word
9. Love and Its Protection (Exod 20:14 and Deut 5:18):
     The Seventh Word
10. The Right to Be Free (Exod 20:15 and Deut 5:19):
     The Eighth Word
11. Speaking Truth in Public (Exod 20:16 and Deut 5:20):
     The Ninth Word
12. Who or What Occupies Our Conscience? (Exod 20:17 and Deut 5:21):
     The Tenth Word


Appendix 1: Understanding and Interpreting the Decalogue
Appendix 2: Making Ethical Decisions from a Christian

Author and Subject Index
Scripture Index

Thorwald Lorenzen is Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University, guest lecturer at the University of Melbourne, and Principal Researcher within the Public and Contextual Theology Strategic Research Centre (PACT), Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia.

Combining exegetical acumen with sharp theological insight, Lorenzen has produced a fresh and deeply profound meditation on the Ten Words of the Torah. Filled with historical and contemporary illustrations, Lorenzen proves that the Decalogue is as relevant, practical, challenging, and disturbing today as ever. Highly readable yet informed by a lifetime of scholarly study, Lorenzen's book will be valuable to pastors and the laity and would make an excellent supplemental classroom text. Kent Blevins, Gardner-Webb University
Here is the most careful and relevant study of the Ten Commandments available. Biblically grounded, theologically astute, Lorenzen's treatment of each of the commandments results in constructing a mature, global ethic for Christians. D. Dixon Sutherland, Stetson University
... a superb ethical treatise based on the Ten Commandments. Deeply grounded in scriptures and equipped with an expansive and compassionate experience of today's world, Professor Lorenzen will help you to discern some solid rocks to stand on in an era when all human foundations seem to be quivering. E. Glenn Hinson, Professor Emeritus, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond