New Chart of Abbreviated Ten Commandments

How these new, large charts could aid your presentations.

By FRANK H. YOST, Professor of Church History, Theological Seminary

Evangelists have for some time felt the lack of large charts showing the ten com­mandments to replace the old "Law Charts" which have been so long out of print. Hence the decision to republish charts of this nature. However, there was not involved merely the question of reprinting. There was a feeling that revision of various kinds was desirable. Therefore a representative committee was ap­pointed to provide the text for a pair of revised charts, one being that of the ten commandments as found in Exodus 20:3-17, using the King James Version ; and the other, a chart of the ten commandments as found in Roman Catholic catechisms, accompanied by statements embody­ing Roman Catholic claims concerning papal authority and Sunday observance. The title "Ten Commandments" for the charts was deemed by the committee more specific than the expression "Law of God."

The committee considered the matter for the charts from two angles-legibility and reliabil­ity. The charts, 4' x 5'2" in size, were not to have on them so much printed matter that the words would be unreadable at a distance from the speaker's platform. The statements must be specific enough to illustrate the point being made; and representative or official enough to be above criticism; yet few enough in number to allow for the use of large type.

The chart of the law as it is in the Bible pre­sented no difficulties, but the chart of Catholic claims was very carefully considered. It was felt that repetition of numerous statements was unnecessary, for once a proposition was au­thoritatively supported, quotations need not be accumulated. It was recognized that the few statements to appear must be from unimpeach­able Roman Catholic authorities, with full references given for each quotation, in order that anyone might check upon the statements used. The chart, a facsimile of which appears here, meets these requirements, we believe.

Reliability of the Citations

It may be well to examine into the authority lying back of each of the quotations drawn from Roman Catholic writings. Lucius Ferraris, the composer in Latin of the Bibliotheca Prompta (Handy Library), was a highly respected eighteenth-century Italian scholar, a member of the Franciscan Order. His encyclopedia is on the shelves of well-equipped Catholic institu­tions, and is frequently used by Catholic writers in certain fields of discussion. Of his work, the Catholic Encyclopedia says it is "a veritable encyclopedia of religious knowledge" and "will ever remain a precious mine of information, although it is sometimes possible to reproach the author with laxism."I The term "laxism" can scarcely be applied to Ferraris' claims concerning the power of the pope!

The claims put forth by Pope Martin V are taken from the Ecclesiastical Annals, a collection of sources begun by Cesare Baro­nius' a sixteenth-century Roman Catholic apologist of very high standing. Again in the Catholic Encyclopedia, we read that Bare­nius' work "marked an epoch in historiogra­phy and merited for its author, after Euse­bias, the title of a Father of Ecclesiastical History."2 "Nowhere are there to be found collected so many important documents. Unbiased scholars recognize in them the foundation-stone of true historical science, and in their author the qualities of the model historian : indefatigable diligence in research, passion for verification, accuracy of judg­ment, and unswerving loyalty to truth."2

Catholics admit that Baronius made mis­takes, especially in chronological details, and sometimes by the unintentional inclusion of "apociyphal" documents; but they use and quote very freely Baronius' truly valuable collection. The work is controversial, for it was produced to meet the charges against Catholicism contained in the Magdeburg Centuries, published by Lutheran historians in the middle of the sixteenth century. But even non-Catholic scholars make use of Ba­ronius. That scholar was able to finish his work personally down to the end of the thirteenth century, and later hands continued his work method through succeeding cen­turies. The correspondence of Martin V is included in the careful continuation by Raynaldus.

Whether the Dictatus Papae extant today is in the exact wording of Gregory VII or in the wording of a later hand is uncertain. Critical scholarship assigns to the Dictatus as we now have it the date 1087, two years after the death of Gregory. But it is con­ceded by all to give accurately the concept of the Papacy which Gregory VII strove to maintain. Says Doctor Ogg, the distin­guished medieval scholar, "The document loses little or none of its value by reason of this uncertainty as to its authorship, for it represents Pope Gregory's views as accurately as if he were known to have written The Latin version can be found in a number of sources. The compilers of the chart have used the history of councils by Labbe and Cossart, who were distinguished Jesuit scholars of the seventeenth century. The Catholic Encyclopedia5 speaks of these men in high terms, and their work is used freely today by scholars.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, officially entitled the Catechism= Romanus (Roman Catechism), first published in the year 1566, is quoted here, in spite of its early date, because of its authoritative standing. Before the Council of Trent adjourned, it authorized the publication of a catechism of the church, for the use of the clergy. The Roman Catechism, largely the work of the Italian scholar Charles Borromeo, is the result. The translation by Donovan is a standard and authorized translation for use in English-speaking. countries. Concerning the Roman Catechism the Catholic Encyclo­pedia says "The authority of this catechism is higher than that of any other, but is, of course, not on a level with that of the canons and- decrees of a council"6; and again, it "enjoys an authority equaled by no other catechism," and "possesses high authority as an exposition of Catholic doctrine."7 However, in this same article, "Roman Cate­chism," it is said that "the [Roman] Cate­chism has not of course the authority of conciliary definitions or other primary sym­bols of faith; for, although decreed by the Council, it was only published a year after the Fathers had dispersed, and it conse­quently lacks a formal conciliary approba­tion."8 This catechism is not a catechism for the people, and is little known today. It is a catechetical textbook "primarily intended for the priests."9


Use has been made of the vernacular cate­chisms of Keenan and Geierrnann, because they have been authoritatively published for the guidance of the clergy, to be em­ployed in instructing the laity, particularly those who are contemplating joining the Catholic Church. They are generally known and widely used among both Catholics and Protestants. They give in terse, clear lan­guage the pretensions of the Catholic Church concerning the emergence of Sunday observ­ance. Thoughtful Catholics will not be able to challenge successfully the statements of these catechisms, which bear responsible imprimaturs. (The imprimatur of a Roman Catholic bishop is a very important and thoroughly official validation of a publica­tion.)

Why Certain Statements Were Omitted

Little need be said concerning the use of the well-known statement of Cardinal Gibbons. Cardinal Gibbons stood so high in the counsels of the Roman church, and was so highly placed and so well known in America that his statements carry the weight of authority in terms both of his official position and of his influence. In connection with Cardinal Gibbons' success as a whiner of converts to the Catholic faith, the Catholic Encyclopedia says of him and his book, The Faith of Our Fathers, "The large proportion . of conversions must be attributed in a great measure to the personal popularity of its pres­ent [sic] archbishop, Cardinal Gibbons, and to the influence of his convert-making book, The Faith of Our Fathers.10

Those familiar with the old "Law Charts" will miss some quotations. The "Father Enright" statement has been omitted because of the nn-wisdom of using over the country a statement made years ago by an obscure local priest, who could not be claimed to speak authoritatively for his church, and whose statement it might be difficult to verify. The statements formerly included from the Catholic Mirror and Segur's Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today have been left out, because limitations of space demanded that the less authoritative statements be sacrificed.

1Catholic Encyclopedia, art. "Ferraris, Lucius," Vol. VI, p. 48, Appleton Co., New York, 1909. Imprimatur of John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

2 Id., art. "Baronius, Cesare, Venerable, Cardinal," Vol. II, p. 304.

3 Id., p. 306.

4 Source Book of Medieval History, American Book Co., New York. 1935, p. 262.

Catholic Encyclopedia, art. "Labbe, Philippe," Vol. VIII, p. 719.

6 Id., art. "Doctrine, Christian," Vol. V, p. 79.

7 Id., art. "Roman Catechism," Vol. XIII, pp. 120, 121.

8Id., p. 121.

9 Id., p. 120; see also Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., Vol. V, p. 26, art. "Catechism."

10 Id., art. "Baltimore, Archdiocese of," Vol. II, p. 235.

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By FRANK H. YOST, Professor of Church History, Theological Seminary

February 1944

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