The theme of the present thesis has arisen from a missionary situation.
It is very likely that the question of the use made of the Decalogue
in our catechetical -ethical teaching would not have demanded attention
with a similar urgency in the realm of the "Older Churches ". In the
confrontation with non -Christian religions and their ethics, however,
we found ourselves faced with the questions: Is the Decalogue really
the summary and embodiment of God's will for the shaping of Christian
life? In how far do Christian ethics differ from pagan ethics? These
questions inevitably led to an investigation of the New Testament
evidence concerning our knowledge of God's will and the peculiarity
of approach to Christian ethics.
It was not intended at first to make an extensive study of the use
made of the Decalogue for catechetical instruction in Church History.
The main concern - as indicated by the subtitle of our thesis - lies
in the systematic side of the problem. Nevertheless, a historical
treatment of the question proved necessary for two reasons. The fact
that the Decalogue was not used as a catechetical means until the
13th century seemed to be widely unknown. This matter is of course
dealt with in the books concerned with the historical development of
catechetical instruction, but it is seldom related to our present
practice. So it was very useful for our purpose to collect the evidence
from various sources and to place it in the framework of the present
The second reason for going into Church History is of greater importance.
It appears that the position of the Decalogue in the Churches
of our days can only be understood properly against the background of
historical development, e.g. the association of this Code with the
idea of 'natural law' and the practice of auricular confession. To
question the present position of the Decalogue thus meant to investigate
the ideas connected with the Ten Commandments, and, above all, the
place and significance attributed to them in the Catechisms of the
It is self -evident that such an extensive approach could only be made
at the expense of thorough investigation of direct sources. The
writer is fully aware of this fact, and it has often been a great
temptation to make a more detailed study of some question of exegesis
or theology, or to remain longer at a certain period of Church History.
But the limited time as well as the usual size of a thesis forbade
such special research, if the aim, i.e. the answering of the question
about the adequacy of the Decalogue for catechetical teaching, was to
be reached. As a matter of fact a great number of special studies
dealing with certain aspects of our problem could be used as bases for
the more comprehensive and systematic treatment of the present issue.
It often happens that results gained by a thorough investigation in
a limited field of theology or in Church History fail to bear upon
the life of the Church, because they are not related to the whole of
Christian doctrine and practice; this fact may be the justification for
the approach chosen for the present treatment of our subject.
I would like to thank the committee of the Basel Mission which conceded
me a prolongued furlough to allow me to undertake this study. I am
indebted to my academic advisers, the Rev. Professor T.F. Torrance and
the Rev. Professor J. McIntyre for their advice and criticism, and to
the Rev. Prof. N.W. Porteous, the Rev. Prof. W. Bieder, the Rev,
Dr. Ian A. Moir, and the Rev. R.A.S. Barbour for their valuable suggestions.
Many thanks are due also to Miss A.J.G.Hewat and several other
Scottish friends who were so kind as to read and correct the drafts in
order to make my English more intelligible. Finally I want to express
my thanks to the Staff of the Library of New College, Edinburgh, as
well as to the Staff of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, for their untiring
readiness in providing the necessary literature.