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A popular British preacher and evangelist has introduced a DVD teaching series for Christians seeking a better understanding of the Ten Commandments. The series is reportedly being used by 600 churches who find the modernized take on God's laws refreshing. However, some have expressed concern that "tampering" with Scripture may be taking away from God's Word.
The "Just10 for Churches" series features a revamped and modern re-wording of the Ten Commandments the Bible says were given to Moses by God. The moral codes, including a list of "thou shall nots," have been given a modern twist by Canon J.John, a Christian speaker who has authored dozens of books, some on making God's "top ten" found in Exodus 20 more personable to believers.
The Decalogue's "You shall not steal" is now "prosper with a clear conscience," while "You shall not commit adultery" has been changed to "affair-proof your relationships." As for "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God," J.John has interpreted that to mean "take God seriously." Where God instructs in the Commandments to "Honor your father and your mother," the "Just10" series presents it as "keep the peace with your parents."
According to the product description, the "Just10" series was "created particularly with local churches in mind, to equip leaders to communicate the relevance of God's laws of love in a way that people can relate to today."
"These core principles are designed to equip and guide us through life, keeping us on the right path, and helping us navigate through the tough times," J.John says of the Ten Commandments on his Philo Trust ministry website.
Featured in a report by the Telegraph, the "Just10" revamping of the Ten Commandments is said to have been inspired by the 2011 riots in England that left at least three people dead, dozens of businesses damaged, and hundreds of youths in trouble with the law.
The series has reportedly been a hit in the U.K. and in churches around the world, as the "Just10" series is being "praised by religious leaders for bringing practical advice to modern congregations," according to the Telegraph.
"It's basically a way of presenting the Ten Commandments to help people connect with them in a positive way," the Rev. Paul Roberts told the British publication. "Rather than just seeing them as a list of things you shouldn't do, it is meant to help people live as God intended for our good."
Roberts, who uses the "Just10" series in his own church, added: "Unlike the dos and don'ts most people imagine when quizzed about the maker's instructions, the message is meant to be both a challenge and an encouragement."
Another minister, Wayne Dulson, told the Telegraph that the "Just10" series has helped people engage with the Commandants in a "new and fresh way."
"People keep telling me how 'Just10' has made them think much more about how they live their lives and also how much they have learned about the commandments as they found out things they never knew before," Dulson said.
J.John's series has even won the approval of the Church of England, whose spokesman told the Telegraph: "The Book Of Common Prayer is very clear that the faith needs to be taught afresh in every generation."
Not everyone is a fan of the modern take on the Ten Commandments, however, as some of J.John's Facebook followers insist that the Bible is clear about "taking away from or adding to God's word," as visitor Nigel Williams wrote.
"I have shared the Gospel with I don't know how many people on the streets of the UK using the Ten Commandments and never once having to simplify them," Williams wrote. "Why do you need to do [so] now (re-invent the wheel so to speak), when God's word is as relevant now as it has always been through history?"
Another user named Tim H. Coad replied to Williams, insisting that "Just10" does not really "simplify" the Ten Commandments, but shows that what was given to Moses so long ago are as relevant to 21st century believers.
"The gospel never changes but the way we present it does," Coad wrote.
Williams persisted, finally writing: "I hope the course is not about generating moralism, but more about showing exactly how much we need Jesus alone, and that even our most righteous works are like filthy rags."
J.John, who has reportedly spoken in 54 countries on six continents, is the founder of Philo Trust evangelism ministry. The evangelical preacher has said that his work is to show that Christianity is not only "reasonable, but relevant and vitally important."