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Discussion Forum : General Topics : Christians and Oaths

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 Christians and Oaths

"We never swear an oath, not even in a court of law. We think that the name of God ought not to be prostituted in the miserable squabbles of men. When we are obliged to appear before a magistrate on someone else's account we affirm the truth by a "yes" or a "no". The judges believe us on our simple word, whilst so many other Christians perjure themselves upon the Gospels."

from the second of Voltaire's "Lettres Philosophiques" in which he interviews an English Quaker named Andrew Pitt

What is the possition of your Church or demonimation on the swearing of Oaths?

These days Quakers are allowed to "affirm" in court as an alternative to swearing an oath on the bible. (otherwise the jails would be full of us) The distinction may seem subtle, but it holds to the notion that your yes be yes and your no be no, and does not drag God into the picture.

Bubbaguy

 2005/7/12 17:14
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7451
Mississippi

 Re: Christians and Oaths

My church takes this command literally. This has been the historical position of Anabaptist churches of which I am a part. In our state when you appear in court for jury duty, they use the term swear/affirm...

ginnyrose


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Sandra Miller

 2005/7/12 17:47Profile
KingJimmy
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Joined: 2003/5/8
Posts: 4419
Charlotte, NC

 Re:

Christ never forbade taking oaths, though that is the common misinterpretation of what was said in the Sermon on the Mount. If Christ actually did forbid it, then the apostle Paul broke it in his letters (see Romans 1:9). For that matter, God Himself took an oath (see Hebrews 6:16-20)

The point Christ made on taking of oaths that was if you regularly have to invoke "I swear to God such and such is true," or "God is my witness that I did such and such," then it shows something about the integrity of your speech, that your word does not stand on it's own. Let your yea be yea, and nay be nay. If you have to invoke God's name in order to get others to believe what you say is true, it's probably because what you say has often been found lacking.

My denomination, the Church of God, I don't think has any official stance on it, but the culture tends to be more of the "I affirm..." type (which is the exact same thing as taking an oath).


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Jimmy H

 2005/7/12 18:09Profile









 Re:

KJ... this is a wierd week. We're really fallnig in line with each on just about everything.

I agree with you on your interpretation of scripture on this subject. However, I dont have an issue with someone who is convinced they should not take an oath.

Hey... we take oath's when we get married... they are called vows.

Bubba, I find it interesting that you take this portion of scripture as literally as you do, but yet you deny creation as being literal as written in Genesis.

KJ... we need to find something we disagree on, or I'm gonna start wondering if I've backslidden or something! Let me think... um... I got it! The Mountains of NC are way better than the Piedmont! So there! :-P

Krispy

 2005/7/12 21:45
GaryE
Member



Joined: 2005/4/26
Posts: 376
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania

 Re: Christians and Oaths

When asked in a court of law, "do you swear to tell the truth", I just say I affirm to tell the truth. No one has ever given me any trouble about this. Even though I'm not Quaker or Anti-Baptist in background, I don't feel right about swearing an oath.

In Pennsylvania, when getting a marriage license, the question was asked me, "Are you getting married by a minister or do you want a Quaker license?" Maybe this Quaker license is about the Quaker position of taking oaths. A vow and an oath seems to me to be different in some respects.

There has been a lot of persecution towards people who wouldn't take oaths in church history.

In Christ,
GaryE


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Gary Eckenroth

 2005/7/13 0:05Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

KingJimmy writes

Quote:
Christ never forbade taking oaths, though that is the common misinterpretation of what was said in the Sermon on the Mount. If Christ actually did forbid it, then the apostle Paul broke it in his letters (see Romans 1:9). For that matter, God Himself took an oath (see Hebrews 6:16-20)

... and Krispy,
There is a difference between a promise and an oath. There is also a difference between an oath and a solemn assertion. The context of Christ's word was probably not the law-court. (BTW in my only appearances in a law court I have chosen to 'affirm' rather than swear an oath on the Bible) Christ's words have to do with the simple fact that our word is our bond and there should be no need to add a statement which says 'this time I am telling the truth'.

God certainly took an oath and 'swore by His own name'. This is the essence of an oath that you swear by 'something' which is special to you; 'my mother's grave, my children's life'. I think our court use probably came from the superstition that the physical Bible was 'holy' in some way and that to swear such an oath somehow brought God into the equation. People's fear of consequences thereby guaranteed their truthfulness. Perhaps once it did, but now I doubt it has any significance.

In the old days Quaker boys frequently spent their 16th birthday in jail, simply because they were required at that age to 'swear loyalty to the king' and they would not do it. I suspect I would have been among them in those days.

There is a phenomena is scripture known as a 'self-imprecatory oath'. Children in the UK still use 'self-imprecatory oaths' when they say 'cross my heart and hope to die'. They are pronouncing a curse upon themselves should they break their word. The solemn covenant oath of making promises in an avenue of slaughtered animals was a 'self-imprecatory oath'. It implied 'if I break my word may I share their fate'.

In the Hebrew idiom the 'curse' is not completed but left 'understood' and can then come through as a promise. It is interesting that someone would undergird a promise by threatening a curse upon themselves. This sometimes presents a problem for the translator.
“So I swore in My wrath,
“They shall not enter My rest.’|””
(Psa. 95:11, NKJV)

“Where I sware in Mine anger, ‘If they come in unto My rest — !’”
(Psa. 95:11, YNG) Youngs Literal translation shows the Hebrew construction for this 'promise/oath'; it is actually an unfinished self-imprecatory oath, which is why Young has added the hypen to show the sentence is unfinished.

The implication is 'if I do not do the thing that I have said, let - happen to me'. The KJV has a marginal variant which says 'Heb. if they enter into my rest'. When this promise/oath is quoted in Hebrews the Greek of Hebrews 3:11 has 'if they shall enter' which is the Hebrew idiom but the translators have gone for the positive promise rather than the negative curse. When they quote the verse again in Heb 4:5 the translators actually revert to the Greek/Hebrew pattern. It is difficult enough to translate from one language to another, but translating from one culture to another is even more difficult.

For myself, I will affirm, if legally necessary, but I would not be offended by someone who swore an oath.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/13 7:33Profile









 Re:

Quote:
I'm not Quaker or Anti-Baptist



Anti-Baptist? I'm sorry, but that cracked me up... she said she was "Anabaptist". Not Anti-Baptist. LOL

Krispy

 2005/7/13 9:04
GaryE
Member



Joined: 2005/4/26
Posts: 376
Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania

 Re:


Dear Krispy,

I'm sorry about the misspelling of Anabaptist. Usually I'm very careful to proofread what I write. So, I'm not from an Anabaptist background, Amish, Mennonite, or Brethren and I'm not Anti-Baptist either.

There is a history book of Anabaptist experiences called Martyrs Mirror that is very interesting to read. It tells about the persecutions the Anabaptists suffered during the Inquisition period. In it there is a complete transcript of the questions that were asked at a heresy trial of a believer. You can tell by the way the answers were spoken that God was giving the accused the words to speak. It also has much of the early traditional church persecutions in it. It's printed by Herald Press from Scottdale, Pennsylvania.

In Christ,
GaryE


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Gary Eckenroth

 2005/7/13 12:28Profile





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