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September 10 - LD 37, God’s Name and the Oath

Deuteronomy 6:13 - “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name.”

The Heidelberg Catechism devotes one Lord's Day to each of the Ten Commandments — with this exception. A whole Lord’s Day is given to the matter of the oath. That indicates the significance of the oath historically. But today, when the oath is taken so frivolously and violated so brazenly, we must understand how it must be used aright.

Historically, the Reformers insisted on developing the biblical teaching of the oath because many Anabaptists laid hold of one thing concerning the oath, and that was the biblical injunction, "Swear not at all." They connected that position with their view of an absolute separation between the sacred and the secular: The Christian must live a life of absolute separation — not just spiritual separation, as is certainly true; but absolute separation. And therefore, the Anabaptists insisted that they must not be subject to the magistrates and their requirements of the oath to confirm truth in the public realm. Some of the descendants of the Anabaptists still hold that idea today.

But we see the same idea today from a very different perspective. While the Anabaptists at least based their ideas on Scripture, albeit a misinterpretation of Matt 5:34,35 and James 5:12, the prevalent idea today is not based upon Scripture at all. Today, from the highest office of the land to the lowest citizen, the idea is simply that we may each exercise a personal religion, but must not come with the Scripture to any area outside the Church. The Bible does not belong at all to the public sphere of labor or politics or education. Religion, even professed Christianity, is put into a little box to be opened up only on Sunday, and that only if a person feels like it on Sunday.

Lord's Day 37 takes up the sword of God's Word against all such unbiblical and unchristian thinking, and develops the biblical truth concerning the oath as a world-and-life view. For a Christian, the oath may be sworn in select occasions as a fruit of grace, out of a life of thankfulness. It is taken properly only by those who live in the consciousness of belonging to their only Savior in life and death.

Last modified on 06 September 2015

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  • Date: 10-September
Key, Steven

Steven R. Key (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: September 1986

Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 1986; Randolph, WI - 1991; Hull, IA - 2000; Loveland, CO - March 2010


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