Hebrews 6:16: “For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.”
When a government is characterized by corruption and when citizens are wrongfully charged with crimes and convicted by lies, the result can only be moral decline and chaos in society. God will not and cannot tolerate the profaning of His holy name by false oath-taking. But we must examine our use of the oath as Christians. "May we then swear religiously by the name of God?" The answer, for these limited occasions, is yes, for we will do so to the glory of God, expressing our conviction that God is the God of truth before Whom we stand.
The oath is biblical. The Catechism points out that "such an oath is founded on God's Word, and therefore was justly used by the saints, both in the Old and New Testaments." Notice, we don’t just follow the examples of believers in Bible times. We sometimes have to tell our children, "You may not do this or that just because so-and-so does it." But the oath itself is scriptural. It is "founded upon God's Word, and therefore was justly used by the saints. God Himself commanded the oath to be sworn in His fear (Deut 6:13).
That compels us to face more carefully the charge of the Anabaptist, who appeals to the words of Jesus and of James, "Swear not at all." To them, those words settle the matter completely. All oaths are forbidden by Scripture, rather than sustained and approved by Scripture as our Catechism maintains. Both appeal to Scripture. It seems that we have a contradiction in the Bible. We see Deut 6:13 instructing the Church to swear by God's name; and we see in Heb 6:16 that men swear by God's name, even following His example. But when we come to Matt 5:34-35 and James 5:12 we find the exhortation, "Swear not."
Whenever we stand before Scripture and find texts which apparently are at odds with each other, it is time to stop and examine more carefully the truth set forth. For all Scripture is in harmony, and never contradicts itself.
Steven R. Key (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: September 1986
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 1986; Randolph, WI - 1991; Hull, IA - 2000; Loveland, CO - March 2010Website: https://sites.google.com/site/lovelandprctest1/home
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