Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Second London Baptist Confession

Chapter 23 - Lawful Oaths and Vows

23.1 A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgment, solemnly calls on God to witness what he swears; and to judge according to the truth or falseness thereof. Exod 20:7; Deut 10:20; Jer 4:2; 2 Chron 6:22, 23.

23.2 The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence, therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful and to be abhorred; yet as in matter of weight and moment for confirmation of truth, and ending of all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed, by lawful authority, in such matters, ought to be taken. Matt 5:34, 37; Jam 5:12; Heb 6:16; 2 Cor 1:23; Neh 13:25.

The Anabaptists strenuously objected to this belief, arguing that Christ prohibited all oath taking by his followers (Matt 5:33-36). They argued that "testifying" and "swearing" were different things:

Testifying and swearing are two different things. For when a person swears he is in the first place promising future things, as Christ was promised to Abraham Whom we a long time afterwards received. But when a person bears testimony he is testifying about the present, whether it is good or evil.... Christ also taught us along the same line when He said, Let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (William Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, p. 30).

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