Should Christians swear an oath?

…our truthfulness should be so consistent and dependable that we need no oath to support it: a simple “yes” or “no” should suffice. Our mere word should be as utterly trustworthy as a signed document, legally correct and complete.

But does James (and Jesus before him) intend to prohibit all oaths? Many Christians in the Anabaptist tradition have concluded that this is the case and have refused by consequence to take oaths in the courtroom or anywhere else. However, it is doubtful that James intends to address the question of official oaths – oaths that others ask us to take for legal purposes. As the exhortation to let our ‘yes’ and ‘no’ suffice for themselves suggests, the issue seems to have been the voluntary oath – the oath taken to insure the truthfulness of what one had affirmed or promised.

Douglas Moo, The Letter of James. Pillar Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000, p.233


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