12 Comments on “Without a Bible

  1. wow.  That’s all I can say.  wow.

    You mean to tell me that BO doesn’t have some sort of Bible software loaded onto his Blackberry???! 

  2.  Well, conservatives had been worried that he was going to be sworn in on a Koran (!) and it could have been worse. Not to mention that Obama hasn’t renounced his “Muslim middle name”; is B.Hussein Obama the new VGR in terms of revealing conservative true colours? ;-)

  3. Actually the report I heard was simply that a bible ‘wasn’t to hand’.  It is very clear that Barak Obama is a person of Christian faith and supremely influenced by God’s word (which actually is Jesus Christ, not the scriptures – the scriptures are the supreme witness to God’s word – not the word themselves).  Christians are not people of the book; they are people of God’s word.      

  4. What seems odd to me is that since a Bible was (presumably) to hand for the first swearing in, what had happened to it in the meantime?  Also, if the second one could go ahead without a Bible despite that fact that this time everyone was determined to “get it right”, does that mean a Bible is not legally necessary?

    Still, perhaps we should look on the bright side.  At least this time they’d managed to cope with getting the election right …  I mean without need for recounts of hanging chads etc.

    NB Just for fun, what do people think of the idea of swearing oaths on one’s Blackberry if it contains Bible software?

  5. When CofE clergy swear the Oath of Allegiance we do so while placing our hand on the Bible. Since I am of the opinion that that very same Bible has Jesus telling me not to swear by anything, I am obviously placing my hand on it only to affirm that it is the Word of God.

  6. Dear Robert,

    Legally speaking, a Bible cannot be strictly necessary for the swearing in of a US President, as this would constitute a “religious test for public office” and would therefore be unconstitutional.  It is customary but no more.

  7. I think you will find Peter that you are required to make your ordination oaths on the New Testament, rather than the bible.  And I believe that if only the book of Gospels were available, that would be considered sufficient. And that is because it is ‘these holy Gospels’ (the phrase used in taking oaths on some occasions) that bear witness to the Word of God. Taking oaths is about bearing witness to truth – and that’s what the Gospels do. And so that’s why we use the Gospels for our oaths.  

    And note that if you are taking ahn oath in court before bearing witness, you can refuse to swear using the book. As wicked conservative says, it is customary, not legal.      

  8. Sound,

    Yes, I think technically you might actually be right. Never really thought that it is actually to do with the Gospels rather than the whole Bible (and indeed that was never told to us – we were simply instructed to “bring a Bible”).

  9. With regard to swearing oaths, there is a widespread and long-held opinion that the swearing of oaths as part of due legal process is not forbidden (i.e. is not what Jesus meant when he discouraged the swearing of oaths).  I think this is what is meant by the slightly obscure language at the end of Article 39 (which, Peter, you presumably affirmed at the same service …).
    I think this tradition would hold that Jesus was talking about ‘votive’ or voluntary religious oaths (the most notorious case being the very rash one sworn by Jephtha in Judges 11), or else about swearing vainly, without there being any real reason for having an oath; but without looking up the context of the passage I would not like to be too precise.

  10. Thanks Robert, I think that’s helpfdul.
    Re your question about swearing on a BLACKBERRY!.. I’d see no problem whatsover actually because it’s just another translation isn’t it? You could swear on a Greek New Testament or any English (or other language) translation. 
    And all this emphasises my point.. we are not swearing on a book.. but on what it represents and signifies aren’t we?    

  11. Sound,

    I think you’re right. I would like to be in a position where I let my yes be me yes, and my no be my no. I’m happy to play along with people’s predispositions to use Bibles etc to swear on, but ultimately my word is my bond.

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