Camas Friends Church

A Quaker Meeting in Camas, WA

Sunday June 13 – 21st Century Quaker Testimonies

Hello Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well! Wow, do we have a lot going on this summer. I hope you make time to plug into some of these extra happenings and are able to enjoy the community of Camas Friends over the summer.

If you’ve been out of the loop we are starting a summer series on Sunday morning looking at Quaker testimonies, where the come from in the bible, how Friends have understood them through out our 350+ year history and whether they have any relevance for us today.

This Sunday we’re discussing the testimony of integrity, which is also know as truth-telling.

Here is the passage from our faith and practice relevant to this discussion:

Oaths
We hold it to be the inalienable privilege of the disciple of the Lord Jesus that his statements concerning matters of fact within his knowledge should be accepted, under all circumstances, as expressing his belief as to the fact asserted. We rest upon the plain command of our Lord and Master, “Swear not at all” (Matthew 5:34); and we believe any departure from this standard to be prejudicial to the cause of truth and to that confidence between man and man, the maintenance of which is indispensable to our mutual well being. This command, in our persuasion, applies not to profane swearing only, but to judicial oaths also. It abrogates any previous permission to the contrary, and is, for the Christian, absolutely conclusive.

I am enjoying thinking through this truth-telling this week and thinking about its place in a society so enamored with information. I love reading the passages that early Quakers used as this testimony developed. Here are a few:

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one. (Matt 5:33–37 NRSV)

“Above all, my beloved, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12 NRSV)

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (John 14:6 NRSV)

There are of course many other places where “truth” is discusses in Scripture but these are some of the ones that seemed to get used by early Friends.

Queries:

  • Given the contexts of Matt 5 (the sermon on the mount) what do you think Jesus is talking about in saying “do not swear at all?”
  • In what ways do you find it challenging today to let your “yes be yes?”
  • Why do you think this act of telling the truth (and not swearing or taking oaths) was so important to early Quakers?
  • Is there a place in your life where you could become more truthful?

See you either tomorrow at the Shoemaker’s or on Sunday!

Blessings,
Wess

About Wess

is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 comments on “Sunday June 13 – 21st Century Quaker Testimonies

  1. Jason Twyman
    June 10, 2010

    for work i have been in court and as a quaker i take this piece seriously. instead of swearing to tell the truth i make an affirmation. in the beginning it was more of a preference but has become a principle for me when i’m asked to take an oath. the integrity of my words should be the same regardless of their importance to me or someone else.

    when thinking about the last query i could be more truthful with the details. meaning that i often provide abbreviated versions when someone asks how my day is going or when someone that i haven’t seen in a while wants to know what’s new. i am honest in my answers but could be more truthful.

    thanks for the queries and integrity, a great way to start the quaker testimonies.

    • wess
      June 11, 2010

      Jason, great story. I have never had to go to court before so it’s nice to hear your experience with this.

  2. Evelyn Myers
    June 16, 2010

    My opportunities to use the option to affirm have been limited but I even circle the “affirm” on my ballot when I vote. It is a part of my faith that other people worked to give me. I can’t remember when this became a part of our laws but I am glad I do not have to protest not taking an oath. However, I did have to argue the value of being honest once with my vice principal. I am sure many others had been asked to compromise honesty as truth is not always valued.

Comments are closed.

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This entry was posted on June 9, 2010 by in Uncategorized.

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