21 February 2011

Why We Earnestly Emphasize That We Are Telling the Truth

"Let what you say be simply 'yes' or 'no.'" --Matthew 5:37

German pastor and writer Helmut Thielicke (1908-1986) comments:
Whenever I utter the formula “I swear by God,” I am really saying, “Now I’m going to mark off an area of absolute truth and put walls around it to cut it off from the muddy floods of untruthfulness and irresponsibility that ordinarily overruns my speech.” In fact, I am saying even more than this. I am saying that people are expecting me to lie from the start. And just because they are counting on my lying I have to bring up these big guns of oaths and words of honor in order to drive a breach into these abysmally pessimistic prejudices of my fellow men, this closed phalanx of distrust (and quite justified distrust too!).
--Helmut Thielicke, Life Can Begin Again: Sermons on the Sermon on the Mount (trans. J. Doberstein; Fortress, 1966), 55

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