‘Take this Kindle and swear before God …’

‘Take this Kindle and swear before God …’

Some Christians are expressing concern over oaths sworn on digital devices

There is an inherent respect given to the print version of the Bible that doesn’t attach itself to a Kindle or the iPad.

These are the words of Donald Whitney, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who was commenting on the fact that, last month at a ceremony at the US embassy in London, Suzi LeVine, 44, placed her hand on an e-reader as she was sworn in as the American diplomatic representative for Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

This was the first time ever that an e-reader was used in a swearing in ceremony for a public official.

Whitney whittered on:

It is a holy book to Christians and it is the Word of God. If you have a digital device it may contain the Bible but it also contains other things.

Whitney says that he personally uses digital resources from time to time, but that choosing to use a tablet for an oath of office sends a different message.

Levine, the ambassador, stirred some controversy when she used the tablet to be sworn in – but she said it was all she had at her disposal at the time.

It symbolized for me the very best of our nation, especially around innovation, entrepreneurship and the voice that each of us has in our democracy.

Suzi LeVine

Suzi LeVine

But not all religious scholars are concerned with the increased use of technology at the pulpit. Said Walter Kim, associate minister at the Park Street Church in Boston:

I don’t think it’s sacrilegious. In fact, during our own worship service it’s a regular experience that people are pulling out their iPads and iPhones, looking up the passages that are being read or preached from the pulpit. We recognize that the most important thing is that people are engaged with the Bible. In whatever form it comes, whether it’s electronic or print.

Kim added that the treatment of the Bible, in any form, is what is important.

For me the issue is more, how is it being handled. Is it being handled with respect? Is the technology being used flippantly or thoughtlessly? That to me is the more important indicator. So if it’s a physical Bible that is being used in the swearing in, everyone recognizes it as such. My concern is if it’s a tablet, people might not be recognizing it as a Bible.

Others in the religious community have aggressively embraced technology. Ligonier Ministries is home to online apps and podcasts made for a consumer’s convenience. The ministry reaches over half a million users each month from 160 different territories around the world.

Nathan Bingham, its Internet outreach manager, said it is important to use all the tools at hand to reach as many people as possible.

At the end of the day, we need to acknowledge the advances in new technology are blessings from God and a good gift. And the churches responsibility to make use of the good gifts that we have to extend the reach of God’s word and the message of the gospel.

Bingham also pointed out that the Bible hasn’t always been in the form it is today, and that technology was used to make the printed word more accessible.

It’s just like when the printing press came out. The church made use of that during the reformation to spread the written word of God in print form. We need to do that through new technology.

Bingham also added that the Bible’s form does not indicate its value.

We want to be careful when saying the Word of God is different when it’s printed on paper or papyrus or pixels on a screen. The Word of God is powerful wherever it is seen or heard.

20 responses to “‘Take this Kindle and swear before God …’”

  1. barriejohn says:

    “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matt.5:33-37)

    But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)

  2. Mick says:

    If those photos are of her swearing in, then it seems she didn’t even swear on the Bible. Rather, she’s gone with the US Constitution. The 19th Amendment. A good choice.

  3. Paul Cook says:

    How is it that [it seems to me in these reports] that only Americans say this?”Whitney whittered on:
    [the bible]……. is the Word of God.”

    Hardly any one believes this in the free thinking world. Even deeply religious people no longer believe this. “Professor!!!!” thats just insulting -the man has mental age of two.I was brought up thinking the US was free.
    It clearly cannot be if this moron makes such a retarded statement.

    Better to be viewed a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  4. David Anderson says:

    “At the end of the day, we need to acknowledge the advances in new technology are blessings from God and a good gift.”

    Which god is that? Apple, Kindle etc, etc, etc. Proof positive that religión makes a person barking.

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    Is the bible the only book in that Kindle? What if there was also a copy of another book – how do we know the right book of spells was invoked?

    Since Muslims are forbidden (unless they are compelled) to destroy copies of the Quran, some have worried that they cannot turn off devices that have the book in them lest their spell book be purged from memory and thus destroyed.

    It would be better to not consider magic spell books to be all that special.

  6. remigius says:

    Okay, I’m confused. The Ambassador swore the oath on the Constitution, not the Bible, as can be clearly seen in the above photo (provided by the US Embassy in London). Also there is no mention of her swearing on the bible in the original article – just the fact she used an e-reader.

    So why is this post about electric bibles?

  7. AgentCormac says:

    It’s a man-made device to store a man-made story. I don’t understand the problem.

  8. Paul Cook says:

    The one I have is made in China. They’re all atheists or Han Chinese and don’t believe in gawd.
    How does that work?

  9. Peterat says:

    I use a Kindle and I swear, it’s possessed.
    Likely in need of a re-boot … or an exorcism!

  10. L.Long says:

    What’s wrong with the Kindle? It is a man made thing of SATAN!!!!!
    Well guess where the paper comes from? The ink? Who made the printing press? So if they are being picky they 1st should read their buyBull and find out they should not swear! and 2nd they can’t swear unless they can locate the original dictated text glowing with gawd’s glory.

  11. John C says:

    “people are pulling out their iPads and iPhones, looking up the passages that are being read or preached from the pulpit”

    ..or so thay would like to believe thats what people are looking at.

  12. Lord Admiral Wing Commander Sir Nathan Gloss-Smythe of Gobian with Epaulettes Braid OBE, MBE, Garter, Braces, Swagger Stick and Pipe Esq. says:

    Now what if I put the koran on my ipad and then erased it. Would a bunch of hysterical inflamed muslims give me a kicking and then start rioting and smashing up stuff in protest?

  13. Paul Cook says:

    I got a reply from ifkan hamster, but it’s a diatribe.
    I was and will be busy in my garden so haven’t got time to read it.

  14. Barry Duke says:

    As you were tending your garden, Paul Cook, here’s the madman’s post in a nutshell (nut being the operative word):

    “Yadda, yadda, Michael Gove is a Zionist … yadda, slurs against Muslims … yadda, yadda … Murcans, not Muslims, destroyed the twin towers … yadda, yadda … I never realised how racist and anti-Islamic this country is until I moved here.”

    I wonder what’s stopping him from slithering back into whatever Islamic shithole he originally emerged from.

  15. Paul Cook says:

    many thanks.
    Can we get that for Kindle?

  16. Vanity Unfair says:

    It’s not a Bible, it’s the USA constitution, specifically the nineteenth amendment (suffrage irrespective of sex). As Mick says, “Good choice.”
    What is interesting is that two religious spokesmen immediately assumed that not only was it an e-reader with the Bible displayed on it but that it should be an e-reader with the Bible displayed on it. And, of course, it should be their Bible. Unfortunately, they do not seem to have heard of the first amendment to the USA constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”which I take to mean that you can take an oath on a Bible but you don’t have to and the government cannot force you to.

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    As long as you’re crossing your fingers behind your back, it doesn’t matter *what* you swear on, you are exempt from having to fulfil the obligations that you swore to uphold.

  18. Robster says:

    What’s really needed is ab app for interpreting that silly bible thingy. Users could key in their favourite hates and bigotry targets, press enter and bingo! Instant hate filled biblical dogma. There’d be a huge market for such a thing as believers love their hate.

  19. Barry Duke says:

    There is an app called The Atheist’s Ally. Description:

    The Atheist’s Ally is a tool that shows you how to debate religious fundamentalists, also known as Bible Punchers. Bible Punchers use the Bible to impose their beliefs on others.

    Many people, however, are atheists and do not believe in God, Gods or other supernatural entities and lack sufficient knowledge of the Bible to effectively debate Bible Punchers.

    Instead of dismissing Bible Punchers, you can now beat them at their own game. No need to read or carry the Bible with you. The Atheist’s Ally provides the means to debate and defeat every fundamentalist you may encounter. The hard yards have been done for you.

    ? Bible contradictions
    ? Scriptural errors
    ? Bible absurdities
    ? Bible prophecies – are they true?
    ? Quiz – will challenge existing ideas
    ? Save interesting points in Favourites
    ? Perfect for atheists or anyone interested in the bible

  20. Norman Paterson says:

    Barry: I think the mistake is in the first step – debating religious fundamentalists.