“A man lacking in judgment strikes hands in pledge and puts up security for his neighbor.”
(Reference: Proverbs 17:18)
The next five days might be a little monotonous, beloved. The theme is “Swearing” or more precisely, not swearing – so don’t be fooled by the title of this posting. While most Anabaptists/Mennonites, historical and otherwise, do not use foul language, the swearing referred to is taking an oath or pledge. Most precisely it is promising or swearing by or on something. I will go into specifics in the days to come.
But for now, that’s about all there is to this. At least as far as the quotes or examples from the lives of the historic Anabaptists. The excerpted Anabaptist writing is from Joseph Schlosser who had a discussion with his accuser over the practice of having someone act as a securer of promises and/or statements. Schlosser said that it was a practice of unbelievers and so should not be a part of a believer’s life – that a simple yes or no was a secure promise and binding on those directly involved. This is what verse 18 from Proverbs chapter 17 refers to – an agreement or promise that needs additional security and extends to people that do not act in good faith.
There are several sayings/practices that touch on this. I can think of several such as “A person’s word is as good as the bond”, “on a promise and a handshake”, and “let’s shake on it”. I do not know where these will fall in a historic Anabaptist’s perspective – whether they would be acceptable or not. I do know that Schlosser is said to have not been willing to shake hands with the person who was questioning him, the report of this conversation being that after the person questioning him agreed to not insist on a securer for Schlosser’s statements, “He [the questioner] offered his hand, intending to trick Joseph, but the brother [Schlosser] told him, “It is written: A man who shakes hands in a pledge is a fool.” [Prov. 17:18] The clerk felt insulted because he was put in the wrong.”
This is the second time around that I have commented on Reading the Anabaptist Bible and I honestly think I understand them less than I did the first time. Or maybe it is that the gulf between our modern world and their world is so much bigger. I know that our world today is stressed and strained, and that it is hard to find your way amongst all the angst and turmoil. But I am not convinced that the historic Anabaptist’s world would be any better. So I exist in this world, and glean what I can from the past.
May you beloved live your life so that people can trust in your word, and may you surround yourself with people who are just as trustworthy. Selah!