Taking an oath is a serious thing – and on the 6th of May King Charles will take oaths before GOD in a holy church during a mass and publicly that he can not possibly keep, and this is a problem.
Let us first look at what Charles wants to say: in 2015, in an interview with the BBC He said: “As I tried to describe, I mind about the inclusion of other people’s faiths and their freedom to worship in this country. And it’s always seemed to me that, while at the same time being Defender of the Faith, you can also be the protector of faiths.” This aligns well with what his mother the late Queen; stated was her view of her role and that of the Church of England; which the King stated was (perplexingly): “not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church [of England] has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.” Do you see the issue? People laud both the late Queen and the current King; for their embracement of the multi-faith reality of the United Kingdom; without it seems to surrender their own faith commitments – however, I beg to differ. It seems the oath that will be given to the King to uphold will not be changed in the end; though the king did seem to hint at that idea in 2015. (ooh the wild revels of youthful rebellion).
The oath he will swear is as follows; read it carefully, and as you do, remember he is to make it to GOD Himself. “I will to the utmost of my power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law. And I will maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England.”
Think about those words for a second, he is swearing to do all he can to maintain Christianity in its Protestant form in the UK. To defend the settlement of the Church of England (more on that later) to ‘maintain and preserve’ the ‘doctrine, worship and discipline’ of the Church of England. These doctrines and worship are laid out for all to see in the book of common prayer, which contains the 39 articles of the Anglican Church. You can hear it every Sunday in the recitation of the Nicene – Constantinople creed. It is a fact that much of the communion of the Church of England is in apostasy to much of this doctrine itself; which begs the question; where was the monarchy whilst this progressed? So much so groups like GAFCON have had to break away from it, and the Free Church of England; has an imperfect communion with it. What did the Queen do to stop this rot; the available evidence would suggest nothing at all, and what will the king be able to do in the future; the office of the monarch is ceremonial only; it is there to offer dignity to the real source of politic in British society.
Montesquieu in his work ‘the spirit of the powers’ argued for a constitutional monarchy in which the King had real powers, though limited and separated from other instruments of the state. This was originally the form the British monarchy took within our constitutional arrangements, appointing Lords directly up until the early 1900s for instance. The arrangement from the time of the restoration; to the present, has slowly eroded to a purely ceremonial monarchy, which by increasing convention, can exert only personal influence; on any matter. The oath therefore given above is beyond the means of the monarch to perform – he will have no ability to fulfil it, and crucially he knows this; which means it is a question of personal integrity.
This oath prohibits the king; and by extension the church from trying to build a multi-faith society; he does not have to oppose its existence, but he can not pro-actively build one; to do so; especially with missionary religions like Mormonism, Krishna consciousness, Islam and Buddhism, who actively seek to undermine the position of Church of England and her doctrines disciplines and government; in their activities. It simply does not follow, that one can defend the church of England, whilst defending also religions, working to undermine it; this is a blatant contradiction; and is a matter of cultural political and personal cognitive dissonance. I am not trying to villainise these groups in saying this; I am trying to underscore the contradiction, of the requirements of the oath; the realities in the King’s stated intentions; and those of these religions; which make a contradictory claim of truth to that expounded by the Church of England.
What is an oath and why is it important – for a Christian this is a most pressing and grievous matter; and not one to be taken lightly. Let us look at the scripture and the Church fathers on this matter to maintain our case: “But above all, my brothers, 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. Clement of Alexandria said: “Accordingly, love makes its own athlete fearless and dauntless, and confident in the Lord, anointing and training him; as righteousness secures for him truthfulness in his whole life. For it was a compendium of righteousness to say, “Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay.” It is this solidity of truthfulness that is at stake here; which for the Christian is a marker of our discipleship in the Lord; one could phrase it today as integrity. Where action, word and intention all synergise seamlessly; to abscond from double speech, hypocrisy, unfaithfulness and lies.
Should Christians take any oath; and the prima facia reading would suggest not. It is true, that most Christians follow the train of thought of George Leo Haydock, who limits the restraint shown in this epistle to the everyday business of the everyday man, exempting as a matter of course offices of high estate and other solemn occasions; to the possibility of an oath. Many Christians exact their right as Christians to not swear any oath at all and I offer no criticism of their position. I would understand it to be permissible, but greatly to be discouraged, and only in the most essential areas of life to take an oath; of which the King’s contract with the people is one such occasion. I follow the line Clement of Alexandria; that Christians should be committed to radical honesty, a truthfulness of life; that means that to take an oath, becomes unnecessary; except in exceptional circumstances. Hilary of Poitiers agrees with him; because if you need to take an oath, you are suggesting, that at other times you may not be entirely trustworthy. Christians should flee from this lifestyle and should be noted for being trustworthy.
We can see here multiple considerations; that an oath is not to be given lightly, and a pledge, especially before GOD; is a sacred thing; and in the name of GOD; even more so; for it is to risk taking the name of the Lord in vain, which it is if He has not commanded it! That to do so in matters of everyday affairs is to build up for yourself judgement, on account of the many times we casually break commitments (and often need to), and in matters of high office; binds you to them at the level of the soul, to place something under oath is to place it above other considerations and thus one should go into them with the real expectation of judgement and loss; if you fail to be true to that commitment. To swear; is to make a statement of sincere intent; and honest reflection of your true values and intentions of action; one must follow through in word, deed; and abstention. Think of all those corrupt presidents who swear to uphold the good of the nation and pilfer the public purse. How much worse will the King be to swear to defend ‘the faith’ when he intends by action to undermine its place in the land?
St. Augustine put it this way in his Prolegomena: “I beseech you, consider that the man who thinks this may lie whenever he thinks fit, because this involves the whole important question whether to say what is false be at any time the duty of a good man, especially of a Christian man, to whom it has been said, “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation,” and who believes the Psalmist’s word, “Thou wilt destroy all them that speak lies.” This builds directly upon the Lord’s own teaching when he said the same: “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath 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 take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Matthew 5: 33 – 37 Not for nothing are we warned in the writing of Ecclesiastes: “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” Christ forbids us to swear by anything but GOD Himself.
There is a distinction between swearing by something, and swearing to someone, Christians can swear to GOD that they may do x,y,z; but we must not swear by anything; except GOD himself; and must understand the utter severity of such oaths we place upon ourselves. This Christian teaching, and the assumption it has on personal integrity underpinned much of the assumed integrity of institutions, business transactions and daily conduct; and practice of public office; that we all take for granted; and which is in noticeable decline since our ‘enlightenment’ some 300 years ago; and increasingly since we ‘freed ourselves’ from the oppression of organised religion. Personally, it is clear evidence of the fruits of the de-Christianisation of our society; public trust in public institutions and the political class is at an all-time low, and rightly so, as the behaviour of many in them; shows they do not understand the importance of keywords like truthfulness, faithfulness; words, that mean integrity, a line of complementarity between intentions, values, words and actions.
The ceremony that the King is about to undergo at Westminster Abbey – will turn this moment into pure pageantry, and will mock GOD – will GOD be mocked? We do not doubt the sincerity of the King’s intentions; but his intentions and honestly felt desire, is to do the opposite of the oath he is about to take. One can not support religions in any way that are seeking the destruction of the Christian faith, and many of the religions in the United Kingdom desire exactly that; on paper at least; regardless of how faithfully their adherents keep to the written words of their scriptures. Some explicitly target Christianity for example; the watchtower, the Quran, and the writings of the Mormon church are a few examples. The King in his first Christmas speech demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge of this fact; when he spoke of the common theme of light shared by all these religions; which they most certainly do not share. The king will take the oath above, and then do precisely nothing to defend the Church of England from being undermined both from without; and within; by apostate Bishops and religions that have his Church in the crosshairs of their missionary efforts. He does not intend to defend it, because he sees no threat to defend it from; and even if he did, convention limits him completely from acting on the fact. I would also object to this oath, on the grounds that GOD has only ever desired His Church to be one, so unless his majesty believes; that everyone should become Anglican; and I would bet the contents of my bank account he does not; then he can not swear to GOD – to defend the government of the CofE; because to do so, would be to uphold; an injury to the Church of Christ, that is His body, and maintain disunity, in His name – truly a contradiction of scripture.
Let us imagine what would allow him to take this oath – it must mean that in the granite of his soul, he intends to perceive the threats to the Church; and do all that he can; by word, deed and inaction; to defend the Church of Christ, from heretics and apostates within, and enemies without; can you imagine the king approaching anything like that? No! Nor can I; and nor does he; and the apostate parts of the Church of England, would not want him to even if he did; as they only see their remit, as being a national NGO and facilitator of civic ritual. Therefore, given the problems the oath presents to the King ethically, politically, culturally, spiritually and morally, it is better that he be freed from this civic and utterly meaningless injunction. The worship of GOD should be filled with sincerity and realism; not pageantry and faux pledges for ceremony’s own sake. The Church of England has long since lost its right to represent the body of Christ in this country and should be de-established for its many errors, blasphemies and unchallenged apostasy. The oath is the link between the two, and that needs to be broken. I would encourage his majesty, to lay aside the title ‘defender of the faith’ as he can not be any such thing; and does not wish to be; when one considers its real implications.
I would seek to end the link between the monarchy and the Church. I would remove the bishops of the Church of England from the House of Lords, and instead, fill the upper house with representatives appointed according to the religious dynamics of the country given at the 10-year census. I would end the hereditary peer system, and allow the demographics of the four nations to ethnically and religiously guide the appointment of new peers so that over time it would eventually reflect the demographics as given in the census. Thus, if 60% of respondents – were self-identified atheists, then over the 10 years, the Lords should move to reflect that; and the appointment of Christians should reflect the denominational proportions they have in the country. Thus if 80% of the total Christian population was evangelical, that should be reflected in the total proportion of the number of Christians appointed to the Lords.