SUNDAY MORNING COSTUMES: COVERING UP THE PROBLEM
"Beware of [those] who like to walk around in long robes."
—JESUS CHRIST IN LUKE 20:46, NASB
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not
—PAUL OF TARSUS IN COLOSSIANS 2:8
EVERY SUNDAY MORNING, millions of Protestants throughout the world put on their best clothes to attend Sunday morning church.1 But no one seems to question why. Hundreds of
[Denominations like the Vineyard are the exception. Such neo-denominations espouse a casual form of worship that typically includes coffee and doughnuts before the service. Shorts and T-shirts are common apparel in a Vineyard church service. Most congregants in the 320,000 U.S. Protestant churches "dress up" for Sunday morning church. If we add the number of non-Protestant Christians who dress up for church, the number is astronomical]
thousands of pastors wear special garb that separates them from their congregants. And no one seems to care.
Admittedly the dress has become more casual in a number of churches over the past few decades. A person dressed in denim can walk into the sanctuaries of many churches today without getting dirty looks. Yet dressing up for church is still a common practice in many churches. In this chapter, we will explore the origin of "dressing up" for church. We will also trace the roots of the clergy's special attire.
DRESSING UP FOR CHURCH
The practice of dressing up for church is a relatively recent phenomenon.2 It began in the late-eighteenth century with the Industrial Revolution, and it became widespread in the mid-nineteenth century. Before this time, "dressing up" for social events was known only among the very wealthy. The reason was simple. Only the well-to-do aristocrats of society could afford nice clothing! Common folks had only two sets of clothes: work clothes for laboring in the field and less tattered clothing for going into town.3
Dressing up for any occasion was only an option for the wealthiest nobility.4 From medieval times until the eighteenth century, dress was a clear marker of one's social class. In places like England, poor people were actually forbidden to wear the clothing of the "better" people.5
This changed with the invention of mass textile manufacturing and the development of urban society.6 Fine clothes became more affordable to the common people. The middle class was born, and those within it were able to emulate the envied aristocracy. For the first time, the middle class could distinguish themselves from the
2. Dressing "decently" for church service goes back to around the third century. Clement of Alexandria (150-215) put it this way:
"Woman and man are to go to church decently attired, with natural step, embracing silence... let the woman observe this further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happens to be at home." ("Going to Church," The Instructor, bk. 3. ch. 11.)
3. Max Barsis, The Common Man through the Centuries (New York: linger, 1973).
4. Leigh Eric Schmidt, "A Church Going People Is a Dress-Loving People," Church History[5S), 38-39.
6. James Hargreaves invented the "spinning jenny" in 1764, creating finer, more colorful clothing that was affordable to the masses.
Elizabeth Ewing, Everyday Dress 1650-1900 (London: Batsford, 1984), 56-57.
peasants.7 To demonstrate their newly improved status, they could now "dress up" for social events just like the well-to-do.8
Some Christian groups in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries resisted this cultural trend. John Wesley wrote against wearing expensive or flashy clothing.9 The early Methodists so resisted the idea of dressing up for church that they turned away anyone who wore expensive clothing to their meetings.10 The early Baptists also condemned 'fine clothing,' teaching that it separated the rich from the poor.11
Despite these protests, mainstream Christians began wearing fine clothes whenever they could. The growing middle class prospered, desiring bigger homes, larger church buildings, and fancier clothing.12 As the Victorian enculturation of the middle class grew, fancier church buildings began to draw more influential people in society.13
This all came to a head when in 1843, Horace Bushnell, an influential Congregational minister in Connecticut, published an essay called "Taste and Fashion." In it, Bushnell argued that sophistication and refinement were attributes of God and that Christians should emulate them.14 Thus was born the idea of dressing up for church to honor God. Church members now worshipped in elaborately decorated buildings sporting their formal clothes to honor God.15
7 Bushman, Refinement of America, 313. VJ
8 Henry Warner Bowden and P. C. Kemeny, eds„ American Church History: A Reader (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971), 87-89. Dress and hierarchy were closely connected in colonial America. A pamphlet published anonymously in Philadelphia in 1722 entitled The Miraculous Power of Clothes, and Dignity of the Taylors: Being an Essay on the Words, Clothes Make Men suggested the following: Social status, station, and power were displayed, expressed, and sustained through dress. The connection between dress and hierarchy in colonial society invested clothes with symbolic power. This mind-set eventually seeped into the Christian church.
9 Rupert Davies, A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain (London: Epworth, 1965), 193; Nehemiah Curnock, ed., Journals of Wesley (London: Epworth Press, 1965), 193. Wesley's teaching on clothing has been called "a gospel of plainness." His main message was that Christians ought to dress plainly, neatly, and simply. Wesley spoke on this subject so often that he is credited for coining the phrase "Cleanliness is next to godliness." However, he borrowed it from a rabbi (Phinehas Ben-Yair, Song of Songs, Midrash Rabbah, 1.1:9).
10 Davies, History of the Methodist Church, 197.
11 Schmidt, "A Church Going People Is a Dress-Loving People," 40.
12 Bushman, Refinement of America, 335,352.
13 Ibid., 350. Denominations with a greater number of wealthy members (Episcopal, Unitarian, etc.) began selling pews to wealthy families to fund elaborate church building programs. "On top of pew costs, worshippers had to wear clothes in keeping with the splendor of the building, and the style of the congregation became an insurmountable barrier for many. A century earlier a common farmer could dress up for church by putting on a blue check shirt. In the genteel atmosphere of the new beautiful churches, more was required."
14 Ibid., 328,331.
15 Ibid., 350.
In 1846, a "Virginia Presbyterian named William Henry Foote wrote that "a church-going people are a dress loving people."16 This statement simply expressed the formal dress ritual that mainstream Christians had adopted when going to church. The trend was so powerful that by the 1850s, even the "formal-dress-resistant" Methodists got absorbed by it. And they, too, began wearing their Sunday best to church.17
Accordingly, as with virtually every other accepted church practice, dressing up for church is the result of Christians being influenced by their surrounding culture. Today, many Christians "suit up" for Sunday morning church without ever asking why. But now you know the story behind this mindless custom.
It is purely the result of nineteenth-century middle-class efforts to become like their wealthy aristocrat contemporaries, showing off their improved status by their clothing. (This effort was also helped along by Victorian notions of respectability.) It has nothing to do with the Bible, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit.
SO WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT?
What's the big deal about "dressing up" for church? It is hardly a burning issue. However, it is what dressing up for church represents that is the burning issue.
First, it reflects the false division between the secular and the sacred. To think that God cares one whit if you wear dressy threads on Sunday to "meet Him" is a violation of the New Covenant. We have access to God's presence at all times and in all circumstances. Does He really expect His people to dress up for a beauty pageant on Sunday morning?
Second, wearing attractive, flashy clothes on Sunday morning screams out an embarrassing message: that church is the place where
16 Schmidt, "A Church Going People Is a Dress-Loving People," 36.
17 Bushman, Refinement of America, 319. "The early Methodists knew fashionable dress was the enemy, and now the enemy was winning." Schmidt writes, "People were concerned on the Sabbath... to dress themselves in their best clothes; Sunday best was already proverbial. Even pietists and evangelicals who insisted on plain dress nonetheless made sure that their bodies were gravely and decently clothed" (Schmidt, "A Church Going People Is a Dress-Loving People," 45).
Christians hide their real selves and "dress them up" to look nice and pretty.18 Think about it. Wearing your Sunday best for church is little more than image management. It gives the house of God all the elements of a stage show: costumes, makeup, props, lighting, ushers, special music, master of ceremonies, performance, and the featured program.19
Dressing up for church violates the reality that the church is made up of real people with messy problems—real people who may have gotten into a major-league bickering match with their spouses just before they drove into the parking lot and put on colossal smiles to cover it up!
Wearing our "Sunday best" conceals a basic underlying problem. It fosters the illusion that we are somehow "good" because we are dressing up for God. It is a study in pretense that is dehumanizing and constitutes a false witness to the world.
Let's face it. As fallen humans, we are seldom willing to appear to be what we really are. We almost always rely on our performance or dress to give people a certain impression of what we want them to believe we are. All of this differs markedly from the simplicity that marked the early church.
Third, dressing up for church smacks against the primitive simplicity that was the sustaining hallmark of the early church. The first-century Christians did not "dress up" to attend church meetings. They met in the simplicity of living rooms. They did not dress to exhibit their social class. In fact, the early Christians made concrete efforts to show their absolute disdain for social class distinctions.20
In the church, all social and racial distinctions are erased. The early Christians knew well that they were a new species on this
18 God looks at the heart; He is not impressed with the garb we wear (1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 11:39; 1 Peter 3:3-5). Our worship is in the spirit, not in physical outward forms (John 4:20-24). "
19 Christian Smith, "Our Dressed Up Selves," Voices in the Wilderness (September/October, 1987), 2.
20 In his book Ante Pacem: Archaeological Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine, Graydon Snyder states that there are about thirty extant letters written by Christians before Constantine. According to these letters, the Christians typically dropped their general family name, which indicated their social status. They also called one another "brother" and "sister." Graydon Snyder, e-mail messages to Frank Viola, October 12 and 14,2001, and July 10,2007,
planet.21 For this reason, James levels a rebuke to those believers who were treating the rich saints better than the poor saints. He boldly reproves the rich for dressing differently from the poor.22
(THE AUTHORS HERE DO A SLIGHT OF HAND TRICK ON YOU. DID YOU SEE IT? JAMES CONDEMNS "RESPECT OF PERSONS" - HE DOES NOT SAY YOU SHOULD NOT COME IN GOOD, OR EXPENSIVE CLOTHES; HE DOES NOT SAY YOU SHOULD NOT COME WEARING GOLD RINGS! THE WHOLE CONTEXT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CLOTHES YOU SHOULD WEAR OR NOT WEAR TO "CHURCH SERVICES" - JAMES DOES NOT "BOLDLY REPROVE THE RICH FOR DRESSING DIFFERENTLY FROM THE POOR" - ALL THAT IS THE AUTHORS' INTERPRETATION OF THE PASSAGE. THE WHOLE CONTEXT IS NOT ABOUT WEARING OR NOT WEARING - IT IS ABOUT RESPECT OF PERSONS, IT IS ABOUT GIVING THE RICH FAVORITISM, THE BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE. A VERY CLEVER MOVE, A SLIGHT OF HAND BY THE AUTHORS, TO GET YOU THINKING WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK - Keith HNunt)
And yet, many Christians are under the false delusion that it is "irreverent" to dress in informal clothing when attending a Sunday morning church service. This is not dissimilar to how the Scribes and the Pharisees accused the Lord and His disciples of being irreverent for not following the tradition of the elders (Mark 7:1-13).
In short, to say that the Lord expects His people to dress in fine clothing when the church gathers is to add to the Scriptures and speak where God has not spoken.23 Such a practice is human tradition at its best.
(BUT TO ALSO TEACH YOU SHOULD WEAR YOUR BEACH CLOTHES, YOUR GARDENING CLOTHES, YOUR FIX THE ENGINE OF YOUR CAR, OR TRUCK, CLOTHES, YOUR OLD FAVORITE BASEBALL HAT; CAN BE JUST AS WRONG AS WHAT THE AUTHORS DO TO PUT DOWN GOOD CLOTHES, GOLD RINGS, FINE SHOES ETC. CERTAINLY IF YOU ARE POOR YOU WEAR WHAT YOU CAN, AND NO ONE SHOULD HAVE ANY MORE RESPECT OR FAVOURITISM TOWARDS THE POOR OR THE RICH. THAT IS WHAT JAMES WAS CONDEMNING - SHOWING FAVOURITISM TO THE RICH - Keith Hunt)
THE GARB OF THE CLERGY
Let's now shift gears and look at the development of the clergy attire. Christian clergy did not dress differently from the common people until the coming of Constantine.24
Contrary to popular opinion, clergy apparel (including the "ecclesiastical vestments" of the high church tradition) did not originate with the priestly dress of the Old Testament. It rather has its origin in the secular dress of the Greco-Roman world.25
Here is the story: Clement of Alexandria argued that the clergy should wear better garments than the laity. (By this time the church liturgy was regarded as a formal event.) Clement said that the minister's clothes should be "simple" and "white."26
21 The early Christians saw themselves as a new creation, a new humanity, and a new species that transcends all natural distinctions and barriers (1 Corinthians 10:32; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 3:11).
22 James 2:1-5. This passage also suggests that a person wearing fashionable clothing to the church meeting was the exception, not the standard. (Nope suggests no such thing at all - does not say how many were rich or poor that were attending; the authors are putting thoughts into your mind that are not found in the passage by James at all. James was not addressing the HOW MANY of the rich or poor were attending; James was addressing nad showing favouritism or respect to the rich, at the expense [pun not intended] of the poor - Keith Hunt)
23 Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18.
24 The Catholic Encyclopedia 1913 On-Line Edition, s.v. "Vestments," http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15388a.htm; Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. "Sacred Rights Ceremonies: The Concept and Forms of Ritual: Christianity" (1994-1998). Shortly before Constantine, clergymen wore a cloak of fine material when administering the Eucharist.
25 Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Vestments." Under "Origin" the entry reads: "The Christian vestments did not originate in the priestly dress of the Old Testament, they have, rather, developed from the secular dress of the Graeco-Roman world." See also Janet Mayo, A
History of Ecclesiastical Dress (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1984), 11-12. Mayo writes, "A consideration of ecclesiastical vestments will reveal that they had their origins in secular Roman dress. The view that vestments were of Levitical origin and cans from Jewish priestly garments is a later idea." For a rare history of the religious costume, see Amelia Mott Gummere, The Quaker: A Study in Costume (Philadelphia: Ferris and Leach, 1901). Note that the vestments of the priesthood in the Old Testament were typss and shadows of the spiritual garments that Christians are clothed with in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 10:1; Colossians 2:16-17,3:10-14-, Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 5:5; Revelation 19:8).
26 "On Clothes," The Instructor, bk. 3, ch. 11.
White was the color of the clergy for centuries. This custom appears to have been borrowed from the pagan philosopher Plato who wrote that "white was the color of the gods." In this regard, both Clement and Tertullian felt that dyed colors were displeasing to the Lord.27
With the coming of Constantine, distinctions between bishop, priest, and deacon began to take root.28 When Constantine moved his court to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople in AD 330, the official Roman dress was gradually adopted by the priests and deacons.29 The clergy were now identified by their garb, which matched that of secular officials.30
After the Germanic conquests of the Roman Empire from the fourth century onward, fashions in secular dress changed. The flowing garments of the Romans gave way to the short tunics of the Goths. But the clergy, wishing to remain distinct from the laity, continued to wear the archaic Roman costumes!31
The clergy wore these outdated garments during the church service following the model of the secular court ritual.32 When laymen adopted the new style of dress, the clergy believed that such dress was "worldly" and "barbarian." They retained what they considered to be "civilized" dress. And this is what became the clerical attire.33 This practice was supported by the theologians of the day. For example, Jerome (ca. 342-420) remarked that the clergy should never enter into the sanctuary weaphg everyday garments.34
From the fifth century onward, bishops wore purple.35 In the sixth
27 Ibid., bk 2, ch. 11; Mayo, A History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 15.
28 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 14-15.
29 Ibid., Latourette, A History of Christianity, 211; Brauer, The Westminster Dictionary of Church History (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971), 284.
30 "The bishop's dress was the ancient robe of a Roman magistrate." Hatch, Organization of the Early Christian Churches, 164. The bishop's dress indicated a specific caste structure. It included a white fringed saddlecloth or mappula, flat black slippers or campagi, and udones or white stockings. This was the dress of the Roman magistrates. Johnson, History of Christianity, 133.
31 Senn, Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting, 41; "Sacred Rights Ceremonies," Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
32 Eugene TeSelle, professor of church history and theology, Vanderbilt University, in e-mail message to Frank Viola, January 18,2000.
33 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 15; Jones, Historical Approach to Evangelical Worship, 117.
34 Jerome said that God is honored if the bishop wears a white tunic more handsome than usual. Frank Senn, liturgical scholar, in e-mail message to Frank Viola, July 18,2000. See also Jerome, "Against Jovinianus" bk. 2.34 [Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series 2, vol. 6) and "Lives of Illustrious Men," ch. 2 [Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series 2, vol. 3).
35 Collins and Price, The Story of Christianity, 25, 65.
and seventh centuries, clergy garb became more elaborate and costly.36 By the Middle Ages, their clothing acquired mystical and symbolic meanings.37 Special vestments were spawned around the sixth and seventh centuries. And there grew up the custom of keeping a special set of garments in the vestry to put over one's street clothes.38
During the seventh and eighth centuries, the vestments were accepted as sacred objects inherited from the robes of Levitical priests in the Old Testament.39 (This was a rationalization to justify the practice.) By the twelfth century, the clergy also began wearing street clothes that distinguished them from everyone else.40
WHAT THE REFORMATION CHANGED
During the Reformation, the break with tradition and clerical vestments was slow and gradual.41 In the place of the clergy vestments, the Reformers adopted the scholar's black gown.42 It was also known as the philosopher's cloak, as it had been worn by philosophers in the fourth and fifth centuries.43 So prevalent was the new clerical garb that the black gown of the secular scholar became the garment of the Protestant pastor.44
The Lutheran pastor wore his long black gown in the streets. He also wore a round "ruff" around his neck that grew larger with time. It grew so large that by the seventeenth century the ruff was
36 Jones, Historical Approach to Evangelical Worship, 116-117. Mayo's History of Ecclesiastical Dress goes into great detail on the development of each piece of the clerical vestments through each stage of history in each tradition. No distinctive headdress was worn for the first thousand years, and the girdle was not known until the eighth century. Elias Benjamin Sanford, ed., A Concise Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (New York: Charles L Webster & Company, 1890), 943.
37 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 27; Isidore of Pelusium (d. around 440) was the first to ascribe symbolic interpretations to parts of the vestments. The entire priestly garb was given symbolic meanings around the eighth century in the West and the ninth century in the East (Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Vestments."). The Medievals had a love affair with symbolism; so they could not resist giving all the vestments religious "spiritual" meanings. These meanings are still alive today in liturgical churches.
38 Senn, Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting, 41. The vestry, or sacristy, was a special room in the church building where the clerical vestments and sacred vessels were kept.
39 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 27.
40 Collins and Price, Story of Christianity, 25,65.
41 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 64. Zwingli and Luther quickly discarded the garments of the Catholic priest. Hall, Faithful Shepherd, 6.
42 Zwingli was the first to introduce the scholar's gown, in Zurich in the autumn of 1523. Luther began to wear it in the afternoon of October 9,1524 (Niebuhr and Williams, Ministry in Historical Perspectives, 147). See also George Marsden, The Soul of the American University.- From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 37.
43 H. I. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity (Hevi York: Sheed and Ward, 1956), 206. "The philosopher could be recognized by his cloak, which was short and dark and made of coarse cloth." See also Smith, From Christ to Constantine, 105.
44 Niebuhr and Williams, Ministry in Historical Perspectives, 147. The black gown was "clerical streetwear" in the sixteenth century
(Senn, Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting, 42).
called "the millstone ruff."4' (The ruff is still worn in some Lutheran churches today.)
Interestingly, however, the Reformers still retained the clerical vestments. The Protestant pastor wore them when he administered the Lord's Supper.46 This is still the case today in many Protestant denominations. Just like Catholic priests, many pastors will put on their clerical robes before lifting the bread and the cup.
The garb of the Reformed pastor (the black gown) symbolized his spiritual authority.47 This trend continued throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Pastors always wore dark clothing, preferably black. (This was the traditional color for "professionals" such as lawyers and doctors during the sixteenth century.)
Black soon became the color of every minister in every branch of the church.48 The black scholar's gown eventually evolved into the "frock coat" of the 1940s. The frock coat was later replaced by the black or grey "lounge suit" of the twentieth century.49
At the beginning of the twentieth century, many clergymen wore white collars with a tie. In fact, it was considered highly improper for a clergyman to appear without a tie.50 Low church clergy (Baptists, Pentecostals, etc.) wore the collar and necktie. High church clergy (Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.) adopted the clerical collar—often dubbed the "dog collar."51
The origin of the clerical collar goes back to 1865. It was not a Catholic invention as is popularly believed. It was invented by the Anglicans.52 Priests in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries traditionally wore black cassocks (floor-length garments with collars that stood straight up) over white garments (sometimes called the alb).
45 Chadwick, Reformation, 422-423.
46 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 66.
47 Bowden and Kemeny, American Church History, 89.
48 Mayo, History of Ecclesiastical Dress, 77-78.
49 Ibid., 118.
50 Ibid., 94.
51 ibid., 94,118.
52 Niebuhr and Williams, Ministry in Historical Perspectives, 164. According to The London limes (March 14,2002), the clerical collar was invented by the Rev. Dr. Donald McLeod of Glasgow. A popular belief is that the clerical collar was invented by the Catholic Counter-Reformation to prevent priests from wearing large ruffs like Protestant pastors wore (Chadwick, Reformation, 423). But it seems to have come into being well after this.
In other words, they wore a black collar with white in the middle. The clerical collar was simply a removable version of this collar. It was invented so that priests, both Anglican and Catholic, could slip it over their street clothes and be recognized as "men of God" in any place! Today, it is the dark suit with a tie that is the standard attire of most Protestant pastors. Many pastors would not be caught dead without it! Some Protestant pastors wear the clergy collar as well. The collar is the unmistakable symbol that the person wearing it is a clergyman.
IS SPECIAL CLERGY ATTIRE HARMFUL?
A specially attired clergy is an affront to the spiritual principles that govern the house of God. It strikes at the heart of the church by separating God's people into two classes: "professional" and "nonprofessional."
Like "dressing up" for church, clerical clothing—whether it be the elaborate vestments of the "high church" minister or the dark suit of the evangelical pastor-—-is rooted in worldly culture. The distinctive garb of the clergy goes back to the fourth century, when clergymen adopted the dress of Roman secular officials.
The Lord Jesus and His disciples knew nothing of wearing special clothing to impress God or to distinguish themselves from God's people53 Wearing special garb for religious purposes was rather a characteristic of the Scribes and Pharisees.54 And neither Scribe nor Pharisee could escape the Lord's penetrating gaze when He said, "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets" (Luke 20:46, NIV).
53 Luke 7:25; 2 Corinthians 8:9. It appears that the nicest clothes that Jesus owned while on earth were given to him in mockery—Luke 23:11. Recall that the Son of God entered this earth not in kingly garments, but wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:7). Note that John the Baptist is the most extreme case of those who did not seek to impress God by their clothing (Matthew 3:4).
54 Matthew 23:5; Mark 12:38.
(THE AUTHORS DO NOT REALIZE JESUS HAD A VERY SPECIAL OUTER GARMENT THAT WAS A ONE PIECE WEAVING; THE SOLDIERS CAST LOTS FOR IT AT HIS CRUCIFIXION - MAT. 27:32-35. YOU WOULD NOT BOTHER CASTING LOTS TO SEE WHO WOULD GET JESUS' OUTER GARMENT UNLESS IT WAS NICE AND EVEN SPECIAL. NOW THIS GARMENT PROBABLY DID NOT STAND OUT IN COLOR OR DESIGN PER SE. IN A CROWD OF PEOPLE JESUS COULD NOT BE RECOGNIZED FROM ANYONE ELSE AS THE GOSPELS RELATE TO US - Keith Hunt)
1. You imply that people should never be encouraged to dress up for church; however, for me, doing so serves as a reminder that we should give God the respect He deserves. In this sense, isn't wearing good clothes to church a positive thing?
If you feel that dressing up for church gatherings is a positive thing and you can do it unto the Lord with pure motives, then by all means do so. But we should be careful not to judge or look down upon those who do not dress up for such gatherings.
(AGAIN IF YOU ARE SO POOR YOU HAVE ONLY A SWEAT SHIRT AND JEANS, FINE, GOD KNOWNS YOUR SITUATION. BUT TO DELIBERATELY WEAR OLD "DIG IN THE RUBBLE HEAP" CLOTHES IS ANOTHER QUESTION ALL TOGETHER - Keith Hunt)
2. Do you believe that dressing up for church is inherently wrong, or do you think it is a human-invented practice that can be redeemed?
The latter. Unlike some of the other traditional practices that we have traced in this book, we believe this one is an extrabiblical practice that can be redeemed (see answer above). There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing dressy clothes to a Christian gathering. As with all our religious traditions, we simply believe it is important to ask why we do it and get in touch with our motives behind it.
WHY DO WE DRESS IF POSSIBLE DECENTLY FOR A CHURCH SERVICE?…. SIMPLE, YOU ARE COMING BEFORE GOD IN A FORMAL GATHERING BEFORE HIM AND CHRIST. THINK….. WOULD YOU COME BEFORE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND, IF INVITED, IN THE LEAST BEST CLOTHING YOU HAVE. YES GET IN TOUCH WITH OUR MOTIVES BEHIND IT ALL. THERE ARE "FADS" TODAY [LIKE HEAVY-METAL ROCK GOSPEL SO-CALLED MUSIC] THAT ARE PAIN WRONG!!
AND INDEED IT IS A FALSE IDEA AND PRACTICE FOR ELDERS/PASTORS/ TO DRESS IN STRANGE, UNUSUAL, BIZARRE, ABNORMAL, SINGULAR, UNCOMMON WAYS - Keith Hunt