Monthly Archives: March 2013

  • Clergy Vestments, part 4

         Everyday when we wake up we have a choice to make when it comes to choosing which clothes we will wear. My selection during the week often depends on whether or not I have to sit down in front of someone and who they are and the nature of that meeting. Ministers are especially mindful of their dress when ministering in their official capacity. This is a good thing. As a church we have given thought and put time into how our building should be designed and look and we should think about what our ministers should wear too. Thus far we have said that based on the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW) the minister is not required to wear any specific clothing. Clothing is adiaphora and is a circumstance of worship. That said, while nothing specifically is … Read More »

  • Clergy Vestments, part 3

    Last week I argued that ministerial garments are a circumstance of worship and something properly regarded as adiaphora. But even circumstances are to be governed by God’s Word and Christian prudence. Therefore, while the minister must wear something while ministering, he cannot wear anything. There is some latitude here and that must be affirmed. What’s more, even while there is latitude and while some types and pieces of clothing may be regarded as okay, this is not the same as saying that that which is okay is the best choice.

    One of the ways that the church has historically thought through this question is by looking at it through the lens of the ministerial office. In the church there are three offices to which men are called: the office of minister (teaching elder); elder (ruling elder) and deacon. The minister is … Read More »

  • Clergy Vestments, part 2

    Those of you who remember the Sunday school class and series of bulletin articles I did a couple of years ago on the subject of Reformed worship will remember the phrase “Regulative Principle of Worship” and the categories of elements and circumstances of worship, and adiaphora. The RPW is the principle that governs all Reformed churches when it comes to worship. Put simply, the RPW is the principle that we are only allowed to do in our worship service that which is commanded by God. You can read about it in WCF 21.1. Please note, however, that this is not the same as saying that we can do X in worship because God never said we couldn’t. Rather, the RPW is a positive statement. We may only do XY and Z in worship because that is all God has told … Read More »

  • Clergy Vestments, part 1

    What should a minister wear when he is leading the congregation and functioning in his official capacity? Anyone who has thought about that question or about the way clothing plays a major role in societal structures and sociological conventions knows that while a minister must wear something he can’t just wear anything. Just as it would be inappropriate to show up to a job interview in your pajamas, so too, it would be unwise for the minster to appear in ratty jeans and a stained T-shirt. The fact that we wear certain clothes for weddings and for funerals, for work promotions and dinners, demonstrates that, whether we can articulate it or not, there are certain standards of decorum which exist in society. Because of this and because of other societal and cultural influences most people have –  albeit sometimes unspoken … Read More »