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Thread: How Pastors Should Dress in the Pulpit

  1. #1

    How Pastors Should Dress in the Pulpit

    I've noticed that several times there have been discussions of how a pastor should dress in the pulpit (including talk of Robes and suits and more casual attire). While I've chimed in a few times, I've boiled down a lot of the different pros and cons that people have made on this site and others, and finally written something about the topic. I thought I would share that article on here in hopes of unpacking the the subject even more.

    Why is the Pastor Wearing That?! (A Examination of Dress in the Pulpit)
    Pastor S. DeSocio
    Pittsburgh Presbytery - PCA
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  2. #2
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    Thanks for the thought provoking link.
    Bob, RBC Louisville. 1689 LBCF

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  3. #3
    Nice little article.
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
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  4. #4
    Thanks.
    Pastor S. DeSocio
    Pittsburgh Presbytery - PCA

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    Quote Originally Posted by sdesocio View Post
    How Pastors Should Dress in the Pulpit
    I think pastors should dress at home before they get to church, not in the pulpit.

    Seriously though, that's an interesting little article, with a hilarious photo at the start. Worth clicking just for that. And for extra credit, name the five pastors pictured as examples of the various forms of dress.
    5 member(s) found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    You forgot the "jacket and tie but the jacket's taken off a little into the sermon" look. And the tie underneath the sweater-vest look.
    MarieP
    Reformed Baptist Church
    Louisville, KY

    "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant" (Gen. 32:10)
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    And for extra credit, name the five pastors pictured as examples of the various forms of dress.
    There are actually 6 (the guy with the rainbow robe at the beginning). I can only get 3 of the remaining 5 (the same 5 everybody else on the PB can get).
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
    Father of Grace Cameron, Elizabeth Faith, and Ruth Joy
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    That is why the robe is the great equalizer. You can wear 2-5 underneath.
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
    Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP
    Ellisville, Mississippi

    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
    -- Matthew Henry on 1 John 1:9


    Blogging at: Mountains and Magnolias and The Confessional ARP
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    And for extra credit, name the five pastors pictured as examples of the various forms of dress.
    who was the casual one?
    Andrew Silva
    Ruling Elder, Dallas Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Flower Mound,TX
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  10. #10
    I noticed that clericals weren't mentioned, which may just be because Reformed folks in the US don't do them (though I have been to one or two PCA churches where the pastor wore them).
    Philip
    Student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Attending Christ the Redeemer Church (Anglican)
    Member at Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church (PCA) Leesburg, VA

  11. #11
    If you run your mouse over the photos, you will see the name of the pastor in the URL line.

    I can't believe I missed #2. Ironically, I thought the pulpit/lectern looked familiar (and it was), but I had only seen the pastor w/o a suit and didn't recognize him. Also interesting that his predecessor wore a robe and he does not.
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
    Father of Grace Cameron, Elizabeth Faith, and Ruth Joy
    My Blog: Gairney Bridge
    My Facebook/My Avatar

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  12. #12
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    Good read. I get quite irritated when I hear someone go on a " a Christian must dress like this " rant.
    Rich Koster
    Browns Mills NJ USA
    Member of Covenant Baptist, Lumberton NJ (1689ers)
    http://cbclumberton.wordpress.com/

    Thankful that I'm not saved by merit badges
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    If you run your mouse over the photos, you will see the name of the pastor in the URL line.

    I can't believe I missed #2. Ironically, I thought the pulpit/lectern looked familiar (and it was), but I had only seen the pastor w/o a suit and didn't recognize him. Also interesting that his predecessor wore a robe and he does not.
    who in the world is Darrin Patrick?
    Andrew Silva
    Ruling Elder, Dallas Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Flower Mound,TX
    Dallas RPC Facebook page
    North DFW area

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    I couldn't get #4. I wasn't quite sure about #2, but guessed correctly.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    I couldn't get #4. I wasn't quite sure about #2, but guessed correctly.
    I suppose it doesn't hurt that #1, 2, 3, and 5 would be somewhere in the reformed camp. I'm not sure if that applies to # 4.
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
    Father of Grace Cameron, Elizabeth Faith, and Ruth Joy
    My Blog: Gairney Bridge
    My Facebook/My Avatar

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  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    I couldn't get #4. I wasn't quite sure about #2, but guessed correctly.
    I suppose it doesn't hurt that #1, 2, 3, and 5 would be somewhere in the reformed camp. I'm not sure if that applies to # 4.
    I guess that's why I have no clue who he is.
    Andrew Silva
    Ruling Elder, Dallas Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Flower Mound,TX
    Dallas RPC Facebook page
    North DFW area

    My blog - Lose Your Life
    Follow me - Twitter

    He is your friend who pushes you nearer to God. - Abraham Kuyper

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack K View Post
    I couldn't get #4. I wasn't quite sure about #2, but guessed correctly.
    I suppose it doesn't hurt that #1, 2, 3, and 5 would be somewhere in the reformed camp. I'm not sure if that applies to # 4.
    I guess that's why I have no clue who he is.
    He was interviewed by John Piper, he went to Covenant Seminary, and his book is featured on the Gospel Coalition website, so I'd say there is a good probability that he is reformed.
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
    Father of Grace Cameron, Elizabeth Faith, and Ruth Joy
    My Blog: Gairney Bridge
    My Facebook/My Avatar

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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Andres View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    If you run your mouse over the photos, you will see the name of the pastor in the URL line.

    I can't believe I missed #2. Ironically, I thought the pulpit/lectern looked familiar (and it was), but I had only seen the pastor w/o a suit and didn't recognize him. Also interesting that his predecessor wore a robe and he does not.
    who in the world is Darrin Patrick?
    Darrin Patrick is pastor of The Journey - an Acts 29 church in St. Louis, MO.
    Jeff Kerr
    Associate Pastor
    Crestwood Presbyterian Church (PCA)
    Edmonton, AB, Canada

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    If you run your mouse over the photos, you will see the name of the pastor in the URL line.

    I can't believe I missed #2. Ironically, I thought the pulpit/lectern looked familiar (and it was), but I had only seen the pastor w/o a suit and didn't recognize him. Also interesting that his predecessor wore a robe and he does not.
    I knew who #2 was and thought it very interesting to see how he was dressed in light of his predecessor as well. I actually didn't know him by face, but by the unique pulpit.
    'There's nae jouking in the cause of Christ' - James Guthrie

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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    He was interviewed by John Piper, he went to Covenant Seminary, and his book is featured on the Gospel Coalition website, so I'd say there is a good probability that he is reformed.
    Really?
    Philip
    Student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Attending Christ the Redeemer Church (Anglican)
    Member at Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church (PCA) Leesburg, VA

  21. #21
    Btw, there's a chapter/addendum in Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon (2nd Edition) by Bryan Chapell on this very subject. Not with pictures or cultural analysis, but his own thoughts and reasoning on the what's and why's of pastoral dress in the pulpit.
    Jacob
    Sovereign Grace Ministries
    Pastoral Intern
    King of Grace Church
    Manchester, NH

    "Grace renews nature; glory perfects grace." ~ John Owen
    "Grace tried is better than grace, and more than grace. It is glory in its infancy." ~ John Flavel
    A Living Oak - Growing In Christ (blog)
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

  22. #22
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    I will only make one comment, but I hope you pastors take it to heart.

    You have no idea how selfish and wrong it seems to a lot of women and mothers who go to church in the summer, when it is boiling hot, and the pastor is dressed for Antarctica in long black sleeves or a robe over his clothes, and he sets the air conditioning to his personal comfort zone. The kids have on short sleeves and light clothes, and maybe Mom is in a light cotton/rayon dress, or thin skirt and top, and everybody is chilly and whispering how cold it is. I've been in churches over the years where the pastor looks like he is ready to go climb Everest and the kids are freezing. I remember summer Sundays where I'd grab a couple sweaters just in case, and I'd sit there freezing because the little girls nearby begged to wear them.

    Please, if it is hot summer, set the air conditioning for people in normal short sleeve shirts, and then plan your own dress accordingly. Some of us would rather see you in shorts and T shirts than have you turn the sanctuary into a refrigerator just so you can wear all your long sleeved black duds. It just makes you look selfish and insensitive.
    Lynnie

    Attending Maranatha Christian Fellowship

    Central NJ
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  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    I can't believe I missed #2. Ironically, I thought the pulpit/lectern looked familiar (and it was), but I had only seen the pastor w/o a suit and didn't recognize him. Also interesting that his predecessor wore a robe and he does not.
    I'm surprised that he wears a suit. I would have though he would have been more casual.

    ---------- Post added at 07:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:35 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by lynnie View Post
    Please, if it is hot summer, set the air conditioning for people in normal short sleeve shirts, and then plan your own dress accordingly.
    I favor cold air conditioning to encourage modesty in dress. And low ceiling fans, to keep hands from waving in the air.
    Edward
    Deacon
    PCA
    Texas
    3 member(s) found this post helpful.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by P. F. Pugh View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Marrow Man View Post
    He was interviewed by John Piper, he went to Covenant Seminary, and his book is featured on the Gospel Coalition website, so I'd say there is a good probability that he is reformed.
    Really?
    Darrin Patrick is indeed reformed, depending on how you use that word. He is reformed ala Matt Chandelier, John Piper, etc., NOT reformed in terms of the WCF...
    Damon Rambo
    Southern Baptist Convention
    First Baptist Church Markham, Texas
    Senior Pastor

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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by lynnie View Post
    I will only make one comment, but I hope you pastors take it to heart.

    You have no idea how selfish and wrong it seems to a lot of women and mothers who go to church in the summer, when it is boiling hot, and the pastor is dressed for Antarctica in long black sleeves or a robe over his clothes, and he sets the air conditioning to his personal comfort zone. The kids have on short sleeves and light clothes, and maybe Mom is in a light cotton/rayon dress, or thin skirt and top, and everybody is chilly and whispering how cold it is. I've been in churches over the years where the pastor looks like he is ready to go climb Everest and the kids are freezing. I remember summer Sundays where I'd grab a couple sweaters just in case, and I'd sit there freezing because the little girls nearby begged to wear them.

    Please, if it is hot summer, set the air conditioning for people in normal short sleeve shirts, and then plan your own dress accordingly. Some of us would rather see you in shorts and T shirts than have you turn the sanctuary into a refrigerator just so you can wear all your long sleeved black duds. It just makes you look selfish and insensitive.
    Lynnie, I've been known to endure rather sweltering temperatures in the summer time. I've even been known to take off the jacket because I've gotten overheated. But there are a couple of amusing anecdotes that your post brings to mind:

    1) Last summer I finally discovered exactly why I got so hot during the service. Someone had closed all the vents (in the ceiling) that were located in the pulpit area. So, for the last three summers while I've been at this church, I've basically been operating with zero A/C in the immediate area.

    2) Last Sunday evening, one of our congregants brought in a space heater for him and his wife. I asked why and he said it was freezing in the sanctuary that morning. I asked why he didn't say anything and that we could have turned up the heat, and he said that I complained recently at how hot I had gotten during a service. So, that whole pastoral insensitivity thing can apparently occur during the winter months as well.
    Tim Phillips
    Pastor, Midlane Park Presbyterian Church (ARP)
    Louisville, KY
    Husband of Scottish Lass
    Father of Grace Cameron, Elizabeth Faith, and Ruth Joy
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  26. #26
    Lynnie, I flip my wardrobe---I wear my lighter clothes in the winter because I find the sanctuary too hot (to please our thin-blooded older congregation) and I get chilled with any AC blowing on me, so that's when I layer up.
    Anna
    Wife of Tim/Marrow Man
    Mother of Grace Cameron
    Louisville, KY
    Member of Midlane Park Presbyterian (Associate Reformed Presbyterian)


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  27. #27
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    Given my druthers I would dress as I would if I knew persecution was coming during the service or right after and we had to head for the mountains and wilderness. However, I would get too much flack from my fashion advisor for that to be worthwhile, and so I dress close to the "business casual" style, unless asked to preach in a more formal church (with a tie), and there I would conform.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

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    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

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  28. #28
    The collar didn't get a mention?
    David Murray
    Member, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland
    Glasgow, Scotland

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  29. #29
    I would have labelled the fourth style as the "I-haven't-learned-to-shave-or comb-my-hear Style." I dress casually throughout the week. But would't go out of the house looking like that.

  30. #30
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    I may be old and grumpy but I have never understood how the "I look like I just rolled out bed and left the car shop" look is cool.
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
    Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP
    Ellisville, Mississippi

    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
    -- Matthew Henry on 1 John 1:9


    Blogging at: Mountains and Magnolias and The Confessional ARP
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  31. I wear a jacket, dress pants and a tie when I preach. When I don't preach and go to church I wear a jacket, dress pants and a tie.
    [FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=2][COLOR=black]Ivan Schoen ~ [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=2][COLOR=black]The Church in [/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=2][COLOR=black]Poplar Grove, IL[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]
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    [LEFT][SIZE=2][FONT=Book Antiqua][COLOR=black][SIZE=2][FONT=Book Antiqua][COLOR=black]"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." ~ Henry David Thoreau[/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR][/FONT][/SIZE][SIZE=2][FONT=Book Antiqua][COLOR=black][/LEFT]
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  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Moireach View Post
    The collar didn't get a mention?
    David,
    Amongst Reformed types here in North America a clerical collar is not very common. Even in Scotland it seems much less common now than it used to be.
    Donnie MacLeod, MDiv
    Westminster PCA, Atlanta, GA
    Seminary Grad and RN

    You filled my heart with greater joy
    than others may have found
    As they rejoiced at harvest time,
    when grain and wine abound.Ps 4:7, Sing Psalms 2003

  33. #33
    True Donnie.
    A debate for Free Church ministers just now is actually whether the wearing of a collar is adding to scripture?
    Some wear it I think to be distinct from the congregation - though I know little of the topic - but some wear suit, shirt and tie, which is often the same as the congregation.
    I know that my own minister sometimes wears it when he goes out in Glasgow and is often stopped for conversation with random people (often catholics I think).
    Any thoughts on this?
    David Murray
    Member, Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland
    Glasgow, Scotland

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  34. #34
    Well Kenny does wear the same style of collar as a RC priest wears! If it causes people to ask questions about Christianity or ask for prayer then that is a good thing.
    Personally, I don't see it as adding to Scripture. I am perfectly happy for a minister to wear a collar and/or gown. In fact, I see it as quite appropriate for leading the people of God in worship.
    Donnie MacLeod, MDiv
    Westminster PCA, Atlanta, GA
    Seminary Grad and RN

    You filled my heart with greater joy
    than others may have found
    As they rejoiced at harvest time,
    when grain and wine abound.Ps 4:7, Sing Psalms 2003

  35. #35
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    It is a sad statement in our culture and in the church (in my estimation) that informality has become virtue and formality has become vice.
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
    Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP
    Ellisville, Mississippi

    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
    -- Matthew Henry on 1 John 1:9


    Blogging at: Mountains and Magnolias and The Confessional ARP
    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

  36. #36
    I used to think "Geneva gown, baby" but over time I've come to a more "whatever is contextually appropriate" type of thing. Let me say though - vestments are verboten.

    I prefer the formal side of business casual, but I'm game for pretty much anything as long as it is tasteful. (For instance, you couldn't pay me enough to wear pimp-suit purple.)

    ---------- Post added at 10:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 10:49 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Backwoods Presbyterian View Post
    I may be old and grumpy but I have never understood how the "I look like I just rolled out bed and left the car shop" look is cool.
    I agree... what blows my mind is that "fashionable" guys put effort - and hair product - into intentionally giving their hair an unkempt, bed-head look. I don't get it.
    Ben
    Chaplain, US Army
    Stuttgart, Germany
    TE Potomac Presbytery, PCA
    www.thebenaddiction.com

    "Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, 'would an idiot do that?' And if they would, I do not do that thing." -- Dwight Schrute

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  37. #37
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    Personally, I like the bald camo look.
    B

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Century Calvinist View Post
    Personally, I don't see it as adding to Scripture.
    Oh there's no question that it is. Nowhere in Scripture do we find warrant for special clothes for the clergy. However, given the way our tradition has treated the issue, this is clearly a circumstance of worship, and therefore cannot be required, but also should not be forbidden.
    Philip
    Student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Attending Christ the Redeemer Church (Anglican)
    Member at Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church (PCA) Leesburg, VA

  39. #39
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    Acts 13 shows Paul wearing distinguishable clothing as this old post from the PB archives explains...

    http://www.puritanboard.com/f67/gene...09/#post508138
    Rev. Benjamin P. Glaser, M. Div, ARP
    Pastor, Ellisville Presbyterian Church, ARP
    Ellisville, Mississippi

    ‎‎""The Christian religion is the religion of sinners, of such as have sinned, and in whom sin in some measure still dwells. The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquitted, and sin abolished for ever."
    -- Matthew Henry on 1 John 1:9


    Blogging at: Mountains and Magnolias and The Confessional ARP

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Backwoods Presbyterian View Post
    Acts 13 shows Paul wearing distinguishable clothing as this old post from the PB archives explains...

    http://<a href="http://www.puritanbo...post508138</a>
    This is not even close to being as cut and dry as proposed. There are any number of other explanations for Paul speaking than "they saw he was dressed like a teacher." It might have been, or it might have been that Paul had talked to the rulers beforehand. Or he might have simply stood up in order to speak (that was, after all, his mission). Or it could be that as unrecognized out-of-town Jew, he might have been called on.

    I don't think any of that militates against wearing a robe, but such a fast and loose hermeneutic does far more damage than any potential good (even assuming that you can have a positive requirement to wear a robe).
    Fred Greco
    Senior Pastor, Christ Church PCA (Katy, TX)
    Christ Church Blog

    "The heart is the main thing in true religion...It is the hinge and turning-point in the condition of man's soul. If the heart is alive to God and quickened by the Spirit, the man is a living Christian. If the heart is dead and has not the Spirit, the man is dead before God." (J.C. Ryle)

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