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A Robeservation

September 18, 2010

One objection to a minister wearing  a robe or other distinguishing garment is that it creates a divide between the minister and the people – an unbiblical and certainly unnecessary distinction between clergy and laity. After all, the minister is just a man, and to wear clothing of distinction creates classes or categories that contradict the Bible’s teaching of oneness, equality, etc.

It seems that what drives the concern is that some will (wrongly) have power over others, and to dress them in fancy robes, etc. is just fanning a flame that should never have been lit in the first place. I’ll not get into a discussion of authority and rule in the Church here, but clearly there is reason to think that there  is authority and some do rule in the Church.

The observation I want to make here is that ministerial robes are symbolic of power, but not the power of the minster. Rather, they are symbolic of the power and authority of Christ on whose behalf the minister speaks. They are symbolic of separation, but not separation of the minister from the congregation. Rather, they are symbolic of the separation of the minister from himself.

He stands, speaks, ministers the Word, not on his own authority but as one under authority. Doing so in his everyday clothes looks more like one speaking and acting on his own authority than by and under the authority of another.

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