2—clergy wear, pre-Reformation
NOTE: I originally wrote a segment for each of the 61 points Frank Viola and George Barna make in their book, Pagan Christianity, about traditions in the institutional church not based on scripture. After writing it, I chose to not include this segment merely as I felt that in wouldn’t be an interesting radio commentary.
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
In Mark chapter 7, the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of not following their traditions, which were based on, but not part of Tanak, what the church now calls the Old Testament. In verse 5, Jesus calls them hypocrites, which wasn’t sensitive to their feelings, but then, Jesus knew men’s hearts. (Note: I considered substituting Mk. 12:38 for this paragraph).
The early church did not have a distinction between clergy and laymen; you can’t find it in the New Testament. Shortly after the death of the apostles, some men started taking such positions in churches. Most were orators, and they wore white, an idea they may have borrowed from Plato. When Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal, clergy changed to match that of Roman officials, as Roman pagan priests had done earlier. Later, the color changed to purple, and the designs on the robes became more elaborate. Next came the idea that clergy were never to be seen in public wearing normal clothing, and after that, the idea that these special clothes had mystical and symbolic meanings. By the 7th and 8th centuries, vestments were accepted as sacred objects inherited from the Old Testament Levites. It must be remembered that, by this time, the average person had no access to the Bible to know what it said. Paul wrote in Colossians 2 verse 8, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”