Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Guiding Principle of the English Reformation Applied - Vestments

With rare exception, Anglican clergy wear vestments (robe, alb, stole, etc.) while leading worship. This is a practice that goes back to the time of the English Reformation and before.

Vestments are another example of the guiding principle of the English Reformation at work. Vestments are not in the New Testament and there is no indication that the earliest Christians wore or used vestments. However, over time the use of vestments arose. There were many reason for it, but by the time the 16th century rolled around it was a deeply embedded practice in the life and ethos of the English Church and the whole Church Catholic.

Following the conservative temper of the English Reformation, the reformers approach was to retain vestments as a good and godly practice. There was nothing in the Bible that restricted there use and there were good reasons for retaining them.

To our modern ears this my seem an innocuous point. But during the reformation it was a big deal. Some in the Church of England called vestments "the rags of popery." Vestments were too much like Rome! Nevertheless, vestments were retained. From the perspective of the English Reformation, just because Rome does something does not make it wrong. The practice has to clearly violate the plain teaching of the Bible -- teaching about salvation and morality -- to be unacceptable.


Tony said...


I'm loving this series of posts on the principle of the English Reformation! We still need to talk sometime on the tele. Thanks for the thoughtful posts.

Kyle said...

And when you consider the alternative to be the business suits of the capitalist pig dogs...!