October 21, 2020

The Meaning of a Suit: A Response to John Macarthur’s Comments on Contextualization

leapfrog.gifUPDATE: Read Tim Keller on putting the Gospel in Context.

David Bayly says thumbs up.

I hope that this contribution to the important discussion on contextualization going on in evangelicalism will be received and read in a constructive way. I am not trying to take issues with personalities. These are important issues. I am not defending those who “sell the store.” I join Dr. Macarthur and those who appreciate him in praying for constant, clear communication of the Gospel.

The first is regarding my strong statements regarding contextualization. I believe that byword has become a curse. “We have to change the way we dress, look, sing, in order to ‘contextualize,’ to connect with people at the level of their exposure to broader culture.” This isn’t anything really now. I can think of just 15 or so years ago, when a prominent pastor in the U.S. took his whole staff into a X-rated movie so they could experience what their people were experiencing; and this was advocated in a national magazine. That’s actually 15 years ago, the first time I’d seen something like that, and it seemed very extreme. But it’s become a symbol of where the church growth movement was going to go…

All ministry is mind to mind. The sooner you can learn to leapfrog the culture, the better. We’re after how people think, and how they think about truth and God and sin and salvation. In any context, all you’re endeavoring to do is to help them understand the authoritative Word of God. You start from where they are, sometimes you have to show them the Bible is the Word of God.

Some people ask, why do I wear a tie? Because I have respect for this responsibility. I wear a suit because this is a more elevated experience for people. I’m trying to convey what people convey at a wedding: this is more serious than any normal activity. This is the most serious occasion anyone will attend in their life: the preaching of the Word of God. I don’t want to join with our culture in sinking into the casual. We have a generation that’s never been to anything formal. And if my dress goes down, the people at the bottom go down, and then we gym shorts!…

Because all I’m trying to do is explain the meaning of the Word of God. And you want to use any avenue to do so short of affirming the culture. I don’t need to borrow or certainly not to accredit the culture by being overly familiar with it. Becoming all things to all men means looking into the situation and seeing where they are in their religious thinking, to find a starting point to move them into Scripture.

-Dr. John Macarthur, Q & A session, liveblogged by Evers Ding at the 2008 Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church, on the subject of contextualization.

It’s fairly clear to me what Dr. Macarthur and others emulating him are saying, and it seriously confuses me. Confuses me to the point that I have to wonder if they are actually saying something else.

First, let me be clear that while I am a nobody, God has called me and allowed me to spend 16 years preaching to atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, secularists and cultural religionists from all over the world and half of America. My audience is not only multi-cultural, they are young and generally rebellious against religion and authority. I preach 12-20 times a month. I teach the Bible to all of these people 4 hours a day, and my goal is to give them a clear grasp of the Biblical narrative and to be able to hear and understand a 2 Ways To Live presentation of the Gospel with understanding. I labor- and I do mean labor- in the cause of communicating the Gospel, the authority and relevance of the Bible and the invitation of God to faith and discipleship across cultural lines. I have thought long and hard over the issues Dr. Macarthur discusses.

I depend on prayer and the preaching of the Bible entirely as my spiritual means. I do not let my chapel preachers use film or music clips except on rare occasions. I never use them and dislike them in preaching. I tell guest preachers not to use them. I have no time for the compromise of the Gospel for any reason and I say so to the point of annoyance. I want my students to hear messages FROM THE BIBLE, about the Christ of the Bible and explained by Biblical texts. I want my Muslims to go back home remembering men with open Bibles talking about Jesus.

I thought Ashamed of the Gospel was an awesome book and still do. Anyone who wants to take whatever disagreements I’ve had with Phil Johnson and the Pyros and turn it into an endorsement of compromising the Gospel, deserting scripture in preaching or adopting the language of culture as the primary “story” we’re telling needs to step outside and roll up your sleeves. I’ll be right there to settle this.

I agree with Dr. Macarthur completely that gathered worship is no place to let the culture dominate or call the shots. I am all for worship being determined by the worship vision of the Biblical texts and the pursuit of worship that magnifies the Solas.

I hear what Dr. Macarthur is talking about. I loathe the tactics of compromisers who remake and morph the Gospel into the message of the dominant culture. I believe Jesus stands in stark contrast to the empire. I want to see every culture be transformed by Christ .I believe the Gospel is the power of God, that prayer and the Word are our weapons and the Holy Spirit our great communicator.

But these comments on contextualization really confuse me along these very lines.

1. Dr. Macarthur is, just like me, part of a culture and he can’t deny it. His suit, and the meaning of his suit, is a perfect example. His statement that the suit shows he’s serious is a cultural value of middle to upper class white Americans. It’s not a value of Jesus and Jesus didn’t teach or endorse it. The meaning of that suit demonstrates that Dr. Macarthur is comfortable with an aspect of culture that he’s grown up with and into. He relates it to his faith, but it’s a decision he’s making about context. It doesn’t mean I’m not serious or that Mark Driscoll or his congregation aren’t serious.

Here in Eastern Kentucky, that suits communicates a lot more than seriousness. It communicates “he has money.” That suit keeps all kinds of men from ever entering a church. Probably less than 3% of the men in my county have ever had on a tie, much less a suit. Where do I stop them and say it’s Biblical and “serious” to wear a suit? It would be completely OUTSIDE of the Gospel for me to do so.

That’s not a condemnation of Dr. Macarthur’s suit. It’s simply what I’ve learned from my own awareness of cultural context, and it’s why I can say “Jesus doesn’t need you to wear a suit to be a serious Christian.”

2. Dr. Macarthur’s church architecture, worship service style, Bible translation, music and vocabulary are also aspects of a culture. They may be influenced by the Bible, but they are also influenced by being a white, western, American in the evangelical tradition. No one leapfrogged culture on any Sunday morning at GCC any more than they did at any church anywhere. We all brought our culture with us and the church has its own waiting for us when we get there.

3. Dr. Macarthur doesn’t leapfrog the culture. He preaches the Gospel from within a culture: the culture of independent Baptist fundamentalists, dispensationalists and Calvinists in California and America. He and his church are just as acculturated as Surgeon, Luther and Paul.

4. The Gospel can exist within any cultural setting, but IT JUDGES THAT CULTURE. It judges our language, our notions of race, our values, our politics, our definition of normal, our families, our religion, our economics, and on and on. Openly and honestly admitting this allows us to imperfectly deconstruct our cultural influences and move toward greater obedience to the Gospel.

5. Dr. Macarthur seems to believe that to admit any influence or any use of culture is to automatically be compelled to embrace the worst aspects of that culture and to immediately compromise the Gospel. That is simply not the case. it’s as if Tim Keller’s adaptation of a church plant to the culture of New York City or Driscoll’s to Seattle don’t exist. I know that’s not true, but what in the world does he think about Keller’s continually discussion of culture, Gospel and church planting?

6. Dr. Macarthur seems to think that once cultural context is recognized, the church will start on an inevitable road to becoming Steve Chalke and Brian Mclaren. This is, again, not true. What I really see here is a tension between the Macarthur style of reformed evangelicalism and the Driscoll style of the same. What would Macarthur say of Driscoll’s book Radical Reformission? It seems to me he would call it dangerous compromise.

7. At the end of the day, these comments seem to reflect the turn of the century, fundamentalist, separationist Baptist roots so many of us grew up in; a tradition that was highly reluctant to see and admit its own distinct culture; a culture that could have dress codes, rules, traditions and meanings, yet simply said they were being “Biblical.” A tradition that condemned many good things and still does in maintenance of its loyalty to itself. A culture that resents the fact that a newer generation of serious, Biblical evangelicals aren’t making the same choices about church and culture.

8. It is the recovery of a more consistent concern for being thoroughly Biblical that is causing the Kellers and the Driscolls to depart from the approach that tells itself it has leapfrogged culture. No one has, but without the admission of our own cultural settings and an awareness of the hazards and opportunities of working in a multi-cultural Kingdom for a King who is determined to get glory from all cultures, some will continue to promote a completely unneeded hostile pose toward people doing good missional thinking, church planting and evangelism.

9. I cannot help but believe that this discussion is not about the use of “context,” but about allowing the wrong elements of culture to determine the shape of the Christian message. To that, I add a wholehearted “amen.” But to the notion that all contextual thinking and context sensitive ministry is a waste of time, I can only be in wonder, and I am sure I am not alone. We needed our eyes opened to what it means to be missional in context. We taught our missionaries to do it, and we needed it in our own culture.

10. I truly appreciate that Dr. Macarthur is bold to raise, discuss and answer these issues. They are important. I believe he makes an important contribution, but I believe that many of us are eager to understand context, deconstruct our own, find contact points and speak contextually so we may speak Biblically. This is good, missional evangelism, preaching and church planting, and always has been.

Comments

  1. Brother, there is much wisdom in what you say. It is too easy to beat on the extremes, and a much harder thing to actually understand those who like yourself are trying hard to proclaim the real gospel amongst many cultures. Thank you for modeling gracious agrrement and disagreement at the same time.

  2. You are sure right Michael, that we cannot leapfrog the culture we live and minister in. Twenty plus years ago I gave up the use of a suit to preach in here in Brazil, where many pastors and missionaries were still using them. In a tropical climate it doesn’t make a lot of sense when most of our churches don’t have air-conditioners, besides the fact that none of the men in our congregations wore them – making them a sort of clerical garb. Some of the men who have to wear suits all week here don’t even want to think of wearing them to church.

    The brazilians dress up nicely without them making the statement that church and God are important. Today a lot more pastors here are also taking the cultural and climate cues and have given up the suit except for weddings, etc.

    Dress is a highly cutlural issue and you are also right that our USA churches have a lot more of a culture of their own than we realize. By the way, I do get out the suits when I am in the States speaking, but gladly set them aside when a local pastor gives me that liberty…:) I have seen large cultural shifts in America in my visits and the churches sometimes are oblivious of these, it seems… But these changes are happening all around the world.

    God bless, and keep up the interesting subjects!

  3. Thank you for your post. I have had the same opinion as yours for as long as I can remember. I’ve never understood the importance of a suit in church for either preachers or congregants.

    Two other points I would bring up are:
    -To me, suits represent the corporate culture. This is then brought into the church.
    -If one doesn’t wear a suit in normal everyday life, why should they change their dress on Sunday? While preaching the Word is to be held in high esteem, it’s the Word that’s important, not the vessel.

    As far as what clothes one wears the only Biblical principles I can find are that our dress is not distracting or immodest.

    I also hold Mr. MacArthur in very high regard. My only comment is on the suits thing.
    Jeff

  4. Beware the gym shorts…

  5. Monk
    another great post. I preach to young men in our local detention center each month. My experience has been that “nooma” type video’s and short comedy clips have been well received. Ive always thought that connecting with them in there “video” culture was ok. I now am wondering the dis-service I may be bringing into the only 30 minute chance the kids have to ever hear the gospel. I must pray about this.The only church Ive ever been a part of has “hip,modern,relevent” basically in huge letters over the front door. But, my whole family has left this church with very little to show for it and shallow doctrine. Maybe contextualization is the calling card to get the attention of people, then let the Word, Holy Spirit, and prayer do what only it can do anyway…

  6. I do like it when the pastor wears vestments. It is a symbol of servitude to others and to God.

    It is saying that in here (in the worship service) you will encounter something of the ‘other’. Something from outside of the culture.

    Suits are fine for those that believe vestments are vestiges of Rome and nothing that smacks of Rome should ever be tolerated.

    But suits can lead to button down sweaters, and that to Hawaiian shirts and shorts, and that to tossing out the altar and the pulpit and the lecturn. And that to the relagation of the sacraments to an afterthought or mere ritual of tradition with no real meaning, or real presence of the Lord.

    And that to the full rock band and the concert lighting systems, and that to the Starbucks in the narthex, and that to making the whole project a platform for your performance, and or, entertainment.

    Talk about a slippery slope. I just took everyone right over the cliff! Better I than many of the current crop of Evangelical pastors.

    Whew! I’ve got to loosen my tie a little…

    – Steve

  7. dan macdonald says

    Good points, Michael. The issue should be settled by asking one simple question – why are we who preach, preaching in English, instead of in the original biblical languages? Because of our cultural context. Why is the Macarthur Study Bible published in an English translation to American readers? The same: contextualization.

    His real issue is not contextualization, it is cultural accommodation. And he is afraid that the former word is being used to disguise the latter. In that he may be right- in fact, in many cases I believe this is the issue- but for the sake of the clarity he craves, I wish he would himself be clearer.

    Dan

  8. Would not the “Shepherd’s” adjective seem to indicate that it would center around the needs of the sheep? I find the redundant choir preaching to serve no purpose but to “energize the base”. Where there any slides of the African AIDS epidemic? Where there calls for fasting and prayer for the gay community? Where there exhortations for humility on an unusual level? Where there public inventories/confessions about tearless ministries?

    I believe if Jesus, the Great Shepherd, had a conference for under shepherds He would both call for a deeper followship in His pastors and expose the fields to these same men and see if their hearts were broken. If not, and if all they had was exegetical minutia ad infinitum, then let them find employment elsewhere.

    The world lies in the Wicked One, suffering physically and spiritually, and we continue to butress things we already believe instead of calling for colossal sacrifice from among those who claim to be protectors of the Holy Grail. There is such a thing as contending for the faith while yet being deceived.

  9. I think John MacArthur probably imagines that the whole country is like his neighborhood. That is a mistake. But it may be that he has found the appropriate application of his insights to his neighborhood and others like it. That’s at least a separate discussion from whether it can be applied universally.

    Where suit and tie offend, let them go by the wayside.

    Best practice will vary from place to place. I like to do something to show that I take being up front seriously. If all clothing is what many would consider casual clothing, I’d say wear your nicer casual clothing when you serve up front.

    But I get itchy when I see intolerance in either direction. I don’t want the suit-wearers to glare at the more casually dressed as if they know these people take their faith in a frivolous fashion. Nor do I want the casually dressed to glare at the suit wearers as if they are all Pharisees who make a mere outward show. People should use their best judgment when getting dressed, and then forget about the matter as much as possible when they get to church.

  10. John Murphy says

    Good analysis of MacArthur, iMonk. MacArthur strikes me as a guy who sees white and he sees black, there is little room for gray in his world. It doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person, it’s just that this type of personality can’t understand why everyone else isn’t exactly like him because it’s the obvious way to be. There is a certain blindness there, which I think is his great weakness. It’s well-illustrated in his comments on contextualization, which as dan m. pointed out is really an attack on cultural accomadation.

  11. Michael A says

    I agree completely, Michael. Did Joseph or Daniel “leapfrog” their culture, or did they work within them and FOR them? Seems to me Jesus commended the Samaritan and condemned the pharisee. Which culture was he “leapfrogging”?

  12. What an interesting web site this is, Michael. I enjoy it for stretching my brain a bit (or more than a bit), and keeping me from getting complacent.

    I’ve been in the ECUSA for more than ten years now, and feel very comfortable with the vestments, the processions, the ritual, and the beauty of this service. So I tend to forget that when I first walked in to my current church, fresh out of the Presbyterian model, I found the whole Episcopal thing so bizarre, confusing, and alien that it took a friend to talk me into giving it a second chance.

    I agree with the comments here that say “a suit — or lovely vestments — do not a Christian make.” But I’d also say that everything depends on the motivation. Dr. Macarthur wears a suit because, in his mind, it gives glory to God to do so. Therefore, he is “justified” in doing so. But in Eastern Kentucky, as you say, Michael, “That suit keeps all kinds of men from ever entering a church.” Therefore, in outward things such as clothing, you would not feel you were glorifying God by wearing a suit; rather, you’d be doing just the opposite.

    Steve and my priest wear vestments for the same reason — to glorify God. Roger wears clothes appropriate for Brazilian services. If Roger wore a suit or vestments in his Brazilian services *because he felt that gave glory to God,* then that would also be appropriate, IMNSHO. If a minister wears clothing to give glory to God, I believe that God is pleased with that and will work with that (oops, my pietism is showing. But there it is, “I do believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.”) I also believe that, as long a the minister keeps his mind and heart open to God, he will be led to do and, yes, wear, the right things to.

    I’m sure most of you are saying “duh” about now, but I’m just chiming in with my two farthings worth.

    My favorite comment here was Henry Frueh’s, that the minister’s approach needs to “center around the needs of the sheep?” (I trust that includes even us white middle-class American sheep.)

  13. I really liked his comment about if he left off a suit the people at “the bottom” would be in gym shorts.

    Very revealing about Mr. MacArthur….very revealing.

    As far as “where suits and ties offend”, etc. etc.

    I just don’t think that should be the only consideration, because the assumption is that suits and ties are inherently the “right” default setting only to be off-loaded for a particular social class.

    I’ve had eucharist in the middle of a living room surrounded by college students in snowboarding gear, it was one of the most powerful moments with the elements I’ve ever had. I met God again there. It had nothing to do with the place it happened, or how we were dressed.

    I think “wearing the right things” is more about modesty, not a uniform of any kind.

    It’s very revealing if people are so consumed with the “rightness” of wearing a suit that they get mad, judge people, or are unloving about it. It says something is quite broken if, when someone does not wear a suit, that you would feel “a need” to speak to someone about it.

    Suits work for some church cultures, but sometimes they need to let it go and get back to the heart.

  14. per “the giving glory to God” stuff…

    That’s great, I agree…BUT that’s why it needs to stay personal and not become a means to dominating other people with human expectations.

    If J-mac wants to wear a suit…GREAT!!
    But if J-mac and his church judge people who don’t, or other church leaders that don’t….
    well…
    sorry…

    [Moderator edited. Got a bit too personal there Nathan.]

  15. This whole conversation reminds me of a 1 Peter 5:5 where Paul does give a biblical dress code. “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”

    Take this as the test. Does wearing a suit exalt a person or humble a person?

    I know I am being a little simplistic here, but suits are not the uniform for a servant in America. The President wears a suit!

    Why not borrow some kids McDonald’s uniform? Maybe a Wal-Mart apron would do in a pinch.

  16. It is becoming harder and harder to take Macarthur seriously these days. Last year he was rightly ripped to shreds over his Amill debacle and now this. It is almost as if he is willing to talk about anything without understanding what he talks about. I know he has done some good stuff, but this is a downward spiral.

  17. Can anyone tell me who this prominent US pastor who took his whole staff to see an X-rated movie?

    Dr. MacArthur seldom hesitates from naming names, but in this instance, he simply speaks of a “prominent pastor in the US.”

  18. First of all, Michael, thank you for your gracious and balanced approach to this. Nothing new, but I thought it bore acknowledgment.

    Second, I’m going to try not to pick on specific words, since I know this is a live-blog transcript and may not be 100% accurate even if Evers has fingers as fast as Challies. 😉

    Now on to my point. This whole “suit” thing scares the doo-doo out of me.

    1) By placing himself in the position that he does relative to the congregation, he’s merely propagating the cult of personality.

    I find it kinda ironic that one of his prominent members recently blogged a great deal about how the “cult of personality” is a bad thing, applying it — of course — to another pastor.

    2) I’ve never heard a clearer exclamation — not right, just clear — that orthodoxy is of infinitely greater importance than orthopraxy. If hearing Dr MacArthur preach the word of God is the MOST serious thing that his congregates do, has he not failed miserably?

  19. Thanks for that post Michael. This is my first comment on your site. In that post, you captured my thoughts exactly. You did, however, say it much better than I could. John Mac seems to do this on more issues than the current topic. By that I mean, he takes something of an alarmist position. Consider his arguments on the “charismatic” issue; here again John Mac employs the slippery slope argument. I do not mean to stir the proverbial pot (I do not even know your position on such issues..I am new here after all). I am simply saying, well done in your critique, and I would add that this line of rationale is nothing new for John Mac (whom I do have lots and lots of respect for).

    I plan to return and keep reading what you write. Grace to you all!

  20. great post. i was thinking also of saying something also and might do it today. nice to see respect for JM and a hard comeback also.

  21. I do not think that John MacAuthur is necessarily vain but his seemingly expensive dental work and well-tanned skin may very well appear over-the-top to say a christian languishing in a sub-saharan refuge camp. His comments on suits only seem to bring up a line of questioning that will lead to uncomfortable areas for GCC.

  22. well done…good thoughts on the subject.

  23. When one of the Bayly brothers links favorably to an iMonk post I feel the urge to dig out my end-times charts again….

    Anyway, thought this was a great post and good motivation to look at how embedded we can be in our own particular culture without realizing it. The thing about suits and the like is that you can always go a step farther. Why stop at suits when you can wear a tux instead? That’ll get rid of the casual atmosphere. 🙂

  24. Reading Macarthur’s words on suit-wearing and the slippery slope it may lead to (ie people NOT wearing their best clothes), I feel that I am not good enough for him.

  25. I call B.S. on the “Church service in a porn-theatre” -thing.

  26. I am a christian living in a country with the largest moderate muslim population. How would you present gospel to a muslim community without a contextualization? Wearing suit would only enhance deeper their view of Christianity as western culture. Western culture with their corrupt moral value. America. Oppresor. With Dutch’s Imperial colonization as our country background history, no wonder Christianity has the reputation as “the invader religion”. They lose sight of Christ because of how Christianity been presented all this time.
    My friend told me of a muslim interested in Christianity but went back to his Islam faith because he couldn’t stand what he saw in a church. A too westernized church. From a community with women cover themself from head to toe as sign of modesty and purity, to a community where the women wear tank top when praising God is too much for this man. Sitting in a pew not on the floor. Wearing shoes while steping in the holy ground (God’s house). A loud band of music. It’s western culture written all over it. All are foreign to this man. All are abomination in his old religion. These are trivial to us, but it’s important to him. So if it’s not the center of Christ’s Gospel, why not contextualized it? Music can be replace by Bible verses chanting and so on.
    Michael, your blog has help me tremendously for years through difficult time in my spiritual journey. Keep up the good work.

  27. I’ve seen the “suit at church” thing cut both ways, much as several comments have said earlier. I’ve dealt with a church who refused to have anything to do with our church, in spite of being the same denomination, because we did not wear suits to church. Ironically, two low-income families started attending our church within a month specifically because they were intimidated by dress-up churches and appreciated our church’s relaxed dressing.

    In a different church I attended for a very short while, I also heard a great deal of talk about how a neighboring church just down the street is full of hypocrites because they encourage a higher level of dressing-up.

    Clothing can speak volumes, both by what the wearer intends by the clothing and by what others perceive the clothing to mean. It is ENTIRELY cultural in both directions – casual and formal.

  28. “All ministry is mind to mind. The sooner you can learn to leapfrog the culture, the better.”

    I honestly don’t understand how MacArthur can make this statement. Does he think that he has leapfrogged the culture and so a white upper middle class Southern Californian is what the unculturized human looks like? I am not trying to be funny; how can he said we need to get past the culture and get to the mind, as if a mind is not really affected by culture?

  29. The remark about “suits = money” is something I had never even considered, but it makes perfect sense out in Clay Co. Of course, I suppose out there, “collar = Catholic” as well.

  30. Ye Olde Mike says

    I see good and bad elements in what Dr. Macarthur is saying there. I completely understand why you’d want to wear a suit to preach to Word, and I do so myself. Depending on what cultural context you’re in, a suit and tie can indeed indicate seriousness to one’s congregation and not snootiness. It’s important that we be aware of what our language and dress are communicating to the culture, and if dressing up in nice clothes helps communicate the seriousness of the Word, then it may be wise to dress up.

    I’m inclined to think that in being “all things to all men,” Paul’s intention was to avoid offending the sensibilities of his audience; indeed, the conclusion of the oft-quoted contextualisation passage found in 1 Corinthins 10:31-33, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 9 and 10 concern the Christian’s liberty, and what the apostle means in being a slave to all is that he limits his liberties so as to avoid giving offense. The point was to get Paul out of the way so as to communicate the Gospel clearly – “I do all things for the sake of the gospel.”

    You are right on, however, in your critique of Macarthur. I love the man and his teaching, but he seems to be missing the point that his own ministry is influenced by culture, be it a 1950’s Baptist culture or even the culture of our day. He seems to contradict himself: in one paragraph he insists that we be aware of what our clothing says to the culture, and in another paragraph he makes it clear that we shouldn’t care what the culture is like, so long as we preach the Word. Quite confusing.

  31. Good stuff. I was wondering what books you would recommend someone who is starting to read into being missional or missional minstry. If you could recommend 5 top books on the subject what would they be? Thanks.

  32. Casey Sabella says

    Oh brother! If any reading this article honestly thinks that your calling is in anyway tied to a piece of cloth hanging around your neck, you’ve got bigger problems than dress code. Dudes. Authority and image and not related. Ask John the Baptist. I suppose we should speak to Peter and John about the image they project when they wear those common clothes to synagogue. The very idea. And that Jesus and those sandals. He’s gotta go…

  33. I was very impressed by McArthur’s comments.

    The trend to dress like slobs has become so extreme that anyone who dresses well is mocked and ridiculed. That is neither tolerant nor reasonable.

    This reverse snobbery makes church an uncomfortable and humiliating experience for those who are no longer young and cannot fit into the current, trendy way of thinking.

    I would urge those who insist on wearing casual clothes to open your minds and not judge. Accept those who are different from you and don’t insist that they conform to your standards.

    For years I taught English to internationals in a church in Boston. They simply couldn’t understand the American sloppy dressing. They wore their best clothes to church out of respect. When they say Americans defending their tee shirts and jeans, they just looked stunned.

  34. I hope you explained to them that their equating clothes with worship was a cultural judgement, not a Biblical one, and that dress codes have nothing to do with the Gospel.