f The Wittenberg Door: June 2009

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
My Photo

Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Loss of Symbolism

One of the things I love about the Reformed church is the symbolism, especially the symbolism involving the pulpit. The pulpit comprises a lectern standing upon a raised platform. Being the most important piece of “furniture” in the church, it is positioned in front of the congregation, with all pews facing it. Its symbolic importance can be summarized as follows:

  • It’s central—The pulpit’s central placement is important because it is from there that God addresses His people via the preached word. Therefore, it commands the most prominent place in the church.

  • It’s raised—The pulpit is elevated because it is upon the lectern that the minister’s bible rests, symbolizing the word of God being over the people.

  • It’s solid—The lectern is made of solid wood, symbolizing the sure foundation upon which God’s word stands. Moreover, it’s large enough to obscure most of the minister’s body, thus keeping the focus on the word. For this reason, Reformed ministers stay behind the lectern, so as to stay behind the word of God.

So Goes the Pulpit, So Goes the Glory of God

Overall, the pulpit represents what the church service is to be primarily about—God’s people coming together to worship Him, and, as mentioned, God addressing His people through the preached word.

Things have changed, though. Pulpits are considered outdated, and even stifling. Like nature, the church abhors a vacuum. In the pulpit’s place sprung the Plexiglas stand, allowing the “minister” to be seen in all of his glory. But this too is seen by some as cumbersome. Why let anything stand in front of the minister, hindering his ability to work the crowd like a Vegas lounge lizard?

Too harsh? Perhaps. But the transition from the pulpit to more modern elements is symptomatic of a greater problem: a shift from the glory of God to the glory of man; a shift from the minister as an empty vessel placarding Christ, to the minister as a personality and centerpiece; a shift from the preached word as a Means of Grace to the advent of a new sacrament—the minister himself.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Modesty in Dress

From Fox News . . .

Dozens of girls were turned away from a prom at Higgins High School because a teacher thought their dresses were too revealing.

Families of the girls said the teacher cited alleged violations of the Jefferson Parish schools dress code, most of them related to excessive display of cleavage.

"I was embarrassed," said Miranda Melerine, 17, a senior at the Marrero high school, who was among those barred by teacher Judy Gardner, an adviser to senior activities. "We can't go back to prom night. Prom's over. Our prom has been stolen from us."

Melerine said she is larger-busted than many of the girls who passed inspection at the door. She said it is harder for her to get the right fit in a prom dress and that Gardner gave her blessing to a picture of the dress long before the dance.

Earlis Fayette, 18, said his girlfriend also was sent away by Gardner at the door.

"I find it's wrong, because you can't help what the girl has. You're born with that," he said. "I think it was discrimination toward a woman who has features."

. . . The policy, which also strictly restricts any use of fishnet or see-through clothing, has been in effect for years and is included in a handbook that parents sign, Nowakowski said.

He said that students who didn't gain admittance Friday night were given a chance to leave and alter their dresses to bring them into compliance, and that some did that.

Twenty to 25 girls "didn't meet the code and so they were turned away because they didn't want to fix the dress in order to come inside," Nowakowski said. "It should have covered the breast, and that's not what happened last night."

I commend the school, which is apparently Roman Catholic, for not only having these standards but for enforcing them. Our churches should do likewise.

Although not so bad on Sunday morning, the dress of Christian girls outside of church often makes them indistinguishable from unbelievers. (Unfortunately, one of the reasons I had to disallow my children from attending my former denomination’s youth camp was because of the scandalous attire of many of the young women—and councilors.)

Christian young women, and especially their parents, need to realize that when girls display themselves in that way, they can be a party to adultery, due to their manor and dress (Mat. 5:27-28). In addition, the Lord looks upon these displays harshly. Consider these two verses from the third chapter of Isaiah:

16) The LORD says,"The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.

17) Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the LORD will make their scalps bald."

Instead, we parents, Christian young women, and pastors and ruling elders need to consider what the Lord desires, as described in the I Peter chapter 3:

2) as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

3) Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;

4) but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.