I might manage three Viola posts by the end of the day. This is the first.
The previous reviews of Pagan Christianity were:
1. Viola's Preface
2. Barna's Introduction
3. The Church Building
4. The Order of Worship
5. The Sermon
6. The Pastor
Now Chapter 7: "Sunday Morning Costumes: Covering Up the Problem."
Same basic formula, although I didn't have nearly as much problem with this chapter as others. He's only a little over the top in a couple places, then he's more sane in the "Delving Deeper."
So let me start with the "delving DEEPER" section. He responds to those for whom dressing up for church is a reminder of giving God the respect he deserves. Viola responds, "If... you can do it unto the Lord with pure motives, then by all means do so" (155).
Does he think the practice of dressing up can be redeemed? Yes, he says, "There is nothing inherently wrong with wearing dressy clothes to a Christian gathering" (155).
Thanks. So agree with him that 1) dressy clothes are not in any way necessary for church, 2) many people hide their real selves behind dressy clothes that are little more than image management, 3) the clothing ministers wear, from etherial albs and mitres to business suits, are cultural and way post-biblical.
My disagreements are same old same old. The meaning of what we wear to church is a function of what it means today, not how it started. You can't assassinate Halloween today by reference to where it came from. The meaning of something today is a function of its context today.
So how you should dress in church, whether minister or not, would seem to be a matter of what certain dress signifies in your context. I doubt you can come to the vast majority of churches in America in a string bikini with a godly heart. I doubt a Christian woman in certain parts of the Middle East could come to church without a veil and have a godly heart. Paul told the Corinthian women to wear veils in their worship.
Jesus didn't condemn the clothing the Pharisees wore as clothing but as an expression of the motives of certain Pharisees. Indeed, many think that the "hem" of Jesus' garment was in fact the tassels that a man would wear to signify he was a rabbi, a teacher (women pretty much not allowed in the club).