a quote

Research yields interesting rewards.  Here’s a snippet from Alexander Campbell in an “Extra” to the October 1835 issue of the Millennial Harbinger:

The Apostle carries his ideas of decency to the minutia of a brother’s uncovered head, and of a sister’s veil; therefore, may we not infer that even the dress of christians in the public assembly is either decent or indecent, according to the standard of christian simplicity and decorum?  If this be true of a christian’s dress, it is equally true of his manners.  The dress and manners of God’s house ought not to be after the model of the dress and manners of the forum, the theatre, or the carousals of a public entertainment.

When the heirs of heaven present themselves in the presence of the Lord, and meet around that sacred board which commemorates the ignominy, reproach, and sufferings of him who redeemed them to God by offering up himself a sacrifice for their sins; that gaiety of dress and flippancy of manners, so fascinating amongst the sons and daughters of fashion, festivity, and song, are wholly indecent, in the good sense of all the admirers of the fitness of things, or of the innocence and simplicity which adorned the ancient christians.

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2 responses to “a quote

  1. I like this quote because it strikes at the very common trend to regard God as being so personal (in these days where cultural christianity is spreading like a cancer through the church) that we lose sight of His holiness. The only thing I question is that CHANGING behaviors and dress when in “God’s house” infers that the actual building is sacred because God is there…not elsewhere. Should we not have behavior and dress in the “world” the same way as in the church? If not, why did Paul go in to this much detail. What is it about God that makes him appreciate the ceremony of changing our appearance and behavior when we are in the church building?
    Thanks for this quote Chris. (I’m a friend of Mark’s by the way)

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for stopping by. (Have we met? Once maybe, in Greenville?)

    Anyway, I think that Campbell would agree with you (and me) that there is nothing particularly sacred about the building. I’m tempted here to think that AC is using “God’s house” in the same way that Paul uses it in 1 Cor 3-4, i.e. as a metaphor for the church (which is, of course, the people), rather than as a reference to a specific structure.

    That said, I think that there has been present — for as far back as I can tell, at any rate — throughout the history of Christianity the idea that one “dresses up” to enter the presence of God. That’s at least partly culturally conditioned, I think. Sometimes, I like the idea, sometimes I don’t. I’m an American, though, and I live in a society that makes fewer and fewer distinctions or demands about dress and in which the concept of dressing for different situations is almost lost. So, it’s hard for me to sympathize with Campbell or his 19th century audience in that regard.

    All best,

    C.

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