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Monday
Sep282009

Why Does the Pastor Wear a White Robe?

The minister officiating in Christian worship ought to be dressed in a way that identifies him as the representative and spokesman of Jesus Christ.  This is his calling and the congregation should be visually reminded of his responsibilities and place in the Sunday service.  Traditionally, this means that the minister wears a white tunic or robe.  These two sentences will likely raise all sorts of questions.  Is this biblical?  Or is this something that has just always been done that way?  Isn’t this too “Catholic”?  Does the robe mean that the pastor is better than me?  Closer to God than I am?  Is he a priest?  Why does the pastor lead the entire worship service anyway?  These are the kinds of questions that I will attempt to answer in this little pamphlet.

 Office Over Personality

First, the white robe, among other things, helps emphasize the office of the pastor and de-emphasize the personality of the man in the pulpit.  Sometimes it is hard to be led in worship by an elder or pastor who is a good friend or a peer or even (especially) one who is younger.  To help us get over this feeling, the church has traditionally placed special robes on her ministers when they conduct worship.  This helps the people to remember that it is not just good old Jeff Meyers up there; rather, the Lord’s ordained minister is leading us into God’s presence and speaking God’s Word to us.  Strictly speaking, the worship service is not conducted by Jeff Meyers anyway, but by the robe of office that Jeff Meyers happens to be filling at the current time.  We submit to the office, not to the man, during worship. (The concept of submission to church office is eminently biblical: Acts 20:17, 28-35; 1 Cor. 12:28; 16:16; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Thess 5:12, 13; 1 Tim. 3:1ff;  4:14; 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17; &  1 Pet. 5:1-7).