Where Do Concepts of Formal Dress Codes In Church Come From?

Tiago Arrais —  February 6, 2014 — 23 Comments

(This is a guest post by Tiago Arrais. He is currently finishing his PhD in Old Testament from Andrews University. After this post about JaRule going to church received so many comments, I asked him to give a response. While every denomination has had debates on this issue, this response takes into account issues and history directly related to the Seventh-day Adventist Church)

The question I want to address in this post is: where do conceptions of formal dress-codes in church come from?

This post is a reflection upon some of the reactions that came from an earlier post in this blog about the relevance of dress-codes in the church. I have found that there are at least two positions concerning this issue:

A. Those who understand that formal dress-codes are necessary to maintain a level of reverence, of respect, to the God that we as a church worship together and to represent Him well by the way we dress to the world.

B. Those that understand that in order for the church to be a place that welcomes all, it must not create any barriers (such as formal dress-codes) that would hinder anyone from entering through its doors.

Disclaimer:

Before I begin my ramblings here I must say that I do not believe there is one clear answer concerning what we are to do concerning dress-codes. This is naturally what people would like. But, unfortunately, we need to embrace the fact that some issues/problems we have today are of no concern to the writers of Scripture. These issues are sort of a holy version of the “first world problems” we have today. Example: we get “upset” when our phone battery dies while we are sending an email. You get the picture.

Disclaimer over.

So, let us think about the ontology of formal dress-codes! And by ontology here I mean, breaking down what makes our conceptions of formal church-dress codes what they are. What are the assumptions that govern our behavior? Because whether we want it or not, our church behavior is not a thing in itself—it stems from thinking. We behave in a particular way, because we think in a particular way (quite Cartesian of us)!

I believe the first step to answer these questions, at least partially, is to deconstruct each assumption we might bring into the issue. Where do we get the idea that we need to dress up to go to church? There are many possibilities, but I want to focus on at least two that I believe are quite influential. The first deals with a problem particularly present in my denominational community (the Seventh-day Adventist church), while the second might apply to all Christian denominations. In case you have no interest in reading  some of the Seventh-day Adventist assumptions behind this issue, jump to reason #2!

Reason #1: The Ellen G. White Writings Argument

The Adventist church maintains a healthy relationship between Scripture and the writings of Ellen White, one of the founders of the Adventist denomination. When it comes to issues of praxis, her writings have often been found quite influential. Yet, we need to keep in mind that the writings of EGW are not exempt from interpretation since at one point she advises not to purchase bicycles (see TM, 398). Think about these words on the need for common sense:

My mind has been greatly stirred with the idea, ‘Why, Sister White has said so and so, and Sister White has said so and so; and therefore we are going right up to it.’” “God wants us all to have common sense, and he wants us to reason from common sense. Circumstances alter conditions. Circumstances change the relations of things” (Selected Messages, 215, 217).

The contextual background, the circumstances of her writings are crucial! For some, part of the “formal dress-code in church” mindset does not primarily come from a conception of sacred space but from some of EGW’s writings. Writings that are set in a rural background where people commonly worked in farms and in heavy manual labor throughout the week. To differentiate their time/dress in church from the time/dress of these common and secular places they would dress up to show the differentiation of the 7th day from the other days of regular labor. This idea is found in quotes such as this:

“All who meet upon the sabbath to worship God, should, if possible, have neat, well-fitting, comely garments to wear in the house of worship. It is a dishonor to the Sabbath, to God, and to his house, for those who profess to believe that the Sabbath is the holy of the Lord, and honorable, to wear upon that day the soiled clothing which they have worn through the labors of the week, if they can obtain anything more suitable” (CTBH 86).

Interestingly, there are some Jewish roots to this practice. The weekly kabalat shabbat (the receiving of the sabbath) is ideally marked in each Jewish household by their dressing up to receive the sabbath. So there is an element of respect for the day that leads people to dress formally. And this conception is not bad. But it must be counterbalanced with quotes such as this:

On Sunday many popular churches appear more like a theater than like a place for the worship of God. Every fashionable dress is displayed there. Many of the poor have not courage to enter such houses of worship. Their plain dress, though it may be neat, is in marked contrast with that of their more wealthy sisters, and this difference causes them to feel embarrassed” (CTBH 85).

So based on these preliminary thoughts, it is safe to say that part of the formal dress-code mindset stems from a narrow view of EGW and her writings. If we take time to read her insights on this issue the key word that surfaces over and over again is: simplicity. In sum, a call for common sense in the usage of EGW’s writings is imperative.

Reason #2: The Church/Sanctuary Argument

Being from South America, I know from experience, that along with the issue of formal dress-codes, MANY other practical issues the church struggles with also stem from a misconception of what the church is.

Why is this so?

Because the assumption in many churches in South America (as well as in North America), is that the church is the modern-day equivalent of the Old Testament Sanctuary. Even the architecture of the majority of the churches around the world reflects this idea. Whether we realize it or not, the architecture of our churches express thinking, that is, a church building tells a lot about our conception of what ministry and mission is by the way it is set up. Think about this: The majority of our churches have a common area (pews), a holy place (pulpit/platform), and a most holy place (pulpit/baptismal tank). When I was a kid, deacons would pull my ear if I ever played/ran in the pulpit area (because in their mind that area represented holy space!). This sanctuary structure is also seen with variations in protestant churches, catholic churches, and particularly in greek-orthodox churches.

*A note on architecture – it is very hard not to dress up when our church buildings look the way they do. To be underdressed at PMC (my local church) would draw the attention of people, not because people don’t like it, but because the underdressed would be in disharmony with the building itself! Now, I’ve heard of churches that are built like warehouses–worship takes place there on the weekends, but during the week the “church/warehouse” serves as a shelter for the homeless, and as food-banks for the hungry, etc. Formal dress would definitely stand out in such context. The question here is: what does your church building communicate in regards to the mission it is engaged in? What is the focus? Pews that cannot be moved facing the front of the church show the importance of the message/preaching, of baptism, but is this all the church is about? Food for thought.

Back to our discussion.

The mindset of the church/sanctuary does not only impact the architecture of our church but it also informs part of how many church actions occur. For example: church discipline (the sinner is to be excluded/cut off from the courts of the temple/church), music (we use texts that talk about temple music in the OT to support what is appropriate music for the church), and there are other activities I could mention that reflect this idea.

Disclaimer:

I’m not advocating here that church discipline and appropriate music are not important elements– Biblically they are– I’m only saying that our frame of mind in going about these activities can be off by thinking the church is a sanctuary. A simple example of this reality is making church discipline a practice that is brutal/divisive (church/sanctuary mindset: cutting off and sending away) rather than a redemptive activity as the Bible intends it to be.

Disclaimer over.

The formal dress-code mindset could fall under this same misconception of church/sanctuary. The rationale is: we are going to church/sanctuary and our “external” appearance must be in conformity with the fact that we are going to God’s house. Although many who are in favor of formal dress-codes in North American churches today might not think in these terms, I have observed this rationale as the basis for these practices, not only in America, but in other countries as well.

This church/sanctuary mindset is highly problematic on many levels. The first one being that the church is not the equivalent to the OT sanctuary. The church is not a modification of the synagogue. The church today, although we wished it would be, is not even a proper reflection of the New Testament “ekklesia” (where the church was tied to the reality of its members, and not to a particular place). Jesus Himself shifted the attention from sacred space to sacred attitude when he spoke to the Samaritan woman in John 4. Jesus said that the hour would come where the common geographical markers would be irrelevant! But the new thing would be true attitude, true worship marked by spirit and truth: a new attitude, a new geography. And I’m not going to break down what this means here… but its effect on the church/sanctuary conception is significant. It does not mean we should not gather in a building, but it does bring to light an important question we need to ask ourselves: is there a difference between the way we meet God in church and the way we meet Him throughout the week when we are in our jeans and pajamas? If there is no difference, than the argument that we dress because we are meeting the Almighty God in His house falls to the ground. And I’m not advocating pajama worship (common sense!), but we need to undo our idea that in church we meet God differently than when we prayerfully seek Him in the Word in our home, office, etc. Once we think of Divine presence tied to a particular building, we are thinking within the lines of what the Samaritan woman was thinking – worship/God tied to a place (the basis of Catholic ecclesiology and mission). We must not go back to a form of worship that Jesus Himself undid. And please don’t think of Matthew 18:20 to contest what I am saying here (for where two or three are gathered)… Matthew 18:20 is a text about church discipline, not church worship.

The fascinating thing I’ve discovered in visiting our churches around the world is that we normally don’t think about Divine presence. We only assume it. And because we don’t think about it, our behavior ends up reflecting a mixture of conceptions that we have difficulty justifying or finding their origin.

So why do we have formal dress-codes in church worship today? I’ve explored two possibilities but there are many more. This post was not written as an answer to these questions, but it was written to further clarify the complexity of the question itself, and to provide more talking points for dialogue.

So let the dialogue begin!

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Tiago Arrais

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Tiago is a student of the Word at the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

23 responses to Where Do Concepts of Formal Dress Codes In Church Come From?

  1. Ah yes, presence! We who are so very interested in the typology of the Old Testament sanctuary have largely missed its ecclesiological fulfillment: we are the Lord’s temple! His presence is in us! …

    When I left my Conference work, I immediately quit dressing “up” for church because I had just finished a season wherein I dressed up every day of the week for a long time and dressing up made me feel like I was there to do a job, not to worship or fellowship or serve. Years later I don’t have quite the same feeling about office clothes = work time, but I do find still that dressing up usually just sucks more of my brain power for the purposes of vanity. And while I wish that that wasn’t true for anyone else, I have my doubts when I see the sort of peacock strutting into church with the freshest, flyest digs. But I know some people who do dress up as an act of worship and to make the Sabbath feel special, so it’s good.

    I guess the thing is that the hardest stance to take is the one that prioritizes the attitudes of the heart in the stead of outward behaviors because it’s hard to make policies about heart issues.
    Kessia Reyne Bennett recently posted..The Exact Truth Should Be the Law of Speech

    • you touched on the heart of the matter reyne! IT IS hard to make policies about heart issues! they are elusive, we can’t measure them, we can’t make power points about them and explain them. yet I wonder how things would look like if fruits of the spirit were prioritized over “externals”… and I mean this in the most positive sense possible! risky yes, but how would the church change? leadership? service? liturgy?

  2. Madeline Johnston February 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I think “balance” is the key word. The EGW quotes you give emphasize, not formal and fancy, but clean and neat and special for the day. We need to balance wearing the very best that we can to enter God’s royal presence in His house, and appropriateness (a modest bathing suit is fine for the beach but not church), and modesty (think cleavage, high skirts, tight pants, etc.), with an attitude of nonjudgmental welcome toward others (glad the local drunk came to church, even if in filthy, smelly clothes).

  3. Unfortunately outward dress and adornment will be one of many ways we compare ourselves among ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12) As a result, there is a shift in the eyes and heart toward self instead of Christ, His love, mercy, grace and plan of redemption. Could it be that this is the reason why love for one another is the defining characteristic Jesus gives for the community of faith. If simplicity were crowned king instead of style of dress, the community around us would see something peculiar —- combined with loving acts, Christ’s message would be more receptive. I believe the greatest garment anyone can wear is joy-expressed in smiles with willing hands and feet.

  4. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, not a place but a people. The universe is waiting to see a revelation of Christ in the hearts of His creation.

  5. Great article, Tiago. I like the way you get to the heart of the issue. Behavior comes from thinking, but most of us don’t think about the way we think (ironic, isn’t it?). I’m beginning to wonder if a lot of our hang-ups in the modern church (worship style, dress code, women in ministry, etc.) stem from a misunderstanding of the purpose of the church, and viewing the church as the new version of the OT sanctuary.
    Matthew Shallenberger recently posted..When Jesus Offends Us, Part 3

    • great hearing from you matt! and yes, you got the idea. about women’s ordination… when you hear the argument “there were no women priests” (red flag!).

  6. I advocate pajama worship.

  7. Greetings, Thanks for all the insight.
    PJ’s would be comfortable, but ……
    Yes, we come to God the same weather in a store, in a car, at home, or in a church building. But, the occation is different. There is one day that we are to set aside as different. To look at it differently, to act in it differently, to have thoughts and ideals and words differently than any other day of the week.
    In a church building on the sabbath I dress in better clothes than I do going to the same building on a Wednesday night for prayer and worship and study. For the Wednesday night in the same building I wear regular street /work clothes. Its the day that makes it different.
    What needs to change is our personal attitudes and judgements we have toward others of different means than what we do not change our clothes. The judgeing and wrong attitude would still be there.
    We need to keep a standard at least a little higher for! H

    • Sorry, phone would not let me correct.
      We need to keep a standard at least a little higher for this special day not lower it so more will join in. When we accept people as equally in Christ our attitude and actions will reflect that and people with less means will feel it and be more at home.
      How long will it take and how low do we keep lowering, the bar to feel the world will accept our beliefs. Do deacons need to collect offerings in tank tops and flip flops to make others feel at ease.
      The comment of us changing and wearing the fruit of the spirit not our cloths is the answer.
      How long will it take from wearing just any ol clothes to our thoughts our words

      • How long in wearing just clothes we lounge in to a holy day service before our thoughts and ideals start changing on that same day? His long before our words and our actions and events start changing on this special day with God before it is the same as every day of the week. Am afraid we will start taking baby steps in a downward spiral until the day has little difference than a week day or work day.
        Valued points are mentioned in other posts. But let’s not forgot what the day is for. Let’s look at what we need to change inside us not what’s on our body to make others comfortable.

    • hey richard!

      great input. my only question is: where do we draw the line that connects day with dress-codes? is it just a common sense thing? the day is indeed different. covenant God seeking covenant people. and I do agree that the event of worship where people gather in God’s presence makes it different. but different on our side… the same shekinah glory which appeared to Moses in the bush, is the one that filled the tabernacle for all people to see. what I tried to do with this post is to raise the questions that we only assume the answers to. thanks for sharing!

  8. In Western culture we have 4 basic types of clothes. There are work clothes, casual clothes, semi-formal, and formal clothes. We wear semi-formal and formal clothes to signify the importance of the endeavor in which we are engaging. I believe that this is what we are doing when we wear formal clothes to church.

    In the mountains of the Philippines, the Palawano people take off their dirty work clothes, and wear clean clothes when they go to a tribal conference, or to a wedding. They do the same thing when they come to church. They do not wear what westerners would call formal clothing, but they wear clothing that delineates the meeting in their minds as important.

    In life in general, the quality of the clothes we wear reflects how we value other people. Here is an explanation: If we don’t value another’s opinion, then we won’t care what they think of us or how we dress. If we do value another person’s opinion, we will dress well because we care about what they think. If we dress shabbily around someone, we send the message that we think that they are undisciplined and it does not bother them to see us dressed that way. So, how we dress, rather than reflecting how we feel about ourselves, actually reflects what we think about other people.

  9. I totally agree with your comment about the way we should be dressed when we are in a church (building) because I strongly believe that the presence of God will be there with his creation. (Us).

  10. Argumentative point #1 summary – Ellen White said it. Her writings were in her context. Therefore, it doesn’t apply to us. (Beware of this argument, it is both flimsy and dangerous).

    Argumentative point #2 summary – Churches and theologians throughout history have acknowledged that there is a special Presence and an aspect of reverence to have when in worship. Jesus brought the focus back to the internal, personal relationship. Therefore, architecture and adornment are absolutely irrelevant. (Church Sanctuary is actually a very deep concept, let’s not be so quick to dismiss it).

    To consider: Why isn’t this an issue when going out somewhere when it’s actually a casual occasion? I don’t see anybody in beach shorts (at least I hope I don’t) when having a celebratory meal if it’s somebody’s birthday, you know what I’m saying?

    The reality is that we do a great disservice to ourselves, to others, and to God when we dress casually to Church. After all, the Sabbath has to do with His presence, the Shekinah Glory. As hard as somebody may try, at the end of the day, the clothes we wear really do make an impact. That’s an unchangeable, natural human tendency, no matter where you go. Why hinder evangelism for sake of comfort? If we dress down in such a manner, we’re not showing them the external difference in the Christian life.

    By the way, in my experience, if there’s somebody who insists on dressing casually and not wanting to put in the effort to actually dress modestly/formally, then it’s hardly ever (read: never) by studying the Bible that they reach that conclusion. There’s something in their spiritual life that they hold on to that holds them back from fully embracing the Gospel. This inward notions manifests itself outwardly as such.

    However, the issue is when we focus on the external appearances alone, such as how nice we look, rather than how authentically we worship. After all, that’s what most of the Jewish nation (especially the leaders) were doing in Jesus’ time. They would essentially be worshiping themselves, not God.

    When we really have the Holy Spirit, though, we have the desire to give God our utmost. Others start looking to us as examples, and if we don’t hold worship up to the high standard which it really is (from the inside manifesting itself to the outside), then culpability is the name of the game. If you dress “casually” while giving a message or attending Church, then be wary of what you’re there to do, because your dress could end up distracting the person’s worship experience by being a stumbling block. After all, there’s nothing holy about ties or blazers, but if that’s what’s respectable and reverent in a particular culture, then BROTHER! Let’s use it! Same goes for any culture, not just the Western mindset.

    Why diminish the role of a Church in peoples’ lives for the sake of having them feel more “comfortable”? A great danger that occurs way too much if it occurs only once is that we sacrifice the things of God for the sake of feeling comfortable (much worse if it’s the issue of pride and self-worship). Let’s each and every one of us think carefully about what’s up for compromise to make the people feel more welcome. After all, if we suddenly decide to dress “casually” to Church, then once again, the danger of focusing on the external surfaces, and no progress has been made other than producing stumbling blocks. Sure, we come as we are, but when Jesus met with sinners, He would say, “Go and sin no more”. He was with the sick, yes, but He healed them. Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.

    Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His Commandments, for this is man’s all. If we think that dress is what’s hindering spirituality and Church growth, then we are vastly mistaken. It all comes back to our personal devotional lives and relationship with God. If we’re truly strong in our vertical relationship, then our horizontal relationships get strengthened as a result. You wanna see authentic Church growth? Focus on loving God with all of your heart, strength, soul, and mind, and always let the love of God in you be manifested outwardly to love others as yourself. As we take in the Holy Spirit, He wells Himself up in us a living fountain, producing the fruit of the Spirit. We have before us all that’s necessary for His Mission, and the only thing holding us back is ourselves.

    • hey ChrisTheMan!

      ok. let’s clarify things. at least some of the points you made.

      about your point #1 – EGW’s writings were in a context, so they don’t apply to us was NOT my argument. all I said was, we need common sense, we need to evaluate the context, since she advises that herself! if we go literal with EGW we should not buy bicycles. period. so all I said was, we need common sense, we need to evaluate the context, and follow the prophetic advice! in fact, that point #1 ended with the principle behind all of her sayings in regard to the issue: simplicity. are we up to the task there?

      about your point #2 – many things. i agree with your overall conclusion (“fear God…”). and know that through this article I am not arguing for any specific type of conclusion on the matter. in fact, in the beginning I said there might be not a clear answer to these questions! what I tried to do here is stimulate the discussions we are having. I also hardly think that the dress-code issue boils down to the comfort of those who don’t want to dress or even to church growth. the question is, where do we get the ideas that drive our actions? i do not see a biblical answer. at least no a clear one.

      in relation to the church sanctuary, yeah, the Bible is pretty clear on that one. equaling church to sanctuary in our days leads to more confusion than solution.

      finally, you wrote in the beginning of your reply that the sabbath was really about Presence. and that clothes really make an impact. my question is, how do you connect the first idea with the second? biblically? socially? culturally? ethically?

      thanks for taking time to read and respond! great things here…

  11. Tiago,

    I really appreciated the way you looked at this subject — starting by getting to the core of thoughts and assumptions. I would like to take one step further back, however, and challenge your thinking regarding some assumptions I hear you making while discussing two common assumptions regarding church attire.

    I hear you accepting the argument (and correct me if I am wrong), that since the modern church is not equivalent to the OT sanctuary (I agree), the sanctuary has little or nothing to teach us about approaching God today.
    a. The argument is supported by the proposition that God changed focus from a “sacred place” to a “sacred attitude” (i.e., Jn. 4). I would argue that God has ALWAYS been more concerned with our attitude than our “rituals” or the place of worship (cf. Ps. 51:16, 17; Micah 6:6-8; Mk 12:33). In His discussion with the Samaritan woman, was He really introducing a shift in God’s desires regarding worship, or revealing a pitfall in the Israelites’/Samaritans’ thinking? They had placed salvational value on a “sacred place” and “sacred rituals” rather than God and His actions revealed through the sanctuary! They revered the temple structure more than the God who revealed Himself there (thus many missed the Messiah entirely). Throughout the OT, I see God reminding the Israelites that a sacred place is made “common” or profane by incorrect attitudes (oppression of poor, greed, etc. Isa. 1), as was “sacred time” (Eze. 22). The heart/attitude has always been God’s concern (Jer. 31:33). So, I don’t see some major shift in God’s wishes in Jn. 4, but rather a reminder that faith in God saves rather than places and rituals. Sacred things and “rituals” can be God-given to inform correct attitude, but do not provide salvation. My understanding from studying “to worship in spirit and truth” (but I definitely am no Greek scholar, so I welcome further dialogue) is that “spirit” or pneuma refers to the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:39), the Scripture (Jn. 6:63), or human cognition which gives rise to rational thought and emotion (Jn. 13:21). “Truth” or alētheia, also reinforces the need to make Scripture (cf. Jn. 17:17) the basis for our worship decisions.
    b. The argument also drew support from the idea that our approach to God (or at least our attitude) should be no different in our bedroom than at church. If there is no difference in these two experiences, why do we make the effort to worship corporately? And why do we worship on Sabbath specifically? It would be much easier to stay in bed Sabbath morning for personal study and prayer! But obviously, God places value on corporate worship (Heb. 10:25–interestingly in a whole section explaining the beauty of Christ’s work at the cross AND ongoing ministration in the heavenly sanctuary). Furthermore, God finds something important and different in sacred TIME (that is a totally different subject I will not broach here, but trust that as a predominantly SDA discussion board so far, this is understood). Should our attitude approaching God not be guided by the understanding of sacred time? Something different, set apart, and special? While the whole Christian life is to be “holy,” God placed an extra special stamp on this time. . . So I am somewhat leery of the implications arising from claiming that our attitude (including what we think and pray about) is no different on Sabbath vs. the rest of the week.
    c. If God truly does not change, then should we not take note of how He requested His followers approach Him in the past? True, some of the sanctuary message was fulfilled at the cross, thus baptism and communion replace the laver and the sin offerings as the ritual reminder (rather than foretelling) of Christ’s sacrifice. However, as SDAs we believe that the earthly sanctuary was only a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 8:5) where ongoing heavenly corporate worship (Isa 6, Rev. 4 and 5) and Christ’s ministration is occurring on our behalf. Should we then totally ignore the sanctuary in our understanding of what our unchanging God would like in corporate worship today? Or are there principles (and also pitfalls revealed by the Israelites) to be discovered?
    DISCLAIMER: Several articles by Fernando Canale in the Journal of the Adventist Theological Society from 2010 and 2011 recently challenged me spiritually and intellectually. My concern with totally ignoring the sanctuary while creating our praxis for corporate worship represents a culturalization of Adventism that is rapidly overshadowing sola-tota-prima Scriptura. Although dress is not salvational, the assumptions I see in this discussion have a widespread influence on our overarching theology according to the arguments (which I find fairly compelling) made by Dr. Canale. Here are links to articles if anyone is interested. http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=374&journal=1&type=pdf

    and the second part
    http://www.atsjats.org/publication_file.php?pub_id=390&journal=1&type=pdf

    • Dear Kristina! i see you’ve posted your concerns here as well and again, I thank you for your input. Here is the response from our conversations on facebook:

      This post was written to stimulate discussion, so I’m glad it is accomplishing that original purpose. Here are some things I would like to say about your response… hope it helps.

      A. The Sanctuary has nothing to teach us – I believe this is a good place to start this response Kristina. We agree with the fact that the modern church is not the equivalent of the OT sanctuary. Good. Now, that the sanctuary has nothing to teach us, I never said that. Never. And in case you are wondering what I think about the sanctuary, this just came out this week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4kB4EOP2S0&feature=youtu.be

      B. Attitude/Rituals – I agree, attitude has always been at the center “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22). Jesus came to change the assumptions of the people, that emphasized, as we do sometimes today, the ritual/place rather than the attitude/faith. In regards to your take on the centrality of the text, I’m 100% with you. I only wish you were around to sit in a few of my classes on doctrine of salvation in the seminary in order for you to know what I think church worship should look like (EGW herself affirms that the people should not expect a sermon every Sabbath, but that the services could follow the format of a Bible class… etc.) No problem with what you said here, and I don’t think it goes against what I posted on the blog.

      C. No difference between bedroom and church – Not my argument. What I was saying is that the presence of God is the presence of God. There are no layers of immanence. When God is there, He is fully there. Does that lessen the view of liturgy and church? NO! It shows how significant people coming together to worship God is! It is a powerful thing, especially since He abides in the praises of Israel! (Ps 22:3). Does it lessen our personal connection with God in the solitude of our homes when we reach out to Him in prayer through the word? NO! it just shows that He is there when people seek him, and there is obviously something great about coming together to worship Him as a community. Our personal presence with Him must drive us to the community of worship where we find others, like us, that have been at the burning bush during the week, and now, have the privilege of worshipping him at Sinai together. So in no place I reduce the value of coming together on the Sabbath for worship (covenant people coming together to worship the covenant God as the command drives us to do), to the contrary! I heighten it! I value it! The presence of God at the Bush when Moses came to God by himself, and the presence at Sinai was the same. That is all. This does not mean that we should not go to church, for the same reasons you mentioned. One idea does not exclude the other. So again, you are reaching conclusions that I never endorsed in the post.

      D. Sanctuary – again you mentioned the sanctuary and I hope the video I sent helps. I think the sanctuary is central for salvation, it affects everything in my Christian journey. I just don’t equate it with the church, although there are elements of the sanctuary in us after Christ! To unpack that is quite exciting.

      Ps: Dr. Canale is my advisor in my dissertation and I am one of his disciples! Fully on board with his vision and working with him to expand it even more! I’m glad you have come across his work, indeed, powerful stuff!
      Blessings to you Kristina!

  12. I grew up in western Mexico in a poor village where all the people who live there are farmers including my parents. Our church was very small and not many attendees on sabbath. As i was growing up with my family and my dad as an Elder we never experience dress code in our church. The reason is that the majority of people had mo money to buy clothes and they wore what they had best on Sabbath.
    The purpose of us going to church was fellowship with one another, sing, read and listen to the word of God. I remember in my little church no one wore a single tie in the time that i was there. The preacher not often had a long sleeve shirt but must of the time was short sleeve shirt. So that a sum of what i grew u with. For me a long as i have a communion or personal relationship with God, does not matter what i wear for church. Like tiago said, Using common sense i’m not going to church with the clothes that i slept with.
    When i came to the US the first issue that i encounter in my church is that they would not give me participation in the pulpit until i wear a tie. Coming from a humble church in southern Mexico i found that that was so rediculos. My question to the elders was so if i don’t wear a tie when i sing you think that i’m not worshiping God correctly? so i argued my point for quite some time. then i decided to buy a tie and i looked good in it. ajjaja. so no some times i do and some times i don’t wear it.
    lets just keep focussed on worshiping God with a sincere heart and mind and not on the external.
    God bless you all. Thank you Tiago for bringing this topic.

  13. I found this article extremely insightful. It is important for our church members to understand certain issues with a broader sense of reality. This reduces our innate sense of judgement. I would like to raise a question, however , possibly an idea for another post, if we can’t relate our modern churches with the Old Testament sanctuary, then what happens to tithes and offerings? The New Testament doesn’t have nearly the same number of passages as the Old Testament, and the Old Testament refers to tithes being brought to the storehouse. Can someone please clarify?

  14. I read all the document, it was very good, is like a way to understand why things are in church and we follow certain things…thanks for the document Mr. Arrais

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