There is no worse feeling for a preacher boy than to have someone confuse him with a lowly layman and therefore he must take great pains to set himself apart from the rabble. As that great preacher Jonathan Edwards once noted “nothing makes a young man stand out from his peers as being serious-minded about ministerial pursuits like the purchase of a second-hand ill-fitting double-breasted suit from a thrift store.” It is sage words like these that have inspired Fundy U to make reading Dress for Success (last published 1988) as mandatory reading for all ministerial students.
In addition to the suit there are other accessories to worry about. What type of cuff links best reflect the Gospel? Do the paisleys on my tie correctly demonstrate my separation from the world? Do my shoes look like I’m ready to hand out a fierce butt-kicking to liberalism? Man is looking on the outward appearance so choose carefully.
One of the most important accessory choices that a preacher boy can make is his selection of a preaching Bible. For to a preacher boy his Bible is not merely (or realistically) for reading the Scriptures but also serves to demonstrate how serious he is about fundamentalism. The Bible must be black and covered with the skin of a dead animal. It must be large enough be noticed when it is waved about for emphasis and heavy enough to be used to thwack wayward bus kids on the head.
By this shall all men know the you are His disciples…
Fundamentalists eschew the relaxed informality of the come-as-you-are church service. In the fundamentalist’s view the words in I Samuel 16:7 read as follows “for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart”.
Although congregations will vary, most fundamentalist pastors would not be caught dead in the pulpit without their suit and tie on. Denim is the devil’s fabric and sandals are the comfortable footwear of the father of lies. Don’t even get them started on Rick Warren’s Hawaiian shirts.
One could argue that if fundamentalists really wanted to be conservative that the obvious choice would be for pastors to wear robes. Of course that would ruing the opportunity for all kinds of disparaging remarks about Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy as “men in dresses.” Giving up such a great way to bash the papists and their ilk is just not an option.
Single breasted, double breasted, herring bone, or twenty year old plaid, the fundamentalist pastor and his suits are not easily parted. Blessed be the ties that bind.