The Collarperson


V. 5 "Everything they do is for men to see. They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; ... 7 They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have men call them "rabbi." 8 But you are not to be called "rabbi"; for you have one Rabbi and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call any man on earth "father"; for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor must you be called "teacher"; you have one Teacher, the messiah." Matthew23,5,7-10

I never was a collar type clergyperson.

(As John the Baptist didn't covet the robes and tassels of the Jerusalem Temple that were his by birth.)   

The collarperson wears the plastic tab at the neck, or the more formal white band that hooks at the back, making for that neat fully suited or cassocked look.

The collar says one is powerful, important, educated, turf conscious, part of a well organized clerical hierarchy, and perhaps ready to serve too.

Apparently some sort of distinctive neck band for men has been around since the European Middle Ages, and became the clerical fashion too, and then became a universal rule for Vatican clerics. But such are also the fashion choice, and canon, of some Protestant clerics too, who are not copying Rome mind you, up to the present day.

I think I'll let these collared clergypersons happily discuss who gets credit for giving the Christian church the clerical collar, and its origin, and usefulness.

I'm totally opting out on the collarperson-"father"-"teacher" trilogy based on Matthew 23,5,7-10 which is quoted above (and based on the fact that Jesus never ordained anyone a cleric or priest).

Call me "brother," if you want.

But I do know that today many men, and now women too, more than ever, still covet this collar, some so keen they'll go to the Catholic bookstore and buy one for themselves. 

I was having an above-average faith conversation with a "Protestant" collarperson, and we were talking about the level of gospel cooperation among clergypersons, and then he did something that was quite a tonic for our conversation and for the spread of the gospel:

He took off his Roman-Protestant collar.

Now I also know that some folks would not go out in public without parading with their bibles in the full sight of everybody. And as Southern writer Flannery O'Connor poignantly notes this too might really be an empty show of a box, a wordly play.

So I think the distinction between those who wear collars and those who carry bibles a lot (not many do both) is that the bible carriers who have some saving faith, have even now, a kingdom bound freedom, a freedom from men, whereas even the best of the collarpersons are stating their obedience to some earthly and non word-based, clerical regiment.   






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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.