Forming New Churches


This post from Sean Gallagher's Archive brought to mind an amusing anecdote regarding the formation of churches. He quotes a reader as saying, "Very, very few churches are started from disputes." I don't know about the truth of this; however, I do have an illuminating story regarding one new church that did form as a result of a dispute.

Some time ago my grandparents (whom I love very much, and so this should not be read as a criticism of them) belonged to a small church in a midwestern state. This church met mostly in homes and in such public places as they could find accommodations. I don't believe they had an ordained minister, but all the men took turns preparing teachings for the entire group. One Sunday the teaching centered around the Pauline admonition that, "Women should not wear those things that pertaineth to a man," and what the implications of this might be today. Somewhere in the course of discussion, someone asked or brought up the subject of pantyhose, saying that they were very much like pants. This particular point of discussion became very heated and over the next several months was introduced and reintroduced. Apparently some went so far as to denounce any woman showing up to the meeting wearing hose under the supposition that they must be pantyhose. Finally the church split into two groups--those that said that wearing pantyhose was a grievous offense to God, and those that said that God probably didn't give much thought to the matter of pantyhose, having other things on his mind. My grandmother and her sister ended up in opposite camps, with my ever-sensible grandmother being threatened with hellfire for the sheer temerity of wearing pantyhose (pun intended).

This story is true. I don't know all of the details, but I keep it in my treasury of "protestantism gone wild" stories. One thing it demonstrates profoundly and that is the wisdom of the Church's teaching on the interpretation of scripture. I won't say this can't happen here, but if one interprets scripture in accord with Church teaching, it is far more difficult for the Church to split over pantyhose.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 21, 2002 7:40 AM.

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