From the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department comes the Baylys’ complaint about the doings in Vatican City. Turns out, the U.S. pastors for whom almost everything is sexual, believe Rome’s problem reduces to sex. The Cardinals, you see, dress like girls, so how could you ever trust them?
Serious men do not parade in embroidered dresses. Men who carry the cross of Christ do not wear fanciful costumes more than once a year, and then only in the company of their children. These men, “princes of the church” resplendent in their papal-conclave regalia, are not serious men. They are men with an unmanly love of finery, fancy and ceremony. They are as serious as Hollywood, as normal as Liberace.
Tim Bayly piles on with quotations from John Calvin about lascivious attire, which the modern day Gilbert Tennent uses to berate those who don’t see anything particularly wrong with how the Cardinals dress. First Calvin:
No bishoprics are so opulent, no abbacies so productive, in short, no benefices so numerous and ample, as to suffice for the gluttony of priests. But while they would spare themselves, they induce the people by superstition to employ what ought to have been distributed to the poor in building temples, erecting statues, buying palate, and providing costly garments. Thus the daily alms are swallowed up in this abyss.
Then Tennent Tim:
We could go on with such condemnations by our Reformed fathers all day, but there’s no use. Reformed men today in the richest nation the world has ever seen have left their fathers in the faith far behind.
As one of the best-known Reformed theologians of our day put it to me concerning such straighforward condemnations of Rome by Luther and Calvin, “They were sinning when they wrote that way.”
Meanwhile, the advertisements for the upcoming Clearnote Pastors Fellowship Conference feature a picture of the famous Reformers Wall in Geneva. In it we see Calvin dressed, you guessed it, in a skirt. To the eye not trained in fashion, it could look like a dress or house smock. Granted, it may not have the embroidery of the Cardinals’ attire, but a gown functions like a skirt and hides what’s going on below.
Which again proves that the Baylys are a tad obsessed with sex. Gowns could look like dresses. But they also may connote authority. Hence, the robes that judges wear. And yet, when you can draw a straight line between outward appearances and spiritual truths, something C. S. Lewis identified with paganism (and which by the way seems to afflict 2k’s biggest critics), you see Rome’s troubles as having less to do with sin, the sufficiency of Christ, and scriptural authority, and more with gowns, celibacy, and sexual scandal.