Christianity Today featured an article titled ‘The Wars Over Christian Beards‘. It states:
You’re more likely to see a beard in the pulpit today than at any time since the 1800s. But beards–especially among clergy–were once serious, symbolic matters. They separated East from West during the Great Schism, priests from laity during the Middle Ages, and Protestants from Catholics during the Reformation.
I was particularly impressed by Thomas Moore’s insistence that his beard should be kept off the chopping block at his beheading. He stated “my beard has not been guilty of treason, it would be an injustice to punish it”. Even more excellent was Henry VIII’s childish tax on beards in response to Moore’s barbate stand, bettered only by Cranmer’s decision to grow facial hair to commemorate Henry’s death and mark a break with clean-shaven Catholicism.
Somewhat ironically, according to Punch, it seems historic dissenting Christians didn’t sport beards so widely, despite the apparent signal of dissent shown by wearing one. Fortunately, as shown by this more recent taxonomy of beards entitled ‘The Beards of Ministry‘, dissenting beard-wearing has increased during the last century.
Nevertheless, I shall continue to sport a beard and stand in a long line of excellent beard wearers including such luminaries as William Tyndale, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer and C.H. Spurgeon amongst others. As Spurgeon himself said: