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Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1405
Tue Jan 14, 2003 1:07 AM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 1:07 AM

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The Church of God has always taught and practiced the religious rite known as the washing of the saints' feet. Basing all religious rites upon the authority of Jesus Christ, we invariably inquire whether the particular ordinance in question has been instituted by him. In the case of baptism we find two facts which, irrespective of the historical observance of the ordinance, are sufficient in our judgment to determine both the specific action required and the moral obligation to perform it. Christ has commended his disciples and followers to be baptized, and he has commanded immersion. At a comparatively early age the divine institution in both these particulars was perverted, in that immersion was changed to affusion, and children instead of disciples were made the subjects. But knowing the divine command, we are neither disconcerted nor turned aside from the right ways of the Lord by this perversion of a divine ordinance. Christ Alone Institutes Ordinances. An ordinance being an outward, formal act of moral significance, performed in obedience to the command of Christ, wherever we find these elements we are ready to acknowledge an ordinance to be perpetually observed. Now, in reading John 13 we find all the elements of an ordinance. We have:<br><br> (1) An outward, formal act performed by the Lord Jesus.<br> (2) We have an act of special and appropriate moral. A significance.<br> (3) We have the specific and unquestioned word of command that this act is to be performed by the disciples of Christ. We hence claim that Christ instituted this rite as a monumental ordinance in the church.<br><br>For, evidently, so far as the elements of an ordinance are concerned, if they are found in any words and example of Christ, they are found in John 13; and as for a command, a specific law of institution, words could not well be more definite and positive than these: "For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you." While the moral obligation to do what Christ has enjoined by precept and example is thus expressed: "If I, then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." And as the washing of feet and the Communion may ultimately be found to have equal confirmation in Apostolic practice, there would be no alternative but to reject both or accept both. One of the commonly recognized duties of members of the early Apostolic church was to wash the feet of the saints religiously. This was sometimes done at baptism, and again in connection with other services. Abundant authorities can be quoted to this effect up to the time of the Council of Elvira, A. D. 306, which expressly prohibited the religious washing of feet ; but later, in A. D. 675, we find it expressly sanctioned by the Synod of Toledo. At this time the practice was wide-spread, though probably not universal. We find, as in John 13, an unquestioned command to wash one another's feet, preceded by the example of the Lord himself; and when we further on find that such command was enjoined by Apostolic authority, as in I Timothy 5:9, 10, we have a right to avail ourselves of the tactics of our opponents and add the weight of a presumption from history to the argument as already developed. It is now only in this light that we appeal to patristic practice. It will serve to entrench the interpretation which we have given of I Timothy 5:9, 10. Our reading of the testimony of history in favor of feet-washing as an ordinance convinces us of two things, namely:<br><br> 1. That feet-washing was practiced from the time of the Apostles as a religious ordinance.<br> 2. That such practice was based upon the Divine institution and the practice of the Apostles.<br><br>In Chambers' Encyclopedia we have the same testimony, also abundantly confirming our conclusions as above stated. Under the word "Washing of feet" it is said: "The origin of this observance is extremely ancient. It is founded on the example and exhortation or precept of our Lord Jesus, John 13:5-14, and is traceable in the writings of Justin, Tertullian, Ambrose and Augustine. The writings of Augustine plainly show that this practice was in use in his day * * * * as a solemn institution of Christ." Justin, to whom reference is here made, was born A. D. 89 and died A. D. 176. He is the first author after the Apostles, so far as we now know, in whose writings this subject is mentioned. From this time on we shall find ample testimony to show its regular observance among the primitive churches. True, at some points it was rejected, as at Rome in the time of Ambrose (A. D. 340), and in other places its practice was prohibited by Councils, as in Spain in A. D. 306. The principal ceremonial ablutions anciently used in the church * * * * are * * * the washing of the feet of the saints". Again: "The pedilavium or washing of the feet of the saints, of which some traces appear in the ritual of the early church". Again: "A peculiar custom prevailed in the early Gallican ritual, of a symbolical washing of the feet of the newly baptized, having reference to the action of our Lord recorded in the Gospel of John 13:1-16" The positive testimony to the fact that this washing was in imitation of Christ's act appears from the words of the ritual itself, thus instructed: "While washing his feet thou shalt say, 'I wash thy feet, as our Lord Jesus Christ did unto his disciples.'" It appears, therefore, that this rite was not always performed on the same occasion. Sometimes it was connected with baptism, either preceding or following that ordinance, and at other times with the Communion. Sometimes it had no connection with any other ordinance. It was on different occasions a matter of serious dispute at what time this rite was to be performed. We have no doubt that in the earliest times it preceded the Communion; but how long it held this place cannot now be determined. This holy custom was held in esteem and observed by the ancients appears from the writings of some of them. See Tertullian, lib. II, ad Uxorem; Cyprian de Lotione Pedum. Ambrose, affirms that this holy custom was retained in the church of Milan down to his time, which Grotius likewise notices under John 13:15. So also Bernard, like these writers already named, regarded the washing of feet as a sacrament. Moreover the XVIIth Council of Toledo, held in the year 694, commands that 'bishops and priests should wash the feet of the faithful at the celebration of the Lord's Supper, after the example of Christ; adding, 'in order that the neglected custom may be again introduced.'" "Thus likewise Zacharias, bishop of Rome, in reply to the inquiry of Boniface, bishop of Mentz, whether it were allowable for holy woman, as was the custom among the men, to wash one another's feet at the Lord's Supper, and at other times, states: 'This is a command of our Lord.'" We next come to Ambrose, born A. D. 340. He was bishop of Milan, in Italy A. D. 374. In a work published in 1837 by Dr. John Henry Hopkins, entitled "The Church in her primitive Purity, compared with the Church of Rome of the present day," he refers to the testimony of Ambrose on feet-washing. He says: "In a discourse upon the sacred ceremony of washing feet, which was used in primitive days by many of the churches, and was greatly esteemed by Ambrose, he saith: 'We are not ignorant that the Church of Rome has not this custom; this custom of washing feet she does not retain. Behold, therefore, perhaps she has declined on account of the multitude. There are some truly who endeavor to excuse her by the plea that this custom is not a sacred rite, but it is simply to be done to our guests as a mark of hospitality. But it is one thing to perform an act in token of humility, and another thing to perform it in order to sanctification. Hear therefore how we prove this to be a sacred rite in order to sanctification. 'Unless I wash thy feet thou hast no part with me.' I do not thus speak that I may censure others, but that I may commend my office. I desire in all things (lawful) to follow the church, but nevertheless we men have sense also, and therefore what is more correctly practiced elsewhere we are more correct in practicing. In this respect we follow the Apostolic Peter himself; we adhere to the example of his devotion. For truly Peter the Apostle is our authority for this assertion. Peter himself saith: 'Lord, not my foot only, but also my hands and my head'" (Ambrose on the Sacraments, book 3, chap. i, sec. 5, Vol. 2, p. 362-3). Dr. Hopkins thus comments: "Notwithstanding the attachment of Ambrose to the Roman church (Romana ecclesia), he presumes to differ from her; to retain and practice a sacred ceremony which she had cast away; to argue against her openly in a public discourse; to charge her with declining after the multitude, and to prefer his own judgment and the custom of other churches on a point of sacred order, which he regarded as a means of sanctification." Upon the testimony of Ambrose, as well as from the Gallican Sacramentary, from the early Gallican Missal, from the Gothic Missal and from other sources, we learn that at this period in the history of the church, and for some time prior, the rite of washing feet was religiously observed in Spain, in Italy, in Gaul and in the countries northward and eastward of Italy. But in Spain as we have already stated, the rite was suppressed shortly after the time of Ambrose, by the canons of the Council of Elvira. Bingham in his Antiquities of the Christian Church assures us that "among those [churches] which always received it [the washing of feet] is the church of Milan," of which Ambrose was bishop. We have one more witness whose testimony we wish to produce. This is Augustine, the greatest of the Latin Fathers, born at Tagasti, in Numedia, November 13, A. D. 354. We refers to him, among others, as testifying to the observance of this rite. So does Dr. William Smith in his Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, as also Calvin, Lange, and others. He speaks of the ordinance in two of his Epistles. In the one addressed to Januarius (Epistle 118) he refers to the practice as then existing, and also to the doubts entertained as to the proper day when the ceremony ought to be performed. In his Epistle 119 he speaks of an effort then making to "recommend it by fixing it to some more sacred time, and yet distinguish it from the sacrament of baptism." These chose either "the third day of the octaves, or the octave after baptism itself, as most convenient for this purpose." In view of the historical evidence thus furnished, taken in connection with the plain command of Christ, we need not feel any surprise when the fact becomes clear that there is a constant stream of testimony to the observance of this expressive rite from the Apostles down to the present time. Even the remnant Ana-Baptist Churches of Christ down thru the centuries. What were then mere affirmations are now valid conclusions. Hence, I lay it down as matter of fact:<br><br> 1. That feet-washing was practiced from the time of the Apostles as a religious ordinance.<br> 2. That such practice was based upon the Divine institution and the practice of the Apostles.<br><br>If, therefore, we would maintain our consistency we cannot accept the Communion as an ordinance of religion and reject the washing of the saints' feet. We must argue at some length to show that feet-washing is as much an ordinance as the Communion; and as the former is spiritualized by the majority of Christians, the latter should be also. That, therefore, the Christian world is inconsistent in retaining the literal Communion and rejecting feet-washing. After weighing carefully, and irrespective of the testimony of Scripture, the historical evidence for the practice of feet-washing in post-Apostolic times, and comparing it with similar testimony in favor of certain other practices, candor compels any one to concede that the difference is in favor of the latter. The testimony for the washing of feet in the century following the death of the Apostles is comparatively great, and enough is on record to make it evident that the rite was observed. The texts of Scripture found in John 13 furnish us with all the essential elements of an ordinance of religion. We find there the five elements which enter into all ceremonial rites. These are:<br><br> 1. Divine institution, or the command of Christ.<br> 2. The obligation of perpetual observance.<br> 3. A element indicated, such as water, bread and wine, etc.<br> 4. Formal ceremonial observance.<br> 5. An underlying truth upon which the rite rests, and which it symbolizes.<br><br>If we find these elements anywhere in the New Testament in connection with what Christians so generally recognize as the ordinance of the Communion, we certainly find them more positively and conspicuously in connection with Christ washing of his Disciples' feet (John 13). Should we not discover ample indications in the literature of the post-Apostolic period that this rite was observed, the fact could be accounted for in two ways.<br><br> 1. Had the rite not been practiced, or had the possibility of the religious and ritual character of the service never forced itself upon the minds of Christian people, then no reference to it could be expected. These facts would fully account for the silence of the Apostolic Fathers on the subject, just as they account for the silence on the same subject by Episcopal or Presbyterian writers of the present period. But this has never been the case since, and it is not probable that it was then. In every age of the Christian church from Justin Martyr down this rite has forced itself into public recognition. How much more likely was it to do this in the post-Apostolic period when so many lived who had seen and conversed with the men whose feet Christ had washed, and to whom he had said: "I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you?" Still, we concede the force of the objection, but we fall back upon the Divine institution, and in its presence all objections of this character become utterly harmless and untenable. It is not our purpose to discuss the question of Divine institution, as that would be foreign to the purpose of this investigation. But we shall furnish ourselves with two opinions, from entirely distinct sources, bearing upon the question whether a Divine ordinance of religion is to be found in John 13. We shall first produce the views of an eminent English Quaker of the seventeenth century. The Quakers do not observe ceremonial ordinances. Hence, this author presents arguments against the practice of "breaking bread," as he calls it, as a religious service. He says, Papists affirm that there are seven Sacraments; Protestants that there are only two. But in his judgment Protestants are entirely inconsistent in limiting the number to two--baptism and the Communion. They should add another, and also observe the washing of the saints' feet. His views are as follows: he hath no part with him; which being spoken upon Peter's refusing to let him wash his feet, would seem to impart no less, shall not the continuance only, but even the necessity of this ceremony. In the former he saith, as it were passingly: 'Do this in remembrance of me;' but here he sitteth down again, he desires them to consider what he hath done, tells them positively, that as he hath done to them, so ought they to do to one another; and yet again, he redoubles that precept by telling them he has given them an example, that they should do so likewise. If we respect the nature of the thing, it hath as much in it as either baptism or the breaking of bread; seeing it is an outward element of a cleansing nature, applied to the outward man, by the command and example of Christ, to signify an inward purifying. "I would willingly propose this seriously to them who will be pleased to make use of that reason and understanding that God hath given them, and not be imposed upon, nor abased by the custom and tradition of others: Whether this ceremony, if we respect either the time it was appointed in, or the circumstances wherewith it was performed, or the command enjoining the use of it, hath not as much to recommend it for a standing ordinance of the Gospel, as either water baptism, or bread and wine, or any other of that kind? I wonder then what reason Papists can give, why they have not numbered it among their sacraments, except merely voluntas ecclesiæ and traditio Patrum. But if they say that it is used among them, in that the Pope, and some other persons among them, used to do it once a year to some poor people; I would willingly know what reason they have why this should not be extended to all, as well as that of the Eucharist, as they term it; or whence appears from the text, that, 'Do this in remembrance of me,' should be interpreted that the bread and wine were every day to be taken by all priests, or the bread every day, or every week, by the people; and that that other command of Christ: 'Ye ought to do as I have done to you,' is only to be understood of the Pope, or some other persons, to be done only to a few, and that once a year. [The answer is, their Councils prohibited the washing of feet.] Surely there can be no other reason for this difference assigned from the text. And as to Protestants, who use not this ceremony at all, if they will but open their eyes, they will see how that by custom and tradition they are abused in this matter, as were their fathers in divers Popish traditions. For if we look into the plain Scripture, what can be thence inferred to urge the one, which may not be likewise pleaded for the other; or for laying aside the one, which may not be likewise said against the continuance of the other? If they say that the former, of washing the feet, was only a ceremony; what have they whence they can show that the breaking of bread is more? If they say, that the former was only a sign of humility; what have they to prove that this was more? If they say that one was only for a time, and was no evangelical ordinance; what hath this to make it such, that the other wanted? Surely there is no way of reason to evade this; neither can anything be alleged that the one should cease and not the other ; or the one continue, and not the other, but the more opinion of the affirmer; which by custom, education and tradition, hath begotten in the hearts of people a greater reverence for and esteem of, the one than the other; which if it had fallen out to be as much recommended to us by tradition, would no doubt have been as tenaciously pleaded for as having no less foundation in Scripture. But since the former, to wit: The washing of one another's feet, is justly laid aside, as not binding upon Christians, so ought also the other for the same reason"<br><br>We have seen how an unbiased Quaker regards the Scriptural authority for feet-washing in contrast with the same authority for the Communion and baptism. Such testimony is extremely valuable, and should have much more weight than the most learned and convincing argument from an interested party. The Quaker, who rejects all formal ordinances, is in the best possible position to judge equitably of the claims of feet-washing to the rank and dignity of an ordinance of religion. And he decides without hesitation, and in the most positive terms, that no other rite can be more strongly supported in God's word than this commonly rejected one. The Protestant Church must be blamed in the reference that it has only determined baptism and the Lord's supper as sacraments. The determination contains an injustice against the feet-washing of Christ, as it is described at large in John 13. According to the description, sacramental dignity belongs also to Feet-washing. All the elements of a sacrament present themselves sufficiently clear to an unbiased mind. <br><br>"First. Feet-washing took its origin immediately from Christ. Although knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that as he came from God so he would again return to him, Christ arose from table before he ate with his Disciples that well-known and significant meal before his last Passover (John 13:1, 2, 26). After he had laid aside his outer garments and had girded himself with a towel (leintuche), he poured water into a wash-basin and began to wash his Disciples' feet and wipe them with a towel. "<br><br>"Secondly. Feet-washing possesses, like baptism, in the water the act, which is necessary to a sacrament, because this shall both exert an influence on the side of man and contribute to the sanctification of the same. The matter of feet-washing recommends itself on account of its simplicity. It renders it possible to practice feet-washing as a sacrament in all climates. And when thereat the arrangement is made that men wash the feet of men, and women of women, Christian shamefacedness is preserved in a pleasing manner. <br><br>"Thirdly. That spiritual blessings are by no means wanting is clear from the context in the thirteenth of John's Gospel. As Jesus began to wash the Disciples' feet he also came to Peter. As feet-washing, as a servile work, according to the opinion of this Apostle, did not become Jesus the Lord, so Peter, full of astonishment at his conduct, started the question: 'Lord, cost thou wash my feet?' And as Jesus replied, what he was doing that Peter knew not then, yet he would understand it thereafter; then this one who was prevented from taking to heart properly that reply through natural passionateness, proceeded with the decisive declaration that Jesus should never wash his feet. In consequence of such a contradiction, Jesus uttered with greater precision than he had yet done: 'If I wash thee not thou hast no part with me; no lot in the union with me (vs. 6-8). Do we change this thoroughly negative assertion into an affirmative in such a manner that no real point is lost? And Jesus gives the opposing Apostle to understand, if I wash your feet (which only could have taken place in the event that that Apostle humbled himself before the Lord) thou hast a part with me, a lot in the union with me. This spiritual union of himself with the Lord, which is brought about through feet-washing, forms one of those spiritual blessings which hang together in such a manner in feet-washing that they essentially help this ceremony to sacramental dignity. Besides one other, we also obtain from the context of the Gospel the wished-for light. In the innermost depth of his personality, moved by the assertion of the Lord in question, Peter declares according to his personal disposition, by which the leap from one extreme into the other was only too natural: The Lord might not only wash his feet, but also his hands and his head! Hereupon Jesus answered: He that has once washed (namely, as to his whole body) has need of nothing farther than this, that he wash his feet (since the feet only have become soiled through this, that he who is washed has again walked on the earth; perhaps has taken a journey). He is (without respect to his feet) wholly clean. In this illustration of Jesus an imaginary thought undoubtedly impresses itself upon the mind, but at the bottom of the imaginary thought lies the real: The man who has made to himself a moral-pious mind, and is overwhelmed in it, is altogether clean; it is only necessary for him to be cleansed in reference to single spots with which his personality is yet infected. Without respecting these single spots, he is, what respects the moral-pious side wholly clean, as in verse 10. Accordingly this belongs to the spiritual blessings which are united through the glorious arrangement of Jesus at feet-washing, where with it becomes a Sacrament, that he whose feet are washed is cleansed in reference to certain spots, with which his pervaded spirit is yet furnished, by a moral-pious mind. How well this blessing agrees with the one which we above reckoned as a spiritual blessing of the ceremony in question is clear. <br><br>Notwithstanding that according to the above explanation all the elements of a Christian sacrament appear in the feet-washing of Christ, theologians of modern times have brought forward many arguments against the sacramental dignity of this beautiful religious practice. Nevertheless, an unprejudiced critic can prove without difficulty that these arguments cannot deprive the practice of that its own dignity. 'The act of feet-washing,' say the theologians, 'was symbolical, to enjoin the duty of Christian love and serviceableness (according to oriental custom) on his (that is, Christ's) Disciples.' Now, with regard to John 13:12, et seq., we would not wish to deny such a symbolical reference of the act of Christ. Indeed, he says, emphatically, if he, although he was the Lord and Teacher of his Disciples, washed their feet as they should also wash one another's feet, he gave them therewith an example to be imitated (hupodeigma, see on the import of the word James 5:10). We might here also adduce the weighty text, Luke 22:26, 27, in which, although nothing of feet-washing as an act of Christ strikes the eye, yet the discourse is of that serving spirit in which Christ, according to John's Gospel, had washed the Disciples' feet. But this, that the act in question was symbolical, and to enjoin the duty of Christian love and serviceableness, does surely in no way exclude the sacramental dignity of this act. Much more that symbolical reference of the act and this sacramental character stand in close connection with each other. As Christ in that he should wash his Disciples' feet, and in this way should show Christian love and serviceableness; so the Disciples, while Christ was washing their feet, could obtain through this, by a supposed believing surrender to Christ, a lot in the spiritual union with him, and the cleansing of single spots which adhered to them, q. d., the res sacramenti. He who conceives of the act in question only as a symbolical act, and not at the same time as a sacramental, entangles himself in a one-sidedness by which that act does not receive its full just due. Besides, feet-washing has been a custom in very many churches which have flourished since the Apostles, in Milan and in Africa, as is learned from the memorials of Christian antiquity. It is true many theologians have attempted to prove the internal necessity of only 'two sacraments to embrace the whole life of a Christian church,' which are baptism and the Lord's supper. And had the attempt succeeded, the sacrament of feet-washing would be superfluous for the church, notwithstanding that feet-washing also is an emblematical moral act. But the attempt has failed, and on that account the sacrament of feet-washing dare not he set down as superfluous. So Protestants attempts to base this necessity of only two sacraments by these remarks: 'Each one must in his natural life be a member of the church and become so more and more. He must once for always be consecrated to God, and as a natural plant be transplanted out of the bad soil of the earth into the good ground and soil of the kingdom of heaven, and then be consecrated always anew in order to grow in Christ, that is, in faith and love.' Now we grant entirely to Protestants that these remarks are right in themselves. We further grant that the necessity of baptism bases itself on this, that each one who is concerned about the 'truth, morality and happiness,' to be found in the church must, in his natural life, be a member of the church, once for always be consecrated to God, and like a natural plant be transplanted out of the bad soil of the earth into the divine ground and soil of the kingdom of heaven, q. d., the church. The Lord's supper alone is, even if it be frequently repeated, not sufficient for the attainment of this pious and moral end, because of the difference which shows itself in the personalities of the members of the church. Therefore the feet-washing of Christ as such a sacrament was adjoined to the Lord's supper by the Holy Scriptures, through the performance of which that end can be secured, in that those Christians whose feet are washed obtain lot in the union with Christ, in which God is as a Father, and are freed from single spots, with which Christians are disfigured. That the Protestant Church has not acknowledged the feet-washing of Christ as a sacrament is an offense against the Holy Scriptures, which surprises the more as this Church discovers the origin of its Christianity, and the only rule of conduct of its faith and practices, in the Holy Scriptures. The Church can, to some extent, make amends for its only offense through this, that it gives the feet-washing of Christ full justice as it is represented in the Scriptures, q. d., acknowledge its sacramental dignity."<br><br>For when the three ordinances of baptism, feet-washing and the Communion are compared in the basis of principles upon which they stand no sound criticism can reject one without invalidating the other. And it is for this invincible reason that we accept the three as divinely instituted ordinances of the Christian church. We would know whether the washing of the saints' feet as a ritual, symbolical, religious act should be practiced. We go up the stream of history until we reach a point but little nearer the period in which Christ lived and taught than where we stood before. A waste of nearly a century lies between us and the Apostolic church, and beyond which Christ stands. Let us listen again! There are voices in the air! They speak of "washing the saints' feet."<br><br>Notes from C. H. Forney in his The Christian Ordinances 1883.<br><br>Athos<br>Michael

Last edited by Joe; Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:08 PM.
Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1406
Tue Jan 14, 2003 6:56 AM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 6:56 AM
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Athos,<br>I am not sure you have a solid biblical case to argue that footwashing is a required ordinance of the NT church. I am not really concerned so much as to what was practiced in Church history. Christians have done a lot of stupid things in the name of spirituality over the years. It use to be common practice for monks to live out in the back side of the desert or in a tree house too, so historical precedence doesn't really prove the genuineness of a practice.<br><br> The issue comes down to whether or not there is solid biblical proof that an ordinance, such as foot washing, is contained in the scripture. The only place it is mentioned in regard to the Lord's Table is in John 13, and I would note that John doesn't record the words of Jesus as he broke the bread and poured the wine, like the 3 synoptics do. The reason being is that John wants to emphasize Christ's relationship with his disciples. Moreover, one question I have always asked footwashers (The Free will baptist variety), is why didn't Paul reiterate footwashing in his discussion on communion in 1 Corinthians 11? He talked about partaking of the bread and wine as something we should do until our Lord comes, but footwashing is not added to that list. If foot washing is a required ordinance of the Lord, then it would had been a solid emphasis upon it in scripture. <br><br>I have no problem with denominations practicing footwashing; I do have a problem of them telling me I am in disobedience if I don't practice it. <br>By the way, out of mischievious curiousity, if footwashing is a required ordinance, what would be its OT equivilant? If circumcision is baptism and the Passover now the Lord's table, then what would footwashing be related to from the OT? Only my Presby friends need to reply[img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/grin.gif" alt="grin" title="grin[/img]<br><br>Fred


"Ah, sitting - the great leveler of men. From the mightest of pharaohs to the lowest of peasants, who doesn't enjoy a good sit?" M. Burns
Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: fredman] #1407
Tue Jan 14, 2003 7:22 AM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 7:22 AM
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....I suspect the reason foot washing is not dictated by Paul is that it was a cultural matter. Not that the general idea (love for the bretheren and humility in all matters) is to be lost on us...<br><br>blessings,

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: fredman] #1408
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:58 AM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:58 AM

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I do not deny that historical precedence does not really prove genuineness of a practice. That is not the case here because we have a direct scriptural command from our Lord, back by great historical precedence. We should never just go by historical precedence or we will be in error of Man's Tradition above God's Law, and deny Sola Scriptura. We would be as guilty as the Catholic church. Historical precedence must be used in conjunction with a Scriptural command. John Chapter 13 and First Timothy 5: 9 & 10, both talks about a literal following of footwashing.<br><br>We should only have to be told once by our Lord and Father of what he wants us to do. Just because it is only mentioned in scriptures twice does not make it anyless valid, for scripture is completely divine, and God Breathe. Therefore NOTHING in the New Testament is a cultural custom, or invalid. The New Testament is the complete and perfect way a Christian should live his life. If we start picking and choosing what we want to practice than we might as well close up our doors and go out of business. In my opinion, there is no valid ground for that kind of selectivity. <br><br>Was it just a cultural custom? Have the teachings of the gospel and the epistles been generally understood in that way? Among Christian people, is the Bible usually viewed as "out of date"? No! The bible has been studied and applied because it is believed to be relevant for today. The continued observance of the communion ordinance is evidence of the widespread conviction that it is not for the custom of the area, but we, too, are being addressed in the gospel. It is unfortunate that, in that larger group, there are those who, at certain points, draw back from that position in order to escape the reproach of Christ. And so you have this practice of teaching one part of the chapter, but not the part of the chapter that might make you unpopular.<br><br>Just becuase it is only mentioned in John, and First Timothy and not in others areas does not make it invalid. That fact it was not mentioned in 1 Corinthians would be because it was a universal practice of the church and it was Not questioned. Paul used the Corinthians letters to correct error in the church at Corinth, since the Corinthians did not question the footwashing practice Paul did not have to mention it.<br> <br>I cannot supply you with a more valid reason for the performance of any deed than simply to know that God wants you to do it. Can you? Can you think of a more valid reason to motivate any action? For every pliable saint, what God has written right here should be enough to settle the matter.<br><br>Now, to all of this, the response of the critic might be: "So what? There is no salvation in it!" That is as much beside the point as to say that there's no salvation in baptism or in any other of the ordinances. We don't keep the ordinances to become saved, rather being saved we gladly keep those commandments. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."<br><br>Athos<br>Michael<br>

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1409
Tue Jan 14, 2003 11:03 AM
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First of all, Michael, I must say that these have been excellent posts! Very thought-provoking!<br>However, I would disagree tha foot-washing is a sacrament. A sacrament is a means of grace, and I do not believe the Bible discusses foot-washing in the same way as Baptism and the Lord's Supper.<br>That being said, I will have to study the issue further to see if foot-washing is something we are COMMANDED to do. You raise a very good case in its favor.<br><br>Steve


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Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1410
Tue Jan 14, 2003 12:28 PM
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<blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]I do not deny that historical precedence does not really prove genuineness of a practice. That is not the case here because we have a direct scriptural command from our Lord, back by great historical precedence. We should never just go by historical precedence or we will be in error of Man's Tradition above God's Law, and deny Sola Scriptura. We would be as guilty as the Catholic church. Historical precedence must be used in conjunction with a Scriptural command. John Chapter 13 and First Timothy 5: 9 &amp; 10, both talks about a literal following of footwashing.</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>I do not believe you can say John 13 is a direct command of the Lord to practice footwashing with the ordinance of the Lord's table. Nothing in the context of John's record of the upper room discourse even suggests this. The best way to read these passages is to understand that Christ is taking a cultural custom that was performed by the lowest servants and provides the apostles with a model of spiritual service to one another. Jesus is illustrating our need to serve one another in such a sacrificial manner; he was not setting up a third element in the Lord's table. <br>In addition, 1 Tim 5:9ff is the qualifications a widow must meet in order to be helped financially by the church. Paul is no where even discussing the Lord's Table with this passage. It seems as though you are grasping for straws to support your particular denominational nuiance. As a result, you are taking things out of context. <br><br><br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]Just becuase it is only mentioned in John, and First Timothy and not in others areas does not make it invalid. That fact it was not mentioned in 1 Corinthians would be because it was a universal practice of the church and it was Not questioned. Paul used the Corinthians letters to correct error in the church at Corinth, since the Corinthians did not question the footwashing practice Paul did not have to mention it.</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Your explanation is pure speculation. It is unreasonable to think that in an important discourse addressing the participants of Communion that Paul would blow by commenting upon foot washing if it were an essential command of our Lord for us to always practice. Again, you are in danger of reading into the text of 1 Corinthians something that is plainly not there.<br> <br><blockquote><font size=1>In reply to:</font><hr>[color:"blue"]I cannot supply you with a more valid reason for the performance of any deed than simply to know that God wants you to do it. Can you? Can you think of a more valid reason to motivate any action? For every pliable saint, what God has written right here should be enough to settle the matter.<br>Now, to all of this, the response of the critic might be: "So what? There is no salvation in it!" That is as much beside the point as to say that there's no salvation in baptism or in any other of the ordinances. We don't keep the ordinances to become saved, rather being saved we gladly keep those commandments. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."</font><hr></blockquote><p><br><br>Are you prepared then, to say that we Christians who do not practice foot washing, to coin a saying from the Bible Answer Man, that we are out side the pale of orthodoxy? In other words, are you ready to proclaim that we are in sin and in direct violation of God's word because we do not practice footwashing with Communion? If footwashing is a most definite part of the Lord's Table, then according to you, we who do not practice it are in danger of God's judgment. At least this was Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 11 of those who ate and drank of the Table unworthily.<br><br>Fred


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Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1411
Tue Jan 14, 2003 1:01 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 1:01 PM
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Athos,<br><br>When I think of the example of washing the disciples feet as recorded in John 13 I don't think so much about feet washing as an example of being a humble servant. The disciples of Jesus Christ must be servants. Jesus is showing us an example not a sacrament.<br><br>John 13:1-17<br>Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet<br><br>1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. <br><br>2And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, <br><br>3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, <br><br>4rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.<br><br>5After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. <br><br>6Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?" <br><br>7Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." <br><br>8Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" <br><br>Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." <br><br>9Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" <br><br>10Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." <br><br>11For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean." <br><br>12So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? <br><br>13You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. <br><br>14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. <br><br>15For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. <br><br>16Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. <br><br>17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.<br><br>Verse 8 tells us if He doesn't wash us we have no part with Him. This must be referring to the cleansing from sin through His broken body and shed blood which has yet to be revealed to them. It also explains why He came in the first place. To wash our sins away! <br><br>Matthew Henry writes: <blockquote>"In these verses we have the story of Christ’s washing his disciples’ feet; it was an action of a singular nature; no miracle, unless we call it a miracle of humility. Mary had just anointed his head; now, lest his acceptance of this should look like taking state, he presently balances it with this act of abasement. But why would Christ do this? If the disciples’ feet needed washing, they could wash them themselves; a wise man will not do a thing that looks odd and unusual, but for very good causes and considerations. We are sure that it was not in a humour or a frolic that this was done; no, the transaction was very solemn, and carried on with a great deal of seriousness; and four reasons are here intimated why Christ did this:—1. That he might testify his love to his disciples, v. 1, 2. 2. That he might give an instance of his own voluntary humility and condescension, v. 3-5. 3. That he might signify to them spiritual washing, which is referred to in his discourse with Peter, v. 6–11. 4. That he might set them an example, v. 12–17. And the opening of these four reasons will take in the exposition of the whole story. <br><br>I. Christ washed his disciples’ feet that he might give a proof of that great love wherewith he loved them; loved them to the end, v. 1, 2.</blockquote><br><br>When He says "do likewise" He's telling to them to follow not only His teaching but His example. It seems to me the example is also to show that Jesus wants his followers to see that even though He is their Lord and their Teacher He has a servant's heart. He is demonstrating that to be great in His kingdom one has to be humble and have a servant's heart. He could have used many different examples other than washing their feet but since it was the custom of the lowest of the servants in that day to wash the dirt from the guests feet He took it upon Himself to teach them about humility and servanthood. And yet this is just a small example for the "Suffering Servant" He was going to show them.<br><br>I don't think we should get hung up in focusing on the basin or the cloth used to carry out this humble act and turn it into some kind of sacrament. I think we should behold our Savior who humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.<br><br><br>Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: lazarus] #1412
Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:15 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:15 PM
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I look at foot washing a little like the women and head coverings issue. The head coverings issue was in that day and age a sign that the women was under subjection to man. Also if the information I received is correct, back then a women without a head covering sent a signal that she was a harlot. These things are lost on us today, though what they represent should still be the norm today.<br><br>Foot washing, was meant by our Lord to convey a certain purpose, only lowly servants washed feet in that day and judging from the disciples reactions, that message was not lost on the disciples. <br>Today on the other hand, the washing of feet, though there is nothing wrong with the practice, may not convey the same message,<br>though the attitude of believers should be the same.<br>

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: fredman] #1413
Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:21 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:21 PM

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I do believe we can say that John 13 is a direct command of the Lord to practice footwashing. "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." Sounds like what he said about communion, "Do this in remembrance of me." We also have the Lord telling us that "If I do not wash you, you have NO part with me." By those two verses we have a direct scriptural command.<br><br>In Paul's letters to the Corinthians he writes to correct the divisions among them. He praises them that they remember him in all things and keep the Ordinances as he delivered them to them. but in verse 17 of chapter 11 he says Now in giving THESE instructions I do NOT praise you since come together not for the better but for the worse........ I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. and he goes on to correct them. So it is not pure speculation to suggest Paul did not write about footwashing because it was not questioned.<br><br>I repeat what I said in my last post, <br><br>I cannot supply you with a more valid reason for the performance of any deed than simply to know that God wants you to do it. Can you? Can you think of a more valid reason to motivate any action? For every pliable saint, what God has written right here should be enough to settle the matter. Now, to all of this, the response of the critic might be: "So what? There is no salvation in it!" That is as much beside the point as to say that there's no salvation in baptism or in any other of the ordinances. We don't keep the ordinances to become saved, rather being saved we gladly keep those commandments. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."<br><br>Without Footwashing, we have No part with Him. That is his OWN words. There has always been a remnant church down thru the ages who have always practice footwashing along with the marks of the true Christian church. The Tertullianists, Novations, Numidians, Donatists, Montenses, Paulicians, Lollards, Waldense, and the early Ana-Baptist.<br><br>I can give you no more examples, you must come to the answer yourself. I have shown without a doubt that the Bible proclaims a practice of footwashing, as a literial symbol of humility. There is nothing more to say, and to let Sola Scriptura stand alone. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, so that your eyes are open. <br><br>God Bless,<br>Athos<br>

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: Tom] #1414
Tue Jan 14, 2003 2:25 PM
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In my church women STILL wear headcoverings, and we do not see as a issue just of that day. That will be my next post though when I have alittle time from work this week. :)<br><br>Athos

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1415
Tue Jan 14, 2003 4:01 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 4:01 PM
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Athos,

I fully respect your desire to practice foot-washing among your group. There is nothing inherently wrong with doing so. However, what is in error is your insistence that the practice is one that has been commanded by the Lord Christ to be an integral and inseparable part of the Lord's Supper. And, most grievous is your charge that those who do not follow this practice are liable to damnation.

Dr. William Hendriksen, one of the most respected and able exegetes of the inspired New Testament Scriptures, in his New Testament Commentary does an incredible job in exegeting this relevant section of John 13:1-15. For what it is worth, I have never read anyone who has brought to light the truth and has exhibited a depth of insight into this passage as Hendriksen. Below is just a short quote from the end of his exegesis of verses 12-15, along with a footnote which is included in the original. There is no doubt in my mind from my own studies on this subject that Hendriksen has spoken the truth of the matter and so I offer it to you for your consideration as well as all others who are particpating or simply reading this thread.
Now comes the application. It is an argument from the greater to the lesser: “If, therefore, I, y o u r Lord and Teacher — the terms are reversed now, for it is especially as Lord that Jesus can claim the right to obedience — have washed y o u r feet (and the very form of the conditional sentence indicates that this act is here rightly assumed to have actually occurred), y o u also constantly (present tense) ought to wash each other’s feet.” Surely, if the Lord of glory is willing to be “girded around” with a towel, having taken the form of a servant, actually washing and drying the feet of those who are so very far below him, it ought to be easy for mere disciples to render loving service to one another in the spirit of genuine humility! Note the emphatic position of the pronouns in the original. We have tried to preserve something of the flavor of the original by using italics.

Is Jesus instituting a new ordinance here, that of feet-washing? No, he is not commanding the disciples to do what (ho) he has done; but he has given them an example in order that they, of their own accord, may do as (kathos) he has done. Hence, significantly he adds: “For I have given y o u an example (hupodeigma here only in John, but found also in Heb. 4:11; 8:5; 9:26; James 5:10; and II Peter 2:6), in order that just as I did to y o u so also y o u should constantly do.” Jesus has shown (cf. the verb deixnumi) his humility under (hupo) their very eyes (hence, hupodeigma).

But although no sacrament has been instituted to be literally copied134 this does not remove the fact that under certain conditions those who may wish to show their hospitality in this manner are doing the proper thing (cf. I Tim. 5:10). It should, however, be stressed that what Jesus had in mind was not an outward rite but an inner attitude, that of humility and eagerness to serve.
______________________________________________


134 It has been thus understood, nevertheless, by many sincere believers throughout the history of the Church. Foot-washing was practised on Maundy Thursday by the Church of Augustine’s day. It was recommended by Bernard of Clairvaux in one of his sermons. The practice, moreover, was continued by the pope at Rome and by emperors (of Austria, of Russia) and kings (of Spain, Portugal, Bavaria). For a while it was practised by the Church of England and by the Moravians. It has been continued to this very day by certain Baptist and Adventist bodies. It was roundly condemned by Luther and by his followers as “an abominable papal corruption.” See P. Tschackert, “Foot-washing” in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, reprint, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1950, Vol. IV, pp. 339, 340.
In His Grace,


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Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: Pilgrim] #1416
Tue Jan 14, 2003 5:13 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 5:13 PM

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Would a Calvinist fellowship with an erring Armenian, or would some Protestant have fellowship with a Deifying Mary- Catholic, no for the latter are in error. I feel the same way, footwashing is a command by Christ, and if a group does not support it "might" lose fellowship. I will be sure that everyone of us would consider a Catholic to be damned for Deifying Mary to the status of Queen of Heaven. Theological issues are very important, especially when it comes to errors in doctrine. In every faith a line must be drawn, and we must tow the line when it comes to footwashing. All my friends are Reformed Baptist, and they are starting to come to the truth of footwashing. My church is not far removed from Reformed belief except the fact that we are PreMillenialist, practice headcoverings and feetwashing. So we have much in common with the Reformed Baptist tradition. <br><br>I am going to end this comment though because I cannot consciously debate with the SysOp of the board who has the power of my account. smile <br><br>Athos

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1417
Tue Jan 14, 2003 5:48 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 5:48 PM

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Athos,<br> I wonder, do you believe that the women in your church are more submissive by observing this practice than the other Christian women that you know? Also do you believe that the Christians of your congregation are more humble and servant like because they practice foot washing than other Christians are? I think that it is fine to emphasize submission of women and having a servant heart, but practicing the external things doesn't necessarily mean that this is a heart attitude. <br>There are many excellent Christians on this board and it seems unfair to judge them by the two things that you are emphasizing. We have many different views here. I don't think we need to make the way that leads to life narrower than the Lord intends it to be. We have quite a few folks come here and they don't stay long because they want to hammer their "one thing" constantly and it does get tiresome sometimes! [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/megashout.gif" alt="megashout" title="megashout[/img]<br><br>Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his wonderful book Spiritual Depression says in his chapter on false teachings that one of the marks of false teaching is this tendency to emphasize one thing whether it be healings, tongues, some experience, or sacrament, until it occupies the center of our thoughts. <br><blockquote>...That is the big thing. It is always in a prominent position, at the center, and you are more conscious of that one thing than you are of Christ because the emphasis is on that...<br>where I part company and must part company (with Roman Catholics) is that they add these vital pluses--Christ plus the Church, plus the Virgin Mary, plus the priests, plus the saints, and so on. Christ alone is not enough and He does not stand in all His unique glory at the center.<br>God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world. <br>Let me put it plainly, I will not make my boast, I will not glory, even in my orthodoxy, for even that can be a snare if I make a god of it. I will glory only in that Blessed Person Himself by whom this great thing has been done, with whom I died, with whom I have been buried, with whom I am dead to sin and alive unto God, with whom I have risen, with whom I am seated in the heavenly places, by whom and by whom alone the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world. Anything that wants to come into the center instead of Him, anything that wants to add itself on to Him, I shall reject. Knowing the apostolic message concerning Jesus Christ and all its directness, its simplicity and its glory, God forbid that any one of us should add anything to it. Let us rejoice in Him in all His fullness and in Him alone.pp 187,189 </blockquote><br><br>I notice from your bio that you are very young. My oldest son is about your age. [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/granny.gif" alt="granny" title="granny[/img] Maybe you will want to join us here and discuss some other issues with us too.<br>[color:red]WARNING--You may even end up an addict like me!</font color=red> [img]http://www.the-highway.com/w3timages/icons/grin.gif" alt="grin" title="grin[/img]<br>Susan<br>

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Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? [Re: li0scc0] #1418
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:18 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:18 PM

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Steve,<br><br>The church I was in most of my life practiced footwashing as well as partaking of unleavened bread and wine once a year in observance of Passover. Although I'm not inclined in the least to go back to any of that, as I read the posts I did begin to wonder why we single out taking the bread and wine as something to do but not the footwashing. In washing someone's feet, we symbolize the attitudes of servanthood and esteeming others. In taking the bread and wine we symbolize partaking in the body and blood of Christ. Since you said that you don't see the Bible discussing them in the same light, I was wondering what it is that causes you to distinguish between them?<br><br>RefBap<br>

Re: Should We Practice Foot-Washing? #1419
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:43 PM
Tue Jan 14, 2003 9:43 PM
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RefBap,<br><br>I'm sure Steve will answer you when he is able. But in the meantime, I thought I'd interject a question for you here that might perhaps answer your question to him. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Do you think it is prudent and sound exegesis to distinguish between, "Take eat! This is my body..... ", "this do in remembrance of me" and "For I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you.", "Be ye imitators of me . . ."? OR do you think that such phrases are synonymous in that they are all explicit commands with a universal import which is perpetually binding upon every believer?

In His grace,


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