1. Interesting. I think an important part of Elder McConkie’s quote is the second part: “And how could it be done except by revelation? Who would know all that is involved unless God revealed it?”

    Although it appears that some other Christian sects have a foot washing practice, it does not explain why they do it. It seems to be cited as an example, a pattern, an ordinance, and a hospitality custom, but it does not cite why the practice was performed other than following the example of Jesus in the scriptures. As with many of the ordinances of the gospel, many seem to be confused as to how this ordinance should be done, who administers it, where it is performed, and who should receive it, and what is means. Do they know what they are doing? Do they know the meaning behind the ordinance? Do they know why Christ did it? Do they have the authority of the priesthood to administer it? No. Their claim to authority to administer the ordinance comes from the pattern they read in the scriptures. But authority doesn’t come from words on a page, it comes from God.

    Anyone may follow a written pattern, but it takes revelation through prophets and apostles to establish ordinances as efficacious officiations, performed through the authorized priesthood, recognized by God, and with meaning and symbolism for the recipients. Even this Wikipedia article mentions the effects of the apostasy on this ordinance – “After the death of the apostles, the practice was gradually lost.” The practices of the Christian sects seem to have been established many centuries after the apostolic era, in an effort to “restore” or “revive” a practice that they saw in the scriptures, but without revelation or authority to do so.

    The washing of feet that Joseph Smith instituted was a restoration of this ancient ordinance, but was revealed anew from heaven to a prophet, under the authority of the recognized priesthood, so that those who are worthy of it may be made clean, every whit, and sealed unto eternal life. It is Jesus Christ who revealed the particulars of this practice again in this dispensation, and commissioned His servants to perform it. Said the Master:

    And ye shall not receive any among you into this school save he is clean from the blood of this generation;
    And he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted.
    And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church.
    It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of bread and wine, he is to gird himself according to the pattern given in the thirteenth chapter of John’s testimony concerning me. Amen. (D&C 88:138–141)

  2. Very interesting, Bryce. Thank you.

    I will admit that this a difficult doctrine/ordinance for me. I suppose that is why it is shrouded in sacred silence. Pearls before swine and all that. (And in some respects, some of us members, who are unprepared, are the swine, as I am in this case.) I’m appreciating what I’m learning but it will take a little more reading (and rereading your posts on the topic) until I get even a rudimentary comprehension.

    Thank you for the information and, more importantly, for keeping sacred things sacred. It’s wonderful to be able to read and learn.

  3. You are welcome Muslihoon. As with many of the ordinances of the gospel, this one is to be “understood only by enlightened saints,” and “for those who make themselves worthy,” as Elder McConkie so phrased it.

  4. Many Christians do practice the washing of feet, indeed. But their comprehension of it is entirely different. For them, it’s a reminder of equality in the Kingdom of God and of service. But what it means, and how it is done, in this Dispensation few really know. Most Christians, for that matter, dispense with the importance or rite of washing feet entirely. It’s nothing important to them.

    Interesting how feet are so important. Another rite, often talked about surreptitiously, is dusting the feet.

  5. Bryce:

    Great Post.

    Over the years, several times, I have been speaking in the cultural hall after church with a deacons or teachers priesthood leader. And they shared what they did in class that day. They had the group wash each others feet, following the biblical example.

    It has been interesting to try to explain to them and others why this practice in not appropriate in a classroom setting.


  6. Ferreira

    Symbolism of the feet is interesting; I’ll have to think more about that.

    It did bring something to mind. . . Allen J. Fletcher in his book, A Study Guide to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham, mentions that all the people in Abraham: Facsimile 3 are midstride, walking (feet) toward Abraham (Osiris) on the throne (Abraham is demonstrated to be a true representative of God, posessing the true priesthood and the right to rule as king). This facsimile is a simple form of common depictions of an initiate entering the presence of God. More complex depictions show that the initiate’s heart is weighed on a scale, balanced against truth, and the result is recorded. The initiate also demostrates to all the gods that he has kept the laws and covenants. The initiate is led further to the veil, separating the chamber of Osiris from the world. As I understand it, Facsimilie 3 jumps to the chamber scene.

  7. Ferreira

    I’ve also come accross the washing-of-the-feet-for-youth-activities discussion.

  8. Great website about Mormon temples. We need to teach about it more and more to dispel many misconceptions among friends of other faiths.

  9. Great question Will. I have cited some of the best references that are available, that I know of, in the post above. I’m sure there are other references that talk about it, but they are few and far between.

  10. Thank you! Each morning I read your written efforts to make material easier to understand. As a current Ordinance Worker I’ve come to realize how significant my efforts are each week.

    Dennis Losse

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