No, I'm not talking about a book on personal hygiene.
Robert L. Vaughn, who comments sagaciously around many of the blogs that I frequent, has written a book on the practice of foot-washing as a Christian ordinance among Baptists. I've asked him to prepare a blurb to place here. In my experience, these sorts of studies are fascinating. One of my favorite papers that I wrote in seminars dealt with the laying on of hands among early Baptists. Really intriguing (at some points, even bizarre!) stuff. So I offer my recommendation for R.L.'s book, even though I have not yet held it in my own hands.
This weekend we make the first presentation of our proposed Constitution and Bylaws. As you all know, this is a process that has been ongoing at FBC Farmersville for quite a while. Count on me being hard to find around this blog for a good while.
And now, I give you R. L. Vaughn:
Allen Matthews "...donated land for the Hopewell Meeting House (Church) in Copiah County...He donated land for the Palestine Baptist Church...He was a very religious man. When his church he went to in Copiah County decided they were going to do away with the practice of ‘foot washing’, he got his towel and washbasin and walked out. They started another church on the other side of the Pearl River, in Simpson County, called Palestine..."
Don't trace your ancestry if you're afraid of what you might find. That holds true of human genealogy and Baptist history. In Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists, the author traces his history and finds feet washing was practiced not only by Free Will Baptists and Primitive Baptists, but also by the Missionary Baptists. The book compiles data on the relationship of the rite of feet washing and Baptists, particularly as practiced in Missionary Baptist churches. Arranged in a chronological and geographical format, Materials allows the reader to see records, controversies and variations of washing the saints’ feet in Baptist churches.
What Others Say
Vaughn did an excellent job researching an obscure subject of which contemporary Baptists have little knowledge. This book is a needed contribution to Baptist historiography. I know of nothing like it. – C. B. Anderson. Retired Chairman, Department of Social Sciences, Jacksonville College, Jacksonville, TX
The volume by R. L. Vaughn, Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing Among the Baptists, is an exhaustive compilation of source materials on feet washing as practiced by Baptists and even others. The work covers practically every aspect of the subject, including definitions of the rite, its biblical and historical roots, its manner of observance past and present, its practice by group and geographical location, and even arguments of those opposed to it. Although the work focuses on Missionary Baptists in the USA and abroad as over against Primitive Baptists, it nevertheless includes all Baptist parties and even bodies outside the Baptist fold. An extra bonus is its appendix that includes a listing of Baptist groups and subgroups in the USA and British Isles , a comprehensive and detailed listing not found elsewhere. This work is an excellent study, providing a most valuable list of sources on a practice, although bypassed by a great many today, that is observed by others as an observance with a biblical mandate. – Albert W. Wardin, Jr., Professor Emeritus of History, Belmont University, Nashville, TN; author of The Twelve Tribes of Baptists in the USA: a Historical and Statistical Analysis
A couple of excerpts
"Even those churches that do sacramentalize and enact foot washing try to mitigate the intimacy of the act...But it is precisely the scrupulous toenail clipping and pre-church scrubbing of feet that points to the real gift of foot washing. For our attempts to have clean, sweet-smelling feet to offer betray the many ways we are rendered vulnerable by our bodies." – Stephanie Paulsell in Honoring the Body: Meditations on a Christian Practice
"Rather than teach a disrespect for any part of God's words or examples, or a lack of confidence in his wisdom as to what was needful to be taught and practiced by his disciples, for God's sake, if for no other, stay off of the question if you will not accept the example of being worthy of following..." – A. T. Green in The Lord's Supper and Foot Washing
For more information, e-mail Baptist.waymark[at]gmail.com or write:
3528 CR 3168 W
MOUNT ENTERPRISE TX 75681
Materials Toward a History of Feet Washing among the Baptists, consisting of Historical References to the Practice among the Missionary Baptists, including miscellaneous notes on other groups. R. L. Vaughn Mt. Enterprise, TX: Waymark Publications. 2008. 978-1-60458-249-9 pb. 232 pages. $21.99