Ruf aus der Wüste 4.15-16: Hyde on washing of feet

I think this is more about foot washing than I’ve ever read anywhere before.

Article 15.

On the washing of feet.

This is an ordinance in our church that is performed by its serving members.(1) It is also performed by other members, although not as an ecclesiastic ordinance, but as an example of humility and condescension in small religious circles and families. Just as Christ washed the feet of His disciples, they also washed them for each other.

After our priests have been called and ordained, they must take their position immediately.(2) If they are commanded to travel and preach, they must go, but if they are intended for local service, they must stay. If, over the course of two or three years, they have proven faithful in the fulfillment of the duties of their calling and have been found good by God and the church, they are called to a solemn meeting. And, in communal prayer and fasting, the president of the church girds himself with a cloth and washes and dries their feet, and then their heads and bodies are anointed with consecrated oil. This washing is a sign that they have cleansed their garments from the souls of men;(3) and they are then recognized as citizens of the Lord after they have shed all the obligations under which they stood toward the world.(4)

And forever after we must serve the Lord in all purity and righteousness in whatever office He has called us, either to travel and preach or to preside over churches.

Article 16.

On the patriarchal blessing and a word about marriage.

It is a law of our church for every father to call his children together at some convenient time to lay his hands on them and bless them before he dies.(5)

If a case should occur that there are persons in our church whose fathers are dead or are not of our faith, then we have a patriarch whose business is to lay his hands on them and to bless them in the place of their fathers so that no one remains without a father’s blessing, which is considered very important in our church.(6)

All persons in our church are allowed to marry as soon as they reach the proper age, provided that they are not closely related.(7) The members of our church have been solemnly directed (but not entirely forbidden) not to marry anyone of any other religion. Those who do so are considered unwise and weak in faith.(8)

* * *

This is the end of Chapter 4 and the articles about various aspects of the church’s teachings. The German text of Ein Ruf aus der Wüste is available on two anti-Mormon websites with the justification that readers will discover in it just how much the church has changed its teachings. As I’ve been reading and translating, I keep waiting to discover something shocking, but I think I’ve been surprised as much or more by the unexpected continuity. It’s only in this chapter that I see a substantial difference in practice. So I admit: foot washing does not play the same role today in daily lay religious practice as Hyde describes in 1842.

(1) I’m not sure what distinction Hyde has in mind between “other members” and “serving members,” dienstleistende Glieder. He may intend to distinguish ordained priests from the non-ordained.

(2) The urgency of a priest assuming a local or foreign assignment seems like something perhaps inherited from previous religious traditions, and that has now disappeared.

(3) I would have expected something like “sins” here, but the German word, Seelen, is unambiguous.

(4) The final clause of this sentence is odd and awkward. For its part, “citizens of the Lord” is unambiguous, Bürger des Herrn, but that phrase itself is nearly unknown, although I do find two examples of it in religious use. Interestingly, the English “citizens of the Lord” (usually as part of the expression “citizens of the Lord’s kingdom”) is also rare, with many occurrences tied to LDS usage.

(5) The idea that father’s blessings are to be given just once, and in connection with the father’s impending death, has faded.

(6) And the role of the patriarchal blessing has expanded so that it is no longer seen as a replacement for a father’s blessing.

(7) Here I wish Hyde had specifically identified the age and acceptable degree of consanguinity he had in mind.

(8) It would not be difficult to find examples of how the rhetoric has changed considerably since Hyde’s time, and of how it hasn’t changed at all.

3 comments for “Ruf aus der Wüste 4.15-16: Hyde on washing of feet

  1. The second paragraph of the foot-washing section sounds like an early version of the “second anointing.”

  2. Regarding footnote 1: Sometimes in early church parlance they distinguish between “regular members” and “official members.” The “official members” are the members who are also officials (i.e. office holders [i.e. men who hold a priesthood office]).

Comments are closed.