Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The holy kiss

The following is an interesting commentary on the holy kiss, excerpted out of From Holy Kiss to Handshake by Robert Meyers. It touches on several issues -- apostolic practice as normative, patternism, Christian love, Bible translations, literal interpretation, etc. Enjoy (and read the entire article at the link below).

The kiss commanded by Peter and Paul fell by the wayside long ago and there is no serious movement to revive it in the church ritual. Even the most adamant literalist seems quite content to let this particular form be changed, so long as the spirit behind the commandment is somehow preserved. The substitute form is so widely accepted in fact that J. B. Phillips doesn't even bother to translate what Paul and Peter said. He simply paraphrases it in language every modern Christian will understand: "Give one another a hearty handshake all around!"

I heard the final irony in this connection just the other day. A friend of mine in the Church of Christ heard the Phillips version read in a study group and complained vigorously about the change. "You can't trust modern versions," he said. "Paul said holy kiss, not handshake." It did not occur to him that the new translation only sanctified an action which he had already taken.

No one who reads this journal will suppose that it is my hope to revive the holy kiss. The churches I know have troubles enough already, and I am more than happy to join them in expressing the spirit of that commandment through an altered form. I would only urge my brothers to extend to other people the same charity which they find for themselves.

-- From "FROM HOLY KISS TO HANDSHAKE" by Robert Meyers in the Restoration Review Volume 19, Number 7, July 1977


Anonymous said...

The same can be said for the washing of feet. We no longer walk about on desert sands wearing only sandals or even in bare foot. Instead of a foot bath at the door we have door mats to wipe one's shoes.

Some things we do have to change with time. We have lights in the churches now and we flip a switch to enable them.



R. L. Vaughn said...

Bro. Jim, I think most people are like Robert Meyers -- "churches I know have troubles enough already, and I am more than happy to join them in expressing the spirit of that commandment through an altered form."

While some things change with time, to include something commanded by Christ and the apostles (however the command is interpreted) with invention, transportation, comfort, etc., is to set up modern Baptists to relegate the Lord's Supper, Baptism, male eldership, etc. to just some other things that need to change with the times.

In a couple of previous posts, I pointed out that it is coming to this for baptism with some folks. John W. Loftus thinks there "doesn't seem to be anything transcultural about the act of baptism itself. People from other cultures would not automatically recognize the act of baptism as indicating purity or suggesting full commitment." Baptism and culture

And Ralph Winter apparently considers baptism a Western activity rather than a biblical activity. Baptism -- a "Western" activity?

Anonymous said...

In my area, the Amish practice Foot Washing, the Holy Kiss, and do not have lights in the church with a switch to flip! On the other hand, Many with light switches do practice Foot Washing and the Holy Kiss here: German Baptists, Apostolic Christian, and Conservative Mennonites. My relatives practice the Holy kiss, as do some of our local Sacred Harp singers who are German Baptists. Our congregation retained the kiss in conjunction with Foot Washing, but not as a greeting of the brethren.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I think one weakness of the "cultural" argument is that it spins well in our western culture, but there are still cultures out there that haven't changed that much and some even continue the practice of these things culturally.

Another for example, is that the "cultural" argument does not touch the fact that Jesus commanded "Ye also ought to wash one another's feet" and "ye should do as I have done to you." So there is an commandment in effect, regardless of what is cultural and what is not. It behooves us to determine if the commandment is both literal and representative or just representative of the kinds of things we ought to do.