Matt rightly pointed out that my post on True Confessions made it look like I was saying that we should never confess our sins to anyone other than the elders. That is certainly not what I meant so I thank Matt for correcting the record. There are many different situations in which we should and must confess sin to those other than our elders. For instance, when we sin against a brother, we are required to go and make amends right away. Often this will require confession of the offending sin.
As for Matt's interpretation (see Matt's comment under the link above) of the foot washing, I’d have to think long and hard on that before I could go there. In other words, I’d have to come up with some pretty compelling reasons (biblical reasons) for adopting it. The problem with metaphorical language and actions is that it is easily misinterpreted. I probably err on the side of a minimalist interpretation (i.e. a cautionary approach which fears reading too much into the language or event). I might miss some things that really are there, but that’s my approach.
Thus, I’ve always limited what is going on with the foot washing event to simply be that: a foot washing. Jesus is washing the feet of the disciples because no one in the room that night did the dirty deed. Since this was a gathering of friends who were too proud that night in the upper room to stoop down and clean the dirt off each other’s feet, Jesus did it for them.
I believe this minimalist interpretation resonates with Jesus’ own explanation of what he was doing. He was setting an example for his disciples on how they should humbly serve their brethren. If they come in from a journey, and no one is there to clean their feet, they ought to get down and do the dirty work. Their teacher was not above it, so they should not feel that they are above it.
But even if I were to adopt the interpretation Matt proposed, I might still be justified in my original post since I was speaking mainly about the average person in the pew. Yet here, Jesus is speaking with the twelve which brings up a good question. As apostles, who should they confess hidden heart sin to? Or as it is in our day, who should the elders confess their hidden heart sin to?
Here we do have something more akin to confession of sin in a reciprocal way. Yet I don’t think this undermines my overall argument. Since elders are to be godly men (above reproach), they really ought to have less to confess and they ought to hold each other accountable and stir each other up to love and good deeds.
As a side note, my minimalist interpretive principle also causes me to adopt an a-millennialist position for my eschatology. I often feel both the pre-mill and post-mill positions are reading way too much into the text to sustain their positions. For me it’s pretty simple: Jesus returns and the world gets judged.
Thanks again Matt for helping me think these things through.
By the way, it’s never too early to begin making a good mommy. Abigail is already proving to be a wonderful mommy. She carried this doll around in her car seat all day yesterday. “Sit, sit, sit,” she says. The baby obeys.