Taking off footwear in Church - Is it biblical or just a hindu custom?
- In the Coptic Orthodox Church they take off the footwear when they enter the altar.
Unlike the Protestants, we don't see the Church building as just an assembly hall. We see it as a holy place...and in the Bible we are instructed to take off our foot ware when we enter a Holy Place. We read in Exodus 3:5
"Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."
So my guess is that taking off footwear when we enter the church is not something that we borrowed from the Hindu culture, but something that is very Biblical.
In the Byzantine Orthodox Churches (at least the ones that I have been to) and in Roman (Latin) Catholic Churches they don't take off the footwear even when they enter the altar. It may have something to do with the climate too. In extremely cold weather, with no central heating systems as it was in olden times, it was not practical for a person to stand bare foot. So the tradition of taking off your shoes didn't gain much traction in the West.
Our Suroyo brethren are highly westernized now a days. The fasting rules are very much relaxed; there are pews in churches just like RC churches (don't know how prostrations are done during Holy week); priests and even Bishops wear pants and shirt with a white collar like RC priests instead of cassocks; conduct First Holy Communion ceremonies like RC church when kids are about 10 years of age etc.
But unlike the Pharisees we don't have to be ritualistic. It is very valuable to hold on to holy tradition, but love is more important.
Mathew G M