Do Latter-day Saints Baptize Dead People? – Pastor Explores – powered by Happy Scribe
And that’s why Mormons are so interested in finding their ancestors.
See, this is why I’m doing this channel. This is great. Hello, Saints. For those of you who don’t know who I am, my name is Jeff. I am a Christian pastor exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. And in this video, I’m going to be reacting to a video put out by the LDS Church explaining baptism for the dead. This is something I didn’t even know as a thing until very recently. So I’m really interested in learning, reacting, and giving you my perspective as a Christian pastor. So let’s dive in.
You may have wondered about the Mormon practice called baptism for the dead, something that may be new to some of you. First, let’s talk a little bit about baptism for the living. 2000 years ago, Jesus went to the Jordan River, where he was baptized by immersion lowered fully under the water by John the Baptist. By doing this, Jesus showed us two things. One, that everyone needs to be baptized, even he being perfect. And two, a baptism must be performed by someone with authority from God. The Bible refers to this as priesthood. Why did Jesus go to John to be baptized? Because John had this priesthood. Jesus set the example for all of us.
All right, so I have a feeling off the bat here that there are going to be a lot of references here that are probably going to require more research and more study on my part. So just this whole idea of priesthood, I understand it’s a really important thing in the LDS Church, but I don’t know if this video is really going to get into how priesthood really ties into this practice of baptism. But I will say that in the rest of Christianity there is the belief that baptism is important. It’s not fully embraced that one needs to be baptized in order to be saved. Though in fact, the vast majority of noneldius Christianity says you don’t need to be baptized in order to be saved. I’ll get into the reasons as to why we think baptism is important and why Jesus commanded it, but I wanted to get back to the video here really quick. But before I do, there are various denominations that might require whoever is administering the baptism to have a certain level within the Church. I don’t know if it would necessarily be called priesthood. It is in some cases, but not in all cases.
But there’s also a lot of denominations that don’t necessarily believe that someone has to have a specific office in the Church, but as long as they are a father of Christ, that they can baptize others. Because, as Peter says, that we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that anybody who’s a follower of Jesus is considered part of the priesthood or the intermediary between God and humanity. Being that we have put our faith in Him. But this seems to be tied to maybe a lot of other doctrines in the LDS Church. But hopefully this is still good foundational information. So I can understand baptism for the.
Dead, but here’s the problem. What about those millions of people who died without baptism or were baptized but without proper authority?
That’s a good question. I think in a non LDS context we would say, well, it’s not any specific work that gets you saved. It’s what Christ did on the cross. So anybody who wasn’t baptized doesn’t necessarily lose their salvation or they’re standing in heaven. So it’s not necessarily a problem that needs to be solved after they’ve died. But obviously this video is setting it up to say that if someone does die and they were baptized without the right authority or they weren’t baptized at all, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed.
Mormons don’t baptize dead people. They use proxies, living standards to represent those who have passed away without proper baptism. Let’s explain proxy a bit. Your math teacher couldn’t make it to class because she was out sick, so she arranged for a substitute, a proxy to fill in for her. And you’ll remember from the Bible that Jesus suffered for our sins. He also acted as a proxy.
Okay, I’ve got to say, I really do love this explanation of proxies, especially as it’s tied to Jesus Christ. The rest of Christianity does agree and believe that Jesus was a proxy on our behalf when he died on the cross, that he paid the price for our sin, that he was sort of a stand in for the punishment that we deserved. The phrase that has kicked around in a lot of the rest of Christianity is substitutionary atonement. But just this whole idea of a substitute teacher and a proxy, very similar ideas there. I will say this idea of individuals standing in as proxies to be baptized very unique to the LDS Church in.
The same way, male and female Mormons in good standing, age twelve and up, act as proxies. They stand in for their deceased relatives and are baptized in their behalf. A baptism for the living can take place in a river, a pond, or really any place large enough for a person to become completely immersed, even in the font found in many Mormon chapels. But a baptism for the dead can only take place in Mormon temples, which they consider sacred.
Okay, that is really helpful. I did not know that. I actually didn’t know that you could get baptized in an LDS chapel or a warehouse because I’ve never been in one. But I’m going to, I promise. But this makes sense, though, because I’ve seen models of the inside of LDS temples before, and I’ve seen sort of the basin with the oxen around it that I believe shares a lot of ancient symbolism. But I didn’t know that the living aren’t baptized in temples and only proxy baptisms take place in the temple. So that’s really helpful information. I wish I could talk to this video because I’d want to know why does it have to happen in the temple? And that’s just going to be some insight that I’m still learning as to the significant role that the temple plays and how it’s concentrated or set apart to do these very special things like.
Baptisms for the living. These proxy baptisms are also by immersion and with priesthood authority, and each one is witnessed and recorded. And that’s why Mormons are so interested in finding their ancestors, so they can do a proxy baptism for them.
This is great. I didn’t know that. So I’m a huge fan of ancestry.com. I have a lot of different family trees that I’ve investigated. I’ve actually gone to places where my family used to live and found like, gravestones and stuff like that. So I did know that the LDS Church is really big on Ancestry, and this is connecting it out for me. So as you do genealogical research, you then can be a proxy for your ancestors. See, this is why I’m doing this channel. This is great.
You may be asking yourself, isn’t it a little presumptuous for Mormons to perform a baptism for the dead who may not even want it? Well, the Bible teaches us that individuals have the right to choose. Mormons believe that right continues after death, and the spirits of the dead can be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Okay, so where there were some similarities here, we veered into an area that is very different than what the rest of Christianity teaches. We believe that death is final when it comes to your standing before God, and that after one dies, that you don’t have the ability to choose any longer. Which is why it’s so important that while we are here on Earth, that we respond rightly to a call to be reconciled to God. I think one of the passages I would point to is in Luke 16 and Jesus is giving a parable of Lazarus and the rich man. And you should go and read it for yourself, but it’s essentially this conversation that’s taking place beyond this life, where this man named Lazarus, who is a servant to a rich man, finds himself in paradise, and the rich man finds himself not in paradise, and he can’t cross that chasm. In fact, the rich man is concerned about his still living family. And once Lazarus will go back and warned them, they need to be made aware of what is important about the decisions they make in life and how that impacts eternity. But Lazarus is not able to do that.
So that’s just one parable that I would point to. And there’s a few other passages that talk about why it’s important for us to deal with these things on Earth, because once we’ve died, we can no longer progress.
They can then choose to accept or reject it and the corresponding proxy baptism. And to be clear, deceased individuals for whom a baptism for the dead is performed are not counted on the membership roles of the Mormon Church. Baptism for the living and for the dead is another important way God shows his love for his children. So when you hear the term baptism for the dead, remember it refers to Mormons using proxies living standins to provide baptism by immersion with proper authority for those who have died without that opportunity. Now you know.
Now I know. All right. So in the spirit of this channel where I’m comparing and contrasting and I’m showing the things that are different, but also the things that are similar, there are a few different beliefs surrounding baptism and the rest of Christianity that are worth pointing out. One of them is tied to the idea of immersion. And this was actually talked about in this video. How important is it for someone to be fully immersed in water? Or maybe you’ve seen some traditions where water is poured on like a baby’s head or something like that. How important is immersion? Some faith traditions believe that it is incredibly important and that that was a model that was demonstrated in the Bible and that we should follow that model, whereas others say, well, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re fully immersed or not as long as the symbolism gets across. The other thing that is talked about a lot in the rest of Christianity is something tied to infant baptism. There are a lot of faith traditions that believe that something spiritually sort of transpires when one is baptized. That baptism is a gift from God. And that when someone is baptized.
There is a ceiling of sort that takes place of one receiving God’s promises and having the confidence for the rest of their life to know that that baptism sort of sets the stage for the spiritual regeneration that takes place in an individual. So what do I believe the Bible teaches and how do I practice this? It’s actually in keeping with most of the rest of Christianity, where we believe that baptism was an ancient ritual specifically found in Judaism that was tied to cleansing and tied to being accepted into the community of God’s chosen people, and that Jesus sort of adopted that symbolism to command his people to sort of put action behind what is taking place in them internally. Another way that we describe this is baptism is a physical representation of a spiritual reality. So when Jesus does meet us and we are born again. Like this conversation that he had with Nicodemus. The reason why baptism is spoken about there is because in the same way that Jesus died on the cross and he was buried and he rose from the dead. When we enter into baptism. We’re joining Christ in that whole idea of dying to our old self and being brought back to life.
Regenerated. Born again. But the actual water doesn’t do anything to us. It’s symbolic that even in ancient times when someone was baptized, it was something that was done in a public sense. And you are sending a message to your community, whether they’re people who are believing the same way you are or not. To say, I have experienced an encounter with the Creator, with the Maker, with my Savior, and he has changed me, and I’m going to do something to publicly profess what that is, that I am joining in Christ and his death, and I’m no longer the old self, and I’ve been resurrected with Him into new life, and I look forward to an actual future resurrection. And it’s more tied to a testimony and a proclamation than something actually taking place. Now, again, there are debates about this and the rest of Christianity, but I think one of the main reasons why it’s important for me to point out why I teach it the way I do is because we can’t do anything to save ourselves. In fact, I’ve spoken to a lot of LDS Church members who say that they agree with that, that we are saved only by what Jesus did through the atonement.
But if that’s the case, just on a logical level, that we can’t do anything to save ourselves, that necessitates that when we look at baptism, a lack of baptism shouldn’t prohibit us from salvation or being in God’s presence because it is fully what Jesus did on the cross. So I teach that we have to be careful, that we understand the importance of baptism and the command to be baptized, but that you don’t have to be baptized in order to get into heaven. And if someone does have a true and real restored relationship with God by faith in Christ, and they die before being baptized, that that has no implication on where they’re going to spend eternity. Jesus is the one who has the primary implication on where we spend eternity. So I hope it provides an insight and a perspective into something that maybe you didn’t know about, because I didn’t know a lot about this, which is why I just love doing this channel, because it’s a reciprocal learning experience. I’m learning while also sharing what I believe so that maybe you can learn. But I love doing videos like this. I’m going to be doing a lot more, so you need to come back.
So until then, I’ll see you later, saints.