VIDEO: Pastor's HONEST Response to Latter-day Saints: Baptism

VIDEO: Pastor’s HONEST Response to Latter-day Saints: Baptism



Curious to know your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15:29, where the practice of baptism for the dead is mentioned and the LDS looked to as the basis for it. Hello, saints. My name is Jeff. I am a pastor in Utah exploring everything I can about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think it’s time for us to revisit again a topic of baptism. There’s a couple of reasons why I think it’s a good idea. First of all, I just went through the temple down in St. George, Utah. It’s only my second time going through a temple. Naturally, as I’m being taken through the temple and the tour guide is explaining the baptism of font and the various ordinances, baptism is just on my mind. I’m just seeing how critically important it is and how central it is to a lot of Latter-day Saint belief. Secondly, the topic of baptism is one of the most common topics that people will ask me about. What I’m going to try to do in this video is respond to a lot of the comments I get in the YouTube comment section, and hopefully that can clarify where the Latter-day St.

View is similar, but also different from a more common Protestant, evangelical view. Let’s dive in. Now, the backdrop of this first question is the various times that I’ve communicated that the common Protestant, evangelical belief is that baptism is a command, but it doesn’t save us. In other words, just because someone is embaptized doesn’t mean that they’re going to miss out on heaven or that they’re going to go to hell, which is probably why Push Shaving is saying, It is interesting to hear you speak of baptism as optional. I think that Jesus was pretty clear that everyone, non-children, needed to be baptized. When in Matthew 28, He commanded His disciples to go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen. Now, one thing I want to clarify right off the bat is just because we don’t believe baptism saves us doesn’t mean that Protestant, evangelicals look at baptism as optional. It is clearly a command.

Jesus commands that we should be baptized and that we should baptize others, as he’s referencing here in Matthew 28 during the Great Commission. How can we say that baptism doesn’t save us, but it’s still a command? Well, in Protestant evangelical Christianity, we use scripture to balance itself. There are plenty of other scriptures that clearly say that there’s nothing that we do or that we can do that will bring about salvation. It is only what Christ has done and Christ alone. Titus 3:5 says, He saved us not because of righteous things that we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Spirit. That passage in Titus is going to be important as we talk through this conversation because cleansing is really central to what baptism represents. In our view, the greatest problem in humanity is sin because God is holy. This goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. There are differing views with how Latter-day Saints view what took place in the Garden. I’m not going to get into all that right now, but it is our belief that when sin entered the world and we were no longer able to be in God’s holy presence and we were cast out of His presence, that’s tied to His holiness.

The whole reason He sent Jesus is to cleanse us from the sin that separates us from God so that we would have the opportunity to be justified and reconciled to Him, so that we can have restored, redeemed relationship with Him and to exist in eternity in His holy, glorious presence. Which is why we see here in Titus that it’s nothing that we have done that cleanses us but what He has done, the washing of rebirth and the renewal by His Spirit. Which leads to this next common question on this topic, as represented by ASL Lover 21:89, and it’s a passage out of John 3. You mentioned baptism as not optional, but is not necessary. This is where I get confused. In speaking to Nicademus, in John 3:3–5, Christ said, We must be born again. Then when asked how a man could be born again, he explained that a man must be born again of both water and Spirit. I understand this to mean the essentiality of baptism by water and the gift of the Holy Ghost. But I’m curious how you would interpret this. I’m really glad that ASL Lover 21:89 brings this up because this is actually where a lot of Protestant, evangelicals have some disagreements about baptism.

The most common view looks at this conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and says, Jesus might be referring to baptism, but it’s not conclusive. It seems more consistent with what the totality of what the New Testament teaches that he’s more speaking about a cleansing that is necessary. Again, if it is our sin that separates us from God that needs to be washed away, he’s quite simply saying that cleansing is necessary in order for us to be born again or made a new creation and that our spirits must be made alive, which is called regeneration. But the more common Protestant, evangelical view of John 3 doesn’t see Jesus conclusively pointing to baptism as much as he’s highlighting the problem and the remedy. The problem being that we are unholy and sinful and that we are dead in our sin. But being born again means being cleansed by His blood and being brought to life, born again by the Spirit of God. This actually reminds me of a conversation I recently had on a Latter-day Saint YouTube channel. The guys that were interviewing me were great guys, but whenever we came to this topic of baptism, there was something that happened, I think, tied to this passage here in John that made a conversation about baptism pretty difficult.

I’m going to quote exactly how this individual broached the topic of baptism because one, it points to why I feel like the conversation was a bit inhibited. Two, it can teach us a pretty important lesson when it comes to discussing topics like this. He said, So like Jesus, I think it’s in Mark chapter. I can’t remember what chapter. But he says, Unless a man repents and becomes baptized, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. The reason why I think it’s important for me to quote how this question was asked is because the individual who is asking it is referencing a passage of scripture that doesn’t even exist. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say that you have to repent and become baptized in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Now, in John 3, as we just talked about, it says that you must be born again by water and spirit. But I’ve already given reasons as to why many Protestant, evangelicals don’t believe it’s pointing to baptism. Now, I want to make sure it’s very clear that I don’t believe that these Latter-day Saint content creators were trying to misquote the scriptures or trying to misguide the conversation.

They were doing something that I have actually done in the past, and that is in an effort to communicate what you believe, you paraphrase a passage of scripture. That’s just really dangerous to do. This is just a good lesson that when having interfaith dialog and communicating what you believe or defending why you believe what you believe, it’s really important to go to the source and to reference it directly to make sure that a misquoting or an inaccurate paraphrase isn’t bogging down the conversation. Now, they might have been talking about a passage referenced by Alex in the middle, 41:70, who comments and says, If baptism does not save us, Mark 16:16 might need a little more explaining. Mark 16:16 is actually Mark’s version of what a previous commenter was referring to in Matthew 28, The Great Commission, where Jesus says to his disciples, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Now, when you’re looking at that passage, you might say, well, there it is right there. It says, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.

But from a Protestant, evangelical view of this passage, again balancing it with other things stated in the New Testament talking about it is only Jesus’ works that save. We see this passage through that lens and make an important observation on what is said after that, where it says, Whoever does not believe will be condemned. Notice it doesn’t say whoever is not baptized will be condemned. Putting our faith in Jesus, trusting Him, depending on what He has done to accomplish salvation, is what saves us. A lack of depending, a lack of belief, a lack of putting our faith in what Jesus has done is what will condemn us. We see baptism as a marker or a seal done in obedience for those who say that they have believed and they’ve been born again. Now, I’m not saying that that answer is sufficient for everybody, but it does give insight into the Protestant, evangelical view of passages like this and why we still don’t think it necessitates baptism in order to be saved. Jesus is instituting something that would have been common to that audience at that time, a universal way that those who are proclaiming Jesus as savior and Lord can profess that they are now following Him.

Baptism was tied to cleansing when it came to people entering into the Jewish faith, becoming part of the Kingdom of Israel. They would go through a cleansing ceremony similar to baptism. As Jesus is ushering in the Kingdom of God, it makes sense for baptism to be the way that someone professes that they are also going through a cleansing ceremony in order to identify as citizens of the Kingdom of God. There are some in Protestant, evangelical Christianity that also point to just how important baptism is because it’s a universal identifier when it comes to us professing that we are now followers of Jesus. In other words, it removes any autonomy or decisions that might be made in the Church of Ephesis to profess that you’re a follower of Jesus this way, while people in the church in Corinthians are professing it a different way. It really gets to what Mike Catwood asked me about whenever he said, How do you reconcile with Ephesians 4:5–6, talking about one Lord, one faith, and one baptism? The specific passage he’s referring to says, There’s only one body and one spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

This is how we view things across the various denominations and Protestant, evangelical Christianity. It’s like a passport. It doesn’t matter which country you come from, as long as it is a valid passport, it doesn’t matter who stamped it, you can enter into a country. We believe the same thing when it comes to baptism. Regardless of what denomination or affiliation you have, if you have been born again by the Spirit of God, there is only one Spirit that dwells in us that comes from one Lord because there’s only one God who is responsible for salvation. These are all the factors that get into some of the importance surrounding baptism, even though it’s not saving us. There’s actually one passage of scripture that is probably the most difficult passage of scripture for Protestant, evangelicals to handle on this topic. Strangely enough, it is probably the least referenced passage of scripture while Saturday Saints are asking me about our belief that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation. Maureen Bingham, 26:39, references it when she says, 1 Peter says, baptism saves. As to not make the same mistake that the earlier content creators I was referencing and I made when we were talking about this topic, let’s actually read this passage so that I can provide some insight in how we view it.

1 Peter 3:20–22 says, In the days of Noah, only a few people, eight and all were saved through water. And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also. Not the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right-hand with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him. Now, in all fairness, I need to say this is one of the most debated passages of scripture on this topic within mainstream Christianity. But again, in Protestant, evangelical Christianity, context is everything. The context of the entire New Testament indicates, like in Ephesians 2:8–9, that there’s nothing that we do that saves us. It is only putting our faith in what Christ has done. There are clear instances, for example, in Acts 10, where someone, in this case, Cornelius, is saved prior to baptism. But even in the context of this passage, it’s important to see what’s being stated that it is the waters of baptism that save us not because of what they cleanse from us, because water can only cleanse outwardly, but because of what that cleansing represents, a pledge of a clear conscience toward God, which is only accomplished through Jesus taking on our sins.

The question is, how are we entering into that salvation reality that He has accomplished? The reality is there are multiple ways that we connect ourselves to Christ by repenting of sins, by putting our faith in Him. For some people, it is a momentary regeneration where it seems like they just come alive. That was my experience. There’s other people that have a more progressive regeneration where it takes them a while to fully get it and to fully embrace who Jesus is. For many of us as well, whenever we are and we are professing that we have put our faith in Jesus, these are all ways that we are connecting ourselves to the one who has accomplished salvation. The totality of what’s being stated here is more centralized on how we are connected to Jesus. Here is baptism in the salvation process, representing a cleansing that takes place through being joined with Christ in his death and taking care of our sin and also being unified and joined with Christ as he saves us in resurrection, which why all this points to the punctuation of salvation, which Peter points to where he says it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Now, this next question I get on baptism is tied to the Latter-day St. Practice of proxy baptism or baptism for the dead. Curious to know your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 15:29, where the practice of baptism for the dead is mentioned and the LDS looked to as the basis for it. Now, this is an important question that’s being asked here because as we know, baptism for the dead does not take place in mainstream Christianity. It is unique to Latter-day St. Practice. Here’s what the scripture says. Now, if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? When a Protestant, evangelical, or even a mainstream Christian sees this passage, why don’t we conclude that we should be baptizing for the dead? Now, again, we have to go back to context. At face value, this is a tricky passage to interpret because it’s not very clear. That being said, there’s one characteristic that the Corinthians Church has both historically and as referenced in this letter, and that is an over-emphasis or an over-exaggeration on the value of baptism. We can see this historically because we know that there were communities surrounding Corinthians at the time that were involved in the pagan practice of baptism for the dead.

It was a practice that was specific to this group of people in this region at this time. But we don’t see this as a normative practice anywhere else in the New Testament or the Old Testament for that matter. That context alone is not very convincing that this is teaching that we should baptize for the dead. The other thing that we see within the context of this book in the Bible is that the Corinthians believers had a tendency to over-emphasize or exaggerate the value of baptism. You can see this going all the way back to chapter one in this letter that Paul was writing to the Corinthians believers when he says, My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quardles among you. What I mean is this. One of you says, I follow Paul. Another, I follow Apollo. Another, I follow Cephas. Still another, I follow Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Chrispas and Gaius. No one can say that you are baptized in my name. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

What Paul is getting at here is these individuals were very much tying themselves to who they followed based on who baptized them. Paul is saying, I didn’t even come here to baptize. I came here to proclaim the Gospel because it is the Gospel of Jesus that saves not who baptized you. Going back to answering this question that’s being asked by this commenter, what do protestant, evangelicals do with a passage like this? We actually see this as Paul acknowledging that the Corinthians believers put a strong emphasis on baptism, an over emphasis on baptism based on who baptized them and even baptizing for the dead. As he’s trying to make a convincing argument about resurrection, he’s stating, You guys believe in resurrection. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be putting so much emphasis on baptism and involved in this practice of baptizing for the dead. I do want to reemphasize, though, that we don’t believe that this is a command that we should be baptizing for the dead, or that this is a normative practice that we can even observe anywhere else in the scriptures, which is why mainstream Christianity does not embrace that practice. I covered a lot of ground responding to some of these questions, and yet I left a lot of rocks unturned.

Again, this is a very complex topic. I didn’t even get into issues of the mode of baptism, like full immersion or infant baptism. There’s a lot that I could explain. But hopefully, the answers that I provided give a little bit of clarity and understanding what most Protestant, evangelicals believe on this topic. I love your comments. I love your questions. Keep them coming. I want to make more videos where I respond to some of your comments and questions. This video and subscribe. You can support me on Instagram if you want. If not, that’s totally fine. Just keep coming back for more videos so we can continue this important conversation. Until next time, I’ll see you later, Saints.


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