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Defending the Faith: A Lutheran bishop's perspective on Mormon baptism for the dead

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  • JKayDS EULESS, TX
    Feb. 22, 2012 8:01 p.m.

    Thank you for this article.

  • Sorry Charlie! SLC, UT
    Feb. 22, 2012 8:08 p.m.

    It is very nice to know what a Lutheran Bishop said. And the fact that he was positive and complementary is fantastic.

    What is even more important, however, is what LDS leadership has said about the practice:

    "The Church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism.

    "It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place.

    "While no system is foolproof in preventing the handful of individuals who are determined to falsify submissions, we are committed to taking action against individual abusers by suspending the submitterâs access privileges. We will also consider whether other Church disciplinary action should be taken.

    "It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Churchâs policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention. "

    It doesn't matter if some people (or even the majority of people) don't find it offensive, it doesn't matter if you don't find it offensive, or if you don't understand why others find it offensive. THE LDS Church's position is crystal clear - and no one who claims to believe the LDS Church is true and led by a living Prophet should be making excuses for those who violate this policy.

  • Rosebyanyothername Home Town USA, UT
    Feb. 22, 2012 9:51 p.m.

    This is a very well written article and quotes included of the (now deceased) Swedish Lutheran Bishop/Professor Stendahl regarding baptism for the dead. It is an objective point of view that is credible from a non-LDS. Bravo! Thank You.

    This should abate the naysayers and clarify the blessing it is for our kindred dead to have/receive the same opportunity to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Spirit world. It is doctrinal and in the New Testament.

    Who can argue that? And why would it need to be argued?

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Feb. 22, 2012 9:52 p.m.

    "It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place."

    Can someone please explain WHY anyone would do it?

    If you believe in the LDS religion, why would go to such lengths?
    Does someone believe that they will be "rewarded" when they go against church policy?

    What is to be gained?

    It reminds me of those who swindle money and then pay a tithe on that money.

    The logic escapes me.

  • mightymite DRAPER, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 12:05 a.m.

    This is a nice try and very much a strech on Mr. Petersens part. Sorry but look at Stendahl's other aspect and you might think differently.. Take this all into context and it does not support mormon beliefs.

  • across the sea Topeno, Finland
    Feb. 23, 2012 2:58 a.m.

    25 years ago the Madsens visited our home in Helsinki, Finland. We, among other natters, talked about Bishop Stendahl. His statement stands by itself, especially as he wrote, approved it with all of it's content. This coming from a man of his statue is valuable and indeed shows the extent of the friendships created. Knowing Truman, as I do, he would NOT have compromized on his friendship with Stendahl. What a great reunion they, Stendahl and Madsen, have had in the spirit world.
    As we read these articles, it is good for us to consider, that the very bases for Christianity is the work for proxy. The Savior died for us, and now it is for each one of us to accept that sacrifice personally, or not.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 23, 2012 6:48 a.m.

    Actually mightymite it supports it quite well. I can see why you wouldn't think so but it is doctrinal and it is an act of love.

    Joe Blow: There are some who feel an active member or less active member or members are purposely fueling this debate either because they disagree with the practice or have an axe to grind against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Regardless there are also some who feel they are above the Prophet of the Lord and thus can do as they please. Any of these scenarios would answer why. If it is the former and not the latter then there is a larger problem in this. There is some things stated by Radkey that seems to support the former. I would hope it is the latter because that is easier to defuse. If the former it is putting a mockery on the practice itself.

    Again it is doctrinal.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 7:02 a.m.

    Two Mormon mentalities stood out to me in this article.

    1) It's us againts the world

    2) Deep down everyone knows the churh is true they just choose not to join for one reason or another

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 8:07 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska : A Lutheran bishop's perspective on Mormon Baptism for the dead.
    he (Dr. Stendahl) described himself as feeling "Christian envy" for the Mormon practice of performing ordinances in the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors.

    As a religious leader with the World Council of Churches and other bodies, Dr. Stendhal, a[liberal] Lutheran, fought for the ordination of women and gay men and lesbians and against the use of sexist language in Scriptures, saying that Jesusâ maleness was no more significant than the color of his eyes.
    Dr. Stendahl pushed Christians toward ecumenicism, not only among denominations, but also with other religious traditions. He urged believers to find beauty in other faiths, a phenomenon he called âholy envy.â
    Among Lutherans there are many denomination(synods)form liberal to conservative(LCMS)
    Mormons have FLDS, RLDS and etc.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    Is anybody else out there having computer problems? "Full-on double rainbow" and I seem to have read two entirely different articles, and I can't figure out how on earth that happened. Maybe the hard copy version will help to resolve the question?

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 9:26 a.m.

    Great article. Right now this is just another means that politically motivated pundits have to attack a certain political candidate. It's never been about the beliefs of the church, but about the chance to scare voters. A thoughtful consideration of religious belief takes away from the biased-media's agenda to reelect the current president.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Feb. 23, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    Interesting!

  • JDMAC Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 9:55 a.m.

    Thank you for this interesting summary of thoughts by others. Sometimes the apparent new is simply a restoration of the old.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 10:38 a.m.

    LDS have unique views. Not unique from the perspective of the Bible, but unique from the perspective of main stream Christianity.

    They are criticised by the main stream for these beliefs, which is curious because you can support them from the Bible.

    1) People can become Gods. What does the Bible call people? The children of God, and what do creatures grow up to become? Like the parents. Things other than humans are refered to as creations of God, but people are children.

    2) Paul in the New Testament uses Baptism for the Dead as evidence that people live after they die. (1st Corinthians 15:29)

    Main stream Christians do no interpert this as LDS do, but then they should say, LDS beliefs are not in accordance with our interpertation of the Bible. Instead they say LDS beliefs are anti Biblical, which it clearly is not.

  • gramma b Orem, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 10:39 a.m.

    I could never understand why people don't see through to the fundamental irrationality of those who make a big issue out of our baptizing for the dead. We don't get anywhere near the bodies of the dead. We do a private ceremony in which the name of the dead person is repeated. There is no impact on anyone living.

    And, unless you believe we have the power to make the baptism effective beyond the veil, there is no impact on anyone who is dead. If you think we are wrong, then we are just wasting our time performing a meaningless ordinance. If someone gets exercised about the practice, it seems they are making a tacit admission that we can do something which has an impact beyond the grave. And, if you admit that, then you have admitted we are right.

  • A to Z Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 11:03 a.m.

    It's interesting that we use 1 Corinthians 15:29 to teach about baptisms for the dead. This scripture doesn't really teach anything about the practice, but rather it is an evidence that the practice was done anciently. The scripture is actually testifying of the resurrection, saying that if there's no resurrection, then what is the point of doing baptisms for the dead? The practice of baptisms for the dead is stated matter-of-factly... it's a given.

    What a wonderful practice, and evidence of the love and mercy God has for all of His children.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Feb. 23, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    I am copying this from another thread I posted it on yesterday because of the importance of understanding it.

    Capella

    You said "Let's at least keep this 'tempest in a teapot' factual, if not Biblical"
    I agree. While I do not know of any Jewish sect that performed Baptism for the Dead it is also not "factual that no other Christians than the Corinthians practiced it. It was in fact Practiced as late as the fifth Century. We know this by the writings of Epiphanius. While he did not believe in it he did say it was being practiced from Asia to Gaul (present day Spain and France)
    "From Asia and Gaul has reached us the account [tradition] of a certain practice, namely that when any die without baptism among them, they baptize others in their place and in their name, so that, rising in the resurrection, they will not have to pay the penalty of having failed to receive baptism, but rather will become subject to the authority of the Creator of the World. For this reason this tradition which has reached us is said to be the very thing to which the Apostle himself refers when he says, "If. the dead rise not at all, what shall they do who are baptized for the dead"
    Interesting that in the fifth century they were using the same scripture as the LDS Church. On top of that we see it as far back as the Second Century (some claim the First) in the "Shepard of Hermas" were he speaks of the Apostles being Baptised for the Dead.

  • DanielAZ Tucson, AZ
    Feb. 23, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    Great article!

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 12:21 p.m.

    Doesn't baptizing the dead violate their Constitutional Right to Choose their own religion - which they did while they were living?

    You are forcefully switching their religion after they can no longer say "no".

    I know, you say they can "choose" to accept the ordinance in the afterlife, but still, you're violating their Choices made while yet alive.

  • ADN Weiser, ID
    Feb. 23, 2012 12:33 p.m.

    I don't think Stendahl would complain too loudly if his work was done vicarously in a temple. Peterson is right, there is a lot of "noise" going on about this issue. I stand by Gameliel in the New Testament as people then persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ and His apostles in that day. Gameliel stood up and rebuked the men saying that if it is a man made church, it will kill itself and it doesn't matter one bit, so don't get so combative about it, but if it is of God, then you are fighting against God. (Acts 5:34-39) I say the same thing to all who seem to critisize so loudly, if it isn't true, then the church will diminish and kill itself--So don't get so belligerent about it. But if it is true, then you are fighting God. Just calm down and love one another.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Feb. 23, 2012 12:50 p.m.

    Ranch
    There are some major problems with your Baptism for the Dead is Unconstitutional idea. First a court would have to decide on the truthfulness of the LDS Church. That in its self would be unconstitutional. Second if the LDS Church is true then you are in fact denying both the living person and their dead ancestor their constitutional rights as you would deny the dead the chance to accept Christ AND be baptised and the living the right to help their dead ancestor.

  • JoeBlow Miami Area, Fl
    Feb. 23, 2012 2:39 p.m.

    gramma writes

    "I could never understand why people don't see through to the fundamental irrationality of those who make a big issue out of our baptizing for the dead."

    Kind of hard to bring irrationality OR rationality into the discussion of baptizing the dead, don't you think?

  • govtrumbull Sparks, NV
    Feb. 23, 2012 2:48 p.m.

    Arguing and condemning a Church leader as, "The worst person Templed" happened to be a non-Biblical practice? No one is being hurt. The body of the person receiving the "ordinances" isn't being dug-up, and shipped off to a Temple to be "dunked" in the water, and if it un-Biblical, the practice wouldn't make any difference to the dead person's status in the the "Hereafter" anyway.
    I would think that real abuse of God's Children such as the practice of Islamic "Sharia" law, where women are whipped, mutilated, and stoned to death, would be a practice that would better be described as a Unchristian practice.
    Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it is more of a criminal offense to withhold medical treatment to treat a child for a curable disease resulting in the death of the child would be a much bigger issue than a practice that helps the person in their next estate.
    The concept of "Baptism for the Dead" is a beautiful Doctrine that hurts no one if it isn't true, and gives the gift salvation, and the Atonement to deceased individuals if it is true. There are things that simply make sense, and there are things that do not. In the case of this LDS Doctrine, doesn't it just make sense that God cares just as much about the salvation of our dead ancestors, as he does about the living?
    If someone does not want to believe in the Doctrine, all they have to do is ignore the practice, because if they are correct, God won't accept it anyway, and all of the money that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spends on building Temples is wasted, and all of the work is being done in vain.
    My suggestion to those who harbor so much hatred for LDS people and their beliefs is to simply "Get a Life," and worry about things that really matter in the world. There is plenty of things that need fixing.

  • Jon1 Arlington, VA
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    Thank you so much for this excellent and timely article. I appreciate the references at the end as well so I can explore this all important ordinance more. This gives me some ideas on how to
    explain baptism for the dead with friends and acquaintances in light of the current politicla debates and examination of Mormonism.
    Thanks again!

  • Reality Chequers Kennesaw, GA
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:09 p.m.

    I find it strange that the Mormons want to be so inclusive, yet a Non-lds parent cannot see their own child marry in the temple. I find it a horror that a church would pit child against parent. I thought mormons were supposed to support families and not so clearly divide them.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:13 p.m.

    "govtrumbull
    Sparks, NV

    I would think that real abuse of God's Children such as the practice of Islamic "Sharia" law"

    So you're religion is okay, perfect, and the only truth yet Islamic is false and an abuse to God's children? Or dare I saw an abomination like all the rest of the churches?

    Don't judge GovTrumbull ... THAT's not Christian.

  • billmosby Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:16 p.m.

    As to other denominations baptizing their ancestors posthumously, in my case I would probably have to look back to somewhere around the 4th century to find anybody who had a good chance of not being baptized into the church as it then was constituted.

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:34 p.m.

    @Ranch: So you believe us when we say that our religious ceremonies have the power to affect a person's religious affiliation in the afterlife...but you don't believe us when we say the choice is up to them.

    How are you determining which parts of our beliefs about our own religious practices to believe and which to disbelieve?

  • govtrumbull Sparks, NV
    Feb. 23, 2012 3:43 p.m.

    LValfre: If you are Muslim, and believe in introducing Sharia Law in the United States, accept "honor killings as a teaching found in the Koran, and the killing of "infidels" as prescribed by Islamic Doctrine, then you are the one that supports un-righteous dominion over others. If you are a "Born Again Christian" and just don't like the concept of the First Amendment as taught by the Founders, then you are failing to recognize the fault in your thinking.
    If you believe that you are being personally being harmed, abused, and violated by LDS Temple Ordinances, I really find you to be extraordinarily sensitive to someone else's beliefs, and your position in opposing Temple Ordinances to be unjustly judgmental.

  • przip Peoria, IL
    Feb. 23, 2012 4:30 p.m.

    First a correction. The Bishop of Stockholm is not the effective head of the Church of Sweden; that would the Archbishop of Uppsala who is the primate. Interestingly, the current Bishop of Stockholm is a lesbian in a civil partnership with another woman priest of the Church of Sweden. Bishop Stendahl, were he still alive, would have approved of that very much; his last "episcopal" act in the US was to participate in the illicit ordination of a partnered lesbian woman in St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 -- an act that precipitated a controversy and finally schism within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

    As a scholar, Stendahl tended to skirt the edges of Lutheran/Christian teaching, and as a Bishop and in retirement he was quite controversial even within the Swedish Church. Also, the church was disestablished in January 1, 2000, so it is no long accurately described as a "state church." It was the State Church when he was in office, and it is not irrelevant that the government was not only Socialist, but quite secularist in perspective. It was in the government department, and now in the elected assembly (and one need not be baptized or a Christian to be a voting member of the Swedish Church), that the real power and authority in the Church of Sweden lies.

  • t702 Las Vegas, NV
    Feb. 23, 2012 4:31 p.m.

    Awesome article, the debate is great, and life is beautiful.

    How did Joseph Smith, an untrained, uneducated man knew that baptism for the dead is extremely important? How did Joseph Smith knew that tobacco and alcohol were not for consumption in 1829? The truth always comes out ahead regardless of how much resistance the wisdom of men throw at it.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Feb. 23, 2012 4:34 p.m.

    "govtrumbull
    Sparks, NV
    LValfre: If you are Muslim, and believe in introducing Sharia Law in the United States, accept "honor killings as a teaching found in the Koran, and the killing of "infidels" as prescribed by Islamic Doctrine, then you are the one that supports un-righteous dominion over others. If you are a "Born Again Christian" and just don't like the concept of the First Amendment as taught by the Founders, then you are failing to recognize the fault in your thinking.
    If you believe that you are being personally being harmed, abused, and violated by LDS Temple Ordinances, I really find you to be extraordinarily sensitive to someone else's beliefs, and your position in opposing Temple Ordinances to be unjustly judgmental."

    I'm not muslim, I'm not born again christian, and you're thinking far too much into this. I was simply stating you were judging another religion as 'wrong' while defending yours as 'right'.

    I don't care that you guys baptize the dead ... I DO CARE that you baptize the dead that wouldn't want to be baptized into your religion. That's wrong and should be stopped. You're not saving people you're making them turn in their grave.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 4:36 p.m.

    Before you insist the ancient church didn't practice baptism for the dead, you need to come up with an explanation for 1 Corinthians 15:29.

    We know from the Bible that baptism is required to enter Christ's Kingdom. That's well known and accepted by most Christians. What about the BILLIONS of people on numerous continents divided from people who could give them the message of Christ? Who didn't even have a chance to HEAR about Jesus Christ in this life, much less accept him OR Baptism?

    I personally have a hard time beliving the Christ I know would be OK with having no plan for these people to gain salvation.

    He MUST have a plan...
    Why NOT let ALL men accept salvation in the afterlife if they would have accepted it if they had a fair chance while on earth?

  • govtrumbull Sparks, NV
    Feb. 23, 2012 5:01 p.m.

    LValfre: If you don't believe any particular religious doctrine, why are you so anti-LDS? Also if you have no particular no basis on which to state that "the dead are turning over in their graves," how do you justify your statement? The belief has to have a source, where does it come from?

  • govtrumbull Sparks, NV
    Feb. 23, 2012 5:21 p.m.

    LValfre: Oh, I forgot to answer the question about my judging Islam. Islamic terrorists caused the death of some 3,00 Americans on 9/11. The terrorists believed that they were serving Allah and doing God's work. I find that objectionable. I also see it as immoral to strap bombs onto the backs of young boys who don't understand the ultimate consequence of what they are being persuaded to do, to kill as many "Infidels" as possible. I find that objectionable as well. Don't you find those actions objectionable, or do you feel that these acts are justifiable by their beliefs in Islamic law?
    I can "judge" any action that I find objectionable, as long as I do not use the same tactics, or commit the same sins as the perpetrators of the crime. We all have to make judgments about other people's actions. But it isn't my place carry out retaliation against the perpetrators. That is the job of our legal system, what is left of it. You are right, I am making a judgement against the actions perpetrated by Islamic terrorists, ak the teachings that support those crimes. Don't you believe terrorism is wrong? I certainly do, and I would like to bet that 99.9% of the readers of the Deseret News would agree with that assessment.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    Feb. 23, 2012 7:02 p.m.

    Reality Chequers
    *yet a Non-lds parent cannot see their own child marry in the temple. I find it a horror that a church would pit child against parent. I thought mormons were supposed to support families and not so clearly divide them.*

    I understand this is a very sensitive subject. My aunt (a great soul but not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints) was not able to attend her grandsonâs temple marriage. The slight was not an intentional separation, but a matter of church doctrine as to who is admitted into the temple, one of the churches most holy places on earth. It is not an attempt to separate families, but to adhere to church doctrine about who goes into temples. Anyone who is a believing member of the church and supports its teachings can go inside. I know for a surety that the idea is not to *pit child against parent.*

    One of the consequences of this doctrine is that non-mormons cannot enter, even if they are close family members of the couple being married. I hope in my heart of hearts that all involved would act charitably in this sensitive type of situation.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 23, 2012 9:24 p.m.

    Actually if you read the Bible correctly you will find that unrighteous judgement is what we will be judged against. It is not wrong in and of itself to judge. We all must make judgements every day that we live. We judge the music, the movies, the internet sites we go to and all else we do. We make many different judgements everyday. We do not have the right to condemn anyone except by the LAWS of the land and the LAWS of God.

    Terrorists can be judged whether they are the ones who are extremeists or not. We have the right to judge Hitler, Stalin and others as murders and anti-Christs. We don't condemn them but we judge them. You are judging ALL Mormons based on information you've read without a full understanding of why. When that why is presented you are prejudiced and biased already against it. So in reality you've already judged Mormons as bad people, uneducated and highly immature. Yet, when we state the opposite to you, you become offended. One can only be offended if they so choose.

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Feb. 23, 2012 11:54 p.m.

    To Ranch,

    It might also be suggested that you are preventing people, after death, from changing their religion if they want to ---- I had great, grandparents who wanted to change their religion, but were unable to do so before they passed away. It goes both ways.

  • BYU Papa Cedar Hills, ut
    Feb. 24, 2012 12:19 a.m.

    Very good article. Salvation comes through Christ. He made it possible for all men to have an opportunity to hear the gospel and accept it. 1 Peter 3:18-21 also 1 Peter 4:6
    1 Cor 15: 29

  • Swedish reader Stockholm, Sweden
    Feb. 24, 2012 12:48 a.m.

    Just a matter of correctness: The Swedish Lutheran Church ceased to be a state church in the year 2000. It is now one of many denominations, but has an overwhelming majority of members in Sweden as compared to other denominations. A lot of Swedes have their rites of passage (christening, confimation, wedding and funeral) in the Lutheran church although they are atheists. It's tradition, and it's the closest a lot of people come to experiencing reverence and holiness in their lives - even if they don't believe.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 7:57 a.m.

    RE: Baptism for the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:29), The Marcionites and Cerinthus werea heretical gnostics( they only have the truth)), Consequently the practice was forbidden(condemned, Council of Hippo,393) by the Catholic Church, and is not practiced by Christianity, whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant.
    Some members of the early Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints now known as the Community of Christ also believed in baptism for the dead, but it was never officially sanctioned by that organization.

    RE: A[liberal] Lutheran bishop's perspective on Mormon baptism for the dead.
    In an interview with The New York Times in 1974, Dr. Stendahl rejected Christiansâ emphasis on life after death as âselfishâ and as absent from Judaism and early Christianity. But life on other planets was another story. In an interview with National Public Radio in 1996, he expressed the hope that life exists on Mars. If so, he said, âGod would be bigger than we thought.â

  • crunchem Cedar City, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:26 a.m.

    Reality Chequers: Your comment reminded me of this scripture:

    Luke 12:
    51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

    52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.

    53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son aagainst the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    Jesus didn't teach that everyone is always going to lovey-dovey when it comes to some people's commitments to the church, whether it be baptism, marriage or whatever. In the end, the love of obeying God must trump whether or not family members feelings get hurt. Of course, no one wnats anyone to feel bad it just happens sometimes.

    In particular, about missing out on a sealing ceremony, I would simply suggest that if a family has a mixed membership then simply plan a traditional civil marriage ceremony like everyone else has after the temple sealing. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    "2) Paul in the New Testament uses Baptism for the Dead as evidence that people live after they die. (1st Corinthians 15:29)
    "

    He also ascribes it as something "they" do other than "we" do like he uses we throughout the rest of the verse. He's hardly endorsing it at all and there's no other scripture anywhere in the bible about it which you would think there would be if this was something supposedly practiced even earlier.

  • crunchem Cedar City, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:55 a.m.

    @JoeBlow

    Why would anyone submit ordinances when they know it's discouraged/banned/frowned upon?

    Who says it's a member initiating any of this controversy? All you need is a membership ID number to open a FamilySearch account and begin submitting names for the temple. The names do not have to have the works done by the submitter; they can be entered in the "pool" of names for others to do. Anyone that wants to stir the pot can steal/borrow/hack a number and begin submitting questionable work. I really think these controversies are originating "outside" the circle of honest good members for the simple reason of creating bad feelings. Wouldn't you say the timing of this latest one is a bit suspicious?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    @t702
    "How did Joseph Smith, an untrained, uneducated man knew that baptism for the dead is extremely important?"

    He read the bible and misinterpreted the same verse you all do. There's no history of it ever being considered "extremely important" by the Jews or by the main early Christian churches. It's such an aberration that Paul doesn't even say "we" do it; instead he uses the pronoun "they".

    Even if that's not an issue it's a verse where it's not obvious that proxy baptism is the right interpretation. Remember, there is that matter of mortal and spiritual death. If we have that spiritual death than a baptism when we're alive in a sense can be considered a baptism for the dead. It's a verse about the resurrection, why be baptized for the dead (we're all dead spiritually and later mortally) if the dead not rise?

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Feb. 24, 2012 10:13 a.m.

    atl134
    As I pointed out on the first page of posts while I know of no Jewish sect that practices it it was clearly practiced by more than just the Corinthians. In the Shepard of Hermas parable 9 he even points out that the APOSTLES were doing it. This book was quoted by some of the Early Church Fathers. Even one of those who felt it was Heresy talked in the late fourth and early fifth centuries of people in Asia and Gaul (now Spain and France) practicing it. Clearly it was more wide spread than you want people to think.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 10:14 a.m.

    @2 bits
    "What about the BILLIONS of people on numerous continents divided from people who could give them the message of Christ? Who didn't even have a chance to HEAR about Jesus Christ in this life, much less accept him OR Baptism?

    I personally have a hard time beliving the Christ I know would be OK with having no plan for these people to gain salvation."

    So do I.

    "He MUST have a plan...
    Why NOT let ALL men accept salvation in the afterlife if they would have accepted it if they had a fair chance while on earth?"

    I agree. The Catholic church, for instance, believes that God will judge our hearts and as a fair and perfect judge will be able to determine those who had no chance to be baptized without penalty for their ignorance. I personally believe something kinda like that but with a bit of the LDS belief about everyone learning the truth after death and that what matters is what that person believes. I don't see why these people have to rely on someone on earth to get around to realizing "hey this guy existed" when we clearly are never going to have all the information. That's putting someone's salvation in the hands of others.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 10:45 a.m.

    @KC Mormon
    There's also that little detail of Epiphanius referring to that verse in 1 Corinthians as being about instructing people on their deathbed about Christ. So he wrote about something occurring that he didn't even consider to be correct. A few years ago the United Methodist church issued a letter about how they'd heard about LDS members being allowed in the church without baptism and then they noted how that was improper; LDS members must be baptized to join the UMC and so the practice that was done... was incorrect. That sounds a lot to me like that Catholic decree against proxy baptism. "Hey, I know you guys are doing this... knock it off because it's incorrect.".

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 11:41 a.m.

    There is no "they" in the original Greek, only a plural participle without a pronoun. The "they" is an artifact of English that Greek doesn't need. atl134 is placing major emphasis on a phantom word.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Feb. 24, 2012 11:45 a.m.

    atl134
    I made it clear that Epiphanius did not agree with Baptism for the Dead. My point was that you said "There's no history of it ever being considered "extremely important" by the Jews or by the main early Christian churches." Clearly it was important enough for the author of the Shepard of Hermas to ask why are the Apostles being rebaptised. This book was used by many in the second century and was even found in some copies of scripture. Epiphanius found it a popular enough belief to comment on it. Also interesting is that those he spoke against were useing the same scripture to support Baptism for the Dead. It is also accepted by many Non-LDS scholers that Paul was NOT talking about deathbead baptism but actually Baptising livin people for the dead. There are also two other Christian Churches with no connection to the LDS Church that practice a form of Baptism for the Dead, they are the New Apostolic and Old Apostolic Churchs both go back to the 1830's.
    Here are just a rew names you can research for views on the scripture
    Gordon Fee
    James Moulten and George Milligan
    Harold Riesenfeld

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:14 p.m.

    @KC Mormon;

    What you're essentially saying is that your religious freedom to baptize me after I'm dead over-rides my religous freedom to choose to NOT be Mormon I'm alive.

    I have chosen to NOT be a Mormon today.

    I choose to NOT be re-baptized when I'm dead.

    MY religious freedom says that I don't want to be a Mormon EVER.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:17 p.m.

    @Chachi;

    I disbelieve the ENTIRE religion (and the others too). What I said, if you read closely, is that I know you SAY that... I didn't say I believed you had power to...

    As a matter of fact, I don't believe that your baptisms have any power in either life, this or the next.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    @2 Bits;

    Your assumption is that YOUR baptism is the one necessary to enter the kingdom of God. A priori arguments are invalid.

    It just may be that Christ's version of baptism isn't the correct one.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 24, 2012 5:59 p.m.

    RE: Verdad, There is no "they" in the original Greek, only a plural participle without a pronoun. The "they" is an artifact of English that Greek doesn't need. atl134 is placing major emphasis on a phantom word. Wrong,

    They is sometimes translated a third person Plural of a verb. Also Greek has plural definite nominative* articles,which English does not have . Example, Now if there is no resurrection, what will those(oi,* the ones) do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? (1Cor 15:29 NIV ).Paul is separating himself from the practice.

    The NIV, and the Latin vulgate agree with the KJV . Do you think all these translations are wrong?

    Another example of a phantom word, Atonement is a 13th century contrived English(KJV) word. The Greek word is katallage,2643=reconciliation.

  • Rick LT GLENDALE, AZ
    Feb. 24, 2012 7:55 p.m.

    Most Christian scholars agree that baptism for the dead was in common practice at least in Rome until about 500AD. And if the New Testament says you must be baptised to see the kingdom of heaven (Mark 16:16) and be saved, then the only way for someone who died without having this ordnance is through proxy baptism.......those that came before Christ, or never heard his name, it is their only hope, if you believe Mark of course.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    Feb. 24, 2012 8:04 p.m.

    It's interesting how many people seem to overlook the importance of baptism. Christ himself considered it so important that he sought out John the Baptist to be baptized. Yet people now deny the importance of this earthly ordinance. And for all those who have died without having undergone the ordinance...what of them? If Christ considered it necessary, and led by example, how much more important is it to we mortals? Will all who have died without being baptized be lost because of the arrogance of men? Proxy baptism, by those with authority, allows them, in the spirit world, to at least have the choice of accepting or rejecting the ordinance performed in their name. And how important is it to turn the hearts of the children toward their parents than to leave them stranded?

  • Sqweebie Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 2:22 a.m.

    crunchem: Actually a civil ceremony after a temple ceremony is frowned on. However a ring ceremony where the couple say a few words to each other and exchange rings at the reception is okay from what I understand. You see in the temple when you are married you do not exchange rings.

    Also many temples have a waiting room for family members/friends to wait in while the sealing ceremony is taking place. This is usually located in before the recommand desk. This way when the bride and groom make their exit to outside people can shout for joy and greet them. Also it allows for the church member who is there to help manage children or the non-LDS church member can feel like they are a part of the day and can take in the spirit of the temple.

  • Sego Lilly Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 25, 2012 2:27 a.m.

    to: RanchHand - you can tell us this now and we can listen and take your wishes to heart but what about the person be it a family member or a perfect stranger to your descendants 150 years from now know that you didn't want temple work done for you? This person just might so it not knowing your wishes.

    here's some food for thought:

    5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
    6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

    (New Testament | 1 Peter 4:5 - 6) KJV

  • Pentacone Batley, W.Yorkshire
    Feb. 26, 2012 3:43 a.m.

    Baptism For The Dead?

    Dear Readers,

    I have Read ALL the Comments So Far, and I Feel that there is an "Understanding" that has been Over-Looked!

    Can we Agree that "Jesus" is to be the "Judge" in the After-Life?

    And that Baptism IS Important, Also for the After-Life?

    (Hence the Reason why Jesus went to John â "The Baptist", Before he Set-Out on his Ministry)

    Now, can we Agree that "John" was a "Direct Descendant of Aaron" (The Brother of Moses), through his Mother's Family (Elisabeth) and as such was a "Bishop" (Person Of Highest Spirit In Body - Backwards)

    He was Also "ELIAS" (all Spirit And all Intellect, the Lord Eternal) Who was to bring, "The Children to the Fathers and The Fathers to the Children"!

    And, are we not Taught that our BISHOP is the Judge of our "Ward/Stake", whilst we are Here on Earth?

    To Whom do we Pay our Tithes?

    Who Judges our Actions within the Community?

    Do we not have "Interviews" with our Earthly Judges, to Help us Progress in our Beliefs and thus, FAITH?

    OK, we are told in the "Testimony of John" (The Beloved), that Jesus had with him the "Word" (Gospel), and with It, Created Everything, for the "Glory of the Almighty Father".

    And it is to be Jesus' Task, at the End of Time (The End of the Rotations of the Earth â Since Time cannot be Counted unless the World Passes before the Sun, at Dawn to Dusk), that he Interviews (Judges) EACH and Every One of Us ("Revelations":- There is to be a Resurrection of the "Just", and of the "Unjust", for "No man can be Judged Unless In a Physical, Immortal Body"!) The Judgement is Simply:-

    1)Who are You?
    2)What would you Like to Do?
    3)Who would you like to be With?
    4)Where would you like to Go?
    5)Etc..

    In Other Words, Can we make Decisions about our "Wants & Needs"?

    But, the LAW Is:-

    A "Resurrected Body" can Only Come about if Baptised in the Earthly, Mortal, Physical, Body! And of course there are Many Humans who have Not been Baptised, "IN the Name of the Father, And of the Son, And of the HolyGhost"!

    We should Not be thinking that the Proxy Baptism Automatically Brings the Dead Person into the "Church of Jesus Christ" â It is Only to give them the "Opportunities" Outlined Above!

    Also, and we can Only do this Now â With Computers, it is Not Really Necessary to Only get Baptised in the Name of your Ancestors! Everybody's Names need to be Written in the Baptismal Book of Earth!

    But NOW, the Crucial Comment of Importance:- The Only way for the Baptism to be Accepted by the Lord Jesus, is that the Names Have to Be Written in the "Book of Life".

    This Book, is the One that the Lord will have before him, when you approach the Judgement Bar and he says, "Welcome, Who Are You?" and, "Why can I Not Find you in the Book of Life??"

    Indeed, we do Not seem to be Remembering here, that for a Bishop to Hold the "Power of Authorisation of the Baptism", he MUST Have with him â Constantly, an "Angel of the Creation" (One of 144,000) to Accept the Baptism, and Take each Full Name, and Details, to the Lord. i.e:-

    Your Name.
    Your Date of Birth.
    Your Place of Birth.
    Your Date of Baptism.
    Your Place of Baptism.

    With These Five Variables, Everyone will be Individual. The Lord will Only Find ONE Person with All These Attributes,

    Y.O.U.!

    With Kindest Regards,
    Joseph Peter Sheehan,
    "PENTACONE"

  • HotGlobe SAN RAFAEL, CA
    Feb. 26, 2012 5:59 p.m.

    It is easy to take away freedom of religious choice from dead people and it really doesn't matter to them. Still, it is offensive to survivors and there are billions of dead people who can be baptized without offending anybody. Just skip the previous thousand generations...or further. What about early Hominids like HomoHabilis and HomoErectus, why not go straight back to them, then work your way forward?

  • LongShot Raymond, Canada, 00
    Feb. 26, 2012 11:23 p.m.

    Michael Moore put it well when he said that "the United States is a nation ruled by fear". And the popular media shoulders much of the blame for that. Unfortunately, articles such as the one that generated all this discussion are yet another example of the media supporting the fear mongers by trying to scare voters away from Mormon candidates for their own political purposes.

    I have read some of Bishop Stendahl's commentary on this and other subjects, and would remind your readers that he, like all of us, was mortal, fallible and far from perfect. While agreeing with us on some points, his perspective varied widely from ours on other points. In Article of Faith 11 we state, "We claim he privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may."

    As Latterday Saints, I believe it is imperative that we should 'endure to the end' and follow this credo as taught to our Primary children. It would be nice if the rest of the world would at least follow this same article, but whether they do or don't should not change how we act. The Savior couselled us to "turn the other cheek", and I exhort all of your readers to follow this counsel, regardless of what the rest of the country elects to do.

  • OriginalJoseph Chicago, IL
    July 11, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    @LongShot,

    "As Latterday Saints, I believe it is imperative that we should 'endure to the end' and follow this credo as taught to our Primary children. It would be nice if the rest of the world would at least follow this same article, but whether they do or don't should not change how we act. The Savior couselled us to "turn the other cheek", and I exhort all of your readers to follow this counsel, regardless of what the rest of the country elects to do."

    I have more respect for you than any other LDS I've ever come across. From excommunicating Sonia Johnson for supporting the Equal Rights Ammendment, to working against Proposition 8, to excommunicating the man who started the Mormon Alliance ....

    Can't we just let America be a free society and stop pushing religion on everyone else?

    If Romney didn't pledge against gay marriage I would have voted for him this upcoming fall. But he's going to push his religion on us. So I will take him down instead.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    July 11, 2012 12:22 p.m.

    I joined the LDS church 20 years ago. The doctrine of baptism for the dead what critical in supporting my conversion. It solved a serious problem of traditional Christianity of denying the blessings of Heaven to those who through some misfortune never had a chance to even hear about Christ.

  • Nita hamilton, ontario, 00
    July 11, 2012 12:42 p.m.

    This Lutheran minister will know the truth, when he passes, and if he's blessed, someone will do this for him also...in the meantime, don't tirade, on things that you know nothing about...and by the way, he will have a choice, on the other side..I hope he see's fit to follow his Savior, then!

  • Nita hamilton, ontario, 00
    July 11, 2012 1:09 p.m.

    On the subject of non-L.D.S., not being able to attend their relatives temple marriages, it is a sacred event, and not secret. There are many, in this world, who experience the sacred, and do not speak of this, simply because it is sacred, and not for the ears, of those who may not understand, or have not progressed, to that level of understanding, in spirit. All L.D.S. marriages, have the choice of having, a reception after, for all to attend. I challenge everyone who does not understand Mormonism, to, in fact, look into the church,through the teachings of the missionaries (and not through hearsay, in the press,etc), as this will provide an opportunity, for the spirit of truth to speak to their hearts.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    July 11, 2012 1:34 p.m.

    Which is worse, baptism for the dead or saying and believing that those people who die wth out a chance go to an unbearable hell for eternity. This Protestant belief makes God to appear worse than Hitler.

  • cambodia girl Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    July 11, 2012 2:37 p.m.

    This is what I absolutely love about performing baptisms for the dead:

    1. Each baptism is done for one individual. To me this means that ALL of Gods children are important to Him whether they be alive or dead. People are not lined up and immersed all together for a "quick" ordinance, which could easily be done if all that mattered were numbers and statistics.

    2. I have personally felt the love of God as I have participated in the ordinance in behalf of family members and surprisingly for those I am not related to.

    3. It is a peaceful and loving ordinance.

    I feel it a privilege and honor to do so and I do not take it lightly.

  • greenman108 Petaluma, CA
    July 11, 2012 3:10 p.m.

    involuntary baptism.

    that's what we are talking about.

    How about my baptizing all the LDS members, and voodoo'ing them into some new sect.

    Would that feel distasteful to you LDS members? I am guessing so.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    July 11, 2012 3:17 p.m.

    @sharrona

    Personally I would have a problem with the translations given the fact that the oldest NT manuscripts can only be traced back to the third century A.D. Who is to know what Paul said if there is not anything earlier to examine? Just as the anti-Mormons would call the BOM a fabrication of Joseph Smith, by the same reasoning one might say the NT was a fabrication from the third century A.D. unless there is earlier verifiable evidence to prove otherwise. You can have all the modern translations you want but they all reference that third century source, and as of yet no original manuscripts of the Greek NT have been found.

  • cambodia girl Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    July 11, 2012 6:06 p.m.

    To greenman108 - Actually go ahead and baptize me into another sect. I would not find it offensive if it was well meaning and full of love and concern.

    My mother-in-law pays for a mass to be held in my deceased mother's name and I don't have a problem with it at all. It is done with concern and love.

    Love is what matters.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    July 11, 2012 10:34 p.m.

    Sorry Charlie! What people don't understand is that if the person doing the work for the holcost victim is a family member it can be done.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    July 12, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    atl134
    ...Paul doesn't even say "we" do it; instead he uses the pronoun "they".

    KJK
    Most non-LDS Christians bring this up when they respond to LDS claims regarding 1 Cor.10:29. They claim that the "they" refers to non-Christians while the "we" refers to Christians. The problem though, is that this theory turns Paul into either an idiot or deceiver. consider -

    The purpose of the chapter is to convince the Corinthians of the resurrection. In v.29, he basically says, "if there is no resurrention, why do those guys baptize for the dead?" Paul is using "they" as a proof text to prove his point. Paul thought that the Corinthians held that group in high esteem and would value that group's beliefs. If "they" aren't Christians, then why should the Corinthians care about what they do? If Paul knew that "they" weren't Christians, Paul was trying to pull a fast one on the Corinthians to get them to believe or was stupid to believe that the Christian Corinthians would hold that group in high esteem and would value that group's beliefs. Paul was therefore either a deceiver or an idiot.

  • Kevin J. Kirkham Salt Lake City, UT
    July 12, 2012 1:03 p.m.

    As far as non-LDS parents not being able to attend their kids wedding, I have 1st hand experience in this. I joined the Church at 16. None of my family are LDS. My family allowed me to be baptized and supported me on my mission.

    Many LDS rightly recoil at the idea on non-LDS being alolowed in the temple. I'm not advocating that and I sincerely doubt that most non-LDS parents want that either. They want to see their kids walk down the aisle.

    The obvious solution would be for the Church to abandon the 1 year probabtion penalty preventing LDS couples from being sealed in the temple if they have a non-temple wedding. This would allow a couple to be married in a traditional ceremony or even in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. At least the non-LDS would feel involved and welcomed.

    The current policy (not a doctrine) harms missionary work and harms family. I know this from FIRST hand experience.

    based on my experience, I would advise couples to either hold a service without telling the Church or just wait the year. i wish i had.

  • Serenity Manti, UT
    July 12, 2012 3:50 p.m.

    What a good article. I don't understand why baptism for the dead is so controversial. Before I even heard about the LDS Church I often wondered what happened to the unnumbered people who have died not hearing of Christ, baptism or even the Bible or Ten Commandments. In the back of my mind I even started questioning the justice of God. Why is it that some of us are saved through the atonement of the Savior through Baptism while others are not through no choice of their own. This negates the concept of free-will because those who have never heard have had no choice to choose the right or wrong. According to the Scriptures, you can only be saved by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism. Vicarious Baptism for the dead offers all of God's children this chance. It is the satisfaction of the justice and mercy of God. Perhaps anyone who questions the possibility of this baptism also questions the fact that Jesus Christ died for each and every one of us, living and dead, in a vicarious manner.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    July 13, 2012 2:58 a.m.

    I'm thankful that there are so many understanding humans in the world, especially this pastor and wonderful Jewish people.
    I'd like to think that if the tables were turned, Mormons would be as open and thoughtful as many others have been.
    Imagine that Jewish children, as an act of love and respect, offered some Jewish rites for deceased Mormons, perhaps reciting: "May she come to her place in peace," to help beloved Mormons on their way to further happiness in the Jewish afterlife.

    And, when Jewish people learned that some Mormons were upset they stopped doing the rites, and asked all Jewish people to stop.

    And, imagine, some disaffected and errant Jewish people hacked past Jewish computer systems against Jewish teachings and entered names perhaps hoping to increase hatred for Jews and make a "public stink."

    I would hope Mormons would be patient with their Jewish friends, I think Mormons would be honored if people performed loving rites for them.

    I'm thankful for those who understand that these ancient Biblical rites aren't meant to change anyone's religion or ethnicity, and Mormons don't believe any kind person suffers in the next life.

  • Captain L Provo, UT
    July 13, 2012 5:31 p.m.

    Not only is baptism for the dead mentioned in 1st Corintians but the reason why it is done is talked about in 1st Peter 3:18-20 & 1t Peter 4:6 . The Savior went to the spirits in prison and began the preaching of the gospel to the dead , so that they could be judged according to men in the flesh. The thing people need to realize is that as it says in 2nd Peter 1: 20-21 the scriptures are of no private interpretation but were written by holy men of God (Prophets) as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Today

  • Utah Businessman Sandy, UT
    July 14, 2012 10:57 a.m.

    As an active LDS person, I have very much enjoyed all of the thoughtful comments from various perspectives. I would like to add my support for "cambodia girl" and her comment about persons of other faiths including us in their "mass" or other worship. I am honored and grateful that they would want to include my name in their worship where it is done out of their love and concern for me.

    This is off the subject, I know, but I was amused by it. I believe it was an old baseball player years ago--it seems that he was close to his "death-bed", and he was asked what "minister" he wanted to talk with. He said, "Bring me a Catholic priest, a protestant minister and a Jewish Rabbi--I want to hedge my bets."

  • Kimber Salt Lake City, UT
    July 15, 2012 7:54 a.m.

    I appreciate this point of view and I also believe that we should always respect other people's belief systems and shouldn't infringe on them. The decision as to whether a deceased person should have this done for them should always be made by someone that cared about them. The same sensitivity should be used about this as about a service for a deceased person. It is the most important to respect the wishes of the living since we can never be sure about the wishes of the deseased (unless they specifically left a will in this regard). And I believe it's foolish to think that all the many billions of people that have lived on this earth would automatically wish this or to think that they must have it for their salvation.

  • Rikitikitavi Cardston, Alberta
    July 15, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    Ranch.....please, how is it that you seem to know that these deceased folks had any choice at all, let alone actually acted upon any choice. Bizarre outlook to be sure.