If proper Mormon baptism is an absolute prerequisite for divine forgiveness, Christians are deluded and have never had a sin forgiven by God

In The Religious Educator, Mark D. Woodbury, director of the Reno Nevada Institute of Religion, writes:

The good news is that there is repentance. Repentance is a great gift from God; indeed, the scriptures teach us that Christ “hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” (D&C 18:12–13). But it is only through our entering into a covenant with God through baptism that repentance becomes truly effective. Many times in scripture the prophets and the Savior Himself use the phrase “baptized unto repentance. (See Matthew 3:11; Mosiah 26:22; Alma 5:62; 6:2; 7:14; 8:10; 9:27; 48:19; 49:30; Helaman 3:24; 5:17; 5:19; 3 Nephi 1:23; 7:24, 26; Moroni 8:11; D&C 35:5.) Alma, for example, taught, “Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” (Alma 7:14).

Alma makes two points clear, the first being that forgiveness of sins does not come simply through repentance alone but that baptism is also necessary. Second, he shows that it is not the waters of baptism that cleanse us but rather the Lamb of God. Nephi clarifies that the remission of sins comes “by fire and by the Holy Ghost” (2 Nephi 31:17). Thus, we are cleansed from our sins only when the Holy Ghost places the stamp of approval upon us.

President Brigham Young taught: “Has water, in itself, any virtue to wash away sin? Certainly not; but the Lord says, ‘If the sinner will repent of his sins, and go down into the waters of baptism, and there be buried in the likeness of being put into the earth and buried, and again be delivered from the water, in the likeness of being born—if in the sincerity of his heart he will do this, his sins shall be washed away.’ Will the water of itself wash them away? No; but keeping the commandments [p.72] of God will cleanse away the stain of sin.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses (Liverpool: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 2:4.)

Our sins, therefore, are remitted by the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost following our repentance and baptism by water. Continued repentance is then available only to those who have entered into a covenant with the Lord through the Aaronic Priesthood ordinance of baptism. Since the fruits of repentance (forgiveness and cleansing) are available only through the administration of the Aaronic Priesthood, the Aaronic Priesthood “holds the keys of . . . the gospel of repentance” (D&C 13:1; see also Joseph Smith—History 1:69).

If one agrees with Mr. Woodbury, some interesting implications arise. Non-Mormons have never had God forgive even one of their sins. Mormons are the only people on earth currently receiving forgiveness of sins. In other words, Christians are deluded in thinking they are right with God.

No one has the right to call themselves a Christian if they have not had all their sins forgiven, let alone if they have not had any sins forgiven. Instead of oozing the gushy sentiment of “we are both Christians who love Jesus and experience the grace of divine forgiveness”, Mormons should be forthrightly telling evangelicals the honest truth about our condition. We have never been forgiven by God. Not even once. Not ever.

I remember being at the first “National Student Dialogue Conference” in a discussion between Mormons and evangelicals at a round table. I told a sweet Mormon woman about my experience of receiving the total forgiveness of sins as a free gift, of embracing the realistic view of repentance that the Bible speaks of. I spoke of how this forgiveness liberated me to love people in a way I had never before done. She smiled and said she was happy for me. She said she was glad that I had experienced God’s grace and love and she thanked me for bearing my testimony of how God had forgive me for my sins.

Later, the Miracle of Forgiveness came up. I contrasted my view of repentance with Spencer W. Kimball’s overwhelming, burdening six-step process of the permanent, successful, comprehensive, perfect repentance which brings forgiveness. Since she sided with Kimball’s view, I informed her that I had not yet perfectly and permanently and comprehensively abandoned the sinful habits from the urges of my mind (which, according to Kimball, indicates you have not yet been forgiven). I asked her, “Since I have not yet fulfilled Mormonism’s absolutely prerequisite steps required for forgiveness, am I wrong to believe I have had all my sins forgiven?” She nodded. “Then why did you tell me you were happy for me?” She sheepishly smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

I find this very offensive. If you think I’m deluded and deceived into thinking all my sins have been forgiven, don’t patronize me by commending and celebrating my testimony of God having forgiven my sins. Tell me the truth. Tell me that while it is good that I seek forgiveness, I have yet to receive what I think I have already received.

Do Mormons really love evangelicals? If so, then why aren’t we hearing more of the clear truth about our true condition? If completing Spencer Kimball’s six-step prerequisite process for receiving forgiveness isn’t enough—if being properly baptized by the proper Mormon authorities is absolutely prerequisite to the forgiveness of sins before God—then shouldn’t a Mormon be a good doctor and tell me what real condition I’m in? If no non-Mormon has ever been forgiven by God for any sin (having not received proper baptism), then isn’t it unloving to lock hands with us and try to sing Kumbaya? If Mormons love evangelicals, then should they really be engaging evangelicals in quasi-ecumenical kissing contests, celebrating some superficial common ground of believing in a Jesus that has yet to even absolve us of one thing?

Remember, your best friends are the ones who tell you the most vital truth.

Depending on Romans 4:4-8 and the real blessedness of having been forgiven,


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144 Responses to If proper Mormon baptism is an absolute prerequisite for divine forgiveness, Christians are deluded and have never had a sin forgiven by God

  1. BornagainMormon says:

    Unfortunately, (or probably fortunately for some) I was abruptly introduced to the three post limit rule yesterday before I was finished with my thoughts. I realize some people are not fond of long posts, but I am passionate about what I believe and sometimes I just can’t say it in a sound bite. Here is the conclusion of my post from yesterday. Thanks to those who took the time to read it.

    I realize that a lot of people have a problem with the idea of baptizing for the dead, but for me it wasn’t nearly as hard to accept as the alternatives. And although I admit it is a singular reference, I was overjoyed that it is mentioned in the New Testament- 1 Cor. 15:29, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” I realize that there is a lot of controversy over this verse, but in this chapter Paul is talking about the resurrection and the coming forth of the dead. It may be argued about the meaning of this verse, but it is not totally insane to come to the conclusion that its meaning is literal. I do not intend to get into a debate about this subject because I realize that others have different feelings about it, but for me these things were an answer to my prayers.
    In conclusion, in a very concise way I would like to give you my explanation for what is at the heart and soul of Mormon doctrine. It is that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer. It is essential that we accept Him as our personal Savior. We believe that everyone who has ever lived on this Earth is within the reach of His outstretched arms. We believe that everyone who has ever lived will have the opportunity to accept Him as such before the judgment that His mercy may save them if they will accept Him. Because of this we believe that if someone does not enter God’s presence, it will be because they willingly rejected the Savior when given the opportunity to know Him. This does not mean they unwittingly (cont.)

  2. BornagainMormon says:

    missed their chance to know the Savior, but that they were given an honest opportunity to know the Savior and would not. Unfortunately, we are told there are some who will, but it will be because they do so willingly- not because they didn’t understand. In the end, it will be about where our hearts are with Christ, because, in the end it is what truly matters.
    The End- just in case anyone was wondering if this would ever end.

    Thanks for your comments about the Law. Without the Law, it is difficult to appreciate the gift of salvation. “I was always under the impression that we go to remember our sins, and recieve remission with the Gospel and a booster shot of sacrament.” I whole heartedly agree.

  3. Jeffrey says:


    Not trying to be offensive here, but you were seriously overjoyed that corinthians mentions baptism for the dead?

    Do you know what group of people are mentioned as “they” in that verse? Honest question. I’ll await an answer.

    Typically when someone points out who “they” are in that verse, it is no longer used as support by the LDS on here.


    I was recently reading a pamphlet, published by the LDS church, for Bishops to give to the sinful lay members. The pamphlet outlined the six-step repentance process shown in Kimball’s miracle of forgiveness. He said that “forsaking of a sin must be a permanent one. To try is not enough.” It can be life long as you say, but what if you forget a sin? What if you got hit by a car right now and died, have you gone through the 6 step process on all of your sins?

  4. Andrea says:

    DOF said “Forgiveness of sin is based on level of knowledge. What a merciful God! Sin is sin. The penalty must be paid. But what if I didn’t know. Covered by the atonement. But woe unto him that knoweth the will of God and turneth away.” Exactly. So why do baptism for the dead? If someone dies without hearing about Christ, they will be judged by God according to their adherence to the moral codes in their particular time and place. If they did hear about Christ and rejected Him, woe unto them! We see clearly in the Bible that we have only this life to accept or reject Christ.

    rickydorn (hi! welcome!) said: “Baptism is an action taken by one who has repented and enters into a covenant with God” Why does an 8 year old need to repent? I personally believe a child’s acceptance of Christ depends on their maturity level, not some magical knowledge they come into once they blow out the birthday candles. I too believe that baptism is an action taken by one who has already repented, but I don’t believe it’s necessary for the forgiveness of sins. I see it as a symbol that we are dying (immersion) to our old sinful life and raised (emergence) to a new life in Christ.

  5. faithoffathers says:

    Documentary evidence shows that the early christian church was familiar with baptisms for the dead for the first few centuries after Christ. Krister Stendahl, a Lutheran New Testament scholar and former Dean and Professor of Divinity at the Harvard Divinity School, says of 1 Cor 15:29, “the text seems to speak plainly enough about a practice within the Church of vicarious baptism for the dead. This is the view of most contemporary critical exegetes.”

    Another bible scholar Harold Riesenfeld writes, “None of the attempts to escape the theory of a vicarious baptism in primitive Christianity seems to be wholly successful.”

    It was “those apostles and teachers” of the first generation, according to the Shepherd of Hermas, who “went down living into the water” in behalf of those who had died and in speaking of the whole affair as a thing of the past that source implies that the work was confined to those men and their generation. (Shepherd of Hermas, Similitudes III, 9, 16)

    After that generation, some form of that practice was seen in several christian churches including those in Ethiopia, Egypt, Asia, Gaul, and others.

    Some modern christians have scoffed at the idea of baptism for the dead, but there really is considerable evidence that such a practice existed in the primitive church just as Joseph Smith claimed.

    “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5. Baptism is a universal requirement. The LDS believe God is “full of grace and mercy” and has a plan for all of His children to hear the gospel and choose for themselves whether to accept it.

  6. Missusslats says:

    “I would like to give you my explanation for what is at the heart and soul of Mormon doctrine. It is that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer.”

    Bmormon, how did you come to this conclusion?

    Was it from the notion that one does not get to live with God without membership in the LDS church?

    Or perhaps that one must follow the prophet, whether or not he is contradicting scripture or past prophets?

    Or maybe it was the requirement that one be washed, annointed, endowed, and sealed in a Mormon temple?

    Perhaps it’s the requirement regarding what sort of underwear is to be worn?

    Oh, I bet it was the requirement that 1/10 of your income for the rest of your life be paid to Mormon, Inc.?

    Oh, no, I know what made you think that Jesus is the “heart and soul of Mormon doctrine”—it’s the signs and tokens you have to give to Jo Smith to get HIS permission to enter Mormon heaven!

    Yeah, I think THAT is the one that supports your conclusion most soundly.

    Meanwhile, we can ignore NT doctrine like Jn 3:36: “He who believes has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

    Or Paul’s reply to the Phil. jailer in Acts 16 when the latter asked what he had to do to be saved: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.”

    Or in Acts 4, when Peter was asked by the Jewish leaders by what power they had healed a sick man. Peter’s answer: “By the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood that I hold!”


    I assume Peter includes JS, BY, GBH, and TSM, too.

    Yes, you may accuse me of using sarcasm. However, I am hoping that my sarcasm will help you see, in 2000 characters or less, how ridiculous YOUR conclusion really is.

  7. germit says:

    BornAgain: you seem to be trying to swim upstream the rivers of orthodoxy, while towing the HSS ProphetSeerRevelator behind you. This is a questionable exercise. Let me be clear: you may well be exactly as your log-in suggests: Born Again. Were not several (3 of the 5 ??) of the Adam’s Road group saved WHILE still LDS?? That is their testimony , and I don’t doubt it for a bit. I’ll suggest that it was in large part IN SPITE of their background: wasn’t their testimony that the Jesus they had come to know not at all the Jesus they had heard about growing up, and that MANY things talked about at ward meetings flatly contradicted what they were reading from the Bible the very same week?? The divide between us, orthodoxy and LDS, is very wide, there is no bridging it (although disagreeing with respect, dignity, and charity should be the order of the day and sometimes is not) You seem to have an ‘ecumenical spirit’ , which is commendable, but there is just no agreement to be had between what christians have held dear since the time of our LORD (never a total apostasy, that will be lively thread when it comes around) and what JS invented (yeah, DOF, I know the story is that the LORD told him, but ‘technically’, I don’t have to accept that story. IF the LORD told him, it is much more than just a story, but the differences between the simple plough boy and NT leaders, for me, are many and formidable. My faith and brain are always connected, tho the 1st will, at times, take me beyond the 2cd.
    Pushing for one side or the other (and not both at the same time) is not being arrogant, BornAgn it is accepting things the way they have to be: truth just doesn’t bend that far. God’s best for all of us as we try to make sense of our broken and ‘needing-Jesus’ world. GERMIT

  8. jackg says:


    Now, I don’t believe the BOM to be true, but let’s suppose it is because you do. The practice of baptism for the dead, in light of BOM teaching, really shouldn’t be a doctrine in the Mormon Church: “And, in fine, wo unto all those who die in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in their sins (2 Nephi 9:38); “…for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation…for behold, this life is the time for men to perform their labors…” (Alma 34: roughly 31-35). In light of these passages, baptism for the dead makes no sense as a doctrine of the Mormon Church. We can’t even proceed to discuss whether baptism is regenerative or not because Mormon teaching contradicts itself. It seems that this debate ought to be cleared up between Mormons before they challenge Christian beliefs.

  9. faithoffathers says:


    Very good point. This life is indeed the time to repent- it is the “day of [our] salvation.” But further on in the Book of Mormon, the ancient prophet Mormon explains:

    “For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law.” Moroni 8:22

    In other words, a person is accountable to God to the degree that he or she understands His laws. This principle really reflects the mercy and grace of God.

    At the same time, God’s laws are real and eternal. Since you know the Book of Mormon, you remember the statement that “mercy cannot rob justice.” The Savior explained the universality of the baptismal requirement as I quoted in my earlier post.

    God’s plan provides the means by which His children can learn His laws and receive salvation through the atonement of Christ. And to extend His love and gospel to all, those who do not have the opportunity to understand His laws in this life will have a chance after this life. Baptism for the dead allows those individuals to both gain their own understanding of the gospel AND meet the requirements set by God. It is the perfect union of upholding eternal law and extending mercy and love to all without preference.

    There really is no contradiction after all!

  10. Arthur Sido says:


    “Baptism is a universal requirement.”

    What about the thief on the cross, who Christ promised would be with Him THAT DAY in paradise? He was, as far as we know, not baptized and not a believer until that hour on the cross. Christ didn’t tell him he would be with Him in paradise just as soon as some nice mormon baptized him in a temple two thousand years later.

    Baptism is a universal commandment, but it is not a universal requirement for salvation. See Romans 4, what justifies a man is faith not an action. We are not justified by the act of baptism, we are baptized out of obedience and gratitude for being saved. That statement is a perfect example of the importance of words and definitions.

  11. Soy Yo says:

    Your example was shown to me a few months ago and I was amazed at the depth of understanding and the ability to find things like this that help clear up so many questions I had while growing up Mormon.

    I gave this same example to some LDS friends and they immediately pointed out that “spirit paradise” is what Christ was talking about. For those not familiar with that, in Mormon theology, there is a “spirit paradise” and a “spirit prison”. Those who are faithful LDS will go to “paradise” when they die to await the second coming and judgment while those who have not accepted the Mormon gospel will go to “prison” where they will be taught the gospel and wait to be baptized by those who go to the temple.

    I immediately pointed out the flaw in their argument which was that if he was going to be in “spiritual paradise” as they claimed, then that would mean that he was already baptized and a faithful disciple of Christ. Do we know for sure that he was or was not? No, but I would venture to guess that since he was being crucified that he was not a follower of Christ until that moment. That would have put him in “spirit prison” and not paradise as Christ promised. Christ does not make promises he cannot or will not keep so I understand his words to mean that since this man believed on him and confessed his belief that he was saved and joined Jesus in Heaven which is the real paradise.

  12. faithoffathers says:

    Arthur Sido,

    Excellent question. We know little about the thief on the cross except that he confessed the justice of his own condemnation and humbly approached the Lord in repentence.

    But three days after telling the thief that “today thou shalt be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43) Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and told her “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17

    Christ spent 3 days in a place called paradise where His father was not.

    Also remember the statement: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” 1 Peter 3:18-19

    These passages show the reality of this spirit paradise/prison.

  13. faithoffathers says:

    The Book of Mormon expounds the doctrine further: the ancient prophet Alma explains:

    “Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection— Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.”
    “And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”
    “And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.”
    “Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this estate, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” Alma 40:11-14
    We don’t know any more about who will be in spirit paradise that what is stated here- “the spirits of the righteous.” Latter-day Saints have never claimed a monopology on Righteousness. The LDS will be “sorted” just as everbody else. But this question is a perfect example of why the Book of Mormon is so valuable as another testament of Christ in clarifying doctrines of the gospel.

  14. Berean says:

    I figured sooner or later the subject of baptism for the dead was going to come up. I’m always amazed at where our LDS friends get their information to try to justify the non-biblical things that they do in the name of the Mormon Jesus. First, citing Krister Stendahl, a liberal theologian and Mormon sympathizer, really doesn’t mean anything. It’s just his opinion. This should have a familiar ring with the Mormons. Stendahl’s view is trumped and silenced by the overwhelming amount of historical and biblical evidence in addition the vast majority of non-liberal theologians that disagree with his findings.

    Stendahl is in the same camp as Richard Mouw who teamed up with Robert Millet. Millet wrote “A Different Jesus” in which Mouw wrote the introduction to the book and helped get it published. Mouw “getting in bed” with the Mormons has made him the laughing stock of Christendom today. Mouw disagrees with many of Millet’s conclusions about who Jesus is, but gives Mouw a pass all for the sake of harmony. Stendahl did the same thing when the Mormons wanted to build a temple in Stockholm, Sweden.

    The big mistake that Mouw and Stendahl made is compromising truth for the sake of harmony. Mouw and Stendahl failed to see the account of Paul and the other apostles that didn’t give an inch when it came to the heretical practices going on in their day or in confronting the Jewish leaders who wanted to live by the law. Stendahl’s findings have to be tested by the Bible. When the two are compared Stendahl comes up way short. I’m going to go with the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ on this one – not Stendahl.

    “Some form of that practice was seen in several christian churches including those in Ethiopia, Egypt, Asia, Gaul, and others.”

    I’m sure it was because it was going in Corinth too. That is why the Apostle Paul scolded them for it. Why is that? Let’s look at the text and give some background on it.

  15. Berean says:

    Serious Bible students adhere to a few rules when it comes to dealing with difficult passages in the Bible. First, unclear scripture needs to be clarified by more clear scripture. Second, scripture interprets scripture. Third, when one’s findings of a particular verse don’t add up to the vast majority of verses that say the opposite, then that person is wrong. Fourth, historical context of the passage needs to be understood.

    1 Cor 15:29 – Historical: Just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis. This was the location of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife. This religion was mentioned by Homer in “Hymn to Demeter”. The Corinthians were heavily influenced by the religious practices found at Eleusis. Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians was a letter of scolding for copy-catting what was going on around them.

    Biblical text: One needs to look at the pronouns in chaper 15 to see who is being addressed. Look at verses 12,29&30.

    You: Corinth church
    They: False teachers
    We: Corinth church

    Paul never commanded believers to do baptisms for the dead. Jesus and His apostles never mentioned this practice nor participated in it. If Paul actually performed the ritual himself he would have included himself when talking about it.

    The fatal flaw that the Mormons make is taking one verse and making a doctrine out of it. This has gotten many people in trouble. When are Mormons going to start obeying Mark 16:18? One wacky group in the Appalachian mountains has built their whole theology on that one verse and you see where it got them.

    When Christians come to 1 Peter 3:19 we know that it doesn’t mean what the Mormons say it does in light of the points I made at the beginning on the points of sound, Bible study. By the way, for the Mormons, Alma 34:30-35 does not support baptism for the dead either especially verse 34.

    What Mormons are engaging in at the temple when they do this is nothing but paganism.

  16. Missusslats says:

    Go Berean!
    …no Zarahemla…no DNA…no BOAbe…

    IF there were any hooks into reality (eg, the above and so many, many more) with regard to Jo Smith and Mormonism’s historical, evidentiary claims, THEN we would be obligated as Christians to discuss the possibility that LDS Bible interpretation might have a leg to stand on. As it is, we can know that LDS interpretation of 1Cor15:29 or James or Peter–ANY Bible passages–MAY BE DISMISSED OUT OF HAND. Berean, you rightly teach the ground rules for exegesis; these have done Christians well for determining sound doctrine. But we need not even go that far into LDS interpretation. Deut. 18:22 lets us off the hook with Regard to Jo and any of his followers: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

    …no Zarahemla…no DNA…no Papyri…

  17. faithoffathers says:


    Thank you for your response. You are so right- a study of the Bible requires a thoughtful, thorough, and humble approach.

    You mentioned Eleusis. Nothing in their rituals, based on agrarian rites from the Mycenaean period, had anything to do with baptism for the dead. In this part of his letter, Paul is reinforcing the reality of a physical resurrection. Nothing in the text suggests that Paul is “scolding” the Corinthians for performing baptisms for the dead.

    Paul sites the performance of baptisms for the dead to lend support for his argument for the resurrection. To site a pagan or false practice to support a gospel principle seems rather strange, does it not? How often do you refer to athiest or pagan practices to support your Christian belief? Such an argument simply does not make sense and would have little merit.

    Again, the existence of this practice in the primitive christian church is beyond reasonable doubt. One does not necessarily have to believe in it, but to deny that early christians performed baptisms for the dead is to ignore abundant evidence.

    Several early church writers including Clement, Epiphanius, Ignatius, Barnabus, Eusebius, Tertullian, Anselm, Origen, as well as writings of Peter all refer to this practice in the church. Several early christian hymns celebrate Christ’s ministry to the dead in prison.

    In 1895, a coptic papyrus was discovered in Egypt. The two most learned church historians of the time, Adolf von Harnack and Carl Schmidt, claimed it was an authentic statement of certain important doctrines of salvation and resurrection common to the whole church at a very early date. The subject of this epistle was salvation for the dead, outlining the work performed by the living for the dead.

    Again, one does not have to subscribe to this practice or doctrine, but there is ample evidence that this practice existed in the church after Christ’s resurrection, as Joseph Smith claimed.

  18. GRCluff says:


    You pick apart a verse of scipture pretty well. To be clear about the use of pronouns and references, don’t you need to look at the original language? Perhaps even the original text before it was handwritten 100 times by monks who don’t believe in the teaching?

    What do you do with evidence of underground baptismal fonts in the 2nd and 3rd centruy after Christ? About references to the practice of baptisms for the dead in ancient history texts outside of the Bible? The Dead Sea scrolls for example?

    Oh yeah– if its not in the Bible it can’t be true. Wait– it is more complicated now. If it IS in the Bible, and the Mormons teach it it HAS to be out of context. Now we have a new mode of operation. Where are your out of context arguments for the pre-existance? We can stretch this new approach to its limits with that one.

  19. germit says:

    FOF: welcome to Mormon Coffee, if I forgot to say so earlier. Thank you for the references to the early church historians and Harnack/Schmidt; If the evidence for baptism for the dead is abundantly ample, I’ll ask a small favor for you to site some particular works,articles,etc. I know you don’t owe me anything, so when I say ‘favor’, I mean exactly that. You are indeed right about the context of the 1st Corinthian chapter being the resurrection: that makes it so much more dubious to build a theology around an ordinance with such scant support, in a chapter where the topic and weight of meaning has nothing directly connected to that ordinance. At a minimum, this looks like a huge stretch.

    As for ‘paradise’ being ‘prison’, what a strange way to reward his faith!! I’ve never heard this interpretation in over 25 yrs of looking at scripture, what a novelty. I’ll look into that a post back later. I appreciate your efforts to understand what the scriptures have to say. Then again, be careful with that Word of God thing: remember the young guys from Adam’s Road, that gun is loaded and it might go off. GERMIT

  20. Arthur Sido says:


    “Excellent question. We know little about the thief on the cross except that he confessed the justice of his own condemnation and humbly approached the Lord in repentence.

    But three days after telling the thief that “today thou shalt be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43) Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene and told her “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” John 20:17

    Christ spent 3 days in a place called paradise where His father was not.”

    Well that is interesting but the ascending Christ is speaking of is that which occurs after He commissions the church and appears to the disciples. In no way does it indicate that He was in an intermediary holding cell which has no other Biblical basis. You have taken a passage where Christ is very specifically telling someone something and then overlaying a mormon doctrine on top of it.

    You are arguing from silence where the Bible is clear. The body of Christ was in the tomb, but He and the thief were in paradise. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. The Lord allowed Thomas to touch Him prior to ascent and Thomas upon doing so declared Christ to be God incarnate. I do appreciate your thoughtfulness though.


    “Paul never commanded believers to do baptisms for the dead. Jesus and His apostles never mentioned this practice nor participated in it. If Paul actually performed the ritual himself he would have included himself when talking about it.”

    Exactly right! FoF and Cluff and others are doing the same thing here that Cluff and other mormons do with polygamy, i.e. confusing description with prescription. Not everything described in the Bible is a command to do something. Yet mormons have developed a whole system of doctrine based on one vague description and the word of a couple of liberal theologians as support. The Bible describes Lot incestous relationship with his daughters, but that is not tantamount to an endoresment or command to do the sam

  21. BornagainMormon says:

    Sorry for my absent. It has been a busy weekend. As I expected most people seem very willing to criticize baptism for the dead, but as near as I can tell no one cares to approach the concerns I had with the other options presented by other Christians which led me to accepting baptism for the dead. Anyone care to do so?

  22. Berean says:


    I see you have posted the talking points from FAIR. They are not reliable to me and I would encourage you to look outside of LDS safety zones to get a full picture and analysis of this difficult text and in Christianity as a whole. In Eleusis one of the pagan gods they worshipped was the goddess Demeter. Secret rituals were performed called the Eleusinian Mysteries. These mysteries revolved around the belief that there was hope for life after death for those that were initiated in addition to becoming a god. Sound like Mormonism?

    All throughout 1 Corinthians Paul is scolding the believers for the pagan practices that they were getting involved in and trying to bring into the church. There was incest (5:1); they were divorcing for unbiblical reasons so Paul had to clarify (chapter 7); they were playing with idol worship (8:4); copy-catting baptism for the dead form the pagan worshippers of Demeter (15:29) and so Paul had to bring down the “apostle hammer” and tell the believers that those that want to participate in these things needs to be thrown out (5:9-13)!

    Paul is not supporting this pagan practice in v.29, rather he is using it as a comparison. Paul gives no support for this. As I said before, Paul nor Jesus ever commands believers to do this kind of baptism. Paul doesn’t include himself in it and doesn’t instruct the Corinthians to do it either. Jesus never performed this ritual when he went to the synagogue nor did he include this important work for billions of dead people in the Great Commission.

    Where is the evidence of any Christian church practicing this today? Does the Greek or Russian Orthodox Church do it? I’m sure there were groups just like the ignorant Corinthians that got tangled up in this pagan ritual, but they were taught the heresy of it and it stopped. Maybe that is why there is no record of it in Christianity in the last 1700 years? Many things go on today in the name of Christianity that is not correct and unbiblical.

  23. Berean says:

    Peter’s epistles don’t mention baptism for the dead. The subject of 1 COR. was not centered around work performed by the living for the dead. One verse in the whole epistle mentions this and now the whole epistle is centered around it? When are Mormons going to start practicing Mark 16:18 in the temples? Take this one verse and build a ritual around it. Just get ready to call the ambulance!

    Remember the rules for sound study? The Bible is very clear in other verses that there are no second chances after death (Heb 9:27; Luke 16:19-31). There is “a great gulf fixed” so that one cannot pass from one side to the other (Luke 16:26). We cannot do anything to obtain salvation for another. They must choose solely by themselves before death. You can’t make a doctrine out of something just to make yourselves feel better.

    Cluff, you don’t like my detailed study of the scriptures? What did you do at all those BYU religion courses that you got extra credits in? Underground fonts? People probably were getting baptized just like they get baptized in hostile countries today where Christians are persecuted and martyred. Doing it for the dead? If so, they were wrong.

    Blaming it on the monks? My KJV Bible has the LDS Church stamp on the side same as yours. If it’s not correct your seers/translators aren’t doing nothing about correcting it by looking at the ancient manuscripts that date back to 1 AD. Where are the gold plates to check the BoM?

    Ancient languages? Yes, I love them and looked at them in this study. I can’t type the Greek alphabet on my computer, but here is the English of the Greek root.

    1 Cor 15:12: “De ei Christos kerusso hoti egeiro ek nekros pos lego tis en humin hoti esti ou anastasis nekros.”
    1 Cor 15:29: “Epei tis poieo baptizo huper nekros
    ei nekros egeiro ou holos tis kai poieo baptizo huper nekros.”
    1 Cor 15:30: “Kai tis kinduneuo hemeis kinduneuo pas hora.”

    Run that by the ward bishop and let me know his take on it.

  24. GRCluff says:

    Arthur said:
    “FoF and Cluff and others are doing the same thing here that Cluff and other mormons do with polygamy, i.e. confusing description with prescription.”

    There is no confusion involved. I find enough perscription in the BoM and in modern revelation, I don’t need perscription from the Bible. The discription there will suffice.

    Berean said:
    “Where is the evidence of any Christian church practicing this today? Does the Greek or Russian Orthodox Church do it? I’m sure there were groups just like the ignorant Corinthians that got tangled up in this pagan ritual, but they were taught the heresy of it and it stopped. Maybe that is why there is no record of it in Christianity in the last 1700 years? Many things go on today in the name of Christianity that is not correct and unbiblical.”

    This is exactly as we would expect. The true practice of Christianity ended about the same time that baptisms for the dead ended. Yes we have had no TRUE christians for 1700 years. You should know the specifics of the Mormon belief in apostasy by now, so you should understand how hollow that argument will be.

  25. BornagainMormon says:


    In reference to your statement, “The Bible is very clear in other verses that there are no second chances after death,” I would just say that for me it was not about second chances; it was about first chances. The concept of baptism for the dead is not about those who have had a chance; it is about those who haven’t. This was one of the concerns I had. What about those people who have never had a chance?

  26. faithoffathers says:


    I have sited no “talking points” from anybody. I know FAIR is a website, but one that I do not frequent. I have yet to hear anything to counter the proof of the existence of baptisms for the dead in the ancient church. This is what I am attempting to establish.

    I have never claimed that the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 is about baptisms for the dead or that the “whole epistle” is centered around work for the dead. I merely stated that Paul’s reference in 15:29 was in fact a reference to the practice of baptisms for the dead in the church.

    Again, I understand the pagan practices of Eleusis, but there is no evidence that this is what Paul was referring to. The pagans of Eleusis did not perform baptisms for the dead. And it makes no sense in the given text.

    You are correct that the commandments regarding baptism for the dead are not found in the New Testament. But it is not a complete record of all of Christ’s or His apostle’s teachings and doings:

    “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. John 21:25

    What about his visit after His resurrection, “being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God?” Acts 1:3 Why don’t we have the teachings He gave during that period? He often taught His apostles that truths were to be shared only as people could receive them (i.e. milk before meat). He often told them not to disclose things He shared with them. There is reason to believe this did not entirely change after His resurrection.

    John 16:12: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.”
    Acts 10:41: “Not unto all the people, but unto witnesses chosen.”
    Acts 15:28: “For it seemed good . . . to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”


  27. faithoffathers says:


    Clementine Recognitions I, 23, 52, in PG 1:1236, 1282; III, 1: “I [Peter] . . . endeavor to avoid publishing the chief knowledge concerning the Supreme Divinity to unworthy ears,”
    Several others could be listed.

    Now, of course this does not prove the doctrine of baptism for the dead. But one must remember that even those who were with the Lord daily before His death did not comprehend His teachings, even being called “blind” by the Master. What He shared with them after His resurrection opened their eyes and was carefully protected.

    And the absence of baptism for the dead in other religions is perfectly consistent with the apostasy.

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
    And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    Eusebius, the “father of church history,” explained the situation in a citation from Hegesippus: “When the holy chorus of the Apostles ended their lives in various ways, and that generation passed away of those who had heard the divine wisdom with their own ears, at that very time the conspiracy of godless error took its beginning through the deception of false teachers who, when the last remaining Apostle had gone, first came out into the open and opposed the preaching of the truth with what was falsely styled the gnosis.”

    Apostasy, although another topic, does very much relate to this issue.

    Enough for now.

  28. Berean says:


    Baptism for the dead in Mormonism isn’t just about those that supposedly never heard. Proxy work is done for those that were of other faiths who did hear so they can move out of spirit prison and go to spirit paradise. They can’t become a god, but they can settle for the terrestrial where many Mormons have settled as well. By the way, did Adolf Hitler ever hear? I find it horrifying that proxy work was done for him at the London Temple on 12/10/1993 (film call #1903846). I guess in the Mormon system anybody can become a god – even murderers which violates D&C 42:18,79.

    Those that supposedly never heard the gospel? God is a righteous judge (Psa 19:9; 96:12-13). Nobody is going to outer darkness that doesn’t belong there and His kingdom won’t be denied to anyone that should be there. He gets no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekial 18:32).


    I gave you historical evidence that shows that the pagans who worshipped Demeter did this ritual. You gave me nothing to show that they didn’t. We’re at a draw. You are free to believe as you wish. You make a fatal error by assuming that since Jesus didn’t teach this ritual in the Bible that He must have later. Mormons assume a lot of things to fill in their gaps. This ritual isn’t mentioned in the BoM. Why? Milk before meat? How about fact before fiction? So much for “the most correct book on earth” I guess.

    There are no second chances after death: Heb 9:27; Luke 16:19-31. How would persecuted Christians be encouraged to suffer in the flesh by the knowledge that non-believers (including their persecutors) who have heard but rejected the gospel, will be given an opportunity to repent in the spirit world? In that case, why endure abuse for Christ in this life?

    2 Tim 4:3,4 – Mormons have given up sound doctrine and have given over to fables.

    Great apostasy? That’s off topic and it didn’t happen. I am patiently waiting for the moderators to post this topic. I’m ready to talk about it.

  29. faithoffathers says:

    Berean- Thank you for the response.

    You stated:

    “In Eleusis one of the pagan gods they worshipped was the goddess Demeter. Secret rituals were performed called the Eleusinian Mysteries. These mysteries revolved around the belief that there was hope for life after death for those that were initiated in addition to becoming a god.”

    Where did you show “historical evidence” of baptism for the dead being practiced by those in Eleusis? You showed that they believed in the afterlife- don’t most religions?

    Baptisms for the dead are performed to give the opportunity to all people- uniformly without preference. This in no way assures anybody is going anywhere they don’t belong. Each is on their own to either accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is one judge who knows the hearts of all men.

    You also said:

    “Baptism for the dead in Mormonism isn’t just about those that supposedly never heard. Proxy work is done for those that were of other faiths who did hear so they can move out of spirit prison and go to spirit paradise. They can’t become a god, but they can settle for the terrestrial where many Mormons have settled as well.”

    I do not know where you got that, but it is not based on our doctrine. Each soul will have the same opportunity, either in this life or after, with equal potential for growth.

    Our doctrine is not based on 1 Cor 15:29- it is based on modern revelation. That verse is merely one short reference to the ancient practice.

    Berean- I respect your love for the scriptures.

  30. Berean says:

    Part 1


    I showed historical evidence in three parts. First, is the biblical account given by Paul. Remember the pronouns from the first post (WE, YOU, THEY)? Who is the “THEY” that Paul was referring to in 1 Cor 15:29? It was the pagan worshippers right up the road from Corinth in Eleusis that were doing this ritual. It says in the Bible that this was going on and it didn’t involve Paul, Jesus or the Christian believers.

    Second, I gave you the “Hymn to Demeter” by Homer where this is mentioned. For exact numbers on this hymn to the goddess Demeter it’s 478-479.

    Third, I gave you the Eleusinian Mysteries. There are books on this subject that one is free to purchase and read all about it. All this completely fits with what Paul was referring to. He is my greatest witness. He confirms all these points together.

    If Mormons do this ordinance for the dead first before anything else supposedly from the dead person they are in violation of the first principles of the Mormon gospel which are: Faith, repentance, baptism, etc. For the dead, it’s now: Baptism and then faith and repentance later should they choose. Baptism should come after the other two – not first. Mormons have no way of knowing if the dead person came to faith or repentance unless they talked to the dead which does happen in the temple. However, these are demonic spirits they are talking to and it’s necromancy which is condemned in the Bible.

    I referenced ordinances for the dead and that there are those who will move out of spirit prison who can become a god (eternally progress to the celestial) and those that cannot go any further than the terrestial (according to Mormon doctrine). You stated:

    “I do not know where you got that, but it is not based on our doctrine. Each soul will have the same opportunity, either in this life or after, with equal potential for growth.”

  31. Berean says:

    Part 2

    Where did I get this? I got it from “Doctrines and Covenants Student Manual Religion 324 & 325” on pages 164-165 where it states:

    “Those who hear the gospel in mortality and do not accept it but lead otherwise honorable lives will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. Those who do not have the opportunity to hear the gospel in mortality but accept it in the spirit world can inherit the celestial kingdom…Those who reject the gospel in this life and then receive it in the spirit world go not to the celestial, but to the terrestrial kingdom.”

    As we can see, there is not equal potential for growth. The biggest problem here is that this new revelation that the Mormons say they have contradicts what has been plainly stated in the Bible in Heb 9:27 and Luke 16:19-31. In Luke 16:26 when it says, “there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” What is hard to understand about this? This is very clear and this is not a parable. Real names are not used in parables. The God of the Bible will not and cannot contradict Himself and the Mormons agree with that too:

    “God will never give personal revelation that contradicts what has already been revealed in scriptures.” (LDS Manual “Preparing for Exaltation”, p. 85)

    2 Cor 6:9 – “…now is the accepted time; behold ,now is the day of salvation”

    Alma 34:30-35 especially v.34 does not support this ordinance so there is a contradiction in revelation between the BoM and D&C. This can’t be from God even from the Mormon accounts if they are to stand on what is said in their manuals. These are doctrines. They are taught in seminary/institute classes. The General Authorities reference these in conference talks.

    FoF, thanks – you’re the first Mormon to state that you love my respect for the scriptures. The vast majority of Mormons have nothing but disdain for my scrupulous study of the scriptures.

  32. DefenderOfTheFaith says:

    I am glad that FOF. mentioned that our doctrine does not come from a specific Biblical verse but on modern revelation.

    Sido said “Yet mormons have developed a whole system of doctrine based on one vague description and the word of a couple of liberal theologians as support”

    Throw away all the Bibles and our doctrine would still be the same. Sometimes it would be nice to just have the Bible as my text with no authoritative voice to disagree with me. It seems too convenient for me that as soon as some “theologian” does not agree with Sido or Berean then they are liberal or wrong.

    “But it is in the Bible” they plead. But to no avail because it is out of context, a vague solitary verse, just an opinion, and/or not sound doctrine (ie. it doesn’t conform to evangelical teaching so it must be wrong).

    Berean has clearly outlined the St. Augustine approach to scripture and cheered on by Miss as the “ground rules of exegesis.” We have been commanded to “learn by study and also by Faith”. I also admire Berean for his scriptural mastery, but not if that leads to erroneous accusations directed to the Lord’s anointed. I would like to know of just ONE Biblical prophet who either approached the scriptures this way or outlined this approach for me to follow. Until then, I consider it a philosophy of men mingled with scripture.

    Berean Alma 34. Audience. Apostate members (Zoramites). Already been taught and rejected the gospel. 2nd chance for them? No. Now is the time. Baptism for the dead is not about 2nd chances. 1st chances only if they did not have an opportunity. How do we know if they had a chance? We don’t. So do them all.

    Luke 16: Who is this man? Descendent of Abraham. He has been taught and actively rejected the gospel. No need to baptize him, he already was. He was not naive. No 2nd chances (just like the Zoramites). Completely compatible.

  33. Robyn says:

    I do not understand why so many Christians put so many constraints on God. It is hard to believe that what is recorded in the Bible is all that God is allowed to give to His children.The things contained in the Bible are great. But one must leave room for God to handle the affairs of this world the way He chooses. Yes, a very small amount of what Jesus did and taught is recorded in the Bible. I treasure what was recorded. If an angel of God came down to you with a book recorded in another language by believers in Christ, containing teachings from the Savior, and asked that you translate it and publish it for all of God’s children, would you tell him no thanks, the Bible’s all I need. I admire those of you who have studied the gospel, and have a lot of knowledge of the scriptures. If you would give place in your heart to hear more of God’s word, how much more blessed would you be. When I read the New Testament I am amazed many times at how clearly it teaches concepts that the Mormon church believes, but others don’t. The practice of baptism for the dead was not started by the Mormon church because of the scripture in 1 Corinthians. That just supports it. Joseph Smith was taught about this and told to begin this work for the dead. Jesus said he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Mark 16:16.And He also said except a man be born of water and of the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.John 3:5. God is a consistent God. He doesn’t say baptism is a requirement,oh, except for those who never heard. Baptism is a very important ordinance. We baptize for the dead because the true authority was gone, until restored. I’m a Mormon. I wish that you all would give the doctrine that Jesus brought back to the earth the consideration it deserves. Let’s not say, Oh, no thanks Jesus. You gave us the Bible, that is all I want, but thanks anyway. The true church of Jesus Christ is amazingly good. If you understood, you would be amazed at how wonderful it is.

  34. faithoffathers says:

    Berean- a response to your “three parts” of evidence.

    Paul does use the word “they” when referring to baptisms for the dead, implying PEOPLE. Many have wondered and debated who “THEY” were. But there is nothing to connect them to the group in Eleusis.

    It was “those apostles and teachers” of the first generation, according to the Shepherd of Hermas, who “went down living into the water” in behalf of those who had died and in speaking of the whole affair as a thing of the past that source implies that the work was confined to those men and their generation. (Shepherd of Hermas, Similitudes III, 9, 16)
    (by the way- this was taken from writings considered scripture in the 1st and 2nd century and was bound with the Greek New Testament until the 4th century).

    I have read and am familiar with the hymn to the goddess Demeter. It says absolutely nothing about baptisms for the dead. And there is no evidence that the mysteries included anything resembling baptism for the dead. Yes some participants washed themselves in the sea- a far cry from baptisms for the dead.

    This is a very common argument used by critics of the church. But the evidence simply does not bare it out.

    You said “Mormons have no way of knowing if the dead person came to faith or repentance.” You are absolutely right. We don’t know, and we cannot judge peoples’ hearts, desires, etc. It is not a complicated doctrine. Bottom line- every person will at some point have a fair opportunity to understand and accept the gospel of Christ. If not in this life, the next. Physical baptism is a universal requirement as explained by Christ Himself.

    As far as Hitler types, there are sins that blatantly go against the light (light of Christ- another topic) given to every person born into this world- murder being one of them. So he really has no basis on which to claim ignorance.


  35. faithoffathers says:

    You also quoted the D&C student manual and suggested that it says people can somehow jump from spirit prison to paradise. It doesn’t say that at all. There is some “gulf” or separation between those in prison and those in paradise as taught by the parable of Lazarus and the rich man you allude to in Luke 16:19-31. And the Book of Mormon agrees. There is no contradiction.

    You quoted Heb 9:27 and suggested it was contradictory to baptisms for the dead. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” How does that contradict any of it? You die once, and judgment is after death.

    Remember my friend- nothing about this doctrine says that a person can live contrary to his conscience in this life and turn around and go to the celestial kingdom hereafter. The whole reason for all of this is to put all of God’s children on equal ground. If a person wouldn’t accept the gospel here, he is not going to accept it there. If he would have accepted it here if given the chance, he will accept it in the spirit world. It is perfectly fair and shows God’s wisdom, grace, and justice.

    Again, this doctrine is a perfect union of God’s mercy and the law.

  36. Berean says:

    The LDS Church knew that Hitler was a murderer but yet still did baptism for the dead, endowment and sealing to parents anyway? Somehow that isn’t adding up to what you are putting forth here. So much for the Light of Christ in all mankind, eh?

    I see that you are changing your position and words on a few things since seeing the D&C manual quote. Now you are stating the celestial kingdom specifically. I thought there was potential for equal growth for all parties in the spirit world? D&C Student Manual says there isn’t. If I reject the Mormon gospel here and there I will end up in the telestial. If I reject it here, but accept it there I go to the terrestrial. Is that not eternally progressing? The other camp that supposedly didn’t hear the gospel but accepts it there can go on to the celestial. Likewise, they eternally progressed. Both camps progressed but didn’t end up at the same place.

    There is a great gulf in spirit prison and they can’t come here or go to spirit paradise? Then what are they supposedly doing showing up at the temples where communication is done through the vail? Mormons I know say that the gulf is thin and that dead Mormons are looking at them all the time. The gulf seems to be thin for both camps.

    Heb 9;27 – You die and then it’s judgement. There is nothing in the middle or second chances.

    I stand on the Bible and that alone. Mormons do not and this LDS doctrine is outside of the Bible. I stand on Jude 3 which says that “the faith which was ONCE delivered unto the saints.” Paul said that he has “fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Rom 15:19).

    This same apostle that the Mormons point to in support of 1 Cor 15:29 also said that we shouldn’t waste our time with geneology work (1 Tim 1:4). He wouldn’t have said that if he knew baptism for the dead was so important for billions of supposedly lost people. I will stand with Christ, Paul and the other apostles of the Bible that never engaged in this ritual or taught it.

  37. BornagainMormon says:


    “Baptism for the dead in Mormonism isn’t just about those that supposedly never heard.” I in no way suggested that it was “just” about those who have never heard. Just because I was referring to this aspect of baptism for the dead doesn’t mean I was denying the other aspects. You seem to be trying to convince others that I am being deceptive when I am not. Personally I think your post was somewhat deceptive for this reason. A more honest approach would have been to ask a clarifying question about whether or not I was excluding the other aspects of baptism for the dead before essentially suggesting that I was being misleading. I think putting words in my mouth is being misleading.
    As far as, “Proxy work is done for those that were of other faiths,” yes it is done. I think it is important to point out that this is not a question of their faith in Christ. It is more the authority question. Baptism for the dead that is done for other Christians does not question their faith in Christ. The point is about the authority by which the baptism is performed.
    It truly is about where our hearts are with Christ. Baptism for the dead is about making that true, not about preventing someone from entering the celestial kingdom because of a technicality. This is at the heart of my faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I believe its doctrine supports the concept of the heart being the ultimate factor without dismissing important steps like baptism. It was my experience that other Christian religions either ignored the ordinances or couldn’t explain the jungle scenario and others like it.
    You seem very willing to attack Mormonism, but unwilling to justify the alternative stances.

  38. germit says:

    faithofFath: a few questions so i understand your position better.
    As to C.S.Lewis: are you claiming that his view of ‘theosis’ is the same as the LDS view of eternal progression to Godhood ?? If so, do you have anthything more than the one quote from Mere Christianity to back that up? (not that one quote is insignificant, you’ve made some headway with that, I’ll admit)
    Was it you who said that the thief on the cross had already been beptized, or was that DOF?? Do you have a view on that??
    Regarding additional material to the Bible: are you saying that additional things were there, and then removed, or are you saying God had his children wait from when the plates were buried, 420 AD or thereabouts, to 1830 in order to get those additions ?? Or perhaps a combination of both??
    Do you have specific citations from the early church fathers about baptism of the dead (bonus points if those same citations do more than just MENTION the practice, but PROMOTE and TEACH the NECESSITY of the practice, and yes there is a difference)?? I’ve looked thru a few history books, and I’m not finding much (so far) but my library is not where it should be.
    Your posts are giving us a push, and that’s a good thing. Have a great week . GERMIT

  39. Berean says:


    You sure are making a lot of out of this now when compared to your short, original post. You stated:

    “for me it was not about second chances; it was about first chances…What about those people that never had a chance?”

    I answered your question and talked about the righteousness of God and His ability to judge fairly. Where you get that I am trying to convince others anything about you or that I am putting words in your mouth is beyond me. Why do I need to ask for further clarification from you when the question was short and simple? Why must everything be personal and made into some attack when one gives an answer that is opposite of the Mormon agenda? I am defending historical, traditional Christianity. If that offends you, then I make no apologies.

    What “other aspects and stances”? On baptism for the dead? There are none in Christianity. We don’t do it. It’s not taught in the Bible. Jesus and the apostles never engaged in it and neither did New Testament believers. Mormons have gone outside the Bible on this one as FoF has already honestly stated.

    FoF and others:

    D&C Student Manual doesn’t say anything about one hopping out of spirit prison to spirit paradise, but other LDS references do:

    “Thus, although there are two spheres within the one spirit world, there is now some inermingling of the righteous and the wicked who inhabit those spheres; and when the wicked spirits repent, THEY LEAVE THEIR PRISON-HELL AND JOIN THE RIGHTEOUS IN PARADISE.” [Emphasis mine] (Mormon Doctrine, p.762)

    I thought there was a “great gulf” between the two when Mormons point to Luke 16:19-31 in support? Obviously, this is not the case. This does not fit with biblical texts that say the opposite and is a blatant contradiction. One cannot accept the gospel after death and then “hop” into the next spirit realm. This is outside of the Bible and must be rejected.

  40. jackg says:

    We must remember that Mormons operate from the foundation of “works righteousness.” So, it doesn’t matter what evidence we present as Christians. They will always use the “modern-day revelation” trump card despite the fact that their leaders trump each other on important points of doctrine. Everything their leaders espouse is works righteousness void of the true divine grace God offers. It’s clear that they are comfortable with the idea that human effort above that of faith is necessary to “help” Jesus redeem us. Baptism is merely an outward sign of an inward grace. Jesus is the sign of that grace to all humanity which the Father sheds on us in such great abundance that we cannot even measure it. Mormons are confused about works being evidence of our faith in Christ, that they somehow earn salvation after they come to a belief in Jesus Christ. The truth is that we are justified by our faith, then live evidentiary lives to prove it–NOT to enhance upon our salvation. OUR FAITH SAVES US. If our faith saves us, then baptism cannot; therefore, baptism for the dead serves no purpose because it is not necessary to salvation. It’s difficult presenting apologetics on such points when the basis of justification by faith is misunderstood. Jesus Christ is the supreme Judge, and He will know how to judge those who never heard of Him. I think He can handle that without our help. After all, He is God.

  41. Robyn, may I suggest that it is Mormonism that has put the primary “constraint” upon God? Mormonism’s doctrine of “baptism for the dead” seems to be built upon the premise of a massive constraint:

    God will not allow remission of sins if a person does not get baptized by a person who has the right kind of ordained priesthood authority.

    That makes God seem like someone who really isn’t truly concerned about the heart. In Biblical Christianity, if a person someone has given their heart to Jesus Christ, has put their faith in him as the all-satisfying giver of free forgiveness, justification, salvation, and eternal life, then God is happy to lavish the blessings of eternal life on such a person.

    Baptism to Christians becomes an outward symbol of an inward grace already received.

    Thus, making baptism into an absolutely necessary prerequisite for the remission of sins and eternal life seems like a gigantic constraint.

  42. germit says:

    BornAgainMo: (and others); please read AARON’s post above about baptism. The two positions you have been given that ‘christians believe’ are both extremes: one says that baptism is no big deal, fine if you do, fine if you don’t (this view is probably around and shows that we have our share of “jack-christians” (sorry JackG: just an expression). I think you have a large quantity of those in your faith as well. The other extreme is ‘get baptized now, or you go to hell’. There are certainly christians who believe that, there is some scripture to support it, but I will only point out that the vast majority of ev. christians hold to the view stated by AARON and many others on this blog. Don’t hold us accountable to two extreme views, one of them an obvious caricature of orthodoxy. Of course baptism is necessary, but not necessary to be saved, but a joyful, outward expression of someone who IS saved. Someone who balks at that step is missing out on a the blessings of obedience, but that does not mean that they are not christian. You seem to think that the ev. christian God is harsh and restrictive, or moreso than what/whom you have found in the LDS faith. IS that an accurate statement of your view?? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. THe baptism of the dead track seems to solve the ‘what about the heathen’ problem, but if it isn’t in the bible, I’d suggest it isn’t there for a reason, and has been mentioned repeatedly: early history does not seem to support it, but we are about to go MUCH further with that thot, I’m willing to bet. Hope the conversation here at MC is giving you food for thot and prayer. GERMIT

  43. jackg says:

    No offense taken, germit; I know where you’re coming from. 🙂

  44. faithoffathers says:

    Where to start! Thanks to all for your insights.

    The basis for performing baptisms for the dead is revelation- the Lord has commanded us to do this. He has NOT revealed how EVERYTHING works out- we do not understand every possible scenario and contingency. Nor do we have to. One can argue in circles about details that simply have not been revealed.

    My objective in my prior posts was to establish that there IS reasonable evidence to suggest that baptisms for the dead were performed in the ancient church. I think the arguments against such a proposition are not supported.

    Pull back from this debate for a moment and consider the following: Two Christians (any definition you desire) are faithful throughout their lives, accepting Christ and trying to serve Him the best they can according to their understanding. They have differing understandings about the doctrines of the gospel, but agree on much.

    Another person grows up and lives a life totally outside of any knowledge of Christ, but lives completely and honestly in line with his conscience.

    Three people from different backgrounds who have all lived the best they can according to conscience- what more can be expected from anybody?

    Now- I think we all believe God is just, merciful, and knows our hearts and will give a just reward/punishment to each. But we also would agree that there can only be one truth. At some point after this life, these three good people will learn the truth and the areas where maybe their understanding strayed from truth. “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.”

  45. faithoffathers says:


    What the Lord has revealed in our day is simply some of the framework for understanding how it is that He achieves extending appropriate rewards while at the same time bringing everybody up to speed on what THE TRUTH is. Does this make sense?
    People are brought up to speed, or taught, in the spirit world. The required ordinances are performed for everybody, either in this life or while they are in the spirit world. This isolates the one most important variable in a person’s life- their desires and choices, not only in relation to an imperfect understanding, but in response to THE TRUTH.

    Aaron stated, “that makes God seem like someone who really isn’t truly concerned about the heart.” I couldn’t disagree more. I think this doctrine and the revelations associated with it demonstrate how loving God is and his consuming desire to extend his blessings to every soul. If anything, this doctrine shows that he absolutely regards the desires of the heart as the ultimate measure of a person’s soul. He extends mercy, AND the law is fulfilled.

  46. Robyn says:

    God has given himself many “constraints”. His laws are His, not for us to decide what’s optional. Baptism by proper authority is God’s rule, not man’s. He ordained His apostles when He was on the earth. That autority was afterwards lost as people changed the church, and the apostles were killed. Every law that we are to obey is Gods. If a man says that God cares more about the heart, than an ordinance, that is his opinion, not God’s word. In the scriptures it says many times that man must repent, and be baptized. In the Mormon faith we believe that baptism is an outward expression of a commitment and a faith in Christ. But it is only the gate that we enter, afterwards we must endure to the end of our lives, keeping His commandments, which is also true evidence of faith in Christ. “If ye love me, keep my commandments. Christ has suffered for our sins and redeemed us. Jesus was baptized as an example to us. I would prefer not to put words in Gods mouth by my own opinions. Again, God is consistent. Baptism for the dead is God’s idea, not man’s. If a man had decided it was a good idea to do baptisms for the dead, then it would be wrong. But it was revealed to a prophet, who’s only desire was to serve God.

  47. Robyn, good to have you here.

    Could you please show me from any 1st century literature, including the Bible, where God set up a law where people had to be baptized by someone with Aaronic priesthood authority—let alone by Aaronic priests who somehow aren’t Israelite and aren’t in the lineage of Levi and Aaron? Hebrews, especially chapter 7, is clear that the Aaronic priesthood is obsolete, done away with, and weak, and that not even Christ was an Aaronic priest, “for it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” (7:14)

    It is clear from God’s word that he is far more interested in the heart than he is in ordinances:

    “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17)

    Rather than being at the essential heart of the gospel, participating in ordinances seem to be a fruit of repentance, faith, and salvation. Curiously, Paul said in 1 Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel…” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

    Where in any 1st century literature, particularly the Bible, do you see God prescribing baptism for the dead? The only evidence seems descriptive, not prescriptive, of a group in Corinth. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, why do “they” baptize for the dead if there is no resurrection?

  48. faithoffathers, if the Mormon God was really interested in the heart, then why does he refuse to grant remission of sins to someone like me? I am repentant, I come to Christ with a broken heart, I ask God for immediate forgiveness on the basis of the atonement of Jesus. If Jesus already died on the cross, and if the Mormon God is really into true relationships and people, why is he waiting for an ordinance like baptism to make the forgiveness really happen?

    Biblical baptism is meant to symbolically point people to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It’s meant to glorify Jesus Christ. Mormonism has turned it into a distraction from the actual atoning death, burial, and resurrection. How? Because people who put their trust in the death, burial, and resurrection to provide immediate forgiveness and eternal life STILL are not granted remission of sins if they don’t come through the specific, mainstream Mormon organization for particularly authorized baptism.

    That puts focus on the Mormon Church that should instead be on Jesus. Ironically, Mormonism has taken something that is meant to shine a light on Jesus (baptism) and has turned it into something that shines a light on the Mormon Church.

  49. faithoffathers says:


    I am in no position to know if God has forgiven you. I have never claimed otherwise. He expects us to live as consistent with our conscience and understand as we can. I believe he forgives people who do the very things you listed. Baptism is indeed an act symbolizing our following the example of Christ and represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Him. This is what is taught by every LDS missionary and at every LDS baptism.

    He has commanded us to be baptized. That is a simple and true statement. Whether He forgives people who have not yet been baptized but who don’t know any better- I simply don’t know.

    The principle is straight forward. God does know our hearts and will judge us accordingly. But he also expects us to learn and increase our understanding and knowledge. If we allow prejudice, pride, or stubbornness to keep us from learning truth- we are accountable for that.

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invites all people to come unto Christ. Everything we do points to Him, including baptism.

    Ultimately, each man is backed up to the wall of faith and must either reject or accept the Book of Mormon and latter day revelation. A person can spend their whole life arguing against the book without ever really swallowing their pride and humbly reading it, getting on their knees in submissive pleading for guidance. That is the only means of receiving that knowledge. Otherwise, a person will never really, really know.

  50. 4givn says:


    I think that you have nailed it on the head. They want it to reflect on their church. If the spotlight is on the church for the salvation of men, than that gives all the more for them to boast about. Which takes away from the TRUE CHURCH, which is simply the body of believers, not a building made of men. They seem to use the bait(JESUS) to get them on the hook, then introduce additional requirements for complete salvation. For those that swallow the hook, they are put in proxy, told that it part of earning a status. For that it is so others may hear the Gospel, which simply just adds to their numbers on those who have joined in LDS lore. They will get a pat on the back and be told that what they are doing is good. Which goes back to earning that status for themselves in the CK. What happens to the one who was baptized by proxy? Nothing, for they don’t even know. The heart of the person is what God judges, IF he/she hasn’t heard the Gospel of Christ.
    1 Timothy 1:7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

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