“Saving Ordinance” Demoted to “Symbolic Gesture”?

You’ve probably heard about the current flap over the apparently unauthorized LDS proxy baptism of President Barak Obama’s deceased mother. People are offended on both sides of the issue. We’ve discussed this topic here on Mormon Coffee a couple of times over the years, when continuing LDS baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims have been in the news. This time, though, there’s something related but different to talk about.

On the ABC News Political Punch blog, Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper wrote about the baptism of President Obama’s mother. Karen, a Mormon who commented on the blog, wrote,

“Baptisms for the Dead are just a symbolic gesture that we remember and love the deceased and welcome them into our faith. We understand that they have the same freedom in death as they had in life whether to accept or acknowledge our gesture.

“Consider the last chapter in the bible: [quoted Malachi 4:1, 5-6]

“We offer this gesture of symbolic baptism to demonstrate that our ‘hearts are turned to our fathers.'”

I was taken aback by Karen’s assertion that LDS baptisms for the dead are “just a symbolic gesture” to show that Mormons “remember and love the deceased.” According to the doctrines of Mormonism, do LDS baptisms for the dead have no actual effect on a person’s eternal state? Is the whole LDS program of providing “saving ordinances” for deceased people just for show? Not according to LDS leaders. For example:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has placed upon us is to seek after our dead” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356).

“How are they going to be saved? It is our duty to go to the temple and take our records and work for the dead of our own lineage as far back as we can go, but what about these others? I will tell you. The great work of the millennium, of 1,000 years, will be for the salvation of these souls” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:166-167).

“Furthermore, the dead are anxiously waiting for the Latter-day Saints to search out their names and then go into the temples to officiate in their behalf, that they may be liberated from their prison house in the spirit world” (Howard W. Hunter, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, March 2004, p. 41).

“Many of your deceased ancestors will have received a testimony that the message of the missionaries is true. When you received that testimony you could ask the missionaries for baptism. But those who are in the spirit world cannot. The ordinances you so cherish are offered only in this world. Someone in this world must go to a holy temple and accept the covenants on behalf of the person in the spirit world. That is why we are under obligation to find the names of our ancestors and ensure that they are offered by us what they cannot receive there without our help” (Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2005, p. 78).

Clearly, LDS baptism for the dead is necessary for the salvation of those who died without the ordinance. As quoted in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith,

We become saviors on Mount Zion by performing sacred ordinances for the dead.

“’The Saints have not too much time to save and redeem their dead, and gather together their living relatives, that they may be saved also, before the earth will be smitten, and the consumption decreed falls upon the world.

“’I would advise all the Saints to go to with their might and gather together all their living relatives to [the temple], that they may be sealed and saved, that they may be prepared against the day that the destroying angel goes forth; and if the whole Church should go to with all their might to save their dead, seal their posterity, and gather their living friends, and spend none of their time in behalf of the world, they would hardly get through before night would come, when no man can work.

“’There is baptism, etc., for those to exercise who are alive, and baptism for the dead who die without the knowledge of the Gospel. … It is not only necessary that you should be baptized for your dead, but you will have to go through all the ordinances for them, the same as you have gone through to save yourselves. …'” (“Chapter 41: Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion,” (2007), 472–474)

“Just a symbolic gesture”?

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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70 Responses to “Saving Ordinance” Demoted to “Symbolic Gesture”?

  1. Ralph says:


    We all know that Satan can copy what God does, and what better way to deceive someone than to make things so close to the original that the counterfeit is virtually impossible to verify. For example there is priestcraft and witchcraft – both are counterfeits of the priesthood, the former being a mimicry using the name of Jesus but not the power, that latter being from a different source. We have fortune telling and prophecy, the former from the wrong source, the latter from God. All of the warnings in the Bible are for those who would fall under the influence of or use the wrong source, but does it mean that God does not use similar processes? No, in fact it could be a proof that God uses these means (note COULD). We know the Urim and Thummim were rocks that were used in judgment, and no I don’t think they would be used as a lucky 8 ball. Possibly they were ornamentation, like the wigs used by the Aussie and Pom courts, but someone a few months ago gave some data from some research indicating that they were used to discern the truth by someone looking at/through them. So scrying could be a mimic of a true process used by God. If you look at what LDS actually believe we teach that angels are just the spirits of people who lived on this earth – for example Gabriel was Noah in this life, Michael was Adam. So if that is true, then God uses the spirits of righteous ‘dead people’ to bring messages to those on this earth. Jesus Himself talked on the Mount of Transfiguration to Moses, who was dead – are you going to accuse Him of Necromancy? Necromancy is the seeking out of a dead person to talk to them, not God sending someone to you – big difference in source and intent. In all of the quotes you gave above, the spirits came to the people, they were not conjured up by the people. So Satan has counterfeited the true church and lead millions throughout the centuries, through traditional Christianity, away from God and Jesus.

  2. Berean says:

    Ralph said:

    “If Hitler was an evil man then the baptism would not have any effect for him and will not be able to save him (in this case I mean gaining the CK as that is the main goal for anyone in this life – to gain the presence of God). Whether or not he will end up in the lowest degree of glory or outer darkness, I do not know. But since he most likely will not enter the CK or the next one, he has not been ’saved’. So your point about the baptism saving Hitler is moot as he will not gain the CK.”

    Ralph, if that is the case, then why did the Mormon Church do proxy work for Hitler, namely the endowment ceremony and seal him to his parents, if it is clear in Mormon scriptures and in Mormon doctrine spelled out very clearly in the institue manuals (Doctrines and Covenants Student Manual Religion 324 & 325) that there is no chance for Hitler entering the CK? Does the Mormon Church have that much idle time on their hands at various temples to just do proxy work for those even though your god says there is no chance that particular person is going to be with him? Or is it just a case of young people at the temple in London in March of 1993 pulling a youthful proxy stunt for “kicks and giggles”? It would seem to me that the Mormon god wouldn’t take kindly to these kind of antics going on in his house. I could do a LDS scripture “dump” here, but what’s the point? Ralph, this doesn’t add up and I think you know it. Hitler openly defied God, was involved in the occult and was directly responsible for the death of over 6 million Jews. In the Mormon program that disqualifies him from everything. From what I have just read in the D&C Manual he falls in the same “boat” with the “sons of perdition”. Why disgrace yourselves doing anything in Hitler’s name in one of your temples? How does the Mormon Church explain itself in this case?

  3. falcon says:

    These are days when I know all of the work we do here is worth it. Why do I say that? Because I personally work and work to smoke-out our Mormon contributors to get them to make statements that reveals what Mormonism is all about.
    “Someone gave some data from some research”….not good enough, it’s hear say.
    Mount of Transfiguration…..Jesus is God….if God wants to talk with Moses and Elijah he can. Elijah never died anyway. Satan can indeed counterfeit manifestations and that’s what is going on in Mormonism.
    Gabriel was Noah and Michael was Adam? I’d like some scriptural reference for that please.
    So for those of you who are Mormons and are readers here, all that you have to know about the depth of deceit and delusion Mormons are under, has been presented by our Mormon posters. This is bizarre stuff and our Mormon friends see it as normal. The rationalization to make Mormonism OK borders on……….I’ll leave it there.

  4. jackg says:

    Ralph said, “We all know that Satan can copy what God does, and what better way to deceive someone than to make things so close to the original that the counterfeit is virtually impossible to verify.”

    The definition of Mormonism in a nutshell. Fortunately, because of God’s grace, He gave us His Word against which we can test heretical teachings. JS and the Mormon Church fail the test. Ralph, you really need to read what you write, and see how convoluted the reasoning is. Praying for you as always. God is calling you to the truth, Ralph.

    Grace and Peace, and the hope that you will respond to the True and Living God, not the god of Mormonism.

  5. falcon says:

    This is all we have to know when discerning the real from the counterfeit. Just ask, “What God do Mormons serve?” It’s really that simple. Do they serve the God of the Bible? No! Do they themselves belief they will become exalted as gods? Yes! So it’s not really a tough call as to what the counterfeit is. Satan is a master at deception and manipulation. It is fully on display in Mormonism and with our Mormon posters.

    So according to our Mormon poster, the “spirits” that appear in the Mormon temples during the Dunking for the Dead really aren’t the spirits of the dead departed souls? They’re really angels representing the dead? Convoluted thinking is right. They’re demons! The occult symbols on some of the temples ought to tip Mormons off that somethings not right. There is a depth of twisted thinking here that is truly instructive. To attempt to untangle this thinking by logic and reasoning is pretty near impossible, I’d say. I believe in the words of Jesus when He said something like, “This kind can only come out with prayer and fasting.” I say Amen Lord!

  6. falcon says:

    So no matter what we discuss here, we always seem to work our way back to the same question, “Who is God?” What a person believes about God is the whole program. If someone gets God “wrong” then there really isn’t anywhere else to go with the discussion. The only exception to that would be “other considerations” that would eventually lead someone to conclude that if other aspects of a religion are off kilter, perhaps they need to also explore the teachings about God.
    I can see where it’s easy for Mormons to get seduced into thinking that what they are experiencing are real bonifide spiritual manifestations from God. When it comes to spiritual matters people get fooled, are mislead and are duped all the time. In Mormonism part of the seduction is the “shell” of the religion. Happy smiley faces, clean-cut wholesome image, dedication, conviction and devotion, how could anyone doubt the sincerity of these folks? The problem is that the image doesn’t match the spiritual reality. If an ugly sinister image were projected, any chance of seduction would be nullified.
    So Mormons accept and embrace a god who is not “thee God”. The god they have chosen to follow is more than happy to provide them with confirming spiritual experiences. Seeing demonic figures in the temples as angels representing the dead is just the tip of the iceberg in this spiritual battle.

  7. Ralph says:


    I never said that the spirits seen in the temple were angels. I said that angels are also the spirits of righteous men who have died and are now messengers of God. The spirits seen in the temple are just those of the people who have departed from this life waiting for the ordinances to be performed for them. And just to make it clear, only a small handful of members have had the experience of seeing these spirits, the majority of us have not.

    I posted a comment last night in abswer to your post about scrying. It has a couple of links for references so it will take a little while to go through moderation.

    NOTE to moderators – I forgot that it needed to go through you before being posted so I sent it a second time this morning. Sorry for any problems – just delete the copy.

  8. Ralph says:


    Sorry for the delay in reply but I had to find my reference to ML and polygamy. This is what it says – “during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as “Der Beichtrat” (or “The Confessional Advice” ), Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living “constantly in a state of adultery and fornication,” a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret however, to avoid public scandal. Some fifteen years earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not “forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture.” (“Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.”)”

    OK I admit that I misread this where it discussed the second marriage of Phillip of Hesse. This reference says that ML only gave consent to the second marriage, it does not say who performed the ceremony. Still, the statements from ML and the fact that he gave consent to someone to marry a second wife must prove that ML condoned polygamy and said that it was Biblical. Or do you think ML meant something else?

  9. jackg says:


    You’re grasping at straws. Can’t you see the weak position believing in the heresies of JS puts you in? God is calling you to the truth, Ralph. Ignoring me and trying to defend JS religion doesn’t change that. Praying for you.

    Grace and Peace!

  10. falcon says:

    Thank you for your clarification because you end-up making my point for me. The idea that it doesn’t happen all that often is a very weak defense of the intention of what goes on during the Mormon temple Dead Dunking ritual. You’re ignoring the documentation that Berean and I have presented here and you’re trying to gloss over it with your “it doesn’t happen that much” defense.
    One of your past head honchos, a guy that supposedly was hearing directly from the Mormon god, Wilford Woodruff said; “They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord…….every one of these men that signed the Declaration of Independence with General Washington called upon me…..two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the house of God for them”. (p. 69, Temple Manifestations)

    Ralph, I’m sorry, but you just don’t get it! Here’s the preface again, “…..the belief of all faithful Latter-day Saints, who unlike other Christian peoples, endeavor to establish a permanent system of communication with their kindred dead in the spirit world and angelic hosts…”

    Do you see Ralph why we perceive Mormons as blantently dishonest or not being able to comprehend their own history and practices. We aren’t pulling this information out of thin air or presenting it out of context.

    “A permanent system of communication” Ralph. That’s the purpose of the program. To communicate with the dead spirits. That’s nacromancy Ralph. What do you think you’re tapping into here? Mormons have rejected God, for another god and another gospel. Mormons have elevated themselves to the position of gods in waiting. They have supplanted God, with a god of their own making. The founder, Joseph Smith, was a known practioner of the occult. How much plainer does this have to be. It’s a spirit Ralph. But having been told over and over, you are responsible.

  11. Linda says:

    I’m so grateful for your posts. You’ve given me the courage to tell of my experience at a local LDS visitor center. Last year when I was meeting with the sister missionaries regularly, they invited me to come with them to see the movie about Joseph Smith. As I was watching the movie, I kept seeing in my peripheral vision black auras coming down the side isles, about 3-4 on each side. When I would turn to look, they would retreat. I’ve been afraid to share this because it can so easily be criticized and laughed at. I even doubted it myself saying maybe it was just shadows from the light of the movie. But no, I’ve been in many movie theaters and this had never happened before. I know they were there. I’ve seen auras before; in the days after my husband died, a red aura appeared two nights in a row over my daughter’s bed. The first time vertical, the second time horizontal, over her. It was the same type of experience; not fearful but aware they were there. I’m so thankful to God that he has protected me from this cult.

  12. falcon says:

    Amen sister, as we say in the Church. I don’t think what you’re describing here is your imagination at all. God has given you a gift of discrenment that goes beyond the intellectual. I was in a meeting one time, a Christian meeting, where a pastor candidate had come to preach. He was called to be the pastor of the church and promptly destroyed the congregation. Sometime later, a woman who was in that meeting came to me and told me that as the guy was preaching, she saw a black aura around him. I asked someone who I trusted and I knew was knowledgable about this sort of thing what that aura was all about. He told me that it usually means “death” in this context. Well it certainly was “death” to this congregration. The guy with the black “death aura” turned out to be one of the most controlling, abusive people I have ever met.
    One of our Mormon posters accused me a while back of being obsessed with the occult. I’m obsessed with being able to discern that which is of God and that which is of the evil one. I watch things like a hawk when it comes to spiritual manifestations. Having an orientation towards the pentecostal branch of the Christian family, I know how diligent God’s people have to be. The apostle Paul was quite clear regarding “testing” the spirits. People get tangled up with things like “familiar spirits” and think they’re really into something special. I’ve got a whole box full of books here with titles like “Lord of the Air”, “The Beautiful Side of Evil” etc. that provide invaluable information. There’s a balence that needs to be maintained. I’m not one who’s rushing out to get involved in a deliverance ministry, but I want to be spiritually armed just in case.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  13. falcon says:

    Consider this:
    Sister Emma M.W. Powell was with her father, the late Bishop Warburton, in hte sealing room on December 1, 1898; and she saw therein eight spiritual personages, four men and their wives, evidently waiting for the sealing ordinances to be performed in their behalf. Those individuals were dressed in endowment clothing, and the room was brilliantly illuminated by a spuernatural light, not the electric light. As the cermonies were separately performed each couple left the room, their countenances manifesting great joy. They were dead relatives of Bishiop Warburton.” (p. 41; Temple Manifiestations)
    Well you see to our Mormon friends, we’re just not “spiritual” enough to appreciate this wonderful thing that’s happening here. Dead folks showing-up wanting to be Mormons. This is how twisted things get folks. Demons show up all prim and proper and the Mormons think they’re really having a super special happening. I don’t know how a person can untangle this web of deceit, but I’m confident that God can provide a means of escape for those caught in the occultic world of Mormonism. Why do some get it when provided with the information and others don’t. Hard to say. We will continue to pray that God extend his mercy and grace especially to our Mormon friends who post here and also those that visit but don’t contribute to the discussion.

  14. Ralph says:

    This is what I tried to send a couple of days ago.

    Yes I agree, what I said was hearsay, but I was at work so I couldn’t find the references. But since you brought it up here are a couple of things I found when I looked up ‘urim and thummin in the bible’ on Google.

    Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis says this – ”The Rabbis understood the Urim and Thummim to be part of the Breastplate of the High Priest and that its oracular function came from light shining through the twelve gemstones mounted on the breastplate….he Talmud teaches that it functioned as a kind of ouija board, with messages being spelled out for the High Priest….Some believe the Urim were the lights, while the Thummim was a device or code that helped in interpreting the message….here is one passage in Numbers that hints at the possibility it was used for more mundane questions, such as resolving difficult legal questions. The answers given by the Urim and Thummim recorded in the Bible were full sentences, suggesting either that the device was merely an aid to oracular prophecy, or that the Rabbis were correct in their claim that it spelled out messages from the letters on the breastplate.


    Another Jewish kept site states a similar sentimment –

    ”… They were used by the High Priest to determine God’s will in some situations. Some propose that God would cause the Urim and Thummim to light up in varying patterns to reveal His decision. …”


    Another website sayss that it was one of the 3 main ways for God to communicate his word to His people (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=U).

    So that’s 3 websites with Jewish backgrounds that describe what the Jews believe about the Urim and Thummim – they were stones used to communicate with God and to show God’s word/will. Is that scrying enough for you?

  15. Ralph says:

    Hmm Falcon,

    You are quick to accept someone who sees auras but not someone who sees spirits. The Bible acknowledges that we can see the spirits of dead people and communicate with them, otherwise it would not discuss necromancy. But where does it talk about auras? This is a serious question (ie I am not trying to make fun of you) because I do not know of any verses in the Bible off the top of my head that discusses this type of manefestation. And please, do not use the day of Pentacost as that was a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, not auras that people were seeing.

    But as I said in an earlier post, Satan uses similar things to God which is why the Bible talks about stuff like necromancy. One should not trya nd communicate with the spirits of dead people unless it is what God wants at the time. If someone does speak with spirits outside of God’s authority then yes its necromancy. But if it is what God wills at the time then it isn’t. Just like if someone predicts the future outside of God’s authority it is foretune telling, while inside God’s authority it is prophecy. And If someone reads a crystal ball outside of God’s authority it is scrying, but if someone is given the Urim and Thummim (or possibly others) and uses them in God’s authority it is not scrying.

  16. falcon says:

    You are providing ample emough evidence on both of your posts regarding how Mormonism turns Christianity on its head. Following your arguments, you keep making my points for me. The bottom line is and always has been; who is your God? You follow the god of this world who manages to counterfeit and deceive at every turn. Jesus was quite clear on this.
    What do we know about scrying as practiced by Joseph Smith? We know he found his magic rock while digging a well. We know he used his magic rock in the process of defrauding people by telling them he could see into the ground and find buried treasure. We know what spirit Joseph Smith invoked and who he followed. The case for Joseph Smith as an occultist who founded a religion that, to this day, claims another god as their diety, is plain.
    Nacromancy is nacromancy my friend. Mormon temples with their rituals are specifically designed to communicate with the dead, as led by the spirit of Mormonism. Entertaining the spirits of the dead signers of the Declaration of Independence is laughable on the one hand and incredably naive and dangerous on the other.

  17. falcon says:

    Here’s your major problem Ralph. Joseph Smith supposedly received a Urim and Thummim and also some golden plates. The purpose of the Urim and Thummim that he supposedly received was to translate the golden plates. Ralph, Joseph Smith never used either! Get it! He never used them. He put a magic rock in his hat. He shoved his face in the hat. That was his technique. No Urim and Thummim. By what spirit was he operating. To say Joseph Smith’s magic rock where the Urim and Thummim or a type of Urim and Thummim is just plain ignorance, nonsense and quite frankly desperation. This is what counterfeiting is all about.
    Just scroll-up to what Berean has written regarding what Richard Bushman wrote on this subject. Bushman is one of your guys and he supports what we have been saying on this topic. Joseph Smith’s involvment was with him his whole life right up to the time he died. Emma Smith, Joseph Smith’s wife, reported the magic rock in the hat trick. So to try and make some kind of connection with the OT Urim and Thummim isn’t even a leap. It’s an act of sheer desperation to support someone who clearly was an occultist and operated under the influence of a familiar spirit.

  18. falcon says:

    Joseph Smith’s magic rock were so near and dear to Mormons that they consecreted it on the alter of the Manti Temple.
    “Presumably, the sacred Seer Stone passed into the hands of Brigham Young upon the Prophet Joseph’s martyrdom and committed to the permanent trust of succeeding Church presidents until it came into the possession of President Woodruff, who, as previously mentioned, consecrated it upon the altar unto the Lord.” (p.120, Temple Manifestations)
    Whether the topic is polygamy or Joseph Smith’s magic rock, Mormons reveal their dedication to the false god of Mormonism and his false prophet Joseph Smith. It’s said that addiction makes people unreasonable and irrational. We’re seeing both on display here when it comes to Mormonism and the grip it has on its adherents.

  19. Linda says:

    Ralph says: “You are quick to accept someone who sees auras but not someone who sees spirits.”
    Seeing auras is very different than participating in rituals to perform rites for them. You, Ralph, have worked and performed for LDS to earn the right to even enter the temple, then once you are there, you perform ceremonies for the dead. All your young missionaries do work for the dead. Seeing auras is innocent compared to all that.

  20. falcon says:

    I think I’ve pretty much exhausted all I have to say on this subject at this time, but here’s the bottom line: What is the source of the power that provides the “spirit” or “spiritual” manifestations? Again, we ask the question, “Who is your God?” We know that the god of Mormonism and the God of orthodox Christianity are not the same God. Mormons have a different gospel. Mormonism utilizes some of the same labels, and within the last few decades, have even coopted the language of evangelical Christianity. It’s all a smoke screen and a deception. In sales and marketing it’s called the “bait and switch”. Even on this thread we have our Mormon posters attempting to confuse the issue by trying to find something, anything in the Bible that might remotely apply to Mormonism and ply it to make it fit. It’s easy to understand why Mormons work so hard to make people believe they are just your everyday type Christian church. Once people get a hold of the information we’ve provided here, Mormonism becomes something they want to avoid. Entertaining demons in the temple and calling it of God and “spiritual” is something even the average person can see through.

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