The Book of Mormon teaches clearly…’now is the time for men (and women) to prepare to meet God’. This teaching is more strongly emphasized just two verses later in Alma 34: 35:
“…if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his: therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.”
The question, then, is why do temple work for the dead? I suppose an argument could be made for doing temple work for the living thus providing a reward system for faithful members, for performing marriage ceremonies and in providing a ‘bonding experience’ for members of the church. However, doing work for the dead contradicts the teachings of the Book of Mormon.
One of the busy activities of the temple is baptism for the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:29 contains the only reference to a practice called ‘baptism for the dead’. It isn’t even mentioned in the Book of Mormon. However, it is clear Paul is asking why do ‘they’do these baptisms, if ’these people’ don’t believe in the resurrection. He certainly is not teaching baptisms for the dead. Again, it is never mentioned anywhere else in the Bible or Book of Mormon.
Consider the time, money, construction, maintenance, and resources used to support the 160 or so LDS temples. Consider further the vast resources and time spent in gathering names for members to ‘do work’ for the dead.
Documenting family history can be a fascinating investigation, but members of the church consider themselves ‘saviors on Mount Zion” because they are providing eternal, life-saving ordinances for the dead. The pride and belief that these ordinances, washings, baptisms, anointings, and sealings will save people is both unbelievable and unbiblical. Further, that the living can be a ‘savior’ minimizes the sacrifice of Jesus and the work He did on the cross. When Jesus died, He said, “It is finished” and 3 of the 4 gospels document the veil of the temple being rent in twain at His death; symbolizing that we no longer need anything, especially temple ordinances, to intercede between us and God.
Finally, let’s not forget Jesus’ discussion in John 6: 28,29: “Then said they unto Him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, this is the work of God, that ye believe on Him who He hath sent.” The gospel message is simple, hopeful and full of love. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And, John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hath sent.” Temple work for the dead (or living) to gain everlasting life is a man-made idea. It is not supported by the Bible or the Book of Mormon.