Mormons believe that individuals who have died can hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ in the spirit world. And through proxy baptism performed for them in an LDS temple, they can attain eternal life in the presence of God.
The important question here is – does baptism for the dead have a basis in the Bible? Was this Mormon temple rite originally established by Jesus, and taught and practiced by His apostles?
LDS believe the ordinance of baptism for the dead was practiced in the early church, because the Apostle Paul mentions it in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 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?”
The first thing to notice about this verse is that baptism for the dead is only mentioned – it is not actually taught.
The best way to understand any single verse in Scripture is to examine the verses surrounding it. When we read 1 Corinthians 15:29 in its context it is clear, that resurrection – not baptism – is the dominating theme throughout the chapter. False teachers had infiltrated the church at Corinth, teaching “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (verse 13). The whole chapter is devoted to reasons why this is a false teaching.
In verse 29, Paul is pointing out an inconsistency in the practice of these false teachers. Apparently, they did not believe that the dead would rise (verse 15), but they practiced proxy baptism for the dead. If the dead do not rise, why did they bother doing baptisms for them?
By carefully noticing the third person pronouns in that passage, one can see who was practicing baptisms for the dead. Paul says, “…what shall THEY do which are baptized for the dead… Why are THEY then baptized for the dead?” Paul did NOT say,
“Why are YOU – Corinthian Christians – then baptized for the dead?”
He did NOT say,
“Why are WE – followers of Christ – then baptized for the dead?”
He was asking in effect, a rhetorical question: why these false teachers, who did not even believe in the resurrection, would want to baptize for the dead if the dead will never rise?
Latter-day Saints believe that baptism is necessary for the salvation of all men.
The most important question to ask is:
Is baptism necessary for salvation?
Because that would be the premise of baptism for the dead. The New Testament certainly teaches that baptism is an important step, but it does not teach it is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins and to receive eternal life.In that regard, baptism for the dead can not accurately be called a Christian practice.
Mormonism is the first and probably the only religion ever to claim that everyone of the billions and billions of people who have ever lived in history needs to have baptisms performed on their behalf?
The LDS believe that along with baptism – other works for the dead are necessary for their salvation. As LDS members they do research to get the names of the dead.
It is called genealogy – which by the way – is condemned in the New Testament for religious practices (1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9).
In the LDS temple, once the proxy baptism is done for a person, if the dead person is a male, he receives the priesthoods by the laying on of hands. Then someone must go through what is called the “initiatory” work for the deceased subject. After that, a person must go through an “endowment” session. Then the dead subject must go through a sealing of himself to his wife and children.
Once all this “work” is completed by a member of the Mormon Church, the dead person on the “other side” will decide if they want to accept those ordinances or not. If they don’t, they will never get to live with God.
All, of that busy work requires a living person or persons to spend at least a total of eight hours of proxy work in the temple on behalf of just one dead person. All of that, including the required ten percent of their income to build these elaborate temple buildings, from one obscure verse totally, misinterpreted and completely misapplied.
Baptism for the Dead Part 1
Audio Source - Viewpoint on Mormonism
So, the real question to ask is:Who at Corinth is practicing baptism for the dead. 1 Corinthian 15:29, and do they have Apostle Paul’s approval for this ritual?
Mormons teach that because Paul mentions baptism for the dead it should be an endorsement for this sacred ordinance.
Notice: this “sacred ordinance” does not take place inside a temple located in Corinth. It appears these baptisms are taking place in a somewhat public venue.
1 Corinthians 15:29 is difficult to understand, but when we compare it with the rest of Scripture we know that it does not mean a dead person can be saved by someone else being baptized on his or her behalf, because baptism is not a requirement for salvation in the first place.
According to the LDS: Through modern revelation the Lord told Joseph Smith in reference, to our ancestors
“For we without them cannot be made perfect. Neither can they without us being made perfect.”
Doctrine and Covenants 128:18.
I believe that careful study of the Scriptures will provide clear evidence to conclude that Paul in verse 29, does not give or imply his approval of baptism for the dead. It is abundantly clear In Paul’s epistles and through out the Bible that we cannot save ourselves. Nor does any religious institution or ritual have the power to save us. It is the power of God alone, through His mercy and grace, that we can be saved.
Joseph Smith has said,
“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”
Journal of Discourses 6:7.
Joseph also taught that
“baptism for the dead was the only way that men can appear as saviors on mount Zion.”
No human being can redeem any other human being. There is only one Savior. The Palmist declared
“None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.”
Men are redeemed only by the precious blood of Christ.
We only have, to acknowledge that and accept it as a gift from God.
The claim that baptism for the dead was part of original Christianity that was lost and needs to be restored, lacks any historical, scriptural, or logical basis.
Despite all the manuscript writings and archaeological discoveries of early Christianity, absolutely no evidence has been found to show that anyone practiced proxy baptism in the church. This lone account in 1 Corinthians 15:29 was reference to an isolated event, limited to either some misinformed Corinthian converts, or possibly a pagan cult.
The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel (D&C 20:9), it also teaches that
“…this most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel is, namely, the baptism for the dead..”
If all of that is true – why can’t you find this doctrine or practice in the Book of Mormon? How can the Book of Mormon be said to contain the “fullness of the everlasting gospel” if it doesn’t mention baptism for the dead?
The Book of Mormon doesn’t allow for this doctrine. Alma 34:34-35 teaches that if people procrastinate their repentance until after they die – meaning in the Spirit World – they would have NO need for proxy baptism. Their fate is ALREADY determined!