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Wednesday, November 30, 2005 

Do you really baptize corpses?

I can't tell you how many times people who aren't Mormon have brought up "baptisms for the dead" to me. It is one of the most commonly misunderstood and distrusted practices in the LDS religion.

I have participated in performing baptisms for the dead a few points about it that I don't understand or trust, either. Here'are the highlights of my issues:

1) Why physical baptism?
I understand that baptism is symbolic of rebirth and I can certainly see why people who have chosen to follow Christ are baptized-metaphorically reborn--as members of His church. That makes sense. What I don't get is why people who are dead, spirits, would be REQUIRED to have the same physical rebirth. Since they would have accepted Christ in the after-life, then shouldn't there be a different symbolic (or even a spiritual version of the same) gesture for them?

2) Why baptize people when they may not want it?
If someone is baptized and they don't accept Christ in the afterlife, then what's the point? It's a huge waste of time and energy. Shouldn't there be some sort of revelation about who wants it in the afterlife and who doesn't?

3) What about people of whom there is no written record?
I'm sure that the immigration records for Ellis Island and the US Census from 1880 are very useful for finding some people who didn't get baptized in this life, but there are no records for the majority of people who have ever lived. There aren't even written records for everyone who is living now! Countries in southeast Asia and the Pacific islands didn't even have a written language until recently. There is just no possible way to know the names of every person over the age of 8 for all time. That's just unfair.

Okay, so I don't have the same misunderstandings that some people do about baptisms for the dead (as in "Do they really baptize corpses?") but like I said... there's things that I don't get either. These are questions that never recieved satisfactory answers while I was an active member and they still bug me.

1) Why physical baptism?

The purpose of this life is to get a body and to grow and become like God. Our bodies are an integral part of our progression. If just a spiritual baptism would do, then why did we need the mortal existence? It's all connected.

2) Why baptise people when they may not want it?

Because I'd rather baptize someone who may not want it than not baptize someone who desperately does want it. As for why it's not continuous reveleation: where is the growth in that? We're supposed to want to do this for them, we're suppposed to want to find them. We are supposed to do our utmost in this as in all things and when we have done all that can be done by mortals, then God will help us.

3) What about people for whom there are no written records?

See what I said above. God knows them and He will help us serve them also.

--harpingheather

Kaycee,

Yeah.....I kind of agree with what you're saying. For me, it's not so much that baptism doesn't make sense (as I generally agree with the points that harping heather made) as that it seems so arbitrary. You hit on this somewhat in all three points. I know that God can make up for potential injustice, but it seems awfully asymmetrical.

I guess no more than being lucky enough to get the missionaries at your door, though......

If you think being baptized for people who have no records is problematic, what would you say about bein gsealed on behalf on those people and their spouses(s) especially when nothing is known about their family life circumstances?

This is a wacky, wacky part of Mormonism. There are people who claim to have traced their genealogy and have done the temple work for ancestors "back to Adam." For obvious reasons, some of that has gotta be made up. And did every one of those ancestor pairings REALLY have a marriage certificate? Did each couple want to be sealed to each other? If not,, what then??

I still like the concept of baptism by proxy. Though it would be more meaningful if we took the occassion to actually learn something about the people. After all, isn't it supposed to be about turning our hearts to each other?

I guess that is the most troubling symptom of contemporary Moism. Too much going through the motions, not enough consideration of purpose.

Well, this is what I've come to realize. You feel good when you are in the service of others, even if they be alive, dead, or even imaginary. People naturally like to help other people. You can never go wrong in doing good for somebody or something, because it raises your morale.

I look at the baptism by proxy this way. It doesn't have to be done. You don't have to help an old lady cross the street. She'll get to the other side on her own eventually, but if you do your part to step in and help without expecting anything, she's so grateful for your efforts, and she was able to feel more secure about herself. She knows people care and want her to be safe.

If you're dead and are chilling in the spirit world, wouldn't you somehow figure out the truth about things? Consider the folloing spirit's reaction to being seperated from the body and being able to be with other spirits. Remember that according to the scriptures that Jesus Christ preached among the spirit world while he was dead and not yet ressurected, as well as appoint missionaries in the spirit world.

Umm hey. So athiest isn't how it works, and I'm not reincarnated... I heard about god before and I don't know where I am right now.. I'm a bit confused. Other spirits will teach this dude and then point at the people doing baptisms for the dead and say these people are trying to help you because they have a love for you and care that you make it home safely.

Wouldn't something like that touch your heart and make you feel a little bit thankful knowing about the sweet helpful people on earth are trying to help you?

Now in other religions, prayers are said to these spirits. (Catholics are one example). Good for them! Another thing that can help the spirits know they are missed and loved. (Even though they can't forgive you of your sins like Jesus can, I figure they would be pleased to know that you miss and love them and that they are close to your heart)

That's my 2 cents.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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