« Home | Dem Bones » | Just One More Thing to Feel Confused About » | Do you really baptize corpses? » | Covering Your Bases » | The Ensign and the Red-faced Minister » | Revelation or pragmatism? » | What might have been... » | Secret or Sacred? » | Mountain of the Lord » | For the Temple is a Holy Place » 

Saturday, December 03, 2005 

Baptism by proxy

As I stated in my previous post about temples, baptisms for the dead are perhaps the only facet of temple work that I don't have an issue with. It neatly solves the problem all religions face: what to do about the billions of people that fall outside their belief system. The main problem is that we often do such a lousy job of explaining what exactly it is. "Baptisms by proxy" is, to me at least, extremely unclear and leads to the "you baptize corpses?" kind of questions.

The physical nature of the baptisms for the dead is also appealing to me. I don't remember my own baptism, so the only memory I can refer back to is the experience of being baptized for other people. The jacuzzi-temperature water and fancy baptistery of the temple are probably more pleasant than the circumstances of my actual baptism anyway.

With the billions of people who have lived and died without a trace (and continue to do so), I don't think we're making much of a dent in the work to be done. And I think it would be petty to complain about the massive amounts of duplication and ambiguity in the work that we actually do (I remember being baptized for 6 guys named Wolfgang, with no last name). For these reasons, I think these baptisms are for the living, not the dead. For me, that's good enough.

I often feel the same way.

I'll add one more thing. I believe that the reason so many don't go to the temple is because they don't have a testimony of it being authentic (what they say it is)....even if this feeling or lack of testimony is only subconscious.

I do believe strongly that ritual has inherent value (for many individuals, and definitely for the organization)...but I often wonder what the world and Mormonism would be like if the $$$ and time spent on proxy work was reallocated to immunization or literacy programs.

I don't know the answer, but it's fun to dream....

This is one of the core teachings of the LDS church that has left me highly confused and often full of doubt. To me it seems odd that a significant core principal such as "providing our dead with a chance at salvation" be so sparsely covered in Acts when the guidelines were setup for "The New Church". Why is it that such a fundamental belief only receive a single scripture (I Corinthians 15:29) in the Bible?

Also, if the entire 15th chapter of I Corinthians is carefully read, it seems more like Paul is criticizing the pagan ritual of baptizing the dead.

Another interesting thing to consider is whether baptism for the dead is really even necessary. I have heard many talks by church authorities that seem to indicate that all people are already destined to the first two levels of heaven (with or without the proxy baptism). Why then are baptisms for the dead even necessary if the dead's defacto destiny already has their course set for heaven as it is?

Post a Comment

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.

Various Links

Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates