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Overview of baptism for the dead
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Baptism for the dead
The temple endowment
Overview of baptism for the dead
Question: What is baptism for the dead?
Proxy baptism is a way to provide redemption for those who died without hearing the Gospel
Explained Elder G. Todd Christopherson:
- Christian theologians have long wrestled with the question, What is the destiny of the countless billions who have lived and died with no knowledge of Jesus?  There are several theories concerning the “unevangelized” dead, ranging from an inexplicable denial of salvation, to dreams or other divine intervention at the moment of death, to salvation for all, even without faith in Christ. A few believe that souls hear of Jesus after death. None explain how to satisfy Jesus’ requirement that a man must be born of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:3-5). Lacking the knowledge once had in the early Church, these earnest seekers have been “forced to choose between a weak law that [allows] the unbaptized to enter heaven, and a cruel God who [damns] the innocent.” 
- With the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has come the understanding of how the unbaptized dead are redeemed and how God can be “a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” 
- While yet in life, Jesus prophesied that He would also preach to the dead [see John 5:25]. Peter tells us this happened in the interval between the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection [see 1 Peter 3:18-19]...
Question: Are the dead being "baptized into the Mormon faith?"
The ordinance is provided but is only contingent upon the dead accepting it
- Some have misunderstood and suppose that deceased souls “are being baptised into the Mormon faith without their knowledge”  or that “people who once belonged to other faiths can have the Mormon faith retroactively imposed on them.”  They assume that we somehow have power to force a soul in matters of faith. Of course, we do not. God gave man his agency from the beginning. (See fn11) “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,”  but only if they accept those ordinances. The Church does not list them on its rolls or count them in its membership.
- Our anxiety to redeem the dead, and the time and resources we put behind that commitment, are, above all, an expression of our witness concerning Jesus Christ. It constitutes as powerful a statement as we can make concerning His divine character and mission. It testifies, first, of Christ’s Resurrection; second, of the infinite reach of His Atonement; third, that He is the sole source of salvation; fourth, that He has established the conditions for salvation; and, fifth, that He will come again. 
Question: Is temple work a form of "ancestor worship"?
Baptism for the dead does not in any way represent "ancestor worship"
Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner claim that Church members' "obsession with the dead approaches very close to ancestral worship." In support of this, they quote Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, Ensign May 1976, p.102. The critics wish to show that baptism for the dead is a form of "ancestor worship." In order to accomplish this, they extract phrases from a story told by Elder Komatsu about a couple that wished to be married, but were denied permission by the boy's parents. The use of genealogical research was the key that opened the door to allowing the couple to eventually be married. The authors carefully extract the phrases that they want to use, thereby making it impossible to see what Elder Komatsu was actually talking about. Baptism for the dead does not in any way represent "ancestor worship," and the authors had to search pretty hard to find a quote that they could butcher sufficiently to support this conclusion.
|Reference||Original quote...||Mined quote...||Use of sources|
|The Changing World of Mormonism p. 517. "This obsession with the dead approaches very close to ancestral worship."||May I share with you this afternoon an experience that happened to a young couple who were members of the Church in Japan. They wished to be married, and as is the custom in Japan, they sought permission from their nonmember parents for the marriage to be performed. The boy’s parents refused to give permission. With concern and disappointment, the young couple prayerfully sought ways to fill their lives with meaningful Church activities and trusted that permission would be forthcoming later.
At this time Church members were planning a trip to the Hawaii Temple, and much emphasis was made and was being placed on the importance of genealogical research. So the couple joined with others in seeking out their ancestors and in planning to have the temple work done for them. The girl searched diligently through shrines, cemeteries, and government record offices, and was able to gather seventy-seven names. The boy’s uncle, who was a respected and influential member of the family, heard of this and was deeply impressed with and interested in her work. He noted the intense devotion of the girl to honoring her ancestors and suggested that such a young lady would be a good wife for his nephew. Permission was granted for the young people to be married, and the marriage was performed. Later they were sealed in the Hawaii Temple.
It is a Japanese tradition that families gather together for special holidays in January and August. As this young couple joined their family members on these special occasions, they displayed their book of remembrance, and much interest was generated in their work and in the reasons for it. They discussed with those relatives assembled their ancestral lines and the importance of completing the genealogical research. It was difficult for their nonmember families to understand the reasons for a Christian church teaching principles such as “ancestral worship,” for this was a Buddhist teaching and tradition.
Today many young men and women are completing their family group sheets and are teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to their parents and their relatives by this method. Through genealogical research and through doing temple work for their progenitors, and especially with a temple now becoming available in Tokyo, members can so live that the gospel will yet be embraced by many more in the Orient. This great work has just begun. —Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, May 1976
|May I share with you this afternoon an experience that happened to a young couple who were members of the Church in Japan.... the couple joined with others in seeking out their ancestors and in planning to have the temple work done for them. The girl searched diligently through shrines, cemeteries, and government record offices, and was able to gather seventy-seven names.... As this young couple joined their family members ... they displayed their book of remembrance.... They discussed with those relatives assembled their ancestral lines and the importance of completing the genealogical research. It was difficult for their nonmember families to understand the reasons for a Christian church teaching principles such as "ancestral worship," for this was a Buddhist teaching and tradition.... Through genealogical research and through doing temple work for their progenitors, and especially with a temple now becoming available in Tokyo, members can so live that the gospel will yet be embraced by many more in the Orient||Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve, Ensign May 1976, p.102|
Charles Penrose (1912): "Baptism for the dead—How do we know which of our deceased relatives are to be baptized for"?
Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era Vol. 15, Num. 11 (September 1912):
Question 12: Baptism for the dead—How do we know which of our deceased relatives are to be baptized for, and how do we know when we are to be baptized for them?
Answer: If instead of "we" the questioner had used the word "you," we would answer: Often by personal revelation, always by the law of kindred and genealogy, and the direction of those divinely appointed to administer the ordinances commanded.
- ↑ John Sanders, introduction to What about Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized, by Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash, and John Sanders (1995), 9.
- ↑ Mormonism and Early Christianity (Vol. 4 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by Todd Compton and Stephen D. Ricks, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 101.
- ↑ Alma 42:15
- ↑ See Ben Fenton, “Mormons Use Secret British War Files ‘to Save Souls,’ ” The Telegraph (London), 15 Feb. 1999.
- ↑ Greg Stott, “Ancestral Passion,” Equinox (April/May 1998): 45.
- ↑ D&C 138:58
- ↑ D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (November 2000), 9. off-site (Footnotes have in places been integrated into the main text; citation for has been slightly modified.
- ↑ Charles W. Penrose, "Peculiar Questions Briefly Answered," Improvement Era 15 no. 11 (September 1912). off-site