Why do Mormons perform baptisms for the dead?
Jesus Himself, though without sin, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and to show the way for all mankind (see Matthew 3:13-17; 2 Nephi 31:5-12). Thus, baptism is essential for salvation in the kingdom of God. We learn in the New Testament that baptisms for the dead were done during the Apostle Paul’s time (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This practice has been restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first taught about the ordinance of baptism for the dead during a funeral sermon in August 1840. He read much of 1 Corinthians 15, including verse 29, and announced that the Lord would permit Church members to be baptized in behalf of their friends and relatives who had departed this life. He told them “the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God” (Journal History of the Church, 15 Aug. 1840).
Because all who have lived on the earth have not had the opportunity to be baptized by proper authority during life on earth, baptisms may be performed by proxy, meaning a living person may be baptized in behalf of a deceased person. Baptisms for the dead are performed by Church members in temples throughout the world. People have occasionally wondered if the mortal remains of the deceased are somehow disturbed in this process; they are not. The person acting as a proxy uses only the name of the deceased. To prevent duplication the Church keeps a record of the deceased persons who have been baptized. Some have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed the names of deceased persons are being added to the membership records of the Church. This is not the case.
Jesus Himself, though without sin, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and to show the way for all mankind (see Matthew 3:13-17; 2 Nephi 31:5-12). Thus, baptism is essential for salvation in the kingdom of God. We learn in the New Testament that baptisms for the dead were done during the Apostle Paul’s time (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This practice has been restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first taught about the ordinance of baptism for the dead during a funeral sermon in August 1840. He read much of 1 Corinthians 15, including verse 29, and announced that the Lord would permit Church members to be baptized in behalf of their friends and relatives who had departed this life. He told them “the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God” (Journal History of the Church, 15 Aug. 1840). Show more
As a temple ordinance worker for the Mesa Temple for the past 5 years, I have grown in appreciation for the temple and the ordinances that are preformed. I believe that those who have passed-on are given the opportunity to accept the work that is performed in their behalf as if they were here - physically. The initial ordinance of accepting Jesus Christ is baptism. The ordinance of baptism is performed as it was originally by John the Baptist for Jesus in the temple by emersion. The temple gives those that have passed-on the opportunity to accept the mission of Jesus Christ and all the ordinances that he performed. Show more
Stuart Clark answered...
We believe that baptism is essential for salvation. It is a covenant with God to obey his commandments. Christ taught that we all must be baptized. Some people die without being baptized or knowing about the Church of Jesus Christ. They must also have an opportunity for salvation. Those who have died are taught the gospel in the world of the spirits. But, baptism is an earthly ordinance. So we can perform that ordinance for them by being baptized for them, just as Christ died for us as a proxy for us, we can be baptized for others. This is authorized by Christ in his church to be performed in the temples. The person who died can either receive this gift or reject it. They still have their agency. Show more
It is important to me especially since I have family members who aren't members, or those who have passed on without being able to accept the gospel. We do baptisms for the dead to give those who have passed on an option of accepting the gospel in the next life. It is still their choice whether they want to or not, we simply do baptisms by proxy so that they can have the opportunity to follow in Christ's footsteps. Show more
Absolutely! I love this amazing truth. It speaks peace to my soul. Baptism is essential for salvation in Jesus Christ. It has been a wonderful blessing in my life to be baptized. Baptism allows for us to make a covenant with God promising that we will take upon us the name of Christ, strive to remember Him always, and strive to keep His commandments. In return, God promises to bless us with His Holy Spirit, grant us forgiveness through Christ's Atonement as we repent, and lead us to salvation in the kingdom of God. Would not God, our loving Heavenly Father, desire these blessings for all of His children. So many have not had the opportunity to receive these sacred and eternal blessings on this earth. Baptism for the dead is mentioned in The New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This powerful and true practice has been returned to the earth with the restoration of Christ's Church. Baptisms for the dead occur in temples throughout the world. Members of Christ Church enter the temples and participate in proxy baptisms for the dead (they are dressed in white and baptized by immersion for someone who has died by one with priesthood authority). This allows the deceased person's spirit to accept the blessings and covenant associated with baptism or chose not to accept it. The deceased person's agency (power to choose) is intact. This true practice testifies of God's love for all of His children. I love it. Show more
We perform this work, just as the original Christians did (see Corinthians 15:29) for the salvation of those who have passed on without the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel while they were living on the earth. It is one of the greatest expressions of the love of God because it shows that all are able to be admitted into heaven. The performing of these baptisms does not mean that they are forced to accept it. They are still able to choose for themselves to accept it or not, but the work is done, allowing them the opportunity to return to God. Show more
Baptism is essential for our salvation in the kingdom of God. Since our God is just and fair, He gives those who have passed on an opportunity to receive this ordinance through us worthy members. As worthy members, we are able to act as a proxy, meaning that we do the ordinance on behalf of those who have passed on, so they can have the same opportunities as those still alive on this earth. No one is forced into the church or into making this ordinance, God still honors agency in the here-after. We are simply giving them a chance to accept it. Show more
Jesus said "except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." So what happens to those who don't have the opportunity to be "born of the water"? Many churches say they go to Hell. But does it really make sense that a loving Heavenly Father would damn billions of people to Hell just because they were born in Africa or Asia or otherwise never heard of Jesus? No, people who don't have an opportunity on earth will have an opportunity later. But those people can't be born of the water! You logically either have to dismiss the words of Jesus or you have to assume he has a plan to baptize people without bodies. For this reason Paul said, "else why are they baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?" The Apostle Paul was referring to this practice of baptizing proxy stand-ins on behalf of deceased people. Then a baptism is done in their name, and if they choose to accept it, it's there. Note: they still have to accept Jesus Christ and accept the proxy baptism; but if they do, we're ready for them. Show more
What a great blessing it is to be able to provide the ordinances of the gospel to all of God's children. How often have we been taught that we cannot be saved in the kingdom of God without baptism by someone with the proper authority. Haven't you ever wondered what happens to all the people who have ever lived who have never been baptized. If God loves all of his children and is a just god, would he forget them? Of course not! As part of his merciful plan of happiness, he has prepared a way for all of his children to receive saving ordinances. These ordinances are referred to in the old and new testaments. The fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians talks about the resurrection. Verse 29 specifically references baptism for the dead. An ordinance that was performed anciently. Paul was specifically talking to a group of Jews known as the Sadduccees who did not believe in the resurrection yet they were performing the ordinance without faith. Because of this he asks them why they did it if the dead rise not at all. Paul in previous verses just outlined the truth of the resurrection. Obadiah refers to people who are saviors on mount Zion referring to saving ordinances provided through family history work. This is an amazing opportunity for us to learn about our ancestors and come to love them. We have the opportunity to provide these ordinances vicariously. This means those individuals whose work has been performed have the option to accept these ordinances. Show more