This video reconciles the Christian dilemma that arises from believing in a just God while also believing New Testament verses that require acceptance of Christ and baptism to enter Heaven. What of those that never had a chance to learn of Christ or be baptized? This dilemma is resolved by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through proxy baptisms performed on behalf of the deceased, who will be taught the gospel in the after life and then be able to choose whether or not to accept Christ and the proxy baptism performed on their behalf. The video shares 1 Corinthians 15:29, and quotes from early Christian fathers showing that proxy baptism was practiced in the early Christian church, discusses why it was banned in 397 A.D., and explains that no other major Christian Religion has practiced it since, other than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Okay. So for this video in the Evidences series, I wanted to talk about baptisms for the dead and how it is an evidence of the restoration of the original Christian church, how it was practiced in the original Christian church, and talk a little bit about how it solves the Christian dilemma.
So let’s start with that. First of all, if you look on the screen there are a bunch of scriptures I wanted to share, just quick little snippets all from the New Testament on how salvation is through Christ only. If you look here: “He shall save his people from their sins.” “My Spirit hath rejoiced in God, my Savior.” “Born in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ.” “World through him might be saved.” “This is indeed the Christ, the Savior.” “Whosoever shall call on the Lord shall be saved.” “None other name whereby we may be saved.” “Him hath God exalted to be a prince and a Savior.” “God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer.” “Shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” “We have redemption through his blood.” “Believe on the Lord, thou shalt be saved.” “We shall be saved by his life.”
So from these verses, it’s clear that it’s only through Jesus Christ that we are able to achieve salvation through His grace and through His sacrifice for us. So the Christian dilemma is what of those who do not hear of Jesus Christ? And I’ll give you an example. If you go to a website called gotquestions.org, it’s a nondenominational group that try to answer biblical questions. In fact, if you look at their mission statement and who they are, it says that they’re, “A ministry of dedicated and trained servants who have a desire to assist others in their understanding of God, scripture, salvation and other spiritual topics. We are Christian, Protestant, evangelical, theologically conservative, and nondenominational. All of our answers are reviewed for biblical and theological accuracy by our staff.”
So if you were to type in the question, “What happens to those that never hear about Jesus?” This is the answer that you’ll get. And this is it’s … There’s a detailed description, but this is the summary at the end, “If we assume that those who never hear the gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the gospel are saved, it is logical that we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the gospel must be condemned or else there is no motivation for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?” So that tells you the struggle that many have in trying to answer this question.
The other issue is baptism. And here, if you look up in the Latter-Day Saint scripture topical guide, Baptism Essential, here are some scriptures all from the New Testament again. Jesus coming to John for baptism, “Suffer it to be so now to fulfill all righteousness.” “Teach all nations, baptizing them.” “Jesus came and was baptized of John.” “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” “Reject the counsel of God being not baptized.” And I love this one to Nicodemus, Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” “Repent and be baptized every one of you.” “Command them to be baptized.” “Be baptized and wash away thy sins.” “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. “Save us by the washing of regeneration.” “Baptism doth also now save us.”
And we understand that Christ, after He was crucified and was resurrected, that He went and preached to the suffering spirits in prison. It says here in 1 Peter 3:18-19, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” 1 Peter 4:6 says, “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” So they were able to hear the message of Jesus Christ even after death.
Now, what about baptism, this critical ordinance that was necessary for salvation according to Jesus Christ? Well, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Paul says, “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?” Now this is a very confusing verse for Christian churches to understand or interpret and some have thought, well, maybe Paul was announcing or condemning the practice. I’ll share a snippet here about Paul from Robert Millet, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU. This was an article in the Ensign. He says about this verse, he says, “Paul was most sensitive to blasphemy and false ceremonialism. Of all people, he would not have argued for the foundation truth of the Resurrection with a questionable example. He obviously did not feel that the principle was disharmonious with the gospel.”
Then to give you an example of a biblical commentary here, here’s the Jerome Biblical commentary, The First Letters to the Corinthians by Richard Kugelman. He says here on this verse, “Paul alludes to a practice of the Corinthian community as evidence for Christian faith in the resurrection of the dead. It seems that in Corinth, some Christians would undergo baptism in the name of their deceased non-Christian relatives and friends hoping that this vicarious baptism might assure them a share in the redemption of Christ.” So very clear there. That’s what it’s talking about.
And in fact, if you look at modern day translations, they’ve even become more intense in the clarification of this. Here’s a quote of that from the New English Bible, “Again, there are those who receive baptism on behalf of the dead. Why should they do this? If the dead are not raised at all, what do they mean by being baptized on their behalf?”
Okay, so a couple of quick snippets from early Christian fathers. The Shepherd of Hermas was a Christian literary work of the late first or mid-second century and it was considered a valuable book by many Christians and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Christian fathers such as Irenaeus. “These apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, having fallen asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, preached also to those who had fallen asleep before them and themselves gave to them the seal of the preaching. They went down therefore with them into the water and came up again, but the latter went down alive and came up alive, while the former, who had fallen asleep before, were dead, went down dead, but came up alive. Through them, therefore, they were made alive and received knowledge on the name of the Son of God.”
Then Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 150 to 215 A.D., he also even referenced maybe why this was done as proxy. He said, “They went down therefore into the water and again ascended, but those who had fallen asleep descended dead, but ascended alive. Then too, the more subtle substance, the soul, [what you’d call the spirit], could never receive injury from the grosser element of water.” This practice then ended up becoming banned at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.
It was viewed as those that were practicing it as heretics and gnostics and it was banned from practice and therefore there are no major Christian religions practicing this today, but it was restored in 1840 by the prophet Joseph Smith, and it is one of those things, the very last verses in the Old Testament say that before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Elijah would come and he would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I’ll talk about that in another video about Elijah did come. This is part of this, through this practice of baptisms for the dead, that children turned to the fathers, and the fathers looked to the children to do this.
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Article on Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity in the Aug 1987 Ensign by Robert Millet: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/08/i-…
Baptisms for the Dead in Early Christianity – an extensive article published by the BYU Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship: https://publications.mi.byu.edu/publi…
Multiple Q&A on Baptism for the Dead – Fairmormon website: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mo…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.