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Friday, September 3, 2010

Baptize the Dead or Baptize Babies: Which Makes More Sense?

Yesterday I posted about Mormons performing proxy baptisms for Jewish Holocaust survivors. Today, I want to revisit the proxy baptism idea in a different context.


An August 28, 2008 article in the Belfast Telegraph entitled, "What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants Wrong?" by Eamonn McCann discusses proxy ordinances and their historical and scriptural context. I think his article is going to be a classic if t isn't already. The article is well worth your time but I will extract a few points below.

The Mormons didn’t invent baptism of the dead. The practice has a significant history within mainstream Christianity. 
What’s the difference, anyway, between baptising the dead and baptising babies?
Indeed, given that all Christian Churches believe that the soul lives on after death and retains understanding and consciousness of self, doesn’t it make more sense to baptise dead adults than live babies?
The key point is, surely, that all religions believe that the soul, after death, at last knows what’s what — whether Hinduism, Free Presbyterianism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Catholicism or whatever is the true religion. What if it’s Mormonism? . . . In that scenario, shouldn’t all members of all other religions be literally eternally grateful to the Mormons for sharing their saving grace even unto and after death? . . . What’s the problem?
McCann traces the history of baptism for the dead through early Christianity. I have no idea if it is accurate. I think it evident that McCann is Catholic. He's no fan of Mormonism. That is obvious.

The strong idea amongst people who dislike our proxy ordinances is that it offends them, lacks sensitivity, etc. I find this a bit puzzling. How would they react if we asked them to remove key ordinances from their religion because it offended us or we thought it was being insensitive to our belief system? I would never expect people to alter their religious practices to suit me or my beliefs. I'm astonished that others try to do it to us.

As Mormons we adhere to our Articles of Faith. The eleventh is applicable to this discussion.

11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
There is plenty that I find offensive and insensitive in other religions. I've never entertained the notion of pressuring them to change their core religious beliefs or behaviors to suit me. I am perfectly willing to influence them to adopt a new religion but not to modify their existing one.

This brings up an interesting observation. If Mormons don't spend their time baptizing dead people they will spend their time going after the live ones. I wonder which activity other religions would prefer we focus on? That's a stumper . . .

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