Bottom Content goes here.
Wikipedia content requires these links.....
Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Baptism for the dead
Baptism for the dead by proxy (or "vicarious baptism") is an ordinance
practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
some Native American religions, and other Mormon churches. A living person
as a proxy is baptized by immersion in typical Mormon fashion, except that
the prayer accompanying the baptism states that the baptism is being
performed for and in behalf of a deceased person whose name has been
submitted for that ordinance.
According to the LDS Church, the Mormons base this practice on a revelation
Joseph Smith received. Joseph Smith first taught the doctrine at the funeral
sermon of a deceased LDS member, Seymour Brunson. In a letter written on
October 19, 1840 to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church (who
were on a mission in Great Britain at the time), Joseph refers to the
passage in 1 Corinthians 15:29 (KJV):
I presume the doctrine of "baptism for the dead" has ere this reached
your ears, and may have raised some inquiries in your minds respecting
the same. I cannot in this letter give you all the information you may
desire on the subject; but aside from knowledge independent of the
Bible, I would say that it was certainly practiced by the ancient
churches; and St. Paul endeavors to prove the doctrine of the
resurrection from the same, and 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?" (History of the Church, 4:231)
Other LDS scipture (Doctrine and Covenants 124:29, 127:5-10 and 128) expand
upon this doctrine and command that such baptisms are to be performed in
Temples, of which there are in 2001 more than 100 world wide. Vicarious
baptism is performed in connection with other vicarious ordinances in LDS
temples. The LDS Church holds that deceased persons who have not accepted or
had the opportunity to accept the faith in this life will have the
opportunity to accept the faith in the afterlife, but in order to do so they
must receive all the LDS ordinances including baptism. For this reason,
genealogy forms an important basis of research in the LDS Church's efforts
to perform temple ordinances for as many deceased persons as possible. As a
part of these efforts, a number of high profile people who have had temple
ordinances performed on their behalf have received particular attention
including: the Founding Fathers of the U.S., Presidents of the U.S., John
Wesley, Christopher Columbus, Jewish Holocaust victims, Ghengis Khan, Joan
of Arc, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Buddha. Vicarious baptism does not
mean that the decedent actually accepts the ordinance performed for him or
her; it merely means that the decedent may accept the ordinance and the
benefits which the LDS claim it provides. However, LDS leaders have stated
that the people in the afterlife for whom these ordinances have been
performed will rarely reject it.
While LDS members consider it a great service to perform vicarious
ordinances for the deceased, some non-members have taken offense to what
they see as an arrogant practice. To be sensitive to the issue of
vicariously baptizing non-Mormons unrelated to Church members, in recent
years the LDS Church has emphasized a policy that generally its members
should only perform temple ordinances for their own direct ancestors. For
example, the LDS Church is in the process of removing sensitive names (such
as Jewish Holocaust victims) from its International Genealogical Index. D.
Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church's Presidency of the Seventy stated
that removing the names is an "ongoing, labor intensive process requiring
name-by-name research....When the Church is made aware of documented
concerns, action is taken...Plans are underway to refine this process."
No other Christian denomination accepts the Mormon interpretation of 1
Corinithians 15:29; they differ greatly on what the passage is intended to
mean. The more common position is that this verse is only an aside to the
central issue contemplated in that chapter chapter. Paul is arguing to
Christians in Corinth against those who do not believe in the bodily
resurrection of both Jesus and His followers. Paul was trying to catch the
disciples who did not believe in resurrection in a logical contradiction
since they were also baptizing the dead.
Another counter-argument is that most Christian churches have not
historically practiced baptism for the dead, and have never held the Mormon
interpretation of this passage. Therefore it fails the test set forth by
Saint Vincent of Lerins, that Christians should believe that which "has been
believed by all Christians in all places at all times".
A long time Mormon practice has been to vicariously baptise the Holocaust's
Jewish victims. When this information became public, there was a backlash
against the LDS Church from Jewish groups, who found this ritual to be
insulting and insensitive, but not rising to the level of anti-Semitism. As
a result of public pressure, LDS leaders in 1995 promised to stop the
practice, unless specifically requested by relatives of the victims.
In the last year information surfaced that members of the LDS Church had not
stopped this practice despite directives from the LDS leadership to its
members, and criticism from Jewish groups began again. The Simon Wiesenthal
Center, Los Angeles, is on record as opposing the vicarious baptism of
Holocaust victims. Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Center holds "If these people
did not contact the Mormons themselves, the adage should be: Don't call me,
I'll call you. With the greatest of respect to them, we do not think they
are the exclusive arbitrators of who is saved." Recently Mormon leaders have
agreed to meet with leaders of the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust
Researcher Helen Radkey has published a report showing that the 1995 promise
to remove Jewish Nazi victims from its International Genealogical Index
seems to have been broken; her research of the LDS Church's database
uncovered the names of over 20,000 Jewish Nazi victims who have been
baptised after they died. Geneaologists estimate that the total number may
be over 100,000.
Jewish geneaologist Bernard Kouchel conducted a search of the International
Genealogical Index, and discovered that many well known Jews have been
vicariously baptised, including Rashi, Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Menachem
Begin, Irving Berlin, Marc Chagall, and Gilda Radner.