Wrested Scriptures


  Basic Approach
  Deut. 33:15
  Isaiah 4:1
  Isaiah 29:4
  Ezekiel 37:19
  John 10:16
  1 Cor. 15:29
  Rev. 20:12
  10 Questions
British Israel
of Christ


Carbon Dating

& Inaccuracies

1 Corinthians 15:29
"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?"
Mormons spend great amounts of time looking up their genealogies. Some have been baptized 1 by proxy more than fifty times for the benefit of "Gentile" ancestors. The baptisms are always done within the secrecy of Mormon temples. Support for this practice is taken from this passage. One Mormon put it this way:
"Millions of earth's sons and daughters have passed out of the body without obeying the law of baptism. Many of them will gladly accept the word and law of the Lord when it is proclaimed to them in the spirit world. But they cannot here attend to ordinances that belong to the sphere which they have left. Can nothing be done in their case? Must they forever be shut out of the kingdom of heaven? But justice and mercy join in answering 'yes' to the first, 'no' to the last question. What, then, is the way of their deliverance? The living may be baptized for the dead. Other essential ordinances may be attended to vicariously. This glorious truth hid from human knowledge for centuries, 2 has been made known in this greatest of all dispensations . . . " 3
  1. It is apparent from Penrose's argument that the Mormons position rests on two prior propositions:
    1. That Mormon "scripture" is authoritative.
    2. That at death the real person departs to the spirit world.

    Since these two Mormon claims are considered in detail elsewhere on this site, they are not examined here.

  2. The Mormon doctrine of proxy baptism rests on this one passage in the entire Bible. Any doctrine must be suspect which rests on only one verse. Much more so when the interpretation given to the verses violates the teaching of Scripture that after death comes either judgment (if responsible) or annihilation (if not responsible).4 "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment . . ." (Heb. 9:27).
  3. But what does the passage mean? A number of interpretations have in the past been proposed. The one which best fits the context is the following:

    "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead [Christ]5, if the dead [believers] rise not at all?"

    The argument being: "Why be baptized on behalf of Christ who has not risen from the dead?" (cf. vs. 4-19; vs. 20-28 being read as parenthetical).


  1. Mormons baptize by immersion in water. Although infant baptism is rejected, Mormon's consider the age of accountability to be eight! Return
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  2. Other groups have practised baptism for the dead. Among these were the Marcionites and the Montanists. The Council of Hippo (393 A.D.) forbade the practice. See James Hasting (ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 8, (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons), p. 408. Return
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  3. C. Penrose, Mormon Doctrine Plain and Simple: or Leaves from the Tree of Life, 1897, p. 48. Return
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  4. E.g., "other lords" (Isa. 26:14,19) and the Babylonians (Jer. 51:39, 57). Return
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  5. It is sometimes argued that "the dead" cannot refer to Christ since the Greek word for dead, "nekron" is plural, not singular. But a check of the Hebrew word for "death" in Isa. 53:9 ("He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death"), indicates that the word "death" in this reference is also plural. The plural is in harmony with the argument of the Apostle Paul that "if one died for all, then were all dead". (2 Cor. 5:14). The death of Christ comprehended many deaths. Return