- 1 Corinthians 15:29
- "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at
- 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 . . . "
- It is apparent from Penrose's argument that the Mormons position rests on two prior
- That Mormon "scripture" is authoritative.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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:
what shall they do which are baptized for the dead [Christ]5, if the dead [believers] rise not
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).
- Mormons baptize by immersion in water. Although infant baptism is rejected, Mormon's
consider the age of accountability to be eight! Return
- 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
- C. Penrose, Mormon Doctrine Plain and Simple: or Leaves from the Tree of Life,
1897, p. 48. Return
- E.g., "other lords" (Isa. 26:14,19) and the Babylonians
(Jer. 51:39, 57). Return
- 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