The Mormons







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Chapter 6 -

Baptism for the dead





Baptism for the dead is another important ceremony carried out in Mormon temples in addition to the eternal marriage. It is based on the Mormon view that repentance is still possible after death but baptism is possible only in this lifetime and for this reason substitution baptisms are needed and carried out by those people who are living on Earth. This issue has been justified, for instance, by a couple of passages from the first letter of Peter:


- (1 Peter 3:18-20) For Christ also has 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:

19  By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison;

20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.


- (1 Peter 4:6) For 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.


It has also been claimed on the basis of a short reference in the Letter to the  Corinthians, in which Paul casually refers to this:


- (1 Cor 15:29) 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?


As comes to the above-mentioned teaching, baptism for the dead, we can find clear faults, however. Those are, for instance, the following:


- If baptism for the dead was important as is thought, certainly the Bible would have spoken much about it and urged to it (the same problem also goes to other teachings of the Mormons). However, nothing like this can be found in the Bible. Instead, there is only one reference in which Paul shortly mentions this issue. However, Paul does not speak about “us”, in other words about himself and the congregation, even though the whole chapter refers only to “us”. Instead, he speaks about “them”, strangers who practiced it. The issue in question was, therefore, certainly not a common practice of the congregation.


- When discussing the view of the Mormons that repentance will still be possible after death, the common teachings of the Bible states that a man has the possibility to be saved only during this lifetime. After this, we will be judged and not offered a new possibility to be saved. The view of the Mormons thus resembles the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, in which people are still offered salvation after death – something that is, however, not taught in the Bible:


- (Hebr 9:27) And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:


- When the verses in the first letter of Peter are used as justification for preaching to the dead, one should note that these verses are in the past tense. They do not speak anything about this being a continuous practice or about it concerning the dead of the present times. Therefore, these verses are necessarily not connected with the present time at all.


- Another view held by the Mormon Church is that disciples, such as Peter, Paul, and others, preach the Gospel in the spiritual world after their deaths.

   However, an appropriate question is: where can a teaching like this be found in the Bible? Did not Paul, for example, say that he would go directly to God after his death? He did not believe that he would be going to some temporary state or start preaching again, but believed that he would go directly to God:


- (2 Cor 5:8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.


- (Phil 1:23) For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:


- (2 Tim 4:5-8) But watch you in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry.

6  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7  I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8  From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.








Jari Iivanainen



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