Recently, I was reading a post by radio talk show host Glenn Beck, who was talking about his Mormon faith. Strangely, a lot of Christians have embraced Glenn as a fellow Christian, ignorant of his religious affiliation. To be sure, Glenn is a Mormon and does NOT ascribe to the doctrine of Christ, but rather of the false prophet, Joseph Smith.
Glenn’s comments in his article were intended to demystify some of the odd practices and beliefs of Mormonism and present it as, essentially, a Christian denomination. One of the topics he addressed, ever so briefly, was the subject of baptism for the dead. Mormons believe that a living person can undergo baptism on behalf of a dead person, to ensure they obtain entrance into the “Celestial Kingdom”. Glenn asserts that this is just basic biblical teaching. So, what “basic biblical teaching” is he referring to and why does this matter?
Mormons argue that the Bible teaches the doctrine of baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29. The KJV read this verse as follows:
1 Corinthians 15:29 (KJV) – 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 I studied this passage myself, I found that scholars have deliberated over its meaning for many years. It has sometimes sparked considerable debate and confusion among Christians. Catholics, by-the-way (and some other religious sects), also contend that baptism for the dead is biblical… and here we have a verse that appears to address the subject.
Could the Mormons be right on this? On the surface glance, one could argue, it may appear that the apostle Paul might have actually indicated that baptism for the dead was a legitimate practice… and he seems to affirm it by saying, “what would be the point of doing it if the dead didn’t actually expect to rise again?” It is therefore understandable that some Christians would stumble at the introduction to this rarely acknowledged passage of Scripture… isn’t it?
Forwarding comments by Dave Y. of TruthForFree.com: This morning when I decided to post the following article, I knew there would be a good chance it may concern some readers… The subject concerns water baptism and what is its proper application for the true follower of Jesus. To make an attempt to not offend anyone deliberately, I will simply add that this involves my opinion; an opinion which is derived from my own personal study of Scripture and my relationship with the Holy Spirit. That having been said, I am not suggesting that my opinion is infallible so, as always, I invite sincere responses from readers who may have alternate perspectives. Part of why I decided to share this view is because I have a loved one that has struggled with understanding water baptism (coming from a background that did not involve church, Christianity, or even knowledge of the Gospel story until recent years).
There are, I’m sure, those that would prefer that I not dive too deeply into the waters of specific doctrine with this website… While I realize the importance of letting each person come to conclusions about various aspects of Christian practice according to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives, I have never been one to suggest that doctrine is not important. I have often said that organized religion, in my opinion, often muddies the waters concerning sound doctrine by imposing its own legalistic ideas and very often imposes itself as being the grand defender of ultimate truth when, sadly, its arrogance and ignorance can actually cause masses of people to be led away from truth and into spiritual bondage as the truth is distorted and replaced with religion.
Today we have churches and Christians that talk about the subject of water baptism and they generally call it a “sacrament”. A sacrament is basically a religious ceremony or rite that is believed to confer some specific grace on the person who receives it. Protestants (not unlike Catholics) typically believe there are sacraments, which are obligatory to faith. The subject of water baptism is no exception. The common assertion is that this is an ordinance Jesus imposed and that it must be observed literally if one is to be considered a true follower of Christ. However, as most of us are aware, there are many interpretations among Christians concerning what baptism really means and how it should be actuated (whether by literal sprinkling with water, immersion, whether as a child, infant, adult, or not necessary at all). Some say you are not truly saved if you’re not physically baptized in water. Other say that it’s not required for Salvation but it is commanded by Jesus to follow Salvation so… do it anyway bub. Some say it is the very mark of salvation. Some say that its significance is primarily spiritual. So what’s the right answer? Certainly something that surrounds the very subject of Salvation is important! So, I’m gonna stick my neck out here and share an article that I find much agreement with.