If there is no other reason for not practicing the Mormon doctrine of “baptizing for the dead”, we have one now. Apparently, a Las Vegas man decided to sue the Mormon Church because the church, he claims, failed to tell him the repeated movement “could result in physical injury.” The news report starts this way, “A Las Vegas man filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the LDS Church, claiming he suffered a permanent injury while performing baptisms for the dead in one of the church’s temples” (Deseret News, August 25, 2010)
We now have two reasons to not practice this form of religious teaching. First, it has no biblical sanction from the Lord. Second, one is liable to get hurt! Surely if the first reason is not sufficient, then the second most definitely is, wouldn’t you say?
Changing the tone of the remarks, let us take a moment to note what the Scriptures say. The phrase “baptized for the dead” is used in 1 Corinthians 15:29. The apostle Paul give no additional thought surrounding this phrase (practice), thus, any attempt to make a religious doctrine out of this is fraught with failures, not the least of which is the Mormon doctrine. From a website we learn that:
“…if salvation is only through Christ, what happens to all the billions of people who lived and died without ever even hearing of Christ? And if we must be baptized to enter into a covenant with Christ (as Christ plainly teaches in John 3:3-5 and as I discuss more fully on my FAQ page about baptism), what of those that never had a chance? For centuries, the mainstream theological answer has been that those souls are lost. Some ministers are not so crass today, but many still insist that they go to hell. I just saw a discussion of that issue on an email list of scientists who are Christians. Most views expressed there on the topic said they go to hell – and it is fair, since we are all depraved – but God in his grace elects to allow some of us to be saved, so why complain? That really bothers me. The truth is that God loves all his children and wants all to have the opportunity to hear and accept the Gospel of Christ.” (http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_BaptDead.shtml)
Note this issue, in part, is associated with two key points. First, those who died without ever having an opportunity to hear and believe in Jesus Christ now have an opportunity to be saved. Second, the emotional component of man will not allow him to accept the notion that one can be lost in sin.
On the first point, let the Scripture speak. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil “(2 Corinthians 5:10, ESV). The Holy Spirit declares plainly that one is judged based on what he (she) has done in this life. The good is defined as one’s response to the Lord (cf. John 3:31-36). On the second point, whatever difficulty man may have with what he does not understand, it is deadly to build a doctrine that sooths the conscience when one has only an earthly idea and not a heavenly one. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV).
The Mormon doctrine, no matter the “honorable” intention that might be associated with it, is a doctrine that is deadly (spiritually)!