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Those familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint beliefs, may have heard of baptisms for the dead, maybe while going through a LDS temple open house (where baptism fonts are part of the tour)

Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms on behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject the ordinances that have been performed on their behalf.

This has led to some claims1 such as Hitler was "baptized", or from the referenced article

Mormons have performed proxy ordinances for most Jewish notables...along with hundreds of thousands of other Jews, ... have been proxy baptized and proclaimed as members of the LDS Church.

Is this true? How does the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explain such circumstances?

Related questions:

1 Did Joseph Smith go to heaven according to Protestant Trinitarians?

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  • related meta
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 24 at 14:04
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    I saw this question soon after you posted it and your answer appeared shortly thereafter. I concluded that you had prepared your answer, posted your question and then answered it before anyone else had an opportunity to post their answer. I know about the claims made against LDS baptisms for the dead - nothing new there . I have no objection to you posting your question and your answer, only the rapidity with which you posted your answer, suggesting you had done all your research before you asked the question. Is there any point in anybody then attempting to post their own answer?
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 25 at 7:12
  • @Lesley I did post at the same time (it was rapid), as SE allows you to do so, but I spent time answering it (this is an allowed concept-and it was not rapid, I spent hours researching different angles and sources). I know about the concept of baptisms for the dead and the teachings, does not mean I necessarily spend time focusing on all that it implies for every edge case-mostly how it applies to my life and those around me. I had a question I felt others might have, I looked into it, and then answered, what is wrong with this? Anyone can provide an answer still, just like old questions
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 25 at 11:06
  • the related meta references a given example question: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/14136/…, and I don't see anything wrong with this. Even if it's about Catholicism, doesn't mean its promotion or that the OP didn't spend time in their answer. Please provide more context with what is wrong with this question/answer
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 25 at 11:09
  • I apologise for my original comment to you and I have deleted it. As previously stated, I have no objection to the question or the answer.
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 25 at 13:47

2 Answers 2

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Is this true?

Mostly

How do you explain it

Proxy work, or work done on behalf of someone else, is a key doctrine of Christ's gospel. If you believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which was done for/on behalf of mankind, you believe in the concept of proxy work. Proxy temple work, as stated in OP, is when ordinances are performed in the temple on behalf of deceased ancestors.

From April 2024 General Conference President Russell M Nelson said:

Temple work makes these exquisite blessings available to all of God’s children, regardless of where or when they lived or now live....Regular temple worship will enhance the way you see yourself and how you fit into God’s magnificent plan.

This may be easier doctrine to accept when thinking broadly about people who might've never had a chance to hear about Jesus Christ in this life and now will have that opportunity. But it may be more difficult to accept when thinking of specific people who've committed atrocities/great sins, but the principle is universal across situations. IMO this applies to daily life as well, it is difficult to accept that someone who has wronged you/others has truly changed/repented as we can't see the heart, but it is possible. The atonement was also done for Hitler.

Was Hitler baptized?

Assuming the claims made in the article are true, yes. IMO Even if he was not, eventually he probably will be as members of the LDS church are still encouraged to do genealogy for their ancestors and to take their names to the temple (as you can only take each ancestor, assuming no recording mistakes, to the temple work, everyone working through their ancestors in theory everyone will be eventually be reached-the good and the bad, though some cases are different, see below). LDS believe temple work will continue through the Millennium under Jesus Christ's direction1 (where I assume special cases will be handled more directly by one who can see the heart)

Have Jews been baptized?

Yes, but holocaust victims work has been stopped as best as can be done, and as there are special circumstances currently the LDS church came out with a policy to stop/discourage temple work of holocaust victims.

The LDS church's policy (article has a bunch of other details):

Church leaders have asked the members who are submitting names for proxy baptisms for the deceased to:

  1. Work only on their own family line.

  2. Not submit names of celebrities.

  3. Not submit names of unauthorized groups, such as Jewish Holocaust victims.

Currently familysearch.org is where the LDS members can track temple work/status. If someone is famous it might say:

Read only familysearch record

If they are a holocaust victim it should say something like:

unavailable temple ordinances from familysearch

Why?

Baptism (in this case proxy baptism/baptism for the dead) is a practice meant to be performed for everyone, subsets/groups of people will fall into the superset of everyone. This practice isn't meant to be targeted to specific people beyond those who've passed without being baptized by one having authority, but everyone...like ever. LDS believe baptism by one with proper authority is a commandment and necessary to return to the highest kingdom (celestial). We believe in the doctrine of agency and plan of salvation (specifically life after death). Those who die no longer have a body and cannot physically be baptized, but they might want to. This ordinance is done via proxy on behalf of them so they have that opportunity.

Early saints when they learned of baptisms for the dead2

joyfully embraced this opportunity and began almost immediately to be baptized for departed loved ones in rivers and streams near Nauvoo.

Joseph Smith had to clarify later on:

All persons baptized for the dead must have a recorder present, that he may be an eyewitness to record and testify of the truth and validity of his record. It will be necessary, in the Grand Council, that these things be testified.

LDS members may get carried away attempting to do the work for anyone who has died (and many holocaust victims are well documented in this regard), and not follow earliest revelation of being baptized for deceased kin or later guidance to work on their own family line (though I believe some of them may have traced their ancestors to that event).

Are baptized people now members of the LDS church?

No (they aren't listed as such).3 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in agency, in that you have the freedom to either follow God and His plan or not. As we don't have direct communication with deceased persons, the work is done with the understanding that they can choose to accept it or not, as even when we die our spirit retains agency.

Is anyone excluded from being baptized?

If they have come to earth and are accountable, no. (see For LDS, what does it mean that baptism is "essential" for "salvation"?)

See also:

1 Todays Temples Will be Used in the Millenium, Elder Ballard

2 Letters on Baptism for the Dead

3 Baptism for the Dead, Church Newsroom

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I took the time to go through every reference in this thread in order to find a Biblical verse to support the so-called "baptism" for the dead." I found it at the very end, "3 Baptism for the Dead, Church News room. The verse used is 1 Corinthians 15:29. The following is what they stated.

"Of course, proxy baptism for the deceased is nothing new. It was mentioned by Paul in the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 15:29) and was practiced by groups of early Christians. As part of a restoration of New Testament Christianity, Latter-day Saints continue this practice. All Church members are instructed to submit names for proxy baptism only for their own deceased relatives as an offering of familial love."

The only thing that is true about this statement is the fact that the Apostle Paul did mention, "baptism for the dead at 1 Corinthians 15:29. Non-Mormon sects would contend that what Paul meant is directly contradicted by the Mormon Churches understanding.

The following is what Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie taught, "the Lord has ordained baptism for the dead as the means whereby all his worthy children of all ages can become heirs of salvation in his kingdom, (Mormon Doctrine , p.73).

Another Mormon excuse for the practice is because "millions of people lived and died without learning the teachings of Jesus Christ and without belonging to his Church." You mean "your church." Salvation is NOT gained by belonging to a church. This is a lesson that Mormon prophet Smith did not learn in his first vision. He ask God the Father and Jesus Christ, "what church should I join?" He received the answer, do not join any of them, they are all corrupt."

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  • the question is not about if the doctrine of baptisms for the dead is biblical. It is LDS doctrine and practice, the question was about specific cases as stated. Also as stated in my sources is they aren't baptized and then members of the LDS faith.
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 23 at 23:02
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    Unfortunately for you is the fact that you opened the door that prompted my response when one of your own sources quoted 1 Corinthians 15:29. Your source clearly states that baptism of the dead is Biblical. Now what's the next excuse you have for me?
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Apr 23 at 23:48
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    This is a Q&A site. If you want to ask about biblical basis of baptisms for the dead, go ahead, this is not that question. My sources have a bunch of references, if this is in response to one this should be a comment not an answer
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 24 at 0:45
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    I don't see a yes, no, or maybe answering the question or an explanation on why LDS have/have not done so. LDS is not solely bible based, so much of this rant is moot.
    – depperm
    Commented Apr 24 at 1:10

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