What do Mormons Believe about Baptism for the Dead?
You’ve seen it all over the news. “Mormons baptize dead Jewish person” or some other famous person that lights up the headlines. Is it as weird as it sounds? Do they baptize dead people?
For many readers, the way the headlines read, it almost sounds like they baptize dead bodies. What’s the real deal with “Baptisms for the Dead”?
Well here it is in plain fact. What does baptisms for the dead mean, and how do they do it?
- Mormons believe that baptism is essential to go to heaven (as do many mainstream Christian religions)
- There are millions (billions?) of people that have lived on the earth that have NOT had the opportunity to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ, and hence have not been baptized
- Mormons, uniquely, believe that people that never got the chance to hear and accept the gospel, WILL get that chance after they die (belief in a just God that will not condemn someone for something they did not even get a chance to accept because they were never taught)
- Many of these people WILL accept the gospel after they are dead, but they STILL need the required baptism to have their sins washed away and become a follower of Christ
- That baptism is done by “proxy”, meaning that someone is baptized on behalf of a person who has passed on (so the deceased ancestor’s name is stated in the baptism instead of the person being baptized for them)
- The LDS Church records and keeps track of all of these ordinances done for those who have passed on
- So Mormons do their genealogy, find their ancestors that never accepted the gospel, and they provide the ordinances so that their relatives can have that opportunity in the next life
Mormons believe that there are MANY on the other side, who have already accepted the gospel, but are waiting for someone to perform their “saving ordinances” (i.e. baptism) for them so that they can progress to where they need to be to enter heaven when the time comes. Hence the “rush” of “temple work” for the Latter-Day Saints and the feeling of priority and importance to get that work done for the deceased ancestors.
So it’s not some weird ritual that many tabloid writers try to describe. It’s a baptism, like many others, but on behalf of someone’s deceased ancestor. They are done in LDS temples in a special room with a baptismal font dedicated to this purpose.