Rebaptism is a practice of in the Latter Day Saint movement. It is currently practiced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and the Community of Christ, primarily as a means of readmittance into the respective church.
Latter Day Saint movement
In late 1839, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (by an 1838 revelation) was relocated to Nauvoo, Illinois. Many who were already baptized members of the church, were rebaptised either to show a renewal of their commitment to the movement or as part of a healing ordinance.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The LDS Church does not recognize baptisms performed by any other denomination. All converts to the LDS Church must be baptized under the direction of local church leaders. In this sense, the LDS Church practices rebaptism.
In addition, while scripture makes it clear that baptism is necessary for salvation, early church leaders noticed that there is no scriptural prohibition against being baptized more than once. Members would often be rebaptized before serving missions or when getting married to show determination to follow the gospel during their mission or marriage.
After the death of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, in 1844, rebaptism became a more important ordinance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), as led by Brigham Young. Young led his group to the Great Basin in what is now Utah, and most of his followers were rebaptised soon after arriving as a sign that they would rededicate their lives to Christ. During the "Mormon Reformation" of 1856–57, rebaptism became an extremely important ordinance, signifying that the church member confessed their sins and would live a life of a Latter-day Saint. Church members were rebaptized prior to new covenants and ordinances, such as ordination to a new office of the priesthood, receiving temple ordinances, getting married, or entering plural marriage.
Current church policy prohibits rebaptism for these purposes. Rebaptism of somebody already known to have been baptized according to LDS doctrine is practiced only when a previously excommunicated member rejoins the church. In such cases, the wording of the ordinance is identical to that of the first baptismal ordinance.
Community of Christ
Among the Latter Day Saints who remained in the Midwest, rebaptism generally has been practiced only when an excommunicate rejoins the church. When Joseph Smith III and his mother Emma Hale Smith Bidamon joined with the "New Organization" of the church in 1860, their original baptisms were considered sufficient. This organization, now known as the Community of Christ, occasionally cited their avoidance of rebaptism as proof that theirs was the true continuation of the original Latter Day Saint church.
- Manuscript History of the Church, LDS Church Archives, book A-1, p. 37; reproduced in Dean C. Jessee (comp.) (1989). The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book) 1:302–03.
- H. Michael Marquardt and Wesley P. Walters (1994). Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books) p. 160.
- Peterson, Paul H. (1989), "The Mormon Reformation of 1856–1857: The Rhetoric and the Reality", Journal of Mormon History, 15: 59–88, archived from the original on 2011-06-13.
- Quinn, D. Michael (1978), "The Practice of Rebaptism at Nauvoo" (PDF), BYU Studies, 18 (2): 226–32[permanent dead link].
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