Talk:Baptism for the dead

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Early Christian Quotes regarding Baptism for the Dead[edit]

I have recently come upon some quotes that I find to be significant regarding the topic of baptism for the dead in the early Christian church, and I thought I would present them here for discussion before making any edits to the article. I believe they are quite relevant to the article and should be incorporated in some way. I found these quotes while reading A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, which is a compilation of primary source quotes by early Christian authors compiled by the editor, David W. Bercot, from the volume Ante-Nicene Fathers.

The first quote I'd like to bring to attention is taken from The Shepherd of Hermas, which is well known to be a highly respected book among ancient Christians. The quote is thus:

"These apostles and teachers preached the name of the Son of God. After falling asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, the apostles not only preached it to those who were asleep, but they themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching [i.e., baptism]. Accordingly, the apostles descended with them into the water and ascended again...For such ones slept in righteousness and in great purity. Only, they did not have the seal." (Bercot, 206)

Although this quote preaches a form of baptism for the dead that is significantly different than the LDS practice, it does show that the early Christian church believed in this practice. In this instance it appears that they believed that the apostles who had passed away were busy "on the other side" performing baptismal ordinances on behalf of those who had also passed away without having been baptized.

Clement of Alexandria surely believes this to be true, as he quotes Hermas himself, saying, "The Shepherd, speaking plainly of those who had fallen asleep, recognizes certain righteous ones among Gentiles and Jews, not only before the appearance of Christ, but before the Law...He adds, 'They gave them the seal of preaching'. Therefore, they [the apostles] descended with them into the water, and again ascended." (Bercot 206)

There are several other quotes regarding the topic of salvation for the dead (but not explicitly about baptism for the dead) in Bercot's book for those interested in reading them, but I don't want to take up too much space here. For the interested reader, the pertinent sections in Bercot's book are "Dead, Intermediate State of" and "Descent into Hades" from pages 191 - 197 and pages 205 - 207, respectively. There is also a section regarding "Baptism for the Dead" on page 63 which contains the usual Tertullian quotes.

Dpru (talk) 23:21, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

What you describe (and what was imaginatively pictured) isn't baptism for the dead, but baptism of the dead. Esoglou (talk) 06:26, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
Yes that is true, but it does show a belief that the dead who did not have an opportunity to receive the saving ordinances while in this life could still obtain them afterwards if they chose, which is the entire basis for the LDS belief of vicarious baptism for the dead. Anywho, I think it is important enough to be considered to go into the article. Dpru (talk) 16:52, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
This might have more of an impact if a source could be used that interpreted what these "sacraments" were. I tried to think of a commentary to recommend, but one does not come immediately to mind.
Esoglou is correct that in the cited instance there is a difference in the use of "proxy", but your point is also correct in that baptism could be performed for the benefit of those already dead. I think it is valuable and pertinent to the article, but that interpretive commentary is needed. --StormRider 17:21, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
I accidentally came upon some commentary regarding this passage from the Shepherd of Hermas while doing a Google search for some commentary on the "Jeremiah Logion". The commentary I found, however, is written by Hugh Nibley, therefore the POV is definitely pro-Mormon, and is not a neutral POV. Nevertheless, here is a link to the commentary: Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times by Hugh Nibley. The pertinent section where he comments on the above quote from the Shepherd of Hermas is essentially the first two paragraphs of the section entitled "How the Dead Received Baptism". I'll see if I can find anything with a neutral POV. Dpru (talk) 00:01, 27 June 2010 (UTC)
The Shepherd of Hermas passage speaks of the apostles baptizing the dead when they (the apostles) were also dead. I see no similarity between that account of baptism of dead people by dead people and the actual present-day and supposed early-Christian practice of baptism of live people by live people on behalf of dead people. Esoglou (talk) 19:18, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

11 Feb 2011[edit]

Hello editors; it is noted some citations on 1 Cor 15:29 are wanted to explain the Catholic position on this topic. First, the Jerome Bible Commentary makes reference to this scripture verse in the context of the surrounding verses. Paul is using baptism for the dead as an ad hominem argument in favor of the resurrection. He also uses his own mortal peril in preaching the gospel and the fallacious notion of "eat, drink, be merry" as parallel ad hominem arguments. These arguments from logical fallacy were to convict the Corinthian community of the absurdity of its denial of physical resurrection. According to Jerome, therefore, the topic itself is of little import. The verse neither endorses nor propagates the practice among Christians (indeed, it was probably one of several abuses introduced by the "false apostles" prevalent in the Corinthian community, about which the Corinthians asked in the letter to Paul, which he is answering and which did not survive), but merely observes it is there. Second, the adoption of a similar practice by the Marcionites was anathematized by a Church council of the 4th century and if there is diligent research performed in the early Fathers of the Church on line a suitable citation can be found. If there is interest I can get more specific for you, please respond here.Genehisthome (talk) 14:07, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Actually, the source for my addition was a lengthy discussion (4 hours) of the issue with a leading member of the church in Jerusalem. The topic of the discussion was possible Hebrew etymologies for names in the BoM and the problems involved in a Hebrew translation (which, except for select chapters, has never been done--attempted, rejected, but never completed). Sorry, but my sources are a little better than CNN, and I think RK's sources are too. Danny (date= 02:57, 15 December 2002)

Hi Danny. I don't see any substantive contributions on this article by you and I wasn't referring to any contribution which you made. I'm sure that you and RK have good, extensive sources as do I and most active contributors here in general. I only noted the CNN link (which I wouldn't be surprised if it were merely a rehash of an AP or other wire) because of the similarity in language between it and RK's recent post.
Do you remember the name of the member with whom you had the discussion? Was he associated with BYU-Jerusalem? Just curious...a former president of BYU-Jerusalem, Truman Madsen, will be presenting a lecture here locally tomorrow. B (date=06:10, 15 December 2002)
B, Danny, etc. are these paragraphs out of order? Since none of you dated your answer, all we have is Genehisthome's 11 Feb 2011, then a seeming response involving Truman Madsen speaking. But Truman Madsen died in 2009... Does someone want to comb the history to put these paragraphs in logical order?--Mrcolj (talk) 18:33, 18 May 2012 (UTC)
Genehisthome made the mistake of inserting his edit at the top of the page instead of the bottom. Esoglou (talk) 19:06, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

"verb not noun"[edit]

The Verb not noun section should be renamed. It states that baptized, which is clearly a verb anyway, isn't a noun, and then states the real intention of the section: that it may intend a different verb. There is really no implication of being a noun in either sense.--Jeffro77 (talk) 00:42, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Ann Dunham section[edit]

The final section of this article states: 'In May 2009, it was discovered that President Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, "who died in 1995, was baptized posthumously into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day [sic] Saints last year during her son's campaign. ... It is not yet clear whether Obama is troubled by the practice. The White House declined to comment Tuesday [May 5, 2009]'. Well, so what? As the article explains, thousands of people have been posthumously baptized under this process. If Obama himself hasn't commented on the matter, is there any reason to single out his mother in particular? Robofish (talk) 16:16, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Needs more emphasis on the word "hyper"[edit]

There's a whole section saying the debate is largely a grammatical one, and then goes on to define the Greek baptizo for 8 lines. There is no debate regarding two sides defining baptizo differently. The crux of the debate is the simply optional ways of translating "hyper"/"uper." This is alluded to in one line in the next paragraph, but needs to be the central point of the section. The entire well-written paragraph about baptizo is mostly irrelevant.--Mrcolj (talk) 14:51, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, 3 months later, no discussion, tempted to delete the entire "Meanings of the verb baptizein" section. It looks pretty and fancy and legit and academic, but then when you read it it's not really relevant. As I said earlier, it's also not grammatically congruous. People putting in pseudo-academic articles about how this is a faulty doctrine according to some "specialist" who wasn't there anymore than I was isn't really wikipedia-appropriate anyway. It's like me putting a paragraph about how Chevys won some award in a Ford article. I dunno, as is the weakness of the wikipedia, the original author will never find out about my comments, so I'll have to leave this here for a while, but if more time passes with no discussion, I'm making the edit.--Mrcolj (talk) 18:42, 18 May 2012 (UTC)

Contradiction in Article[edit]

I have spotted a bit of a discrepancy in the article. In the intro it says, "...and is not practiced in modern mainstream Christianity, whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant." referring to baptism of the dead. However, later in the article it goes on to say that the LDS church still performs the baptism. I would imagine that many do not see the Mormon church as mainstream, but it has certainly been mainstreamed as of late. Does anyone disagree? -- (talk) 13:00, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

depends on what WP:RS define for mainstream Christianity In ictu oculi (talk) 01:58, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Sentence about new FamilySearch[edit]

The recently added line about the new FamilySearch not showing information about temple ordinances seems out of place and a bit of a non-sequitur in the holocaust baptism controversy section. I looked for a better location to place it in the article and I think that the "Genealogy and baptism section" works best. One of the things that makes it seem out of place is that the cited references do not place this fact within the controversy. Therefore, it seems to me that it is too much original synthesis (creating an original narrative in the debate rather than reporting on the debate) to place it in the controversy section. Thoughts? --FyzixFighter (talk) 18:41, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

Sounds about right. I have no problem or particular feeling about having it in either section, so whatever the consensus decides is fine with me. --Jgstokes-We can disagree without being disagreeable (talk) 20:36, 29 February 2012 (UTC)
Let's see if there is any resistance to the move shows up in the next few days, if not, or the consensus is to move, please feel free to do so. Editor2020 (talk) 00:59, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

Outing for the dead[edit]

An interesting response at all dead mormons are now gay .com - presumably a commentary on baptism for the dead and the LDS's anti-gay stance. Clearly this site doesn't yet warrant a mention in the article, but maybe one to watch to see if it pivks up any media coverage ~dom Kaos~ (talk) 19:24, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

Add here?[edit]

See Talk:Mormonism and Christianity#rv notes discussion/dispute, relating to Talk:Christianity and environmentalism#User talk: 2012 (relating to Mormonism and Christianity). (talk) 04:26, 26 July 2012 (UTC)


The Mass for the dead is at minimum a baptism of the dead; given the Mandaen belief in rebaptism, it is also arguably baptism for the dead (though not vicarious in the same way as the Mormons). The Mandaen baptism rite includes (1) ritual purification with water, (2) crowning with a myrtle wreath, and (3) laying on of hands by a priest with oil. The Mandaen Mass for the dead includes (1) ritual purification with water, (2) crowning with a myrtle wreath, and (3) anointing with oil by a priest. There is a direct equivalency, even if the forms and words are different between the two (the dead are not immersed, nor can they gulp water, nor take communion). -- (talk) 19:27, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

A simplified description of this two interrelated ceremonies can be found at: Rudolph, Kurt (April 7, 2008), "Mandaeans: The Mandaean Religion", [[Encyclopædia Iranica]]  URL–wikilink conflict (help) -- (talk) 19:32, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
None of these sources say that the Mandaeans have "the religious practice of baptizing a person on behalf of one who is dead—a living person receiving the ordinance on behalf of a deceased person". Esoglou (talk) 08:44, 29 March 2014 (UTC)