Sunday, March 4, 2012

Posthumous Baptism? Right or Wrong?

We had a very interesting lesson in Sunday school today.  It was about Baptism.  We attend a Presbyterian church – they believe in baptism.  Not the dunking kind – not that they are against it, but a sprinkle will do ya.

That, however, wasn’t the issue.  It was about baptizing posthumously.  It just so happens I've encountered this concept recently.  I’ve had a visit by three very nice Mormon young men, and we’ve been discussing the tenets of their faith.  One of these is the idea that a person can be baptized after death if someone is willing to stand in for them and go through the baptism.  I realize I’m watering down the concept, but that’s the gist of things.
Anyhow, it came up because one of the young men mentioned his grandfather had been baptized that way, since he died a non-believer.  It occurred to me that I had recently read that one of my favorite authors, Eli Wiesel, was taking issue with the LDS (Latter Day Saints / Mormon) church for just this practice.  Apparently, some of the LDS churches have been baptizing holocaust victims posthumously.

I see his point – a Jewish person does not want to be baptized Christian or Mormon without consent.  It does seem to fly in the face of all they went through.  I also had to chuckle a bit since he found out because he was being posthumously baptized.  Um – folks, he’s not dead yet!  At least Google the guy first. 
I, initially, was also appalled.  However, it made me think.  If I believed that the only way to save souls was through posthumous baptism – would I be wrong for doing it?  What do other faiths do to ensure the salvation of those they see as “unsaved”?  What do Christians do?

I’m on a faith journey.  Right now, through self-study, I’m hoping to better understand what others believe and why.  In fact, it’s leading to hard questions about my own belief.

What do you think?  Posthumous baptism?  Would you be upset if you were baptized without consent? 


  1. I would say No one can have faith for someone else. Faith is a personal matter and act. You cannot ensure someone's salvation and we are not asked to. We are commanded in Scripture to preach and to live out the Gospel. God is the one who saves, and Him alone. He uses His Word, Scripture and the powerful witness of his people, but in the end, He is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

  2. I agree with Joelle. Each person chooses whether or not to receive God's free gift of salvation-- while they are still living on the earth. Once a person is dead, it really doesn't matter what we or they want. Game over. Destination reached.

    I recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man who died. Each person was fixed in his place and neither could go to the other. No mention was made of any way of escape through posthumous baptism or otherwise. The rich man even wanted Jesus so send Lazarus back to warn his brothers and that didn't work either. Death is a done deal.

    But to further muddy the water, I don't believe baptism is what saves us. It's an outward expression of an inward work. Salvation comes by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Frankly, when I'm dead I'll be with the Lord and I couldn't care less what anyone chooses to do with or for me. haha

  3. Joelle & Bonita, I tend to agree with both of you. If we could posthumously baptize people and get them into heaven, then I'd setup a font 24/7 and we'd get busy. However, God wants US to choose him. I too agree that baptism is symbolic, not the keys to the kingdom (literally and figuratively, I guess... lol). Those baptized as infants don't get to choose, so their salvation is not sealed, but dependant on them.


  4. This is an excellent question. First of all, the Jewish baptisms were not sanctioned by the LDS Church. There are weirdos in every group and it appears some one snuck those names in. The LDS Church goes through a lot of research before names are submitted for baptisms for the dead and they can only be submitted by family or sanctioned by a family member. But, like I said before there are those that don't care what the rules are. The LDS Church has removed the names and apologized for what had happened.

    1 Corinthians 15:29 "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" This scripture was written by Paul and gives us the knowledge that baptism for the dead was sanctioned by Christ and is necessary for salvation. It's a wonderful principle, and shows Gods love for everyone. Everyone will have the opportunity to accept baptism. Little children are not capable of sin, so if they die before age 8, they need no baptism and they will not go to hell as some religions teach. Christ loves everyone and will give everyone the opportunities they need to return home to our Father in Heaven, but He will not force anyone. If someone who has died has their baptism done for them and they don't want to accept it, then the Lord will not force them to. Agency is vital to the Lords plan!

    I would encourage you to take these questions to the LDS young men that have been visiting with you and listen to what they have to say. I always feel if you want to get the correct information then go directly to the source. Praying for you and that you'll be lead to the truth in your faith journey!

  5. Becky, Thank you for the perspective. I have and will continue to bring up my questions with those of the Mormon faith because I do like getting my information directly from the source. I am not sure about not requireing baptism prior to age eight becaue they are sinless due to the fact that Christianity generaly upholds the idea of original sin, meaning we are all born into sin. That being said, I also don't believe that babies go to Hell for not being baptized.

    My one sticking point is verifiability. I want some level of proof of the truths within the doctine be it archeological, linguistic, etc. That's where I'm stuck right now. April

  6. Parents have their children baptized when they are babies and unable to make the decision for themselves, how is that different?


Thank you for commenting - I love to hear your thoughts!