Baptism for the Dead

Question: I have a friend that is an ex Church of God pastor. He asked me to get your thoughts on 1st Corinthians 15:29, I believe this is the passage the Mormons cite for being baptized for your ancestors.
Answer: The section of Scripture under discussion is 1 Corinthians 15:20-32: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. 29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
Of particular interest is verse 29. Who is “the dead” referred to here?
1. It cannot mean that living people are baptized to save souls of those who have physically died, for Jesus taught that souls after death cannot be changed because of the “great gulf” between the two states (Luke 16:19-31). Paul, in Hebrews 9:27-28, clearly taught there is nothing after one’s death but the judgment to come;
2. Certainly it cannot mean that unsaved persons can save the lost souls by being immersed in water, for Jesus told a would-be disciple “let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:21-22), that is, let those who, under the Law of Moses, don’t respect God’s ordinance of cleanliness after touching a dead body (Numbers 19:11-22) bury a corpse. Following Jesus should be more important than the delay of burying a dead person’s body;
3. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-32, the doctrine is stated that Jesus Christ rose from the grave never to “die” again (verses 20-23), and now reigns over His people until death, itself, is destroyed (verses 24-28). Baptism in water is essential for entering Jesus’ kingdom and being one of His obedient disciples (Matthew 7:21; 28:18-20; John 3:5; Acts 8:12; 18:8). Baptism is a burial into Jesus’ death, but then one is raised from it (resurrection) to a new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-5). If Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead, then baptism could not be the point of cleansing from sin by Jesus’ death to arise as a cleansed creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). IF Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then what appeal should baptism have? In other words, baptism becomes a meaningless symbol if Jesus Christ were not raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-19), and those who now were dead (at the time Paul wrote, 1 Corinthians 15:6) would have been baptized for nothing! Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is simply showing a consequence of stripping the resurrection of Jesus Christ out of the Gospel and stating the obvious: why be baptized to enter a dead man, Jesus, if, indeed, He was not raised from the dead Himself?
The Mormon doctrine of baptizing someone to “save” a departed spirit certainly qualifies as “water salvation,” for it puts salvation of a soul purely on the cleaning in the water and not the obedience of the one who is supposedly saved! In that sense, there is no difference in the concept of Roman Catholicism’s “Purgatory” and Mormonism’s “Baptism for the Dead.” There is no mystical, magical cleansing of any soul who has left this life, according to Jesus, and whatever practice(s) people may invent to claim it, must be false.
—–John T. Polk II

#baptism, #mormon, #purgatory

Can We Be Saved by Works?

My article today at Forthright is the second in a series of articles on the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. They base their doctrine on works salvation, which is completely foreign to the Gospel.

If we can be saved because of works, we are ostensibly saying that we can live perfectly enough that God would be forced to save us or be shamed before the world. That is laughable but is exactly the idea behind Catholic salvation.

I hope you will read Purgatory 2 and give your thoughts on their false claims.

#catholic, #forthright, #grace, #purgatory, #salvation, #works

Strange Doctrine of Purgatory

Today at Forthright, I began a series of articles on the complex and confusing Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. After doing a study of the subject and delivering two sermons on the subject, I still find it convoluted.

What it actually says about Christ and his sacrifice on the cross is offensive.  Your input on the article will be appreciated.

I list several quotes today that help the reader get an idea of what the doctrine claims. One of the quotes, which will be covered more in the second installment just astounds me. It stands completely opposed to all of the study I did for my book on salvation.

Ponder this amazing quote from those who teach purgatory:

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”

What thoughts do you have on this admission? My thoughts will come next week but I look forward to reading yours, in the meantime.




#forthright, #grace-faith, #purgatory, #salvation

What Can We Know About Baptism For The Dead?

The NetBible notes say over 200 scenarios for baptism for the dead have been suggested as possibilities! The large number makes sense since there is so little background information on this topic. It’s obscurity leads to wild speculation.

Of those speculations I personally like the one where the person baptized is taking the place of a martyred Christian. Is it possible it’s a baptism in addition to the one when he was baptized for his salvation? Baptism was not exclusive to Christianity and was sometimes used to bring initiates into a specific group. Would it be reasonable to think a Christian might be willing to commit to stand next in line for martyrdom taking the place of a beloved fallen Christian? As we look at the context this is a great fit.

It is also complete conjecture as are practically all the suggestions. Frankly, barring some archaeological discovery, I doubt we will ever know what the reference is.

A list of what it’s not, based on the clear teaching of scripture, is helpful.

It’s not something that saves those:
who don’t choose, wish or want it. Revelation 22:17
without faith. Hebrew 11:6
who do not repent and are not baptized. Acts 2:38
who do bad things while “in the body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

There’s also room to argue it refers to a practice Paul does not necessarily approve. First, as we have pointed out, this reference to baptism for the dead is obscure. Not only does no other writer mention it in scripture, but neither does Paul mention it elsewhere. If this is an approved practice why is it not described and explained?
Another strong point is Paul does not say “we” but “they” in reference to those who are baptizing for the dead. In doing so he creates grammatical distance between himself and this practice. Was that his intention? One could argue it was not, but it certainly makes his approval doubtful.

#baptism-for-the-dead, #personal-responsibility, #proxy-baptism, #purgatory

Baptized for the Dead

On Sunday morning, I am speaking on Purgatory. That leads to the issue of baptism for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).

When I was reading what others have written about it, the general consensus is that it does not mean vicarious baptism because it was not being practiced at the time by the church as a whole, but that we do not fully understand what it means.

One writer said that Paul appears to be making the point that detractors were denying the resurrection but that even pagans believed in the doctrine, since they were practicing vicarious baptism.

What do you think the passage means?

#baptism, #baptism-for-the-dead, #purgatory

Speaking a Spiritual Foreign Language

I am preparing to speak at a lectureship this Sunday on the doctrine of the Purgatory. The study has been discouraging because of the levels of false doctrine I am reading. Here is a quote that is simply astounding. It is like they are speaking a foreign language because this is so far removed from what I see in Scripture.

A writer wanted to explain how you can avoid purgatory through indulgences:

“For one recitation of short prayers, He grants 100 or 300 or more days Indulgence. These we may say hundreds of times in the day. Those who say the little prayer: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee” one hundred times a day gain 30,000 days Indulgence. Those who say it 1,000 times, as many do, gain 300,000 days Indulgence each day! These Indulgences can be applied to our own souls, and we shall thus directly make satisfaction for our sins. Or, we may apply them to the souls in Purgatory, who will see to it that we do not lose by our generosity.”

Wow. Where to begin…

#indulgences, #prayer, #purgatory, #salvation

Prayer, Pride and Purgatory

These three items in the title are on my mind this morning. Let me explain:

  • We all have problems and pains in this world. They are a part of the human condition. As a Christian, we hear that we should give our problems to the  Lord. But what does that mean in a practical sense? How do we accomplish that? Read my discussion and comment, please.
  • I am so proud of the new Forthright Magazine page! It is gorgeous and I pray much good is done in the Lord’s kingdom, as a result. Remember, if you  were a subscriber before, nothing has changed. We hope even more people will subscribe and that our readership will increase. Please pray about this work and frequent the page. And of course, please promote us on your website and add a link, if that would be appropriate.
  • In mid-August, I am to speak on the doctrine of Purgatory for a lectureship. I am reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, where much of the doctrine originates. Your input and information on the false doctrine of Purgatory would be appreciated.  By the way, if you have a major doctrine in your denomination and it isn’t even discussed in the International  Standard Bible Encyclopedia, that is a bad sign. 🙂

#forthright, #joy, #prayer, #pride, #problems, #purgatory