LDS Articles of Faith, Part XVIII
Article IV Baptism
Mormons baptize by immersion and so do many Christian churches so LDS use that similarity to try to proselyte non-LDS. But the only real similarity is immersion in water to baptize. The fourth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance, third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.” Biblical Christians obey Christ’s command to baptize but they also know that Christ died for our sins (I Cor. 15:3) and His blood cleanses us from all sin (I John1:7), so they don’t baptize to remit sin. But LDS Apostle James Talmage said on p. 120 of The Articles of Faith (A. of F.), “Baptism is the first essential ordinance of the Gospel.” He also said on pp. 121-122, “The establishment of baptism dates from the time of the earliest history of the race.” Then he quoted LDS scripture in the Pearl of Great Price (P. of G. P.), Moses 6:51-65 which says God spoke directly to Adam and told him to “believe and repent of all of thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is even Jesus Christ…And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.”
Some problems with the quotation from Moses in the P. of G.P. are: 1. No evidence exists that support the book of “Moses” as an ancient book. 2. Before Joseph Smith produced it in 1830-1831 no one saw or heard of it and only LDS accept it as scripture. 3. Baptism was not practiced until shortly before the time of Christ and was unknown in Adam’s time. 4. The words “Jesus Christ” come from the Greek language which didn’t exist in Adam’s time. 5. The statement that Jesus Christ is “the Only Begotten Son of God” is a New Testament doctrine and was unknown in Old Testament days. 6. The phrase that Christ was “full of grace and truth” is from John 1:17 and it says that grace and truth were revealed by the ministry of Jesus Christ, not in Adam's time! 7. There is no record of anyone being born of the Spirit prior to Christ’s earthly ministry. 8. There is no Biblical record of the Spirit of the Lord baptizing anyone in water.
Talmage said on p. 122 of the A. of F. “The special purpose of baptism is to afford admission to the Church of Christ with remission of sins…Justice forbids the granting of universal and unconditional pardon for sins committed except through obedience to ordained law; but means simple and effective are provided whereby the penitent sinner may enter into a covenant with God, sealing that covenant with the sign that commands recognition in heaven, that he will submit himself to the laws of God; thus he places himself within the reach of Mercy, under whose protecting influence he may win eternal life.” Talmage said the sign that commands recognition by God is baptism. But it is very egotistical to think that mortal men can “command God” to do anything! Jesus came to die for our sins (I Cor. 15:3). Jesus said, “He that believes on Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47) No Bible text says pardon for sin is gained by obedience to ordained law or that baptism affords admission to the Church of Christ or that men can “win eternal life” by what they do. All of those ideas are from men!
LDS scripture doesn’t help clarify their view of baptism. II Nephi 31:17 in the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) says, “For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.” But Doctrine & Covenants (D. & C.) 20:37 says, “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church." So, II Nephi 31:17 says that repentance and baptism remits their sin while D. & C. 20:37 says remission of sins qualifies one for baptism! II Nephi 31: 15-16 also says “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” Moroni 8:22-23 in the B. of M. says, “For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—but is a mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.” LDS scripture says all of those things, so it is not surprising that some LDS are confused about baptism!
LDS believe that “All little children are alive in Christ” (Moroni 8:22), so they reject infant baptism. In D. & C. 29:42, 46-47 “The Lord God” said, “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” D. & C. 18:42 says, “For all men must repent and be baptized, and not only men, but women, and children who have arrived at the age of accountability.” And D. & C. 68:25 & 27 state the age of accountability when it says, “And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents…And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of hands.” D. & C. 29:46-47 says children cannot sin until they reach the age of accountability at age eight, so WHY are they baptized for the remission of their sins at the age of eight?
LDS Apostle James Talmage said on p. 128 of the A. of F., “Baptism is essential to salvation… inasmuch as remission of sins constitutes a special purpose of baptism, and no soul can be saved in the kingdom of God with unforgiven sins, it is plain that baptism is essential to salvation. Salvation is promised to man on condition of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said that “Mormon doctrine is Bible doctrine and Bible doctrine is Mormon doctrine, they are one and the same” (What the Mormons Think of Christ, p. 2). NO Bible text says that “salvation is promised to man on condition of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” So, McConkie was either ignorant of what the Bible teaches or he lied about it. Neither option would make him a good LDS spiritual leader!
We will continue our discussion of baptism next time.