LDS Articles of Faith, Part XX
Article IV, Baptism (continued)
In the Articles of Faith (A. of F.) LDS Apostle James Talmage said on p. 132 "Evidence is abundant that the Savior regarded the baptized state as an essential condition of membership in His Church." That “abundant evidence” is not in the Bible since it doesn’t say anything about “church membership.” The only “members” mentioned in the Bible are members of the Body of Christ as in I Cor. 12:12-13, 18 etc. I Cor. 12 speaks about the spiritual Body of Christ which includes every true believer. I Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” That baptism is not water baptism but it is the baptism by the Holy Spirit that makes every believer part of the body of Christ, which is the true New Testament Church. I Cor. 12:27 was written to believers and says, "Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular." Eph. 1:22-23 says, “And hath put all things under His (Christ’s) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." The New Testament Church is not an institution like the LDS Church but a called out body of those who believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Talmage said in the same paragraph, “We are informed that those who were baptized as Jesus had directed, were called the Church of Christ.” The Bible does not say that. But the Book of Mormon (B. of M) says it in III Nephi 26:21. The B. of M. is a Mormon book published in 1830 by Joseph Smith who claimed it was an ancient historical book of scripture. No historical or archaeological evidence supports it as a real history of real people and there is no evidence it even existed before 1830. Mormon sects accept it as scripture but Christian faiths do not. So, when LDS use the B.of M. to prove that Jesus said or did something it is not valid evidence. When Joseph Smith organized the LDS Church in 1830 it was called the Church of Christ. But Thomas and Alexander Campbell had already called their church the Church of Christ. So, in 1838 Smith said he had a revelation that the LDS church should be called “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” That became Doctrine & Covenants (D. & C.) 115 in LDS scripture. In the Bible the church is called the church of God seven times, the churches of God twice, once it is called the church of the firstborn and once the churches of Christ. But it is never called the church of Jesus Christ! The followers of Christ were called Christians, Nazarenes, saints, the way, believers etc. The name of Christ’s church or of His followers was not an issue in New Testament times. Only for those who claim to be the one true “church” is the name an issue!
Talmage said on p. 137 of the A. of F., “Bodily immersion (in water) by a duly commissioned servant or representative of the Savior is the only true form” (of baptism). LDS Apostle, Bruce McConkie, also said, “Baptism by immersion under the hands of a legal administrator, one empowered to bind on earth and seal in heaven, is the initiatory ordinance into the (LDS) Church on earth and the celestial kingdom in the world to come” (Mormon Doctrine, pp.69-70). LDS not only believe that baptism (by immersion) is required for salvation, but also that the one who does the baptizing must be properly “authorized.” The original Greek word for baptism means immersion, so LDS have the mode right. But neither Jesus nor His apostles said that only those properly ordained and authorized could baptize. The Bible doesn’t say who baptized the 12 Apostles, the 3000 believers in Acts 2:41, or most of the new believers. Only rarely does it say who did the baptizing. So that was not an issue in the New Testament church. Many LDS authorities including Talmage on p. 143 of the A. of F. have used Acts 19:1-7 to try to show that only “authorized” persons could baptize. But Acts 19:3-5 actually shows that John’s baptism was not for the same purpose as Christian baptism. John baptized “with the baptism of repentance” even before Jesus began His ministry! But Christian baptism identifies believers with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12-13) and it symbolizes our death to sin and rising to walk in newness of life. So, the Apostle Paul’s question in Acts 19:1-7 was not “who baptized you” but “what was the purpose of your baptism?” Authority or Priesthood had nothing to do with Paul’s question and isn’t even mentioned in this context.
D. & C. 20:72-74, which is LDS scripture says, “Baptism is to be administered in the following manner unto all those who repent—The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” Notice that baptism is for “all those who repent.” LDS say children have no sin until eight years old but they baptize children for the remission of their sins when they are eight years old! (See D. & C. 68:25-27). I have asked LDS eight year olds why they are getting baptized the answer is always, “Because I’m eight.” Not one has ever said, “Because I’ve repented” or “I’ve trusted Christ as Savior.” Even adults seem to think baptism by “authorized” men and joining the “true church” is the way to a happy eternity even though the Bible doesn’t teach that. Repentance is a bit nebulous for most of those getting baptized into the LDS Church. But it is enforced when LDS members do something the LDS Church doesn’t approve of. If it is a major issue, LDS members may be disciplined or even excommunicated until their leaders think they have met all of the requirements of true repentance and then they can be reinstated as active members.
D. & C. 20:72-74 has the words that must be said when they baptize and they have to be said exactly that way. The same is true of the LDS sacrament service. The exact words in D. & C. 20: 77-79 must be prayed over the bread and water every Sunday at LDS sacrament services. If the priesthood holder who says the prayer makes a mistake he must start over and say it exactly as it is in the D. & C. I was in an LDS sacrament service as a young Mormon when the young priest made a mistake and started over four times and still made a mistake so the bishop said the prayer but he also misquoted it! Joseph Smith claimed that D. & C. 20 with exact prayers to use was a revelation from God in April of 1830. God must have forgotten what He said in Matt. 6:7. It says, “But when ye pray use not vain repetitions as the heathen do: for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.” But, LDS insist that the exact words must be said for baptisms and for the sacrament. The Bible doesn’t support the repetition of the same prayers for anything! LDS do that as part of their works to achieve God’s approval. LDS don’t know that true believers in Christ have “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1) and are “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10) because He “saves them to the uttermost who come to God by Him” (Heb. 7:25).
Next time we will discuss baptism for the dead.