By David Kowalski
I once had an apparently troubled Mormon ask me about the LDS practice of baptism for the dead and whether he should see that as something mandated in the NT.
The passage used by Mormons to support this practice is 1 Corinthians 15:29 NASB:
Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
There are lengthy answers one can offer for this but the shortest one (which I offer below) is, I think, sufficient.
There are different ways believers have tried to explain this verse but all remain speculative since Paul does not elaborate. He simply refers to the practice (whatever it was) in passing as he argues for the resurrection of the dead.
A verse such is this is not enough upon which to base a doctrine or practice. Even if the Corinthians were practicing the same kind of baptism for the dead the LDS do, this would not be grounds for our doing so. Remember that description is not necessarily prescription. The fact that a practice is mentioned in passing in Scripture is not necessarily to be taken as a command for us to do likewise.
If description equals prescription, all Mormons should be selling their homes and giving the money away as was done by some believers in the early church. Paul merely describes a practice in passing. We need more to establish a divinely given doctrine or mandated practice.
Of course, this is perhaps the least of the problems Evangelicals have with the the Latter Day Saints.
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