Saviors on Mount Zion

Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Chapter 41: pg. 468-478; “We become saviors on Mount Zion by performing sacred ordinances for the dead “But how are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them.”

1 Cor. 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  famous passage of scripture brought about an infamous practice in the Mormon Church and is what the Mormons have attached themselves to in order to justify their practice of baptisms for the dead.  Taking one verse from the Bible and making an entire doctrinal practice from it is a hallmark indication of a cult.  Unless there is more than one incident of a practice taking place rest assured it means the topic has been taken out of context. 

There are a number of things to consider in this case. 

Forgiveness must be obtained in this life;

Luke 16:26, 2 Cor. 5:10, Heb. 9:27 

We’re not saved because of the actions or inactions of others; 

Romans 2:6, Romans 14:10-12 

We aren’t to give attention to genealogies or ancestors; 

1 Timothy 1:4, Titus 3:9 

Each of us individually is to be baptized for ourselves; 

Acts 2:38 (how are we to receive the Holy Spirit when we’re dead?), 

In addition to all this, the Book of Mormon tells us that after death comes judgment, not another chance at salvation! 

2 Nephi 2:21, 2 Nephi 33:9, Alma 34:32-35 

Now consider what the actual text says. To date it’s not been proven exactly what Paul was referring to in this passage other than it was a defense for the resurrection. However, it’s pretty obvious from his dissertation there were false teachers in the Corinthian church that were teaching Christ had not risen from the dead.  Notice the pronouns in this chapter. Paul said “they” were baptized for the dead and what shall they do if they don’t believe there is a resurrection and their faith is in vain.

Many commentators and historians believe verse 29 indicates those in the surrounding area were practicing this pagan ritual of baptizing dead relatives and friends, thus the apostle’s question; “If you don’t even believe in the resurrection of Christ then why are you being baptized for people when it’s a declaration of the resurrection?”  This seems to be more sensible than taking this one verse and declaring you should be baptized for dead people. 

Also take note throughout the Bible when God admonishes the Israelites from delving into any practice with dead people.