The doctrine of Baptisms for the dead and purposeful confusion

Often, it seems all the time these days, I read about various religious groups complaining about the use of baptisms for the dead.  It seems like the church continually falls under attack from various groups, most who seem to misunderstand or directly and purposely confuse the doctrine to their own purposes.

In a recent article, a leader of one of the Jewish Groups was quoted as saying the following:

“They tell me, that my parents’ Jewishness has not been altered but … 100 years from now, how will they be able to guarantee that my mother and father of blessed memory who lived as Jews and were slaughtered by Hitler for no other reason than they were Jews, will someday not be identified as Mormon victims of the Holocaust?” Ernest Michel said Monday.

While I understand the history of the Jewish people, including the forced conversions, I see this point as purposely being obtuse.  Honestly, if they have met with the church often enough, they would know that no one is going to consider these names “Mormon”.

Along with this was the recent move, Catholics have been told to keep records from the Church.  Prior to that Anglicans have done the same at times.

In all of these discussions it almost seems as if their is a movement afoot for Mormons to force these dead people to convert.  I am pretty sure they are not on any active rolls we pass around, though apparently they do vote from time to time.

While I am sympathetic to the idea of protecting people from being mistreated I wish various groups would be honest about the real reason they are putting up such a fuss.  And one thing they usually do to build sympathy is to cite terrible people who also have received the same ordinances.

I personally see all this as mostly about the same old sport being done by many, lets attack the LDS because they are easy targets.  Lets go through the IGI and see if we can embarrass them.  Use their money, support, and organization on one hand then slam them as cultist on the other.

Meanwhile atheists, gay rights groups and others have been using the Mormons as a convenient whipping boys.  One would almost think we are the ones preaching hate and terror.  Blow someone up, gain 72 plural wives in the Celestial kingdom.

As I said earlier, these groups continually use the confusion over the church to colour us in the worst way.  It is almost as if everyone has said, hey those guys like Ed Decker had the right idea, lets do that.  As someone who does family history, in part to create a link to my dead ancestors, in part because their lives fascinate me, I feel violated by those who treat such a wonderful, merciful doctrine as a thing of hate.

Not one Mormon I know thinks Jews should be forcibly converted, most would in fact argue that we are adopted brothers and sisters who want the best for them and their culture.  The concept that we see them as Gentiles, seems out dated and false.

I for one do not see all my kindred accepting the gospel, though they might, and I am ok with that, I have hopefully done all I can to help them.  If at some point that person in this life was Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu or what have you, it will not stop me from offering them the chance to have the gospel any more than it would have on my mission.  Because if they accept it we will live once more together in a familial society.

But even if all I have done is to make it easier for my children, and my descendants to know where they come from and the type of people that have been their progenitors then I think that just as important a work as both a family and academic historian.  None of that could be possible without the drive to redeem the dead.  Too few people in this world really care about where they came from for that to really be achieved in the same way.  With that in mind I feel there is a lot of misunderstanding being spread.

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3 Responses to The doctrine of Baptisms for the dead and purposeful confusion

  1. Another fine essay, Jon. *You* know why you do family history work, despite others’ deliberately twisted understanding.

  2. Jon W says:

    Thanks it just frustrates me to see how they mangle our doctrine to make us out as some evil bad guy looking to convert after death those we could not in this life. I often wonder to what end do they see that? Else why do they care if we baptize the dead if the dead rise not at all?

    To paraphrase Paul.

  3. BruceC says:

    They are certainly emitting a lot of paranoia, something we as Mormons should understand. But I have not seen the Church as an institution ever pushing back on the issue. We have been very willing to accommodate their requests whenever they are made.

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