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Baptism in the Book of Mormon

… it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.

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Moroni

Chapter 8

8 Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me.

9 And after this manner did the Holy Ghost manifest the word of God unto me; wherefore, my beloved son, I know that it is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children.

10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

11 And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.

12 But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!

13 Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.

14 Behold I say unto you, that he that supposeth that little children need baptism is in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; for he hath neither faith, hope, nor charity; wherefore, should he be cut off while in the thought, he must go down to hell.

15 For awful is the wickedness to suppose that God saveth one child because of baptism, and the other must perish because he hath no baptism.

16 Wo be unto them that shall pervert the ways of the Lord after this manner, for they shall perish except they repent. Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.

17 And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love; wherefore, all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love; and they are all alike and partakers of salvation.

18 For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

19 Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy.

20 And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption.

21 Wo unto such, for they are in danger of death, hell, and an endless torment. I speak it boldly; God hath commanded me. Listen unto them and give heed, or they stand against you at the judgment-seat of Christ.

22 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—

23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.

 

Questions:

  1. If saving one child because he was baptized and not saving another because he was not baptized makes God “a partial God” and “a respecter of persons,” why cannot the same be said of God when it comes to adults, where He (according to the LDS) requires the baptism of all, which is why the LDS Church teaches the need for vicarious baptism for the unbaptized dead? Saving an unbaptized child, but not an unbaptized adult doesn’t make a God a partial God or a respecter of persons?
  2. Since the LDS Church does teach the need for baptism and does practice baptism for the dead, why would there even be any concern for children who died without baptism, since those ordinances need not be performed before death by anyone – in fact, for most, will not be? Wouldn’t baptism for the dead rectify the problem just as easily for unbaptized children as it does for unbaptized adults?
  3. Why does Moroni 8:13 claim that if baptism were necessary for the salvation of little children that those who had not been baptized would, necessarily, have gone straight to hell? In other words, why do the Book of Mormon Prophets know nothing of baptism for the dead?
  4. If little children are completely innocent and unable to sin, why does saying that they do need to be baptizes “set at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption,” since they have no sin that needs to be covered by the atonement? (This passage doesn’t seem to suggest that they are without sin because of the atonement but because little children have never been capable of sinning.)
  5. Who are those “without the law,” for which baptism also avails nothing, but is considered “dead works,” given the LDS teaching on the necessity of baptism for all over the age of 8 and their practice of baptism for the dead? Again, why does the Book of Mormon seem to not know anything about the LDS gospel doctrine of baptism for the dead?

 

Just some things I was thinking about today when looking at this passage in the Book of Mormon on baptism…

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