“The Lord was NOT saying that it was acceptable to be doing baptisms for the dead in the river at that time..”

I got the following email this morning. For some reason I feel impressed to share this exchange now by itself instead of including it in the next notable emails segment.

Watcher,
I was reading D&C 107:8 and this phrase was a bit odd. 
8 The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of presidency, and has POWER and AUTHORITY over ALL the offices in the church in ALL AGES OF THE WORLD, to ADMINISTER in spiritual things.
I did a key word search for “in all ages of the world” and found these one two references. 
D&C 128:9
9 It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a POWER which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, IN ALL AGES OF THE WORLD, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, THIS POWER has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in AUTHORITY, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?
And also this one from Oliver Cowdery endnote in JS–H 1. 

For the question might be asked, have men AUTHORITY to administer in the name of Christ … when His testimony is … the spirit of prophecy, and His religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations, IN ALL AGES OF THE WORLD when He has had a people on earth?

It looks to me that because the Melchizedek priesthood is without beginning of days or end of years that it’s attending sealing power has the ability to reach all the way back to ALL ages of the world to perform or bind and seal. 

Yet another reason that current LDS sealings or baptisms don’t have the saving power or authority needed to perform this great work. 
Yet another reason why the Lord revealed to Jospeh in D&C 124:28-30 that there needed to be a place to restore the fulness, which was lost and a place to build a baptismal font. 
28 For there is NOT a place found on earth that he may come to and RESTORE AGAIN that which was LOST unto you, or which he hath TAKEN AWAY, even the fulness of the priesthood.
 
29 For a baptismal font there is NOT upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead—
 
30 For this ordinance BELONGETH to my house, and CANNOT be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.
 
This last verse seems odd to me for two reasons:
1) They WERE able to build a house unto the Lord. So were the river baptisms NOT acceptable unto the Lord?
2) If the river baptisms were acceptable, then why the need to have fulness restored if it was functioning at that time to perform baptisms for the dead?

 

My response is as follows

Great keyword search!

I love how the principle of parsing the intertextuality of passages brings together related passages of scripture and provides clarity and broader context.
Regarding your last question, please note how the strand of text in Section 124:28-35 uses various phrases that pertain to BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD 5 times yet buried in the text one time, is the singular use of the word BAPTISMS.  
The term “baptisms”, as opposed to “baptisms for the dead” or a similar variation, only shows up only once, buried in the narrative in such a subtle way as to lead the casual reader to assume that the use of the word “baptism” is still referring to the  topic of baptisms for the dead.
IT IS NOT!
I would submit to you that the Lord was not being lazy in his use of language. He was not using the word BAPTISM in verse 31 as an abbreviated term for BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD.
He was being very intentional when he said that their baptisms [FOR THE LIVING ]would only be acceptable during a probationary time that they were being given to complete the temple.
He was not giving them license to perform baptisms or the dead in the rivers.
This is consistent with the theme in this section that the saints were on probation and on the verge of being rejected as a church.
In other words, the Lord was NOT saying that it was acceptable to be doing baptisms for the dead in the river at that time, he warned the saints that they were on probation…. he was saying that the evangelical-patriarchal priesthood keys that enabled the ordinance of baptizing the living would only remain with them on earth during the acceptable time that the saints had been given to build the temple.
If the saints failed to comply, the church would be rejected as a church with their dead, ie, the keys of the church to perform the saving ordinances of the gospel for the living would be taken away.
This was fulfilling the warning given by John the Baptist in section 13, who alluded to the fact that after the acceptable offering had been made, all bets were off as to whether the evangelical/patriarchal keys given by John would remain on the earth.
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, **UNTIL** the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.
Verse 32 is hammering home the point that if the saints failed to complete the temple by the appointed time, neither the baptisms for the dead nor the baptisms for the living would be acceptable.
This interpretation is consistent with the general narrative of Section 124. It is consistent with verse 29 which informs the saints that there is not a FONT on the earth that qualifies for doing baptisms for the dead. Why then would rivers qualify for doing baptisms for the dead if fonts were not acceptable?
As I recall, there are snippets in Section 128 that substantiate this interpretation. Baptisms for the dead are NEVER allowed above ground. They must be performed below the ground in likeness of the dead who have been buried. Rivers and traditional fonts are above the ground.
Furthermore, the implication of the narrative implies that the restoration of the fulness of the priesthood is required in order to perform the ordinance of baptisms for the dead. It is a Melchizedek Priesthood function.
 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.
 29 For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead—
 30 For this ordinance belongeth to my house, and cannot be acceptable to me, only in the days of your poverty, wherein ye are not able to build a house unto me.
 31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms [for the living] shall be acceptable unto me.
 32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.
 33 For verily I say unto you, that after you have had sufficient time to build a house to me, wherein the ordinance of baptizing for the dead belongeth, and for which the same was instituted from before the foundation of the world, your baptisms for your dead cannot be acceptable unto me;
 34 For therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.
 35 And after this time, your baptisms for the dead, by those who are scattered abroad, are not acceptable unto me, saith the Lord.
 
Editorial Note: I since received the following two emails from him
Oh my gosh!! 
That makes so much sense. 
Thank you for pointing that out. I vaguely remember you pointing that out in a previous post. This time it makes more sense. 
I guess I wasn’t ready. Wasn’t willing to believe that there really isn’t any authority to baptize in the church. 
And
Watcher,
I was re-reading your comments again this morning. 
You said, “As I recall, there are snippets in Section 128 that substantiate this interpretation. Baptisms for the dead are NEVER allowed above ground. They must be performed below the ground in likeness of the dead who have been buried.”
I read D&C 128:12-13 and saw what you were referring to. I had never seen that before. 
12 Herein is glory and honor, and immortality and eternal life—The ordinance of baptism by water, to be immersed therein in order to answer to the likeness of the dead, that one principle might accord with the other; to be immersed in the water and come forth out of the water is in the likeness of the resurrection of the dead in coming forth out of their graves; hence, this ordinance was instituted to form a relationship with the ordinance of baptism for the dead, being in likeness of the dead.
 
13 Consequently, the baptismal font was instituted as a similitude of the grave, and was commanded to be in a place underneath where the living are wont to assemble, to show forth the living and the dead, and that all things may have their likeness, and that they may accord one with another
According to this, all of the baptisms for the dead done in the river, were never accepted. It begs the question as to whether the ones done in the baptismal font after Nov. 21, 1841 were either since the temple wasn’t finished. 
I know that Lyman Wight says they weren’t. But when did he come to that conclusion? After the martyrdom?
There’s so much in plain sight. I read so much with LDS blinders. Four years of seminary and church education at their university, not to mention every Sunday school lesson really beats in to one the doctrine they want you to believe or know. And now they’ve eliminated all but 20 scriptures from scripture mastery and replaced it with “doctrinal mastery”. 
When the light of the gospel shines forth again this verse will have more meaning for those in mainstream LDS than those out of it. 
2 Ne. 27:35
They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they … shall learn doctrine.
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