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What are Remnant Beliefs about Temples?

Joseph Smith built temples in Kirtland and Nauvoo.  The LDS Church has more than 100 temples in operation now, worldwide.  In our last conversation with Jim Vun Cannon, a counselor in the First Presidency of the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I asked  if temples are a part of their worship.

Jim:  Yes absolutely.  In fact we have a recent revelation that talks about beginning to prepare for the building of the temple, but we haven’t had a command to build a temple yet, but to prepare for that.  We do believe in temples, absolutely.

GT:  I know the RLDS Church/Community of Christ, I actually remember going to the temple, I was so excited.  In the LDS Church, you can go to the open house but after that it’s hands off, and I was really excited to go to the Independence Temple.  Even in Kirtland, that’s a temple that’s open to the public.  Would you anticipate that would be the case as well?  That it would be kind of a special meetinghouse?

Jim:  As best as I can say, I would think it would be very similar to how we treat Kirtland:  reverently but it’s still open.  There’ s nothing anything in there that someone couldn’t see.

GT:  Ok.  I know baptisms for the dead.  I believe that’s something that was canonized in the RLDS Church for a time, although then it was later moved to an appendix and actually has been de-canonized.

Jim:  Yeah, section 107 is what it is for us.  In the 1970 conference they put that in the appendix, yes.

GT:  Oh, ok.  Joseph I believe said that baptisms for the dead should be done in the temple.  I know that before the Nauvoo Temple was completed, they did some in the Mississippi River.  Is that something that you guys would participate in the Remnant Church?

Jim:  No.  Here’s where we’re at with that revelation.  We don’t deny that Joseph gave what we call section 107 which was talking about finishing the temple, otherwise you’ll be rejected with your dead.  I’m not sure what section it is for you all.

GT:  I don’t know off the top of my head either.[1]

Jim:  Oh you don’t either.  The way we look at that is that we see that there was only two places that it was given instruction that it could be done.  One was in the temple in Nauvoo, and the other was in Independence.  The other part of that was, the other issue that we have with it is that we don’t have any instruction through Joseph from the Lord through Joseph on that particular instance—for instance like I was talking about your section 20 which is our section 17, the Lord was very specific in explaining how water baptism was to occur and what was to be said and so forth.  We don’t have anything like that and so we find that kind of spurious that there wasn’t any instruction given that we can point the reference to and so forth that that was to occur.

[1] LDS section 124 deals which Baptism for the dead is found at http://bit.ly/2fl4R01

We also talked about a lay clergy, differences with high councils, and I discovered they don’t have stakes yet!  I hope you enjoyed our discussions, and I hope you’ll check out parts 18 as well!  Check out our conversation…..

 

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Origins of Baptism for the Dead

Baptism for the dead is one of the most unique things Mormons do in all of Christianity.  What were the events that led Joseph to inquire about this practice?  Dr. Richard Bennett, a BYU professor in Church History talks about these events.  They started in Kirtland, although a lot of the events also happened in Nauvoo.

Alvin Smith, Joseph’s brother who died in 1823, was a big supporter of Joseph’s prophetic gift.  Alvin died from what was called bilious colic back in the day.  Doctors gave him some mercury to cure him, which ended up killing him.  The cure was worse than the disease in that case.  A Presbyterian minister said that since Alvin was never baptized, he was consigned to hell.  Joseph Smith, Sr. was so offended that he never joined with any of those protestant churches.  I asked Dr. Bennett if this was the source of Joseph’s thoughts on baptism for the dead.

It’s reasonable to suppose that this was a factor, but it’s impossible to prove.  It is certain though that Joseph Smith, Sr. himself is sick and dying in 1839, before Joseph Smith reveals baptism for the dead, and he dies within days of a few weeks of the announcement and Joseph Smith is clearly thinking about his father and perhaps of Alvin, so you wouldn’t want to dismiss this as immediate factors for it, but you can’t say for certain yet. We haven’t found anything yet where Joseph Smith says, this is where I came up with this idea.  It was a process of revelation.  We talked about the reclamation of revelation.  We have to think about the progression of revelation too.

What is the answer to the Haun’s Mill Massacre?  Joseph now is not just leading a church, people are dying for his religion.  The ante goes up in his mind.  It’s one thing to believe in what I’m telling you but people are giving their lives for it.  The Missouri conflict and conflagration, all those who died in sickness and death, David Patton [an apostle who died at Battle of Crooked River] and all the rest of the young boys and men and all the rest who died at Haun’s Mill, well what’s my answer to this?  What’s the Lord’s answer to this?  I think Joseph was asking the Lord very carefully.  We’re having an H of a time.  What are the answers to this?  I think that’s where you have to see baptism for the dead coming out of a much bigger context.

It should be noted that the Kirtland Temple never had a font.  A previous discussion said it was originally intended to be a school, not a temple, so that may explain some of that.  We talk about the Spirit of Elijah as being a spirit of genealogy work.  Could Elijah’s visit be more properly recognized as sealing dead ancestors through temple work, more so than marriage sealings?  What do you think?

Please consider a donation or purchasing a transcript here or at Amazon so we can put together some documentaries about the progression of temple work.  Please invite your friends and family who have questions about Mormon history to listen to the podcast above, video below so more can find out about this resource to learn more about Mormon history.