Friday, September 16, 2016

On Baptism

Many questions came to mind as I pondered discussions I've seen taking place on the interwebs this evening among believing "independent Mormons".

Do we honestly believe the words of Messiah are contained in 3 Nephi 11? If so, why do we believe He so specific and insistent on the manner of baptism of water? Why could Christ not ask those who have been baptized of water not in accordance to His word to be properly baptized again? Do we believe He recently extended this invitation to repentant Gentile LDSs? Have LDS baptisms been in accordance with what Christ asked in 3 Nephi 11? What would prevent Him from extending the exact same invitation to Christians not formerly LDS?

Does a person's experience receiving the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost necessarily mean any baptism of water at the same time was valid? If a baptism of water that does not conform to the doctrine of Christ declared by Christ in 3 Nephi 11 is to be recognized by God as authoritative, why was Christ so insistent and clear in his instruction?  Are there ever instances in our scriptures of persons or a people receiving the baptism of fire and the holy ghost even without having had any baptism of water? If so, why must our day somehow be different?

Do we really believe the explicit instructions given by Denver regarding the manner of proceeding with baptisms, which he plainly attributed to direct instruction to us from Jesus Christ, really came from Jesus Christ as claimed? If so, with such explicit instructions (including sustaining by seven women, obtaining authority directly from heaven, and following the "ordinance" of baptism with exactness as given in 3 Nephi 11), what justification can we offer for departing from any portion of it? Is it Christ's direction and words  to us today or not?

And, if a person believes in the Book of Mormon, she could ask why Christ, immediately after authorizing a group in 3 Nephi 11 to perform baptisms, then bothered to state: "On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you"? Had there been disputations before? Why did He expect there might be again and thus also the need for a clear warning? Who among us can dispute His instruction? When He said:
On this wise
shall ye
baptize them…
These are the words which
ye shall 
How are these not commandments from Christ?

How completely do we believe what the Lord stated in D&C 82:10?
I, the Lord, am bound
when ye 
do what I say;
but when ye 
do not what I say,
ye have no promise.
But, you might say, what of those who know Christ's voice and have received His spirit or the baptism of fire and the holy ghost but who have not received baptism of water "on this wise" yet? The Mena Grebins, Todd Whites, Jonathan Cahns, Ian Claytons, their followers, or others in the Christian world? Such a person could also ask, can they not be offered this baptism of water? Should they not? And if they were to accept it, would it suggest that they somehow did not know God previously? (Did it mean this when Nephi was baptized again? Or Joseph? Or Denver?) If it really is God's will and they hear and follow His voice (which His sheep do), why do we suppose they could not or would not hearken to His invitation? And what pride within a group would tempt them to believe that if such a movement really were a manifestation of God's renewed work that it would begin and end almost entirely within the Mormon corridor? Is our view of God's work so myopic?

And if such other Christians were not offered this invitation by a group asked to extend the invitation, who do we think the Lord would hold responsible? Them? Or do we feel we have the leeway and authority to tell others that their previous baptisms of water--not "on this wise"--will be recognized, when Christ Himself offers no such leeway? Would such a person feeling such latitude also feel authorized to improperly represent such baptisms as having been done according to the doctrine of Christ such that they can be submitted to the Recorder's Clearinghouse web site to be included in the record presented to the Lord in His temple? Exactly who could the "Christian ministers" be that Denver spoke of at the second coming who "knew they had taught falsely and that their faith could not save"? Must it be only Christian ministers that are "not us"? Could it include any who now count themselves among this "independent Mormonism" movement?

And what precisely does the correct performance of a rite (i.e., precisely according to the words & instruction of Christ) have at all to do with anyone "being" any better than anyone else? How does the offering of such a baptism "on this wise" by one group make them in any way superior to another group? Or necessarily mean the one is judgmental of the another? When the repentant anti-Nephi-Lehi's united themselves to the Nephites, presumably taking upon them the rite of baptism by water, did it somehow make the Nephites better? Have we not been commanded to extend the invitation to all in love and without judgment, coercion, priestcrafts, or pride?