Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"Our Genealogy Work Is Done": A Faulty Attitude

Today one of our local genealogy enthusiasts pointed out some problems in thinking that one's genealogy work is done. Many LDS people with LDS ancestors think that the genealogy work for their line has been "done" by some ancestor who allegedly researched all the lines of the family tree as far as possible and ensured that temple work was done was done, etc. That may be accurate--or it may be hearsay. If you think that's true, here are a few questions that you might consider:
  • Do you and your family have a copy of the data, the stories, and the photographs from all that work?
  • Have new tools and updated data sets been applied to extend or correct the work?
  • Have you recorded and preserved information from your own family and from your own life? Are your stories recorded, are your photos archived and captioned, and do your family members have copies?
Her comments helped me to realize that just because some of us might have heard that our work is done, there is always more good to be achieved in the precious realm of family history work.

Have you updated your journal recently? Or written up a summary of key events in your life or for the past year? Now that they New Year has just started (according to the Chinese lunar calendar, of course), this would be a good time to take steps toward implementing those family history resolutions you may have made.

16 comments:

Amy said...

I do know people who have all their genealogy done. They are pure Danish, living in Denmark, and have exhausted all the sources on every family line as far back as the records go.

Other than that, I don't know anyone who is even close. Most of the researched and published family histories I've seen leave a lot to be desired.

And these books and research projects usually only address one family line.

The records that are available online are so wonderful nowadays and are an amazing starting point for researching one's family. It's an amazing adventure to learn about your family heritage.

/s/Family Historian, Geo. and Ann Prior Jarvis Family Association

Paul said...

I had a good friend when I lived in Taiwan. He was an auditor by profession, and his role in their family's efforts was to audit the records and do the clean-up -- a massive task (made slightly easier at some points by the new FamilySearch.org tools).

My MIL, an avid family history researcher from good pioneer stock has found there's plenty of fertile research ground among cousins and children and extended families of their "direct" line.

You're right: it's hard to be "done."

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this geneology stuff. I mean it's interesting, but there must some specific reason it's such a big deal for mormons.

Steve said...

Anonymous- I think I know. Mormons do all their geneology work so they can baptize the dead. They take this from 1 Corinthians 15:29 "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?"

Mormons go to their temple, temporarily adopt the name of a person who has died, and then the Mormon is baptized in water for that deceased person. This way, in the mormon view, the dead person has fulfilled the requirements of salvation in the afterworld. This is of course for the general resurrection, not their exaltation.

Notice that Paul says "they", meaning non-Christians. Just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis, where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife. The context of the verse does not suggest that Christians should baptize for the dead. That's what pagans did.

Pops said...

They take this from 1 Corinthians 15:29...

No, actually, they don't.

This is of course for the general resurrection...

Well, no, not really. Resurrection is a free gift for all - it doesn't require baptism.

Notice that Paul says "they", meaning non-Christians.

Stretching a bit, are we?

Steve said...

OK Pops- enlighten me- why does the mormon church do it's geneology work?

And re: 1 Corinthians 15:29, I've had mormons quote that verse to me justifying baptism for the dead. But Paul isn't saying that he does that type of thing, or encouraged it.

Pops said...

The commandment to perform baptisms for the dead was received by revelation. The reason for the commandment is to provide to all of God's children an equal opportunity to enter the Celestial Kingdom regardless of whether they lived when the priesthood authority to perform baptisms was on the earth or not.

Paul wouldn't have used a pagan practice as evidence of the reality of the physical resurrection. He would have used a Christian practice. Thus the verse is cited as evidence that early Christians performed the same ordinance. It did not provide the impetus for the current practice.

Steve said...

Pops, but that's just it- baptism for the dead is not a Christian practice. Even your Alma of the BOM says there is no chance after death in chapter 34:34-35. "For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his"

You wrote of the celestial kingdom, but there is only one heaven, and one hell. There are not multiple levels of heaven. I supposed that next you might reference 2 Corinthians 12:2 where Paul mentions the "third heaven". That, my friend, does not mean there are three or more different levels of heaven. Back in Paul's day, they had a different concept of our world and what they could see from it. The first heaven consisted of the the earth's atmosphere with plants, animals, etc (as in Deut 11:17). The second heaven had the sun, stars, and moon (as in Isaiah 13:10). The third heaven was the dwelling place of God (Matthew 5:16).

And re: the revelation you speak of, I can't believe any of Joseph Smith's revelations, or any of his successors' revelations. Smith didn't know where his revelations came from. For example, when by "revelation" he sent some folks to Canada to sell a copyright to the BOM. They failed (An Address To All Believers In Christ, David Whitmer).

There are other examples of Smith's false prophesy, but you only have to fail once to be a false prophet
Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Pops said...

...baptism for the dead is not a Christian practice...

So you continue to assert that Paul justified the Christian belief in the resurrection by reference to a non-Christian practice?

Steve said...

So you continue to assert that Paul justified the Christian belief in the resurrection by reference to a non-Christian practice?

Paul wasn't saying that Christians performed baptism for the dead. In verses 1-19 of 1 Corinthians 15, the fact of Christ's resurrection is described by Paul. Beginning in verse 20 and going through verse 23, Paul speaks about the order of the resurrection. Christ was the first one raised - in a glorified body - and next will be those who are His at His return. Verses 24 - 29 then mention Christ's reign and the abolition of death. This is when this controversial verse occurs.

Just north of Corinth was a city named Eleusis. This was the location of a pagan religion where baptism in the sea was practiced to guarantee a good afterlife. It is probable that the Corinthians were being influenced by the religious practices found at Eleusis where baptism for the dead was practiced.

Paul used this example from the pagans in 1 Cor. 15:29, when he said, "...if the dead are not raised, then why are they baptized for the dead?" Paul did not say we.

This is significant because the Christian church was not practicing baptism for the dead, but the pagans were.

Paul's point was simple. The resurrection is a reality. It is going to happen when Jesus returns. Even the pagans believe in the resurrection, otherwise, why would they baptize for the dead?

Pops said...

Even the pagans believe in the resurrection, otherwise, why would they baptize for the dead?

Nonsense, but nice try. Paul would have had to have been insane to use pagan practices to justify Christian beliefs.

Steve said...

Pops- you are missing the point. Baptism for the dead- is not a Christian practice. Paul didn’t say “we”, he said “they”. If he or other Christians performed baptism for the dead, he would have said “we”. Did Christ tell anyone to be baptized for the dead? If it was so important, don’t you think He would have mentioned it?

In the context of 1 Corinthians 15, the theme is that of resurrection, not baptism. The mention of baptism was certainly not used to say that it was required for resurrection or salvation.

The reason for the commandment is to provide to all of God's children an equal opportunity to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

You seem to still be saying that the dead have a second chance. There is no second chance.

Hebrews 9:27: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: “…

Even Alma, quoted above, says that there is no second chance.

So what about the people who have died without hearing the Gospel? Do you doubt the ability of the Lord to judge righteously?

Psalm 96:12-13: “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.”

Psalm 19:9: “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”

Pops said...

Did Christ tell anyone to be baptized for the dead?

Yes. It's recorded in Doctrine and Covenants, sections 127 and 128.

I should point out that there are a number of relevant New Testament passages that should be mentioned in the context of this discussion. Here are a couple:

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

And this:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

So, yes, I believe Christ will judge perfectly, and that he will keep his word in every regard.

You seem to still be saying that the dead have a second chance. There is no second chance.

Au contraire, I think I largely agree with you when you say there is no second chance. I'm comfortable with the statement that the purpose of baptism for the dead is to give people a first chance, not a second chance. Of course that hinges on what constitutes a "chance".

It would be to no avail if there weren't a space of time between death and the resurrection, as explained in Alma 40 for example. We know that during that space of time the gospel will continue to be preached, as also explained by Peter:

For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Those who accept the gospel in that sphere of existence, being in the spirit rather than in the flesh, cannot be baptized in water but will have the opportunity to accept a proxy baptism performed in their behalf by those who follow Christ's injunction to be baptized for their dead kin. They too will have the opportunity to believe and be baptized, and thus to enter into the kingdom of God.

Steve said...

Hi Pops-

The topic here is baptism for the dead. You’ve admitted that Mormons do their genealogy in order to baptize the dead, so that they have a chance to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

Re: Doctrine and Covenants, sections 127 and 128, as stated before, I can’t accept that as God’s inspired Word. You couldn’t come up with one Biblical passage where Christ commanded, performed, or even encouraged baptism for the dead.

You said nothing about Hebrews 9:27, “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” First chance, second chance, it doesn’t matter- there is NO chance after death. No chance for what? Believing that Christ died for our sins is all that is required to live in God’s presence after death. No work, including baptism, is required. It is a gift of God.

Re: your reference to John 3:5: “…Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”…that’s not saying that literal, physical, water-based baptism is a requirement for anything. I ask you again to consider the context of the verse, and that of the whole NT. Verse 4 “…How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?” In this context, Jesus’ reference to “born of water” references the normal birth of children from their mother’s womb. In the overall context of the NT, “baptism” means immersion in the Word of God, not physical wetness. Not that there is anything wrong with baptism. But it is a work, and not a requirement for anything.

Consider Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”.

Re: 1 Peter 4:6, “…For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead,…”, Verse 6 actually references the people in verse 4, who were still alive, speaking evil of Christians, but dead in sin (because of their unbelief). Even if you consider the "dead" literally, physically dead, notice that the gospel WAS preached to the living who are now dead. While they were living, the gospel was preached to them. It doesn’t say “For this cause IS the gospel preached also to them…”

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

I wish you the best my friend- I hope you accept Jesus as your Savior, without any strings or works attached.

Pops said...

Matthew 7:21

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Steve said...

Pops, by quoting Matthew 7:21, are you trying to counter my quotes from Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5? Faith vs Works? I think we've covered that in one of Jeff's previous blog posts "Three Chiseled Stones..."

We could go on, but there is much fodder for discussion in future posts - I see one already...