And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same (Abraham, vs 2)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Re-baptism Revisited: LDS Changes

I have discussed Re-baptism here and how it was commonly and frequently practiced in the early days. Its a practice that went from commonly practiced, to not at all, to being forbidden today and removal of ones temple recommend.

Brigham Young said regarding re-baptism,
At this time came a revelation, that the Saints could be baptized and re-baptized when they chose. (Brigham Young J.D. 18:241) 
Nearly All the church have been Baptized again, for the Remission of their Sins, since they joined the Church, I have also, by the hands of Br. Joseph (as he himself has been,) & I would advise Jan and you Mary, to attend to it as soon as you can have the opportunity of an Elder or Priest of the Church to administer it. (Jacob Scott from Nauvoo in February, 1843)
Re-baptism as a requirement to enter the temple was discontinued in 1893. See Allen and Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints. (John Taylor to Angus M. Cannon, Nov 15, 1877) 

In a journal it states regarding re-baptism and the temple,
September 17th 1886–As it was customary to get baptized to prepare for my temple ordinances, before going to the temple so as to be free from all evil and wrong… I arranged with Brother Leatham, who has charge of baptisms on the Temple Block, to be baptized... 
I had already made arrangements to get Ida’s recommend to be baptized and at 2 p.m. ... I took Ida to the Old Endowment House and after a word of prayer and a few remarks by Brother Leatham, he baptized us and confirmed us for the renewal of our covenants. (Diary of John M. Whitaker, Book 3, p. 16.)
BYU has an article on Re-baptism here (screenshot here) states "On some occasions, the Saints were re-baptized as they prepared for marriage or entrance into the temple. Early members also re-baptized some of the sick among them as an act of healing. Because of misuse by some Church members, all such practices of re-baptism were discontinued in 1897," 

Which you'll notice does significantly downplay re-baptism as "on some occasions" when in fact it was a policy pretty standardized however acknowledges that re-baptism was part of the process upon entering the temple. 

The conference report that brought about its discontinued practice states:
We hear a good deal of talk about re-baptism, and the First Presidency and Twelve have felt that so much re-baptism ought to be stopped. (Conf. Rept., Oct. 1897, p. 68)
The prevalence of re-baptism can be seen in the temple recommend questions in that era. Here are the temple recommend questions in 1877:
"Those desiring to receive the benefit of these ordinances must obtain a recommend from the Bishop of the Ward or settlement in which they reside, or in the absence of the Bishop, the recommend may be signed by the President of the Stake. It will be well for persons presenting themselves at the Endowment House to receive the ordinances thereof, to be prepared to reply to the following questions:--" 
"When were you born?"
"Where were you born?"
"When were you first baptized?"
"What is your Father's name?"
"What was your Mother's maiden name?"
"No person will be eligible to receive these blessings except they have been rebaptized."
Today Stake Presidents are being directed to inform bishops to ask , whether inside or outside the recommend questions I don't know, to ask if the members have been "re-baptized" and removing recommends for doing so. If so they are asked by who and if you know who else has.

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