Dr. Einar C. Erickson
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The chief purpose and significance of baptism is first that the individual by immersion enters into close communion with the world of light, thus receiving a share of salvation and secondly receives an outer and inner purification from transgression and sin.

 

BAPTISM

INTRODUCTION

Baptism and confirmation by the Holy Ghost were among the first things that became distorted and corrupted in the Apostasy that followed when Christ and the Apostles left the earth. There are many resources to draw from including Greek and Latin papyrus and parchments, much of which is translated from original Aramaic sources. A number of sources are from localities in Egypt, such as the OXYRHYNCHUS PAPYRUS, from the northwest depressions of Egypt, found stuffed in crocodile skins. Most fragments have writing on them, they have been collected, given a number and generally called a ‘saying’, thus the Coptic Papyri and parchments, are so designated. and individual writers such as Jack Finegan, quoted often herein; and collections, individual and institutional, follow that pattern.(Wells p. 135) In Mathew 33:19, the risen Jesus bids his disciples “go ye therefore ands teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Ghost.”  And they did. But by the end of the third century AD the principles and practices were changed. The restoration has renewed them for all mankind.

MORMON’S BELIEF ON BAPTISM

Of the 13 Articles of Faith, a short listing of the basic beliefs of the Mormons, the fourth states the Mormon belief and practice of baptism: “4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel; are first, Faith in the Lord Jesús Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (ARTICLES OF FAITH, 4; HC, Vol. 5, pp. 535-541; D&C 138:33) It has to be by immersion with exact words required: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” Amen. Then the laying on of hands is for the receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. 

THE BAPTISM OF ADAM

In the Book of Moses, one of the Standard works of the Church, the Lord teaches Adam “all things bear record of me. And it came to pass when the Lord had spoken with Adam…that Adam cried unto the Lord and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water, and thus he was baptized. And the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the spirit and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou are baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost.” (Moses 6:63-66).

BAPTISM BY IMMERSION

Moses went out of his way to make sure the baptism was by immersion, “he was out caught away, carried down, laid under and brought of, the water.”  The Lord does everything in an ordinance (mystery). “Perhaps he said that he did or made or brought or worked everything in a mystery,” (Finegan p. 283) As has been noted, the word ‘mystery’ is often translated as an ’ordinance.’ There follows simply a short list of five items which appear to be the sacraments recognized by the early writers. The first item is “a baptism.” This is designated by a word which means literally “that which is dipped.” But which is the regular word for baptism in the canonical (NT Mt. 3:7; Mk.1:4; Lk. 3:3) and in early Christian writers (11 Clem. 6:9).  In Greek it means to dip under, i.e., to baptize, and the Greek means to dip under, with one specific meaning, frequently found, to dye.  This figure of speech, which probably originated in a play on words, is found in Saying 43 (109, 12-21) Here it is noted that good dyes perish with the only things that are dyed in them, i.e. last as long as they do. But God’s dyes are immortal, therefore those who are dyed with them are immortal. But God baptizes those whom he baptizes with water “Saying 101 (123, 21-25) speaks of living water” (as also Did 7) in connection with baptism, presumably meaning running water, and says that it is a body.  Then, in a way perhaps reminiscent of Gal. 3:27. (Finegan p. 283), The ancient author says that “we must put on the living man,” and describes the one who goes down to the water as unclothing himself in order that he may put this one on.” (Finegan p. 284; Sayings 59 (112, 22- 29)) “… and also speaks about going down “into the water” and confirms the picture of the baptism as an immersion. Saying 59 also insists that if anyone comes up out of the water without having received anything, and still says “I am a Christian he has the name at interest, i.e., he has just borrowed it, and is subject to have it demanded of him. But if he receives the Holy Spirit he possesses the gift of the name, and whosoever has received a gift does not have it taken away from him.” (Finegan p.283)

“The second item in saying 68 is “a chrism.” The word is used, e.g., Ex. 29:7 (LXX) and in Josephus Ant. 111 viii 3. 197, for oil for, i.e.  an anointment. It is also used for the act of anointing, as e.g. in John 2:20. “you have an anointing from the Holy One,” and in John 2:27 (“his anointing teaches  you about everything”)…According to Saying 75 (117, 8-14) there is necessity for baptism in light as well as  in water, and the light is the anointing…” (Finegan p. 284) “Saying 92 (121, 15-19) mentions the olive tree from  which the anointing  oil is made, the ceremony  was probably performed Literally. Saying 95 (122, 12-22) declares that the Chrism …Is superior to the baptism…the reason given is that it is on account of the chrism…that we have been called Christian.” (Finegan p. 284) The ancient writer Tertullian “also describes anointing as following upon baptism and connects the name Christ with the  chrism.”(Finegan p. 284)

The third item is Saying 68 also a sacrament of the church in general as well as of the apostate Churches. This is the eucharist, as a name for the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20) Early in  its history, the Mormon Church was  informed that water would do: “For behold, I  say unto you that it mattereth not what ye shall eat or drink when ye partake of the sacrament if it so be that ye shall do it  with an eye single to my glory remembering  unto the father my body which was laid down for you and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins.” (D&C 27:2) But did the ancient saints use “Water” instead of wine? During the first three centuries after Christ they often used water.  “In the main the baptism …consists   of the actual baptismal rite in the water… [wearing the] white sacral dress…immersion by the priest…and the laying on of hands, further there is a ceremony on the bank which consists of the anointing with oil. The offering of the sacrament of bread…and water…and the sealing…the extension of the right hand…known as Kusta (‘truth’, ’justice’), is usually performed at all ceremonies and has a special sanctity.” (Foerester p. 131) 

For the Mandeans “the chief purpose and significance of baptism is first that the neophyte, by immersion...enters into close communion…with the world of light, thus receiving a share of salvation, and secondly receives an (outer and inner) purification from transgression and sin. Thus as once in primeval times beings of light first baptized Adam, the Mandean believes that at his baptism the World of Light is present and takes an active part. Without baptism no Mandean (or his soul) may pass on to the next world.” (Foerster p. 132)

“Certain traits go back to a pre-Christian period and may have their origin in the lustral and baptismal practices of unorthodox Judaism.” (Foerster Ibid.) The Jews once had all of the doctrines.

It may be noted here that it is a “feature of Mandean religion to resolve the problem of death by a firm belief in the after-life of the soul.   Accordingly for the Mandean the fate of the soul is a chief concern” (ibid.) That is why the Mandeans practiced vicarious baptism and weddings for the dead. For details of their cult, customs, magic,  legends and folklore see Drower. (Drower p. 407)

  “…Nearly all ceremonies, including even the wedding ritual, are in some way associated with a rite which has value for the souls of the dead.” (Foerster p. 132-133) And even retained some of that ritual: “The Journey of the soul leads through dangerous demonic spheres certain guarantees are required which involve more than those things which accompany the soul, like baptism, the sign, the name, and good works.” (Foerster p. 133) “They will be angry if they know I have given you secret names.” (Drower p. 94) The Mormon knows what is going on here, but a non- temple going Mormon will have no clue. Most Mormons know that most of the work being done in the temple is for the dead, especially baptisms, which even the youth participate in.  Most of them know this work ‘as getting an endowment’, that seals the families together for ever, but is not talked about outside the temple.  The “Fundamental idea is the mission of messengers of light or envoys…who by their call …are to instruct the faithful and redeem their souls…Redemption (parqana, deliverance) consists in the happy return of the soul to the realm of light and every instruction or revelation  has this objective in view…The Mandeans understand their religion as a kind of proto-religion, established by the world of light at the time of Adam and Eve and since that time spreading out into the” (Foerster pp, 136-140) world. They would go “to a World of eternal life, in which there is no demise or death.” (Ibid p. 151) Mormons believe this also.

THE BAPTISMAL PRAYER     

In the History and Legends account of the Mandeans we find a Baptismal prayer, it is the same as used by the Mormons: “and baptize them 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' (Holy Ghost)".(Foerster p. 307) Today’s Mormons have two witnesses stand,  listening and watching the ritual to make sure there is no flesh that shows above the water, so an immersion is complete and not one ‘of’ or ‘the’ is missed in the formula of what is said.  ”Adam was the first of the Human Race to be baptized: This is the baptism with which Hibil-Ziwa baptized the first man …Adam…With it (the baptism) Hibil-Ziwa baptized the first man Adam and it was preserved throughout the ages for the elect righteous.” (Foerster p. 282; Moses 6:64) Who was present when Adam was baptized? Eve and Mother in Heaven? Jesus Christ and the Father, they were. There may have been others. Only mother and father were resurrected beings, spirits cannot perform the ordinances, so it appears that Father did the baptizing?

In the Acts of Thomas, from ancient records of the Syriac Church, we get: “And there was just there a water-spring to which the apostle went and baptized Mygdonia in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [that word perfect prayer again] And when she had been baptized and had dressed again [she had been immersed] he broke bread and took a cup of water and made her a partaker of the body of Christ and of the cup of the Son of God “You have received your soul; create for yourself eternal life”.“ (Foerster 2,  p.363) In the ancient Syria areas and the region of Nag Hammadi in Egypt nearly and sometimes always, correct prayers were  in use  for the first 300 years after Christ before growing apostasy deleted or distorted them and underlying doctrine  was lost. 

“The order of baptism…cleansing them … washing and anointing with … oil…purify them from their uncleanness…he caused her to come near him …and laid his hands on her and sealed her…and [took it, oil] and poured it…upon the head of Iuzanes…[and] let him down into the water.” (KLIJN pp.54-55) The Mormon gets baptized, then washed and anointed with oil and water and then obtains the endowment and sealings. You have to experience all of this to know what it is all about.

For the people of Qumran and early Christian groups they believed “…baptism alone is insufficient…humility…obedience to God’s ordinances are necessary…the Essene (Qumran) baptismal rites were practiced in relation to a movement of repentance and entry into a new Covenant… baptism for repentance unto the remissions of sins,” (Wells p. 257) characterize this baptismal sect and many professing Christian groups as well as today’s Mormons. “Jesus lays it down that all who are baptized and accept his teachings are to be saved.” (Wells p, 61) But they must obey them as well. The Prophet Joseph Smith got it right when he restored the Doctrine of Baptism and its prayer.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

DROWER E. S. The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1962

FINEGAN, Jack, Hidden Records of the life of Jesus, Pilgrim Press, Philadelphia, Boston

FOERSTER, Werner, Gnosis 1, 1. Patristic Evidence, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1972

…………………………..    Gnosis 2, 2. Coptic and Mandean Sources, Oxford   the Clarendon Press, 1974

KLIJN, A.F.J., The Acts of Thomas, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1962

WELLS, G. A., The Jesus of the Early Christians, Pemberton Books London, 1971

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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