Does Baptism for the Dead Make Sense?


In the LDS tradition, we practice baptism for the dead.  This practice is the impetus behind the church’s emphasis on genealogy and temple work.  The idea of baptism for the dead is borne out of the idea that and individual cannot get into the celestial kingdom without baptism and the other associated saving ordinances in the church.

World population is growing exponentially.  The current death rate is fairly constant and is about 8.23 deaths per 1000 persons per year.  Assuming a world population of 6 billion that amounts to 49.4 million deaths per year or roughly 135,400 deaths per day.  There are currently 128 temples in operation.  Each temple would have to complete 1058 endowments each day in order to keep pace with the people who die every day.  And that doesn’t even begin to account for all the billions of people who have died already.  Current statistics on the number of baptisms for the dead done each day in the church are not available, but I would venture a guess that it is not even close to a thousand per temple per day.  I know that LDS believers rationalize that the major work of the millennium period after the second coming will be temple work and that these billions of people will be accounted for.  This begs the question;  If the millenium will be used for baptizing all those people who didn’t get the opportunity in life, then why are we doing the work now?  But if the only reason for baptism is for a symbolic declaration of belief, it seems like a lot of busywork for the people of god.  Certainly, a benevolent god would not exclude a believer from the celestial kingdom just because they never had the opportunity to be baptized or have another person baptized for them.  But because of this notion, we have committed ourselves to this exercise in futility.

Futility aside, there are other problems with the concept of baptism for the dead.  To me the whole thing smacks of someone’s attempt to fix an obvious gap in religious logic.  The catholic church solves the problem with baptism in infancy.  The logic goes like this.  If everyone has to be baptized, then what happens to those who die in infancy or childhood?  Well, they go to hell.  We can’t have that.  So we will baptize infants so that these innocent babies wont be thrust down to eternal fire.  The basic problem is the concept that every human soul needs to participate in this rite.  Because of that we have invented baptism for the dead.

Conclusion:  Baptism for the dead is an invention of believers who fear that the unbaptized dead will be kept out of heaven on a technicality.  A god who would allow this to happen is not benevolent.  I understand justice and mercy, but baptism is a sham.

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