“Three Facts about Temple Baptisms,” New Era, Sept. 2019, 22–23.
One unique thing about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is temple baptisms on behalf of those who have died. This practice can be traced back to New Testament times (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). As part of the Restoration, Joseph Smith received specific instructions through revelations that can help you better understand this sacred practice. To get you started, here are three facts to know about temple baptisms.
Jesus Christ taught that everyone needs to be baptized (see John 3:5). But what about people who died without that opportunity? This is where temple baptisms come in. Heavenly Father made it possible for us to perform temple ordinances for our ancestors, giving all His children the chance to accept the Savior’s invitation.
You’ve probably heard people say “vicarious” or “proxy” when talking about temple baptisms. Don’t let these terms throw you off; they actually mean the same thing: “in behalf of.” Temple baptisms require priesthood authority and immersion in water, just the same as when you were baptized. When we are baptized “vicariously” or “by proxy” for those who have passed on, we are physically taking their place since they can’t do it themselves.
Although we keep track of temple baptisms, the deceased person must still accept the ordinance. While we perform the ordinances here on earth, the people in the spirit world are being taught the gospel so that they are prepared to make that decision for themselves (see John 5:25; Doctrine and Covenants 138:30, 33).
President Russell M. Nelson has promised: “Your worship in the temple and your service there for your ancestors … will fortify your commitment to stay on the covenant path” (“New First Presidency Speaks to Members Worldwide,” Church News, Jan. 16, 2018, news.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). By doing temple baptisms, you bless not only your ancestors but generations to come.