The Fourth Article of Faith states, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Part of this short list, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” was addressed in the first article. Repentance is connected to what was discussed in the second article but will also be reviewed in this one. This leaves two key items to be examined.
Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
First it is significant to detail Mormonism’s tainted approach to Baptism. While the LDS Church in general claims to teach Baptism for the remission of sins, their tradition of what they accept as the age of accountability and why one is baptized and what happens comes with polluted explanations. Unless one is converted later in life, the standard age to be baptized in the Mormon faith is eight years old.
The LDS website states,
Not long after Moroni was called to be a prophet, disagreements arose in the church about whether little children should be baptized. Moroni wrote a letter to his father, Mormon, asking for advice. Mormon prayed to Heavenly Father and received an answer: “Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin” (Moroni 8:8). Mormon wrote back to Moroni, telling him, “It is solemn mockery before God, that ye should baptize little children. “Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin. …“And … little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance … unto the remission of sins. “But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world.” (Moroni 8:9–12.) In our own time, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that children should be baptized at the age of eight. (See Doctrine and Covenants 68:25, 27 [D&C 68:25, 27]). Each year thousands of righteous children reach the age of accountability and are baptized into the Lord’s church. (www.lds.org, “The Age of Accountability: Why Am I Baptized When I am Eight Years Old?”)
There are several factors to weigh with these teachings. One, if children are not capable of committing sin then why the need for baptism? It must be understood that Baptism is for the condemned. Baptism for the remission of sins means that sin is involved and Baptism washes that sin away. Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). Something must be done to take care of it. Notice how their own doctrine changed and flip-flopped on the subject. Further, what do they mean by “baptism is unto repentance”? On the Day of Pentecost, when the Jews were pricked in their hearts they asked, “What shall we do?” (Act. 2:37) Peter responded, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Act. 2:38) Repentance was separate from Baptism and yet of equal importance in order to receive the remission of sins. One cannot receive remission of sins without repenting. One cannot receive remission of sins without baptism. They involve different things. One does not automatically repent upon being baptized, just as one is not automatically baptized upon repenting.
Further, where in the Bible does it confirm that the age of accountability is eight years old? Children develop and understand differently from one another. The age of accountability indicates that one is fully aware of the decision between doing right and wrong. Scripturally they must demosntrate a recognition of who Christ is. They must realize what repentance is and why it is imperative. They must recognize what will happen if they are not baptized. They must be willing to put God first. Baptism is a commitment. John writes, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law:for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 Joh. 3:4) Is every eight year old child capable of understanding Christ’s law? This is the most important decision anyone will make in this life. Where eternity is spent is contingent on repenting, being Baptized and knowing why.
The LDS website also states, “Baptism by immersion in water by one having authority is the first saving ordinance of the gospel and is necessary for an individual to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to receive eternal salvation.” This is not what Peter taught. He explains, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them [emphasis, NF] about three thousand souls.” (Act. 2:41) Peter further states, “…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Act. 2:47). No one can become a member of anything, as it is the Lord who adds them. One may be able to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but if one wants to be part of Christ’s church only the Lord can add them based on the commands given by Peter and other apostles.
Mormons also teach that “The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism…” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:73). However, not one conversion in the Bible attaches this command. If that were the case, baptism would depend on two people and not just one. What if no one had “authority” according to the Mormon definition? Would one’s baptism then be invalid? Would one be lost? There is no Biblical account that states one has to have any special authority to baptize another who has confessed Christ and repented and is ready to have their sins washed away.