Jump to content

Required Beliefs For Baptism


mercyngrace

Recommended Posts

Must a candidate for baptism believe in the historical claims surrounding the Book of Mormon? Is it enough to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired and had visions so long as one accepts and abides the precepts of the gospel and meets the behavioral requirements of the church? Is it enough to believe the BOM is a divine and inspired religious text regardless of how it came to us?

http://askmormongirl.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/im-drawn-to-mormonism-but-i-have-questions-about-the-literal-historicity-of-the-book-of-mormon-help/

* I would like to note that the baptismal questions and the temple recommend questions are both more focused on behavior than belief and neither even mention the BOM.

Link to comment
Must a candidate for baptism believe in the historical claims surrounding the Book of Mormon?

While the distinction of historcity/nonhistoricity won't be made in the baptismal interview, the answer is yes. If the book isn't what it and the Church claims it to be, then the LDS Church is false by it's own definitions.

Is it enough to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired and had visions so long as one accepts and abides the precepts of the gospel and meets the behavioral requirements of the church?

No. Certian belief is required.

Is it enough to believe the BOM is a divine and inspired religious text regardless of how it came to us?

No. there are the aforementioned behavioral requirements etc.

* I would like to note that the baptismal questions and the temple recommend questions are both more focused on behavior than belief and neither even mention the BOM.

I disagree. Sustaining the President of the Church as prophet Seer and Revelator and the only one on earth authorized to exercise all the preisthood keys as well as sustaining the Qo12 and all the other general authorities is implicit acceptance of their official teachings whcih are the doctrine.

In addition, the TR question of supporting, affiliating with, or agreeing with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also invokes belief. One whose beliefs are contrary to doctrine is not worthy to hold a recommend. Of course that is the heart of your question I think; at what point does our disbelief disqualify us from the blessings and membership on the Church.

I would answer that question by saying it depends on what is the direction of one's disbelief. Where is it leading?

Link to comment

bcspace,

What do you make of Elder Holland's words:

"... If someone can find something in the Book of Mormon, anything that they love or respond to or find dear, I applaud that and say more power to you. That's what I find, too. And that should not in any way discount somebody's liking a passage here or a passage there or the whole idea of the book, but not agreeing to its origin, its divinity. ...

I think you'd be as aware as I am that that we have many people who are members of the church who do not have some burning conviction as to its origins, who have some other feeling about it that is not as committed to foundational statements and the premises of Mormonism. But we're not going to invite somebody out of the church over that any more than we would anything else about degrees of belief or steps of hope or steps of conviction. ... We would say: "This is the way I see it, and this is the faith I have; this is the foundation on which I'm going forward. If I can help you work toward that I'd be glad to, but I don't love you less; I don't distance you more; I don't say you're unacceptable to me as a person or even as a Latter-day Saint if you can't make that step or move to the beat of that drum."

Holland says later in that interview:

“There are plenty of people who question the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and they are firmly in this church — firmly, in their mind, in this church — and the church isn’t going to take action against that. [The church] probably will be genuinely disappointed, but there isn’t going to be action against that, not until it starts to be advocacy: “Not only do I disbelieve in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I want you to disbelieve.” At that point, we’re going to have a conversation. A little of that is more tolerated than I think a lot of people think it should be. But I think we want to be tolerant any way we can. … “Patient” maybe is a better word than “tolerant.” We want to be patient and charitable to the extent that we can, but there is a degree beyond which we can’t go. … “

So long as one's opinions do not become advocacy, what's the issue?

Link to comment
What do you make of Elder Holland's words:

Notice the direction these "unbelievers" are taking in Holland's examples such as "this is the foundation on which I'm going forward". Notice also.....

“Patient” maybe is a better word than “tolerant.” We want to be patient and charitable to the extent that we can, but there is a degree beyond which we can’t go. … “

Ultimately, you're going to have to accept the doctrine. There are indeed people who are closed as to what their actual beliefs are, but if they keep coming and serving, there is little need to question unless they publically and consistently teach something contrary to doctrine.

While I understand the sentiment, suppose someone else feels differently. Should they be allowed to join the church?

I think the standards should be raised. Indeed I see it happening already. Wherever I've been in the last deacde or so we baptise or financially aid fewer people who aren't committed to coming to Church and it's really difficult to come to a Church which you don't believe in.

Link to comment

If someone wants to believe that the Book of Mormon is an inspired religious work and not really history, I believe that is fine- as long as they don't try to promote that view amoung others. If they intend to or begin to openly promulgate that view I would have difficulty allowing for their baptism or full participation (if already a member).

Link to comment

Notice the direction these "unbelievers" are taking in Holland's examples such as "this is the foundation on which I'm going forward". Notice also.....

“Patient” maybe is a better word than “tolerant.” We want to be patient and charitable to the extent that we can, but there is a degree beyond which we can’t go. … “

Ultimately, you're going to have to accept the doctrine. There are indeed people who are closed as to what their actual beliefs are, but if they keep coming and serving, there is little need to question unless they publically and consistently teach something contrary to doctrine.

I think the standards should be raised. Indeed I see it happening already. Wherever I've been in the last deacde or so we baptise or financially aid fewer people who aren't committed to coming to Church and it's really difficult to come to a Church which you don't believe in.

Running out the door but I wanted to respond quickly because I do agree with your post generally.

Ultimately, people have to decide what they believe - however baptism is the gate at the beginning end of a long and increasingly narrow path. I think if a person believes the church is the fulness of Christianity (for example) and that its doctrines are true but doesn't care a whit whther Job is literal or metaphorical or whether plates were handled or seen by "spiritual eyes" or both, they ought to be welcome and have the opportunity to progress along the path so long as they are willing to do so.

And again - I completely agree that it's hard to stick with a church if you don't fully believe - there are a lot of baptized members that entered the waters of baptism with nothing more than the baptism of John (i.e. unto repentance) annd since baptism is a preparatory ordinance (D&C 84) that's okay. The gate swings open wide in an invitation to all who will to come unto Christ - where you proceed from that point is a product of your baptism of fire.

Back in a bit.

Link to comment

mercyngrace:

I imagine there are. But my question is always why? The Church requires a lot out of us,

1. Come into the fold of God (become a member of the Church of Jesus

Christ).

2. Be called his son or daughter (take upon me the name of Christ).

3. Bear others’ burdens, that they may be light; mourn with those that

mourn; and comfort those in need of comfort (help others).

4. Stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all

places (testify of Christ and set a good example at all times).

5. Serve God and keep his commandments.

Of course it promises a lot too. :good:

Link to comment

Must a candidate for baptism believe in the historical claims surrounding the Book of Mormon? Is it enough to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired and had visions so long as one accepts and abides the precepts of the gospel and meets the behavioral requirements of the church? Is it enough to believe the BOM is a divine and inspired religious text regardless of how it came to us?

http://askmormongirl.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/im-drawn-to-mormonism-but-i-have-questions-about-the-literal-historicity-of-the-book-of-mormon-help/

* I would like to note that the baptismal questions and the temple recommend questions are both more focused on behavior than belief and neither even mention the BOM.

Here are the baptismal interview questions for converts:

1. Do you believe that God is our Eternal Father? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world?

2. Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the

Prophet Joseph Smith? Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God?

What does this mean to you?

3. What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have repented of your past

transgressions?

4. Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? Have

you ever participated in an abortion? a homosexual relationship?

5. You have been taught that membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

includes living gospel standards. What do you understand of the following standards? Are

you willing to obey them?

a. The law of chastity, which prohibits any sexual relationship outside the bonds of a legal

marriage between a man and a woman.

b. The law of tithing.

c. The Word of Wisdom.

d. The Sabbath day, including partaking of the sacrament weekly and rendering service to

fellow members.

]

6. When you are baptized, you covenant with God that you are willing to take upon yourself the

name of Christ and keep His commandments throughout your life. Are you ready to make

this covenant and strive to be faithful to it?

Preach My Gospel, Page 206

The Book of Mormon isn't actually mentioned in any of those questions, so unless the interviewee offers up his opinion without being asked, or the interviewer goes outside the questions as written, it shouldn't come up.

Link to comment
Ultimately, people have to decide what they believe - however baptism is the gate at the beginning end of a long and increasingly narrow path. I think if a person believes the church is the fulness of Christianity (for example) and that its doctrines are true but doesn't care a whit whther Job is literal or metaphorical or whether plates were handled or seen by "spiritual eyes" or both, they ought to be welcome and have the opportunity to progress along the path so long as they are willing to do so.

Well, one of the baptismal interview questions is....

2. Do you believe the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ have been restored through the

Prophet Joseph Smith? Do you believe that [current Church President] is a prophet of God?

What does this mean to you?

The title page, introduction and explaination at the beginning of the BoM present the notion of its historicity and this is what JS and the current prophet are presenting to you. Frankly, I would probably not sign the recommend of anyone coming to me and professing a disbelief in the historicity of the BoM. If they were working on it, I might. But if their direction was stagnant or moving away from belief, no way.

The Book of Mormon isn't actually mentioned in any of those questions, so unless the interviewee offers up his opinion without being asked, or the interviewer goes outside the questions as written, it shouldn't come up.

That is typically the assumption. But what it means is that one has to remain silent on the issue in order to pass. Therefore, there is little opportunity to infect the Church with false doctrine. People trying to lay low are found out rather quickly because they usually won't serve or talk or otherwise participate. Hence, no recommend as they tend to avoid meeting with the Bishop.

Link to comment

Must a candidate for baptism believe in the historical claims surrounding the Book of Mormon? Is it enough to believe that Joseph Smith was inspired and had visions so long as one accepts and abides the precepts of the gospel and meets the behavioral requirements of the church? Is it enough to believe the BOM is a divine and inspired religious text regardless of how it came to us?

A prospective candidate for baptism needs to believe in the most fundamental tenet of the Christian faith: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost; that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God appointed to begin a new dispensation of the gospel in the latter days; that he translated the Book of Mormon by revelation, and by the gift and power of God; and that the Church today is led by true prophets and Apostles.

* I would like to note that the baptismal questions and the temple recommend questions are both more focused on behavior than belief and neither even mention the BOM.

I am surprised to hear you say that. I find the temple recommend questions put belief first, and behavior second.

bcspace,

What do you make of Elder Holland's words:

"... If someone can find something in the Book of Mormon, anything that they love or respond to or find dear, I applaud that and say more power to you. That's what I find, too. And that should not in any way discount somebody's liking a passage here or a passage there or the whole idea of the book, but not agreeing to its origin, its divinity. ...

I think you'd be as aware as I am that that we have many people who are members of the church who do not have some burning conviction as to its origins, who have some other feeling about it that is not as committed to foundational statements and the premises of Mormonism. But we're not going to invite somebody out of the church over that any more than we would anything else about degrees of belief or steps of hope or steps of conviction. ... We would say: "This is the way I see it, and this is the faith I have; this is the foundation on which I'm going forward. If I can help you work toward that I'd be glad to, but I don't love you less; I don't distance you more; I don't say you're unacceptable to me as a person or even as a Latter-day Saint if you can't make that step or move to the beat of that drum."

Holland says later in that interview:

“There are plenty of people who question the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and they are firmly in this church — firmly, in their mind, in this church — and the church isn’t going to take action against that. [The church] probably will be genuinely disappointed, but there isn’t going to be action against that, not until it starts to be advocacy: “Not only do I disbelieve in the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, I want you to disbelieve.” At that point, we’re going to have a conversation. A little of that is more tolerated than I think a lot of people think it should be. But I think we want to be tolerant any way we can. … “Patient” maybe is a better word than “tolerant.” We want to be patient and charitable to the extent that we can, but there is a degree beyond which we can’t go. … “

So long as one's opinions do not become advocacy, what's the issue?

I think you misunderstood Elder Holland's remarks. He was referring to people who are already in the Church, who may have those kinds of doubts; not to somebody who is being considered for baptism. They must adhere to those standards of belief if they want to be baptized; but after they have joined the Church, we won't summarily excommunicate them if they begin to have some doubts. It is like paying tithing. We won't excommunicate someone for not paying their tithing; but we won't baptize them either unless they commit to paying their tithing.

Link to comment

A prospective candidate for baptism needs to believe in the most fundamental tenet of the Christian faith: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost; that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God appointed to begin a new dispensation of the gospel in the latter days; that he translated the Book of Mormon by revelation, and by the gift and power of God; and that the Church today is led by true prophets and Apostles.

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." ~ Joseph Smith

I would argue that the fundamental tenet of the Christian faith in contained in the quote by the Prophet.

I am surprised to hear you say that. I find the temple recommend questions put belief first, and behavior second.

I'll show you how I'm seeing the questions. Here they are and I'll put belief/behavior in front of each question.

BELIEF 1 Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?

BELIEF 2 Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?

BELIEF 3 Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?

BEHAVIOR 4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

BEHAVIOR 5 Do you live the law of chastity?

BEHAVIOR 6 Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

BEHAVIOR 7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

BEHAVIOR 8 Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

BEHAVIOR 9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

BEHAVIOR 10 Are you a full-tithe payer?

BEHAVIOR 11 Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?

BEHAVIOR 12 Do you have financial or other oblgations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?

BEHAVIOR 13 If you have previously received your temple endowment:

Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple?

Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?

BEHAVIOR 14 Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?

BEHAVIOR 15 Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord's house and participate in temple ordinances?

I think you misunderstood Elder Holland's remarks. He was referring to people who are already in the Church, who may have those kinds of doubts; not to somebody who is being considered for baptism. They must adhere to those standards of belief if they want to be baptized; but after they have joined the Church, we won't summarily excommunicate them if they begin to have some doubts. It is like paying tithing. We won't excommunicate someone for not paying their tithing; but we won't baptize them either unless they commit to paying their tithing.

Why would the expectation be different for members and prospective members? I don't think tithing is comparable as it is a behavior - the investigator in this case would commit to living the law.

Below are the qualifications for baptism as outlined in the Preach My Gospel manual:

Doctrine and Covenants 20:37:

• Humble themselves before God.

• Desire to be baptized.

• Come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits.

• Repent of all their sins.

• Be willing to take upon them the name of Christ.

• Have a determination to serve Christ to the end.

• Manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto a remission of their sins.

First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve:

• Make sufficient changes in their lives to qualify as commanded in Doctrine and

Covenants 20:37.

• Develop faith in Christ.

• Repent of transgressions.

• Live the principles of moral worthiness.

• Live the Word of Wisdom.

• Commit to pay tithing.

• Receive all the missionary lessons [lessons 1–4 on the Teaching Record and associated

commitments].

• Meet the bishop or branch president.

• Attend several sacrament meetings.

(“Statement on Missionary Work,” First Presidency letter, 11 Dec. 2002)

Link to comment

“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it." ~ Joseph Smith

I would argue that the fundamental tenet of the Christian faith in contained in the quote by the Prophet.

I think those are different aspects of looking at the same thing. I prefer the more formal definition outlined in the temple recommend interview questions.

I'll show you how I'm seeing the questions. Here they are and I'll put belief/behavior in front of each question.

* * *

The "behavior" may be more numerous; but that does not make it primary. I think the primary is the belief that is put first, followed by the secondary.

Why would the expectation be different for members and prospective members? I don't think tithing is comparable as it is a behavior - the investigator in this case would commit to living the law.

* * *

I think the expectation may be different for the same reason as it is for tithing. Correct belief in the most fundamental things are even more important than behavior (see John 6:28-29).

Link to comment

I think those are different aspects of looking at the same thing. I prefer the more formal definition outlined in the temple recommend interview questions.

Sure, but the TR questions don't even mention th translation of the BOM.

The "behavior" may be more numerous; but that does not make it primary. I think the primary is the belief that is put first, followed by the secondary.

Even following that line of thinking, there is still no mention of the translation of the BOM.

I think the expectation may be different for the same reason as it is for tithing. Correct belief in the most fundamental things are even more important than behavior (see John 6:28-29).

It seems to me that the fundamental belief in this case would be that the doctrines of the BOM are true regardless of the method of translation (physical or through vision). :pardon:

Link to comment

Sure, but the TR questions don't even mention th translation of the BOM.

Sure, but it requires belief in the Restoration through Joseph Smith; and I don’t see how they can express belief in that without accepting the whole package, which includes translation of the BOM by Joseph Smith by miraculous means. Why would anyone want to?

Even following that line of thinking, there is still no mention of the translation of the BOM.

It is part of the package; see above.

It seems to me that the fundamental belief in this case would be that the doctrines of the BOM are true regardless of the method of translation (physical or through vision). :pardon:

I think you are nitpicking now! See above. It is part of the package. You accept the package. I don't see why anybody should not want to.

Ultimately, I suppose if somebody really wanted to be baptized, unless they had committed some serious unrepeated sins the Church couldn’t turn them down.

Link to comment

I think you are nitpicking now! See above. It is part of the package. You accept the package. I don't see why anybody should not want to.

Ultimately, I suppose if somebody really wanted to be baptized, unless they had committed some serious unrepeated sins the Church couldn’t turn them down.

:) I see a valid distinction between the doctrines and teachings of the BOM and the historicity. Let's put it in terms of the Bible. Does it matter whether Job was a historical figure if I accept the gospel principles that are taught concerning him? If Paul didn't write the book of Hebrews but I still accept the teachings in that epistle as doctrine, is my faith somehow diminished?

So if the investigator in the blog post linked in the opening post accepts Joseph Smith as a prophet but believes that most of his experiences may have been in vision, does it matter so long as she abides the precepts learned from the text of the BOM?

Link to comment
BEHAVIOR 7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

That's a belief in my book. Support, affiliate with also makes it a belief according to the principle taught in Romans 1:32. But yes, it is also a behavior. However, behavior is also motivated by belief so it's all belief.

Link to comment

My wife joined the church and was baptized and has never believed in the historicity of the BOM, though she views it as "inspired." She also doesn't believe in "one true church" and "exclusive authority." I didn't conduct the baptismal interviews so I can't say how any of the questions were handled in the interview.

p.s. This is my first reply and I noticed that I can't start a new topic. Do I need to get approved or something before I can start a topic?

Link to comment

My wife joined the church and was baptized and has never believed in the historicity of the BOM, though she views it as "inspired." She also doesn't believe in "one true church" and "exclusive authority." I didn't conduct the baptismal interviews so I can't say how any of the questions were handled in the interview.

p.s. This is my first reply and I noticed that I can't start a new topic. Do I need to get approved or something before I can start a topic?

Brian,

I think you have to make 25 posts before you can start a topic.

Link to comment

:) I see a valid distinction between the doctrines and teachings of the BOM and the historicity. Let's put it in terms of the Bible. Does it matter whether Job was a historical figure if I accept the gospel principles that are taught concerning him? If Paul didn't write the book of Hebrews but I still accept the teachings in that epistle as doctrine, is my faith somehow diminished?

So if the investigator in the blog post linked in the opening post accepts Joseph Smith as a prophet but believes that most of his experiences may have been in vision, does it matter so long as she abides the precepts learned from the text of the BOM?

Link to comment

Thank you Mercy for your reply. At the moment I am sitting in an airport waiting to catch a flight, and I am typing this on my iPhone, and the interface is not very good. I can't see the editing toolbar at the top, or the reply and edit buttons at the bottom of posts. I am doing the best I can!

Also my apologies for replying without having read your original link. After having read it however, I would express my opinion that if she has a compelling desire to join the Church, and the laws and covenants of the Church are properly explained to her, and she gives solemn undertaking to abide by them, she cannot be denied baptism into the Church.

Link to comment

While I understand the sentiment [of if one doesn't believe the truth claims of the Church, I see little to no reason to belong], suppose someone else feels differently. Should they be allowed to join the church?

If he is willing to make and keep the covenants of baptism, then he should join the Church. The question, as I see it, is that making those covenants is problematic if the truth claims of the Church are not true, the covenants make little or no sense.

One of those covenants is to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If one does not believe the Gospel to be true, that would be an impediment to accomplishing this. If Joseph didn't receive the Word of Wisdom, following it would be more difficult because of the lack of motivation.

Lehi

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...