Little Known Propaganda: 8 – Temple Work For the Dead

8 Sep

This is my continuing responses to the list of “little known facts” referenced at the blog Sound Doctrine. On this blog the author presents the list along with responses to each from a F.A.I.R. Mormon scholar, known only as CleanCut. In addition the author of this blog, known as Damon, gives a response to CleanCut. As I said in my introduction blog, I am writing a response to each fact in a lengthy series. I will not, however, comment on what CleanCut or Damon said.

See also Fact #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7


FACT #8. The majority of the activity in the Mormon Temples is work done in behalf of the DEAD.

Joseph Smith offers this explanation:

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our DEAD.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 356)

Although many Mormons are attempting to save their dead relatives, the Bible indicates:

“None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalms 49:7)


First of all, I can’t believe this is little known to the rest of the world. The temples have been in the public view for decades and the church is not shy in stating its doctrine on Salvation for the Dead. In addition there was the controversy of the baptism of Holocaust victims that was finally resolved in 1995. Given the original blog post was in 2008 it is hard to believe that at that time people were not at least acquainted with the fact that the temples are used to do the work for the dead.


As to the doctrine itself, it is in the Bible for those who care to actually let the Bible speak for itself. For instance, as support for the doctrine of the resurrection Paul asks “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15: 29) Clearly the early saints were doing baptisms for the dead, and Paul is reasoning that such a practice is not logical unless you also believe in the resurrection.

Then we have the teachings of Peter. He declares that Christ “preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah…” (1 Peter 3: 19-20) Later he explains that “for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4: 6) So, Christ preached to the dead in prison so that they may be judged on the same merits as those who were alive, and thus attain the eternal life that God offers to all men.

This brings us to the prophecy that Christ was anointed to “…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61: 1) As Peter says that the spirits of the wicked at the time of Noah were in prison, it is not a leap to see that Isaiah was prophesying that Christ would begin this work among the dead.

Other prophesies are also found in the Old Testament. Isaiah 42: 7 says that Christ is called “to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”

Isaiah 49: 9 not only says that Christ will “say to the prisoners, Go forth” but that they will have “their pastures…in all high places.” So, not only can the dead get out of prison, but will be equal to others in salvation.

Zechariah 9: 11 declares that by the covenant of the atonement God declares that he has “sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit…”

Another prophecy that speaks to this is found in Isaiah 24: 22, where it is said that the wicked at the time of the second coming with “be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.”

Now, Luke quotes the prophecy from Isaiah 61: 1 (Luke 4: 18). John also tells us that “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5: 25). Paul tells us that Christ’s atonement made him “Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14: 9) and that the Prophets “without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11: 40)


All of this establishes a clear understanding that those who have died will be taught the gospel as spirits and will have the opportunity of coming out of the prison they were sent to and gain salvation. This is done through vicarious ordinances, which Paul references in his argument for belief in a literal resurrection.


Now, there is the quote from Psalms that is given above, and it seems to contradict this doctrine. However, when it is looked at and truly understood there is no contradiction.

First, let us look at the context of the quote.

“They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” (Psalms 49: 6-10)

What this is saying is that those who trust in their worldly wealth cannot prevent their brother from dying, for all people die. Secondly, as a kind of aside, it points out that it also can’t save the soul, as it is the wrong power. It has no bearing on those who rely on the power of God to save their brother.


Then we look at all the quotes that I gave above. They clearly show that it is not us that saves our dead, but the power of the atonement. God anointed Christ to this power, and while we perform the ordinances, it is the power of his atonement that actually saves. So, no one does have the power to save their brother, but they do have the power to bring them to Christ, who then saves them.


4 Responses to “Little Known Propaganda: 8 – Temple Work For the Dead”

  1. MormonBloke September 8, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Great post – thanks

  2. shematwater September 9, 2016 at 3:53 am #

    Reply to CleanCut

    On this one CleanCut does a good job of explaining the doctrine and bearing his testimony of it. As far as it goes it is a good comment. However, I feel he again does not go far enough. While he explains the doctrine he gives no support for it, nor does he address the claim that there is nothing in the Bible regarding it.
    Of course he was replying to all 17 ‘facts’ at once and so he was keeping his replies short. I have nothing really against his comment. I just thought I would add to it.

  3. shematwater September 9, 2016 at 3:54 am #

    Reply to Damon (part one)

    To Damon there needs to be a much more detailed reply. He brings up two things in his comment to try and prove the given doctrine false. Let us look at each of them in turn, as two separate posts.

    Damon quotes Hebrews 9: 27, which states “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” He then argues that since judgment comes immediately after death then there cannot be a chance to accept the gospel at that time.
    Now, I do not deny that there is a judgment at the moment of death. However, this is not the last, or final judgment. We are told in Revelation 20: 12 that at the time of the Second Coming “the dead, small and great [will] stand before God” and be judged. What is the need of judging the dead at the Second Coming if they have already been judged? Clearly there are two different judgments.
    So, what judgment is meted out at the time of death? That is a consignment to a state of happiness or misery, which the Bible refers to as Paradise and Prison. In my original post I spoke of the prison that the wicked were in after death. Paradise is where the righteous will go. This paradise is also referred to as Abraham’s Bosom in the parable of ‘Lazarus and the Rich Man.’
    However, this judgment is temporary. I have shown how Christ preached to the spirits in prison, giving them the chance to accept the gospel and inherit eternal life. So, there is another judgment to come when all the dead will be resurrected and receive a last, or final judgment. So, the judgment at death is what makes Baptism for the dead possible.

  4. shematwater September 9, 2016 at 3:54 am #

    Reply to Damon (part 2)

    Damon’s second argument is “regular baptism doe not save” so how could proxy baptism. He then says that many cults claim baptismal regeneration, but denies it to be supported in the Bible. To keep this brief I will list a few verses of scripture that clearly teach that Baptism is essential.
    Of course we know that Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15; Mark 1:9; Luke 3:21). And according to John chapter one many of the Apostles were disciples of John and thus would have also been baptized.
    In His teaching Christ declared that “Except a man be born of water [baptized] and of the Spirit [receive Holy Ghost], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
    Then Luke tells us that the faithful “being baptized with the baptism of John” justified God, but the “Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30)
    Then we have Christ, after His resurrection, commanding to the Apostles to “…teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19) and that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16)
    After Christ’s ascension we read of Apostles teaching baptism. On the great day of Pentecost the people asked the Apostles what they were to do, and Peter told them to “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) Later, when Peter took the gospel to the gentiles at Joppa, “he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:48)
    Peter again taught the doctrine of Baptism in his first epistle when he wrote “doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21)
    Paul also taught the need for baptism. He explains that after having seen Christ in vision he was visited by Ananias who told he to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) In his epistle to Titus he taught that “according to [Christ’s] mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” or Baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)

    So, if seems clear that through the power of the atonement of Christ water baptism does in fact cleanse us of sin, and the Holy Ghost purges us with fire to make a new person.

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