Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Random Question

I have had this nagging question in the back of my mind, and I was hoping some of you may have studied this in greater detail and might have an answer.

The question is concerning child baptism. I absolutely, totally, completely understand the doctrine which teaches us that children under 8 who die do not need to be baptized because they are perfect and it is therefore unnecessary. That doctrine I have absolutely no problem with- I get that completely. I am having trouble, however, reconciling that with the other doctrine that says in order to enter into the Celestial Kingdom you must be baptized. The Bible Dictionary talks about how baptism is not just for a remission of sins, it is also required to gain entrance into the CK- which makes sense to me, because don't you have to be baptized before you can be endowed and receive other ordinances? So, if that is the case, wouldn't even those who died before they were of age also need to be baptized?

This question is by no means causing me to question my faith, I just don't understand how those two doctrines are combatible- they seem to contradict each other. Any insights from the smartest women I know????


Lula O said...

I am by no means a scholar in matters of religion, but I did have a thought or two on this. I reviewed some Bruce R. (A sometimes insightful book, not doctrine, but an interesting read - even if I don't agree with everything he says in it.) That aside, I liked what he had to say on this particular topic.
Check out the Salvation of Children section of which I partially quote here - all children, as spirits, are in the presence of God before birth, and since they begin their mortal life innocent and free from sin, it follows that if they die before they arrive at the years of accountability, they are still in the state of purity and innocence which entitles them to go back into the presence of God.

My take on that is, since baptism removes sin, all children who die young don't need it, even in heaven, because they have never sinned in the eyes of God. If you don't need to repent you don't need baptism.
And as far as the Bible dictionary definition goes on it being a requirement to get into heaven, I would guess because "no unclean may dwell with God".

A counter argument may be, then why was Jesus Christ baptized? We assume he was all clear of sin, but he was still an adult man, not a child. As the dictionary says, by being baptized Jesus obeyed the law himself, and set the example for all man - and woman - kind.

I hope this doesn't make you more confused.

The Bradfords said...

It helps to remember that there are three levels within the Celestial Kingdom (see D&C 131:1-4). You must be baptized (or otherwise deemed worthy) to enter into even the lowest level, and to obtain the highest level you must be sealed in the temple.

Like Lula pointed out from Bruce R (not my favorite source either Lula), in the pre-existance we were all worthy to be in God's presence, and it wasn't until we came to earth and sinned that we needed to repent and be baptized. Children under age 8 are still in the same state they were in the pre-existance so they are automatically going back to God's presence if they die before age 8. However, the appropriate work will need to be done for them to obtain the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, that is receiving their endowment and entering into the new and everlasting covenant of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage).

Ben and Christina said...

Actually, that does help- what is this Bruce R. book? I might need to check it out. It makes sense to think of it as more of them being in a "perfect" state, so I guess that drops the baptism requirement for them. Man, deep doctrine is mind numbing! But, really that is good insight. Now I just have to remember that my 20 month old is perfect...Thank you!!!!

Lula O said...

Bruce R McConkie, a now deceased general authority, wrote "Mormon Doctrine" in the late 50's. It covers everything that has to do with religion that he could think of in alphabetical order from a-z. It was not sanctioned by the church at the time, in fact President Mckay didn't know about it until after it was published.

It apparently caused a bit of a stir because he injected alot of his own...ideas as well. Some are interesting to say the least. But there are some good discussions of gospel topics too. Guaranteed your parents or in-laws have a copy.

The Bradfords said...

To Elder McConkie's credit, he is the one responsible for most of the footnotes/Bible Dictionary/Topical Guide that we have in our scriptures today. He was an interesting and brilliant soul, he was just a little out there on some things. Lula do you remember his last conference address when he gave a very powerful testimony of Christ and then he died a few weeks later? That was interesting. Christina, if you do read Mormon Doctrine, it's good to be skeptical/cynical.