Mormon Beliefs Baptism
What do Mormons believe about baptism?
The fourth Article of Faith of Mormonism, which Articles were authored by Joseph Smith, states 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.”
The third principle/ordinance of the Mormon Church is, thus, baptism. This ordinance is not taken lightly; in fact, Mormons believe baptism is essential for entrance into the highest degree of glory after this life. Being baptized is necessary for salvation and exaltation.
The Mormon Church practices baptism by complete immersion, just as Jesus Christ was baptized by John the Baptist as recorded in the New Testament. Baptism is symbolic of the death and burial of the carnal body and the rebirth of the person as a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of His Church. Mormons believe that a person who repents and is baptized has all prior sins erased. He or she is cleansed.
Baptism is also the act of making a covenant with the Lord. By being baptized, a person promises to uphold the laws of Christ’s gospel, specifically that he or she will take His name upon themselves, remember Him, and keep His commandments. In return, the Lord promises to bless those who abide by the covenant faithfully and He will bestow upon them the gift of His Comforter, the Holy Ghost.
After being baptized, a member of the Mormon Church receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is an ordinance performed by the laying on of hands by men who hold the holy priesthood of the Lord. They bless the person with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, which gift should be respected and treasured with great sensitivity. The Holy Ghost blesses a person in many ways. He is a testator of truth; he warns of physical and spiritual danger; he blesses the prayerful recipient with personal revelation and inspiration; and he is a comforter and a protector.
In the Mormon Church, baptism occurs at age eight or beyond—but never before. Mormons believe, from modern-day revelation, that at age eight children become accountable for their sins. They are able to discern on their own between right and wrong and have the maturity to understand the process of repentance. Mormon doctrine teaches that those who are unable to discern right from wrong (because of a mental impairment, for example) or children who die before the age of eight are cleansed by Christ’s atonement, and are not held accountable for their wrongdoings. Such as these, who die before the age of accountability, or who never achieve accountability, are saved in the highest kingdom of heaven.
Although Jesus was perfect, He was baptized to show that “he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:7). This humility and desire to witness to the Father by being obedient is necessary for all those who are baptized.
Baptismal covenants are renewed each week by partaking of the holy sacrament in sacrament meeting. A person who keeps his baptismal covenants and partakes of the sacrament worthily each week, lives in a constant state of salvation. Brigham Young called this dwelling “in the land of the living,” and said that such people are “saved all the time” (Journal of Discourses). The atonement of Christ does not just save us upon our death and judgment, but daily, if we bring to him “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”