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Multicolored Lemur

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Nov 23, 2021
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29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

— English Standard Version

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Paul is writing a letter to the church in Corinth, which is a city in Greece.

He’s very much talking to fellow Christians.

And he is writing this verse as part of a longer passage in which he’s talking about putting your faith in Christ that He will raise you and your loved ones from death.
 
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20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[c] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

footnote [c] in verse 27 — God is written in the Greek as He in the sentence of scripture quoted

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Yes, Paul is talking about victory over death.

And as part of this, Paul speaks favorably of the process of living persons being baptized on behalf of the dead.
 
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and from verse 29, Paul continues —

30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”[d] 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

footnote [d] from verse 33 — Probably from Menander's comedy Thais

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I think Paul means it.

In his letter to the Corinthians, he is speaking in favor of proxy baptism.
 
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As a former evangelical Christian, I’d ask . . .

Please be more accepting of Catholics and Mormons. Yes, they seem to believe in baptizing living persons for the benefit of the dead.

But this is not some extra- scriptural practice they tack on. This seems to very much be a scriptural practice.

But what about the 95 Theses which Martin Luther posted on the church door?

Well, he was against “indulgences” — making things expensive for what should have been spiritual leadership and assistance for all believing Christians, rich and poor alike.

And I’m guessing he was against at least some forms of railroading people and scare tactics. Although he was hardcore in his own ways, too.
 
Just because people were being baptized for the dead, does not mean Paul was endorsing the practice. I’d ask you this simple question…What is the purpose of baptism? Why are people baptized?
 
29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?
I think that does refer to a proxy baptism.

When I google "proxy baptism", the new Google AI gives me this answer:
Proxy baptism, also known as baptism for the dead or vicarious baptism, is a religious practice where a living person baptizes someone who is deceased. The Latter Day Saint movement has practiced proxy baptism since 1840, and it is performed in temples of the church.

The Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians that baptism for the dead is practiced because all people will be resurrected through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:29 also mentions baptism for the dead as proof of a physical resurrection, but the exact meaning of the phrase is unknown among scholars.
At first glance, I don't see the apostle Paul speaking out against proxy baptism. He doesn't call it wrong. But then again, I can see the point in Scooter's post that Paul doesn't say that it's right either, although I'm leaning towards it being right to do since it seems Paul is using it as part of a point that he's making about the resurrection. He's saying, there would be no point in baptising the dead of people can not come back from the via resurrection.

BUT, this position doesn't make sense or is questionable when I consider the following implications:
1. Does it mean that someone who dies as a unrepentant sinner can be saved? What would be the point of baptism of the dead if that's not enough for them to be saved (I'm thinking salvation involves more than baptism, if it also comes with accepting Jesus as savior, asking for forgiveness, etc)?

2. What if the person in the afterlife doesn't accept the baptism or they had a dying wish to never be a Christian? Can such a person still be baptized against their will or without consent?
 
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We must understand what baptism is. Once baptism proper is understood, then we understand proxy baptism is worthless. Paul neither condemned it nor did he approve it. Therefore, even he considered it useless. So, again, I ask...what is your understanding of baptism?
 
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Just because people were being baptized for the dead, does not mean Paul was endorsing the practice.

verse 22 — “ . . . so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”

verse 26 — “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

verse 29 — “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?”

verse 31 — “ . . . I protest. . . ” [but he’s protesting against something else, and goes on to make the intriguing philosophic point that he dies every day]

33 — “ . . . If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”

33 — “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” [and thereby Paul refutes the eat, drink, and be merry position he just raised]

35 — “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’
36 — “You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
37 — “And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.”

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Yes, verse 29 is asked in terms of a Socratic question. Actually, it is a pair of Socratic questions.

I conclude that it’s part of a longer passage in which Paul is talking about victory over death.
 
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What is the purpose of baptism? Why are people baptized?
When I was a Christian, I probably would answer an “outward manifestation of an inward change.” And I think that’s a pretty mainstream answer.

These days when I believe Christianity is just one of many religions, I might ask . . .

Why are we focusing on sin rather than loneliness for example?

And instead of debating religion, politics, etc, why aren’t we developing our inner Alexander Fleming? He’s the guy who discovered penicillin. What I mean is that we all want to do great deeds, but things stand in our way.

And volunteer organizations can be as disappointing as anything else.
 
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Does it mean that someone who dies as a unrepentant sinner can be saved? What would be the point of baptism of the dead if that's not enough for them to be saved
I heard a Unitarian minister talking about how he and the love of his life found a small, country Universalist Church, and the minister there said, “A loving God would never send people to hell.”

And the minister I was listening to spoke in this great North Carolina accent, which I loved. :)

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I’ve attended several Unitarian churches, and have generally been disappointed. I’m remembering one of the good parts here.

The people seem anemic and more into judging people and social climbing than people at a Baptist Church.


YMMV, meaning Your Mileage May Vary.

The Unitarians and Universalists merged in the early 1960s, and maybe the sum was less than the parts.