Now for the final post (I think) in this series on baptism. Having reviewed the doctrine behind baptism, let’s focus on the mechanics. What is the proper procedure for baptism, confirmation and the gift of the Holy Ghost?
37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.
68 The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order.
69 And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness before the Lord.
Contrast how things were commanded to be done in 1830 with how things are done today. (Color coded for your convenience!)
Preach My Gospel, Chapter 12
The district leader or zone leader who conducts the interview should: Hold the interview in a comfortable, private place…Ask the baptismal interview questions. Use follow-up questions to get a feeling for the strength of the person’s testimony and the sincerity of the person’s repentance.
Church Handbook of Instruction 20.3.9
A person becomes a member of the Church only after the ordinances of baptism and confirmation are both completed and properly recorded…The bishop ensures that it is performed soon after baptism…Converts are confirmed in any sacrament meeting in the ward where they live, preferably on the Sunday following their baptism.
Rather than using the presence of a godly walk and conversation before the membership to determine if someone is prepared for confirmation, the modern Church uses a young, visiting missionary who may have never met the candidate before the private interview, who then asks questions to get a feeling for the sincerity of the candidate’s repentance. Rather than ensuring a sufficient time between baptism and confirmation for the candidate to learn and implement the gospel in their lives and manifest that by their works, the confirmation is scheduled as quickly as possible after the baptism. And unlike the scriptural commandment to receive people into the church after baptism (because there should be a significant amount of time between baptism and confirmation), the modern Church only accepts people into the Church after confirmation.
When it is time for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the scriptures give us procedures for that too.
Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.
Now it’s possible that this was a one-time requirement: that only the first time they ever perform a confirmation do they need to call upon the Father in mighty prayer to receive the power, and after that they have the power for the rest of their lives. I don’t think that’s how it works, but the text is ambiguous. Regardless, the Father is involved in the gift of the Holy Ghost:
3 Nephi 28:11
And the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and the Father giveth the Holy Ghost unto the children of men, because of me.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Notice these other instances in the D&C:
And it shall come to pass, that if you shall ask the Father in my name, in faith believing, you shall receive the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance, that you may stand as a witness of the things of which you shall both hear and see, and also that you may declare repentance unto this generation.
18 Ask the Father in my name in faith, believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.
Notice a similar pattern with ordinations:
The manner which the disciples, who were called the elders of the church, ordained priests and teachers—After they had prayed unto the Father in the name of Christ, they laid their hands upon them, …
Even Jesus himself prayed unto the Father to give his apostles the Holy Ghost:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
In the modern Church, there is no reference to the Father at all.
Church Handbook of Instruction 20.3.10
The person who performs the ordinance:
- States the person’s full name.
- States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” …
- Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
- Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps we don’t need to call upon the Father in these days because he has “given his power unto men.” (2 Nephi 28:5)
We as a church have strayed quite far from what is written. Our current beliefs and practices about the purpose of baptism, how and when one receives a remission of sins, and even the basic procedures used to administer baptism and confirmation contradict the written word of God. Even if we somehow left Nauvoo with God still accepting our baptisms, can our baptisms be acceptable to God now when we have transfigured the holy word of God into policies and teachings that are almost exactly the opposite of what is written in scripture?