Baptism: Procedures

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?

D&C 20
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.

Moroni 7:2
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.

Acts 2:33
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.

John 14:26
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.

John 15:26
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Notice these other instances in the D&C:

D&C 14:8
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.

D&C 18:8
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:

Moroni 3:1
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:

John 14:16
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:

  1. States the person’s full name.
  2. States that the ordinance is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
  3. Confirms the person a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  4. Uses the words “Receive the Holy Ghost” …
  5. Gives words of blessing as the Spirit directs.
  6. 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?



3 thoughts on “Baptism: Procedures

  1. Which begs the question, why even have a canon of scripture? If we don’t feel the need to “follow the rules” why keep a copy of the rules?

    Thank goodness Isaiah 24:5 doesn’t apply to us!

    The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

    And no, this isn’t a proof text, it’s the explanation given of why the land was destroyed.

    I also found this phrase above interesting: “they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins”

  2. Ah, thanks for highlighting these differences.
    I’ve awakened just this year to the realization that I will eventually need to be rebaptized and confirmed. I hope it won’t be too long, I pray I receive the opportunity.

  3. Wow, very good synopsis of another reason why, perhaps, our baptisms seem to yield so little “fruit meet for repentance”. Regarding the Father’s integral role in the Gift of the Holy Ghost being given, I love 3 Nephi 19 (in my opinion the most beautiful record we have of the heavenly Gift being given to a people) – and mind you, tye Savior’s acknowledgement of the Father here is even AFTER he had already ascended to the Father….
    8 [……] they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus
    9 And they did pray for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them.
    10 And when they had thus prayed they went down unto the water’s edge, and the multitude followed them.
    13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
    14 And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
    15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.
    16 And it came to pass that he spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.
    17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.
    18 And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.
    19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:
    20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
    21 Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words.
    22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.
    23 And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.


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