Baptism for the dead - Catholics believed it ?

Today’s sunday School lesson at my wife’s LDS (Mormon) church was on baptism for the dead - 1 Corinthians 15:29.

To cut a very long and boring story short, at the end of the meeting one of the LDS High Priests came up to me and started ranting against the Catholics. He has no idea that I want to be Catholic. Anyway, I was polite and listened to him. Then he said that Catholics believed in baptisms for the dead until about 340AD. I asked him to give me a reference as to where his information came from. The internet of course was his reply.

Anyway, I assured him that he was incorrect, that the orthodox Catholic church never did. Perhaps heretic groups did, but he assured me that it was the orthodox church did (i.e. mainstream, not the Eastern church).

So, my question is this: is anyone aware of evidence or writings that shows where he might be getting his erroneous belief from. Was there a heretic group that believe such ?

God bless,


I’ve seen one instance where the dead are baptized by an Orthodox church. Literally, a dead body is baptized.

I have never come across anything that shows a belief where a dead soul can be redeemed by a proxy baptism.

i think we are supposed to baptise a person if they just died and you knew that there was an intent of becoming christian. the theory was that we were not sure if the spirit had left the body yet.

NO. The Catholic Church never practiced baptism for the dead, and there is no evidence that it ever did, or that there was a baptism for the dead practice that ended in 340 AD (is that date even significant or is it random?).

Now, I have noticed that FAIR and some other LDS reference I was reading said that the Coptic Orthodox Church practiced (and still does!) baptism for the dead. I searched further and found that this is not the case. I also asked about this on an Orthodox forum, and a Coptic Orthodox priest responded that this is NOT the case.

So no, the Catholic Church has never practiced baptism for the dead.

That isn’t doctrine. Someone may think that they should do that “just to be sure” or to make themselves feel a little better, however there is no point in baptizing someone after they are dead. Catholic sacraments are for those that are still living on earth.

Religio71, it is sacred knowledge that was kept from everyone. If you had ears that could hear you would know this already. DUH!

Oh, but I did Hear it with my spiritual ears…:wink:

This is one of the articles I was referring to:

Note the heavy appeal to gnostic gospels.

From that article, I found this statement…weird:

“That baptism for the dead was indeed practiced in some orthodox Christian circles is indicated by the decisions of two late fourth-century councils. The fourth canon (fifth in some lists) of the Synod of Hippo, held in 393, declares, “The Eucharist shall not be given to dead bodies, . . . nor baptism conferred upon them.” The ruling was confirmed four years later in the sixth canon of the Third Council of Carthage.5”

So he’s saying that because those councils said that the sacraments should not be given to the dead, that means that baptism for the dead was practiced? Or that Eucharist for the dead was practiced?


Heavy is an understatement. Gnostics have been declared heretics since day one. Long before 340AD. It is to their own detriment that they follow a heresy.

That article makes a false comparison. Baptizing dead bodies is baptism of the dead, not baptism for the dead. Something that was obviously declared heretical.

And 2 Maccabeus, please, it is talking about prayers for the dead and an indulgence! Something mormons reject entirely. Another false comparison.

As I’ve said before. It is mormon habit to take their beliefs and overlay them over other cultures and beliefs. They shamelessly do it everywhere. Twisting truth and facts into something it was never meant to be. It is the poorest argument that can be made and dishonest.

I’ll add, I think that sort of article is meant for the casual inquirer. Placate the restless, as by and large, LDS members are very ignorant of Christian history. Look! It’s at BYU and sounds like they know what they are talking about. It is sloppy and is nothing more than propaganda.

I agree. It is very interesting that the Coptic Church is referenced both in that article and others. Here is what the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern USA says:

I think it also strange that the writer of that article is quick to discount the ruling of a Council of the universal Church. Which was comprised of bishops, who had a valid claim to apostolic authority. Bishops from far and wide, and all who rejected the practice of baptizing for the dead. Yet, the author so readily accepts the practice of a lone heretical group, which does not have apostolic succession. It doesn’t seem to me to be a very objective decision.

Interesting article from the Orthodox Copts. It matches to Catholic belief, ie, a catechumen who dies before baptism is considered to have had a baptism of desire.

Another non-comparison by the mormon author, as, mormon baptism for the dead has nothing, zero, to do with the desire the person had while alive. They in fact could care less what the person’s convictions were while alive.

Once again, many thanks to my learned friends at CAF.

It is a hugely frustrating thing about mormons - my beloved wife included - that they pick up on any falling acorn and all of a sudden - like Chicken Licken - the “sky is falling down”.

So the phrase “baptism for the dead” is read, and a whole doctrine formed around it. Then all of the “LDS scholars” (especially FARMS and BYU) run around dressing it up to make it look scientific. Then members who have no more than 5 minutes read it and all of a sudden it is the way it really was intended by Christ, and that wicked harlot (the Catholic church) takes away the truth for its own nefarious (nay, satanic) purposes.

Thanks for the links and the info.


Just to put things in context, another part of the "“discussion”, the High Priest talked about the Catholic creeds - how they were an abomination. One in particular because it said that God was “incomprehensible”. This made it abominable in that it perverted the real understanding of God, which was really simple: God has a body of flesh and bones.

Anyway, I replied by saying that surely the doctrine of eternal progression where we could become Gods was just as incomprehensible. To which the reply was given by the High Priest, that it wasn’t incomprehensible, just a mystery not yet revealed. JUst like the “incomprehensibility” suggested in the creed that he referred to ? Oh no was the reply, because the LDS doctrine was given by a prophet of God !

Ouch, my head hurts. It is difficult to discuss logically with someone like this. But generally the way it goes.

I will seek him out next Sunday and see if amicably he might listen.


Yes, one thing that I do not like is when some LDS say that “it’s a mystery/we don’t fully know” is an answer for many things, including the full knowledge of God, and that this is a cop out. But, when we inquire about various LDS teachings and what they “fully” mean, the answer is many times, “we don’t fully know”. I had this discussion over on MADB.

Yeah, as St Irenaeus said, no man has “handled or measured God”. Anyone or any group who claims they have, or can, are full of it.

I agree with you completely,sacrements ARE for the living not the dead. However,having been a heath care provider for many years and several of these in the ER, I witnessed an interesting thing a few years ago. I was involved with a case which arrived to the ER and was pronounced Dead On Arrival. We contacted the On Call priest. When he arrived he went over to the remains and proceeded to administer the Last Rites. When he was done, I questionned the fact that this person was dead and had been dead for some time prior to his being given the sacrement. I was Catholic then and found this a bit odd to say the least. He explained to me that," as long as the body is still warm, the sacrement is to be given". I accepted the explanation and went on my way. Looking back and I guess reminded by your comment is this what is still done does anyone know? NLM

I watched this thing on National Geographic, where, dead isn’t so much a particular point, exactly. It is a process, at the cellular level, and even a person with no vital signs can still be alive. It is for this reason that people with no vital signs can be revived. They aren’t dead yet. Or maybe, as Kronk says, “Well, he’s not as dead as we would’ve hoped.”. :stuck_out_tongue:

In relationship to the soul, there is no way to measure a soul, this includes whether or not it has departed.

One thing is certain, the mormon practice is not done until the person is really, really dead, as they wait a year before baptizing a dead person by proxy.

The few Catholic theologians, and exegetes I have read on the subject interpret the dead, as being persons still alive, who are spiritually dead due to Original and Actual Sin.

Baptism, absolution and the anointing (Extreme Unction) can be given conditionally, to those who have apparently died, most of the older commentators use rigor mortis as the defining sign of the exit of the Soul from the body. However because it is not an exact science, the Church requires that it be done contitionally, with the words, “If thou art alive…” or in Modern English, “If you are still alive…” As in all things we hope in God’s mercy as He is not simply the Author of the Sacraments, but who provides the graces that are derived from them.

One of the priests we had at our parish said, “Since the departure of our soul can’t be definitively determined, the general rule of them is 'When in doubt, give it out”.

I know it is rather blunt, but it makes perfect sense.

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