RS/MP Lesson 41: “Becoming Saviors on Mount Zion”

Though lesson 35 was dedicated to the notion of “Redemption for the Dead” (you can see my notes for that lesson here), and lesson 36 was dedicated to the topic of “Receiving the Ordinances and Blessings of the Temple” (you can see my notes for that lesson here), Joseph Smith had enough to say on the subject of baptism for the dead specifically that lesson 41 is dedicated to this topic. Indeed, Joseph had so much to say on the topic that I think I had better confess that I found this lesson richer and more productive in many ways than the earlier two lessons that dealt with connected themes. At any rate, this lesson makes it quite clear that baptism for the dead is a topic we have hardly begun to penetrate.

From the Life of Joseph Smith

The introductory section for this lesson gives a brief history of the work of baptism for the dead in Nauvoo: the ordinance was performed rather indiscriminately in the Mississippi River in 1840 after Joseph announced it without much explanation; in January 1841 (in the revelation that is now D&C 124), the Saints were informed that they were to cease the practice until it could be performed in a font dedicated specifically to that purpose; the Saints actually came into conformity with this revelation in October of 1841; by November, a makeshift font had been constructed in the basement of the then-still-being-constructed Nauvoo temple, and baptisms for the dead were again performed; in 1842, a series of clarifications about how such baptisms had to be recorded according to a kind of “priesthood of writing” were presented to the Saints by Joseph, etc.

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