Pleasant Valley Church of Christ 3317 Amidon Wichita KS 67204 “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; (316) 838-4195 they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) www.letjesusleadus.org December 20, 2009 Schedule of Services Baptism for the dead Sunday by David King Classes . . . . . 9:30 am Worship . . . . 10:30 am Evening . . . . . 6:00 pm “Otherwise, what will they do who are bap- why are they baptized?” Paul is not describing tized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at something that he or the Corinthians practiced. Wednesday all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” Rather, it is some other group that performs Classes . . . . . 7:30 pm (1 Cor. 15:29). this kind of baptism. Throughout this chapter, This is the only passage in the New Paul consistently uses the pronouns “we” or Testament that mentions baptism for the dead. “you” (v. 17, 19). But suddenly here he switch- Elders Paul appears to describe it as an actual prac- es to “they.” Why? David King . . 744-9069 tice but provides no other information, so we Corinth was located just a few miles from Steve Wright . 777-4393 are left to wonder what he was referred to. the town of Eleusia, which was the home of an Deacons For centuries commentators have struggled to ancient religion known as the Eleusinian Dan Mason . . 684-3109 Keith Miller . . 618-1669 explain it. According to one review of the sub- Mysteries. The Mysteries were probably the Frank Neal . . 744-0022 ject I read recently, there are over two hun- dominant religious movement of the day, cer- Kent Schlosser 744-1404 dred different interpretations. tainly in Greece. One of the rituals practiced by Evangelist The most natural interpretation is some the followers of this religion was baptism in the Eric Hamilton 213-5686 kind of proxy baptism, in which a person is nearby Aegean Sea, performed at the autum- baptized in behalf of a dead relative or friend. nal equinox. There is some evidence that these This is the view taken by the Mormons, in par- worshippers practiced a form of baptism for the ticular. While grammatically appropriate, this dead (Orphic Fragment 245). The Pleasant Valley approach suffers from a complete lack of cor- Remember that Paul’s objective in this Church of Christ is a roborating evidence in the New Testament, as chapter is to defend the Christian doctrine of non-denominational group of believers well as contradicting everything we know about the resurrection. Paul is making an argument who are committed to baptism as a personal decision tightly linked to based on the Corinthians’ existing knowledge following Jesus in our one’s own faith and repentance (Ac. 2:38). of a pagan religion. He is not legitimizing the attitudes, our relation- ships, and our worship. Others adopt unusual definitions of the pagan religion or ritual. Rather, he is using it as If you want the same phrase “for the dead” to find the meaning. For a means of reinforcing the reasonableness of a thing in your life, please contact us. example, some suggest Paul is referring to belief in the resurrection. Even the pagans rec- We’d like to help. those who are baptized “in view of their own ognize a future life; their practice of proxy bap- impending death,” or those who are baptized tism proves it. So why should his teaching of a “to take the place of the fallen martyrs,” or future resurrection be so hard to believe? Unless otherwise noted, those who are baptized “in response to the In conclusion, baptism for the dead was all scripture quotations are from the New King death of Christ.” All these interpretations get indeed a form of proxy baptism, known to the James Version Bible, credit for cleverness, but they are obviously audience for whom Paul was writing. But it was Thomas Nelson stretched too thin to be credible. a practice of the pagans of that day, not the Publishers. The key to unlocking this puzzle is to Christians. There is no Biblical basis for God’s notice the pronouns: “what will they do . . . people today to practice it.