Saving Ordinance

Were these women involved in a saving ordinance? Why or why not?


37 thoughts on “Saving Ordinance

  1. Jared C,

    Invalid deduction, Melchizedek PH ordinations do not involve white clothes. Plus, the saving ordinances of washing and annointing used to involve no clothes. Perhaps if the baptizands were nude, they could claim a primitive (i.e. Kirtland era) version of washing and annointing. Plus, I think the male viewership of LDS Evangelical Conversations might appreciate the gesture.

  2. Yes and no. Baptism isn’t some magical spell that saves you by virtue of having been performed, it’s an outer reflection of an inner commitment to allow the old self to be crucified in Christ and a new creature to be born from the ashes.

    The extent that it is sincere — and I have no reason to doubt that it is — the God I believe in willingly and happily accepts the gesture (even if people quibble over the details).

  3. Were these women involved in a saving ordinance?


    Why not?

    Because no authorized representative of God was present.

  4. David said: Perhaps if the baptizms were nude,

    Baptisms? Wait! I thought this was a wet t-shirt contest. . . .

    if they are baptisms, Do you think these ordinances were saving?

  5. I asked Tim:

    Define what you mean by “saving ordinance.”

    To which he replied:

    tell me what saving ordinance means in your faith tradition.

    OK, then, in my faith tradition (LDS) it has a fairly narrow definition, namely a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood that is essential to exaltation.

    So by that definition, as BrianJ said, there is no saving ordinance present because the authority isn’t there.

    But does that mean what these women are doing is valueless? I didn’t say that, nor would I.

  6. Are these ordinances saving ordinances? No, such a thing does not exist. Salvation is by the grace of Jesus Christ through faith in him.

    Baptism is important because it is one of the sacraments through which God communicates that grace. While one does not need baptism to receive grace, it is one of the means of obtaining it, so all who believe in Jesus Christ should be baptized at some point or another.

    I also see baptism as the initiation into the catholic church, so I have no problem with congregations or denominations who use that as a means of regulating who participates in church governance or in the sacramental life of the church. My particular home denomination doesn’t use it for those purposes and I’m cool with that too.

  7. David Clark: I found your answer interesting.

    Tim: Okay, time to reveal what was behind the question. (Sorry to accuse you of subterfuge, but I’m pretty sure you already knew the answers to your question. So, what’s the end-game?)

  8. A LDS will say “no because women do not hold the priesthood.” (in spite of JS’s practice of ordaining women).

    An Evangelical will say “no because there is no such thing as a saving ordinance, it is Jesus’ blood that saves us.”

    @Brian J
    you know, there could have been some Mormon elder present in the congregation watching the proceedings,; in that case a priesthood holder would be present. perhaps you meant he wasn’t officiating.

    for the record, I hold the Evangelical view.

  9. andrew: how precise do you want me to be? If you want to parse and dissect, not even how you frame the LDS view is correct.

    Kullervo: yeah, but for whatever reason I liked it more coming from David Clark.

  10. My answer is the same as David’s (though I really like Katie’s). They are expressing salvation, but salvation is not found there.

    Brian said: Okay, time to reveal what was behind the question.

    I don’t know that I have a whole lot more behind the question than what the pictures don’t already express. I think as “pictures of full immersion baptism” go, they stand almost as far apart from LDS baptism as can be illustrated. So they offer a point of comparison for us.

    • There are women performing the sacrament.
    • They aren’t wearing white jumpsuits.
    • They lack formality.
    • They lack precision.
    • They lack a strong expression of priesthood.
    • They are spontaneous (one woman didn’t come prepared to be baptized).
    • Someone is playing the drums and the electric guitar for background music.

    I think the original question highlights the belief that salvation is only found in and through the Mormon church. And that’s something Mormons are not typically prone to put their first foot forward on. They’re much more likely to express that all will find salvation. So as Eric wrestles with not accidentally communicating that this moment has no value or is meaningless; a Mormon still must affirm that “it doesn’t count where salvation is concerned.” Katie’s answer denies the power of the priesthood.

    [and just for clarification, I am not suggesting that there is more joy or passion found in these pictures than can be found in LDS baptism. Nor am I saying this is a better way to baptize. If the LDS church is what it claims to be, the only true church on earth with the only real authority to offer salvation on behalf of Christ, clearly the Mormon way is better.]

  11. Katie’s answer denies the power of the priesthood.

    For the record, I would say that my answer denies the exclusivity of the priesthood.

    I absolutely believe the priesthood is powerful and that God honors ordinances performed by it.

  12. Tim said:

    a Mormon still must affirm that “it doesn’t count where salvation is concerned.”

    It depends on what you mean by “count” and mean by “salvation.”

    Yes, the LDS belief is that baptism by one with priesthood authority is a necessary (but not sufficient) requirement for exaltation. I affirm that belief unequivocally. And in that sense, yes, “salvation is only found in and through the Mormon church.”

    On the other hand, one goal of the Church is to provide that baptism for all people, even those who didn’t receive it in this life (and the general belief, and my personal belief, is that that goal will be realized). That’s why we devote a great deal of our resources to temples.

    Furthermore, a uniquely LDS belief (well, maybe not unique, but significant in any case) is that even in terms of exaltation, all people will be judged in part “according to the desire of their hearts.” Certainly, this applies to those who in this life sincerely seek to follow Christ but who aren’t members of the Church, and we don’t deny that such people are in some sense saved.

    See Elder Dallin Oaks, “Have You Been Saved?.

    From my admittedly inclusivist viewpoint, I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say that if these women are being baptized as part of seeking to follow Christ, the “unauthorized” baptism does play a role (and thus “counts”) in their salvation in the broad sense. I fully expect that in the Celestial Kingdom there will be many more times non-LDS folks there than people who were members of the Church in this life. Like Katie, I don’t see Jesus condemning people like these women who simply get some of the details wrong.

  13. Tim: thanks for the answer.

    “I think the original question highlights the belief that salvation is only found in and through the Mormon church. And that’s something Mormons are not typically prone to put their first foot forward on.”

    I think Eric gets at this, but just to record my response:

    You’re absolutely right: the LDS Church holds keys, and if you always and forever reject it’s teachings then you will never find salvation. And yeah, we don’t lead with that kind of statement. The reason I wouldn’t lead with that is not because I shy away from that stance (as illustrated in my first comment), but because I think 1) it’s potentially confusing and therefore misleading, and 2) it’s not all that compelling. But I recognize that not leading with that might seem misleading to some—is that what you’re getting at?

    re 1) Many might take that as a sort of Roman Catholic get-baptized-in-this-life-or-be-damned position, which as we all know is definitely not what Mormonism teaches.

    re 2) Who cares if the LDS Church is the only truly authorized church if what they’re authorized to distribute is total crap? I want to lead by presenting something that is valuable to the listener, then address questions of “counterfeit goods” only when they arise.

    On a side note: as a missionary in Brazil, where everyone has already been baptized at least once, and is at least semi-religious, you better believe that exclusivity was often the first foot forward. Different place; different approach.

  14. But I recognize that not leading with that might seem misleading to some—is that what you’re getting at?


  15. My beloved Timothy,

    Behold, I say unto you that all old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and an everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.

    Wherefore, although a woman should be baptized an hundred times in an evangelical baptismal service it availeth her nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the law of Moses, neither by your dead works.

    For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.

    Wherefore, enter ye in at the gate, as I have commanded, and seek not to counsel your God. Amen.



  16. BrianJ,

    You are misrepresenting the Roman Catholic position on baptism. There are a number of doctrinal exceptions for the baptism requirement.

  17. Gundek: I’m not (mis)representing the Roman Catholic position at all. Rather, I mentioned the way the vast majority of people understand the Roman Catholic position on baptism and how they might draw Mormon parallels to it. Since perception was the whole point of my comment, I’m fine with my statement.

    Maybe you see this as a good opportunity to detail/defend the Roman Catholic position, but to me your comment came across as nitpicking.

  18. BrainJ,

    Sadly I missed where you said, “the vast majority of people understand the Roman Catholic position on baptism as get-baptized-in-this-life-or-be-damned position.”

    Does your principle on common perception making it OK to incorrectly state others beliefs hold only for Rome or is it fair game for everybody?

    I have no intent to defend the Roman beliefs on baptism, in fact, I am quite Protestant. I was once advised that if you were going to be a Protestant you had better know what you are protesting against. I have taken that advice seriously. You may consider other churches beliefs on baptism nitpicky but some churches take baptism quite seriously, there is no reason to muddy the water. If you are truly interested in Roman Catholic beliefs you might start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

    1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

    1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

    1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

  19. Gundek: I’m not (mis)representing the Roman Catholic position at all.

    Yes you are. I looked it up myself because I too thought you were in error. And since the RC church has gone to a lot of trouble to formulate and enunciate official doctrines, who really cares how the vast majority of people understand the doctrine.

    And the exceptions which gundek cites are really quite instructive to seeing how a Roman Catholic might answer the question and how they view baptism as a sacrament.

  20. If they were being Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…then YES. They were receiving the forgiveness of sins, life, and slavation.

    If they were doing something to show their seriousness about God…then NO. Nothing actually happened.

  21. gundek: I was rather annoyed by your first comment—like I said, the way I first read it came across to me like nitpicking. I can re-read your comment now and “hear” it a different way. Either way, I shouldn’t have let that affect my response to you.

    Even in my annoyed-state, I think my response clarified my intent to illustrate people’s misperceptions of doctrines. If there’s some further point of clarification you’d like from me then let me know.

  22. BrianJ

    First let me apologize if I came across as nitpicky. That was not my intent. I should also apologize for my sarcasm, it was not appropriate.

    While I do not agree with the the Roman Catholic view on baptism I think that it is interesting how they maintain both the efficacy and necessity if baptism for the infusion of grace, while still understanding that God can administer his grace as he chooses. In effect Rome position binds the church not God to baptism. It fits with Romes understanding of the fall and the removal of God grace after the fall, where the Protestant would say that prior to the fall there was no need for grace.

  23. Since God (in Christ Jesus) commands Baptism in Matthew 28, then God is present in it.

    God does not gives us commands for ‘religious reasons’, He gives them and then He is in them, acting for us.

    God can surely save apart from Baptism, but He can surely save in Baptism, as well. (1st Peter makes that clear)

    And there are many references in Scripture as to what God does for us in Baptism. Acts 2:38, Galatians 4, Romans 6…and more.

  24. gundek: “In effect Rome position binds the church not God to baptism.” That’s an interesting way to put it. Thanks.

    re Catholic v Protestant: Are you saying that in the Catholic view, Adam and Eve were created as “bad” creations (or evil/devilish; not sure what word they would use), perhaps by very definition since they were carnal, whereas Protestants believe that Adam and Eve were created in a state of (again not sure of the right term here) purity?

  25. The Roman Catholic Church would deny that their doctrine of “donum superadditum” super added grace means that Adam was created anything but good. They do say that as a result of the fall, “Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness”. This lost grace is what is infused in the Roman Catholic view of baptism.

  26. Grace is understood as God’s unmerited favor. Prior to Adams breaking of the covenant, causing of the fall, Adam earned his merit by perfect obedience to God’s covenant, there was no need for grace.

  27. We are saved by grace. Christ commanded us to repent and be baptised. Therefore, Baptism, in itself, does not save – but it’s essential to salvation. Because God requires it of us. That’s what is meant by a “saving ordinance”.

    To answer the question –

    Heb. 5:4 –
    4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

    Matt 7:21-23 –
    21 ¶Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the dwill of my Father which is in eheaven.

    22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    So was this was performed with God’s authority? If not, then God is not bound to accept it. But that’s for him to judge, not me.

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