Friday, September 26, 2014

Partaking Of The Sacrament Does Renew LDS Baptismal Covenants

The troubles caused by anti-Mormons are well-known. But confusion is also sown by those who are members of the LDS Church. A prime example of the latter is confusion over whether or not partaking of the sacramental emblems each Sunday renews the covenants one makes when baptized. While I was always taught that this is the case, someone on the LDS Freedom Forum begs to differ. Note this exchange:

iWriteStuff Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:47 pm:
One Lord, one faith, one baptism?

Does the LDS church authorize second/third/fourth baptisms? I hadn't heard of this before. From whence cometh this doctrine?

Christ himself was baptized only once. Outside of Alma, who submerged himself upon baptizing another as a show of humility, I can't think of any other figure in the scriptures who felt it necessary to go down into the water more than once.

Just feel like renewing your covenants? Then why not give a shot at the sacrament and making it more meaningful this week. That's how Christ intended it to be, and thus He instituted it.

Jeremy Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:54 pm:
...The sacrament is not a renewal of baptismal covenants.

Fortunately, members of the Quorum of the Twelve have addressed this issue in the recent past:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has explained that in renewing our baptismal covenants by partaking of the emblems of the sacrament, “we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. [Rather], we witness that we are willing to do so. (See D&C 20:77.) The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the [ultimate and] most important sense” (“Taking upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1985, 81). The baptismal covenant clearly contemplates a future event or events and looks forward to the temple.
-- Elder David A. Bednar, April 2009 General Conference, "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing".

Elder Delbert L. Stapley instructed us in this when he said about covenants:

“The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is a covenant between God and his people. ... When baptized by an authorized servant of God, we covenant to do God’s will and to obey his commandments. ... By partaking of the Sacrament we renew all covenants entered into with the Lord and pledge ourselves to take upon us the name of his Son, to always remember him and keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1965, 14).
-- Elder L. Tom Perry, April 2006 General Conference, "As Now We Take the Sacrament".

In his writings on the doctrines of salvation, President Joseph Fielding Smith teaches that we partake of the sacrament as our part of commemorating the Savior’s death and sufferings for the redemption of the world. This ordinance was introduced so that we can renew our covenants to serve Him, to obey Him, and to always remember Him. President Smith adds: “We cannot retain the Spirit of the Lord if we do not consistently comply with this commandment” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:341).
-- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 2008 General Conference, "Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament".

I remember when I was “[baptized] by immersion for the remission of sins.” That was appealing. I assumed that all my past mistakes were now washed away, and if I never made any more mistakes in my life, I would be clean. This I resolved to do. Somehow it did not turn out that way. I found that I made mistakes, not intentionally, but I made them. I once foolishly thought maybe I was baptized too soon. I did not understand that the ordinance of the sacrament, administered by you of the Aaronic Priesthood, is in fact a renewing of the covenant of baptism and the reinstating of the blessings connected with it. I did not see, as the revelations tell us, that I could “retain a remission of [my] sins.”
-- President Boyd K. Packer, April 2009 General Conference, "Counsel to Young Men".

So let's see, now. We have four apostles who state that partaking of the Sacrament renews baptismal covenants vs. one person posting the opposite on a discussion forum. Who am I going to believe? Why, the Apostles, of course -- not because they're inerrant or infallible, but because they just might know a bit more about the subject than ordinary members.

Of course, it is possible to get a bit carried away. 3 Nephi 18:28-29 proclaims that we should not partake of the Sacrament unworthily because we risk eating and drinking damnation to our souls. A former missionary relates this account of a missionary branch president who got a bit overzealous about enforcing it. It's a funny story, but it has an unfortunate ending. From Mormon Matters in April 2008:

There was a big disagreement about this on my mission. An investigator who had been given a chapel card showed up for church just as the sacrament service was beginning. When the bread tray came to him, he was unsure what to do, so he took a piece of the bread. Just then, an older missionary who was serving in a branch leadership role jumped up from his seat on the stand and commanded the man (in Spanish) to “Drop it!” which he did. Needless to say, the investigator never returned.

I can just see that missionary leaping out of his seat like a ballistic missile, full of fire for the Lord. DROP IT! DROP THE CHALUPA! Unfortunately, he might have chased a prospective branch president away from the Church.

The BYU Harold B. Lee Library website provides a detailed essay on how the custom of the Sacrament evolved.


Anonymous said...

You might want to look into the doctrine of re-baptism which was practice from the 1840's to the early 1900's. The sacrament was not thought to be a renewal of baptismal covenants till the late 1800's. Before then members renewed their baptismal covenants through rebaptism. For example Brigham Young was baptised 7 times.

Bob Sonntag said...

The apostles you quoted weren't 4 independent witnesses. They were four men steeped in the same tradition repeating a non-scriptural idea that has been around since long before they were born. Neither the longevity of the tradition nor it's popularity are arguments for it's truth. Do you want me to find quotes from four different apostles explaining in detail how and why blacks are inferior? Don't bother arguing against them, "not because they're inerrant or infallible, but because they just might know a bit more about the subject than ordinary members."

I heard a rumor about recent regional training in which Elder Andersen said to stop leading out with this "renewal of baptismal covenants" idea, because it isn't scriptural. Time will tell.