Early LDS Views of Baptism and Repentence

In the early days of the Church the practice of “re-baptism” was often performed. This was a renewal of one’s baptismal covenant. The practice was eventually discontinued, and these comments by George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency reveals the attitude that Church leaders had towards the role of repentance and baptism:

“We hear a good deal of talk about rebaptism, and the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt that so much rebaptism ought to be stopped. Men, when they commit sin, think if they can only get the Bishop to re-baptize them, they are all right and their sins are condoned. It is a fallacy; it will lead to destruction. There is no such thing in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is repentance from sin that will save you, not re-baptism.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1897, p. 68.)

I believe this illustrates an understanding that baptism, while necessary, is only a ceremonial act that symbolizes the most important aspect of covenant making: repentence. While some critics of Mormonism might consider baptism a “work”, they should note that LDS intimately link baptism with repentence, which can hardly be called a “work” that earns salvation.

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17 comments on “Early LDS Views of Baptism and Repentence

  1. Jerry says:

    “It is repentance from sin that will save you,…”
    This statement does not fit with Ephesians 2:8&9
    8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Repentance doesn’t save anyone, God’s grace does. Salvation is a gift and can not be earned.

  2. James says:

    Hi Jerry. You know, the Bible is much, much longer than just two verses. You should consider reading the rest of it.

    For example, consider these words from Jesus Christ:

    Matt4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

    Why was repentance the very first think Jesus taught as he began his ministry? Because repentance is how we accept the grace of Christ. We are sinners, and we are in need of saving. But we cannot be forced into salvation. We choose to accept the free gift of grace by repenting of our sins. This is mainstream, historical, orthodox, biblical teaching.

    Consider also these words from Peter:

    Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

    Why would Peter instruct people to repent and baptized in order to receive a remission of sins, if he didn’t mean it?

  3. Jerry says:

    So is it repentance (something we do) or grace (something Jesus freely gives) that saves us?

  4. James says:


    Reaching out with your hand to accept a gift does not qualify as earning that gift. In two days, on Christmas morning, when your wife gives you a gift tell her that you earned the gift simply because you opened the wrapping paper. See how that goes over with her.


  5. James says:

    I should also add, repentance is something we must do, but it is only possible to do because of grace. It wouldn’t matter one bit if we repented of our sins if it weren’t for the Atonement of Christ that makes it all possible.

    Repentance is an option only because of grace, not the other way around.

  6. Jerry says:

    “Repentance is an option only because of grace, not the other way around.”

    I totally agree with that statement James.

    Could we cut the sarcastic comments and maybe speak to each other as friends?

  7. Jerry says:

    or at least a friendly manner?

  8. James says:

    I’d be happy to try and talk as friends. I’ve tried to do that with you before. Unfortunately, those attempts have not been successful. Perhaps it is because you have insisted on telling me what I believe, instead of letting me speak for myself.

    But sure, let’s try again.


  9. Jerry says:

    You also speak down to me and don’t believe me when I tell the back ground on a person.

    So let’s start over, okay?

  10. Jerry says:

    How long have you been LDS?

  11. James says:

    I’m not sure what you refer to when you say, “[you] don’t believe me when I tell the back ground on a person.”

    Anyway, I’ve been LDS my entire life. I was born and raised in a strong LDS family in Texas. I served a mission when I turned 19, and I’ve held many volunteer positions within the Church.

    What about you?

  12. Jerry says:

    Greg Gifford

  13. James says:

    If I recall correctly, I didn’t question your explanation of who Greg Gifford was at all. But, let’s put it to rest and move on. I’m glad you are here trying to dialogue with me. Hopefully we will each come to better understand one another, and not just seek to tear down our respective faiths.

  14. Jerry says:

    That’s cool.

  15. Jerry says:

    I grew up in a Christian family. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was 5 years old. I began seriously serving Jesus around the age of 19. My wife and I will be celebrating our 34 wedding anniversary in a couple of weeks. We have five Kids, three daughter-in-laws, and our tenth grandchild is due any day.

  16. Jerry says:

    Merry Christmas James!

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