Let me guess: You surfed onto this site looking for a way to make this month’s Visiting Teaching message interesting.
Now, I don’t mean to be disrespectful towards family history temple work. But it is a topic that comes up rather often, (I have written about here and here , oy!). So- either I get hit with the family history thing way too often in the Lesson Plan lottery, or the spirit is trying to get me to do work. Either way, looking up my family tree is not new. And clearly the topic can be hard to address and re-address, especially because it is a topic that so often hits news headlines.
Out of interest, Mormons are not alone in proxy work. There is evidence that the Coptic Church practiced baptisms for the dead in the 3rd Century C.E., but ended as it was decided that those who are deceased are not privy to receiving Eucharist ordinances. (1) Mandaeans also practice proxy baptism, but only on a small scale. (2) But, by and large, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the primary group that performs proxy ordinances, likely because it is taught to us so very often as a part of applied and real, church piety. There is some evidence that the LDS church members practiced proxy work for the living in the early days of the church- likely for other church members or relatives that were unable to migrate to Nauvoo (3) But because there is also evidence that not everyone enjoyed being proxy-baptised into another church, the practices was changed for the dead. It seems to me that the long lists of unrelated proxy temple work that were completed and created controversy furthered this practice to focus only on family history. Perhaps that is why there is such an emphasis in the church today; because if we do the work of our ancestors who have dead, we offend fewer of the living.Read More