Wednesday, October 18, 2017

To Be Baptised or Not To Be Baptised?

In recent posts I've reviewed some of the 1835 changes in the D&C that demonstrate that baptism, authority and formal church organization were not part of JS' revelations up through early 1829 (see here and here). These observations are largely based on Michael Quinn's Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power. Quinn uses D&C 10:67-68 (May, 1829) to support his claim that baptism was not necessary in Mormonism up through early 1829 (pp. 5-6). The passage reads:
67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
According to Quinn's reading, baptism would fit into the "more than this" category and was not required. This also aligns with 1835 additions an earlier revelation that add in and backdate the divine mandate for baptism (again, see here).

After reading this, I realized that there is a close relationship between these verses and 3 Nephi 11:
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.
34 And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
These verses, from this vantage point, look like an expansion of the verses from D&C 10. There is shared terminology and some shared ordering of said terminology (borrowing a couple of Nick Frederick's criteria for evaluating intertextuality), only 3 Nephi 11 adds baptism, perhaps so that it can't be listed in the "more than this" category.

Given that 3 Nephi 11 was translated sometime before May 15th, and the apparent dependence of the passages from 3 Nephi 11 on those in D&C 10, it appears that JS received D&C closely prior to 3 Nephi 11. It's even possible that D&C 10 inspired conversation/discussion/debate the necessity of baptism, which then inspired the text of 3 Nephi 11. What we know for sure is that 3 Nephi is what clarified to JS and Cowdery the need for baptism and authority. Oliver Cowdery informs us that it is the Savior's "directions given to the Nephites" on "the precise manner in which men should build up His Church" were the inspiration for JS' and Cowdery's observation that "none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel" and their desire for the "commandment to be given ‘Arise and be baptized.’"

I believe there is a relevant series of events here: D&C 10 received, 3rd Nephi 11 expands and clarifies what is not included in "more than this", authority and baptism become integral to early Mormonism, JS and Cowdery are baptized, and JS adds baptism, authority, and rhetoric about church to the early revelations.

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