In October, 2018, Mr. Berger spoke to a handful of people who were gathered at his home, about something which he stated was unknown to all the world. This particular topic was about Priesthood Authority. Mr. Berger revealed that he was "instructed by Moroni" that the entirety of the Melchizedek priesthood was taken off the earth. Mr. Berger stated that he, solely, was then given the Melchizedek priesthood and through him now, all men must go to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. What follows is an article written by Mr. Berger on that topic and previously posted on the leading website at that time. Following Mr. Berger's article is a response written by Bob Moore clarifying the false teaching that the priesthood would ever be taken from the earth again.
Minor Priesthood Authority
(by M. Berger)
In the words of Moroni, a person who was baptized by a minor priesthood authority in the various branches of the restoration does not need baptism again, but needs to receive the confirmation or gift of the Holy Spirit from April 6, 2019, when his name is confirmed as a member of the Church - and she then becomes a member of the church that has will be restructured on this day. That is, even if the baptism is from another branch of the restoration, Moroni states that it has validity, because the Lord did not abandon the believers of the Book of Mormon, but only took away the Greater Priesthood. "So he can be confirmed a member of the Church." But if this can not be confirmed as receiving baptism by the authority of the Aaronic priesthood, then there must be a new baptism, followed by confirmation. There will be those who are already baptized will choose to rename themselves.
In the scriptures we have the example of Paul who, finding about 12 disciples of John the Baptist who were already baptized, baptized them again and gave them the Holy Spirit, since they had not received it before (Acts 19: 1-7) .
In general, when the Church is formally established or there is a new beginning for a ministry or dispensation, those who have been baptized will be able to be again. In the scriptures we see that Alma, who already possessed the priesthood (and therefore had already been baptized - for baptism must necessarily precede receiving the priesthood, was "buried in the water" (Mosiah 9:45 RLDS), but his rebaptism had another purpose: to begin and organize the Church of God again among his people (Mosiah 9: 49-50 RLDS).
This same kind of rebaptism is found in the case of Joseph Smith. He was baptized with Oliver Cowdery in 1829 - and was renamed on April 6, 1830.
"When the Church was organized, all the brothers who organized it into groups before that and others who had been baptized were renamed. They had to be, in order to enter the Church through the door and their members be confirmed. "Indeed, one of the purposes of baptism is to admit a person in the Church.
The Nephites were also renamed at the time Christ appeared to them.
"WhenJesus appeared to the Nephites on this continent, his commanded them to be baptized, though they had already been baptized for the remission of sins. We read how angels exercised ministry daily with Nephi; as Nephi baptized all who came to be baptized for the remission of sins; how he organized the Church and even raised his brother from death, since he held the priesthood. Then we read how the Savior ordered Nephi and the people to be baptized again because he had organized the Church according to the Gospel. "
Again the Lord is organizing his church on April 6, 2019 according to the your Gospel. Only after confirming church members, after this day (April 6, 2019) can you call again priests and elders. So that everything happens in order. Those who received the Priesthood earlier, as it did some here in Brazil, was due to a special called in the words of Moroni, so that all things (high priesthood and their keys) would be restored. But the rest of the issue should occur only on April 6, when the church of Jesus Christ is officially restructured.
Until then, many truths regarding this matter will be revealed to His people by the Lord.
(written by M. Berger, December 15th, 2018)
Rebaptism and Restoration Branches
By Bob Moore
The Cause of Zion website posted an article on December 16, 2018, entitled Minor Priesthood Authority (editors note -the above article written by M. Berger). It teaches that the Melchisedec Priesthood was removed from all parts of the Restoration, but the Aaronic Priesthood remained in every one. It concludes that the only acceptable baptisms were performed by men who at one time had been ordained to the of6ice of priest. It adds that those not baptized by a priest must be rebaptized in water. In addition, all people must submit to confirmation by the laying on of hands by Melchisedec priesthood who are ordained by Joseph F. Smith, or elders ordained by him. Furthermore, the work in Brazil which began when Joseph F. Smith baptized people and ordained elders is now advanced by men who have been ordained directly by Mauricio Berger or those ordained by him. In October 2019 (editors note - 2018), Mauricio Berger claimed that Moroni ordained him to the office of high priest and authorized him to ordain Joseph F. Smith and the three Brazilian witnesses to the office of high priest.
In presenting its proposal, the article asserts that rebaptism is necessary whenever the church was restructured, an event that is scheduled to happen again on April 6, 2019. The article provides four examples of such restructuring and rebaptisms in the past. This conclusion seems obvious to the author because the four examples are taught in a book that is well-known in Brazil and was written by Joseph F. Smith, Jr, president of the LDS Church from 1970-1972. The goal of this article is to examine the viability of these examples and then review the position of the RLDS Church on rebaptism.
The article introduces the following episode that happened during apostle Paul’s missionary travels: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus; and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-5).
The article insists that twelve men whom Paul met were followers of John the Baptist. It says, “finding about 12 disciples of John the Baptist,” but that is not what the Bible says. It reports, “finding certain disciples.” These disciples apparently believed in Jesus, for Paul asked them, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” At that time, some missionaries baptized those who believed the gospel, but did not bestow the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. One example happened in the city of Samaria. Phillip converted many there and baptized them. The Bible reports, “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:14-17). It is not only conceivable but likely that when Paul learned that these men were baptized, he wondered if they had yet received the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands. He asked and heard an unexpected reply: “We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” Their answer raised another question: “Unto what then were ye baptized?” That is when the men said that they were baptized unto John’s baptism.
While the article assumes that they were baptized unto the baptism of John the Baptist, that is not what these men said. They answered, “Unto John's baptism” (Acts 19:3). Their reply let Paul know that the twelve men were not disciples of John the Baptist. The apostle explained why: “John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (Acts 19:3). If those twelve men had been taught by John the Baptist and received his baptism, they would have known that an additional baptism would have been needed. The Bible states what the Baptist taught: “John answered, saying unto all, I indeed baptize you with water, but there cometh one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Hire” (Luke 3:23). That second baptism , the baptism of fire, is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The fact that these twelve did not know about the Holy Ghost revealed that they had not been baptized after the baptism of John the Baptist. That is why Paul baptized them again. Afterwards, he gave them the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.
The fact that the twelve men said that they were baptized unto John’s baptism suggests that there was at least another person at that time whose name was John and who baptized disciples. Early Christian literatures gives evidence to that effect. It reports that in the area of modern-day Turkey, which includes what the Bible calls the "upper coasts of Ephesus,” there was a man called “John, a day-baptist.” (1) His title indicates that he and his disciples needed to be baptized everyday. While neither the Bible nor other extant literature reveals anything else about the man who baptized these twelve men, the fact that at least another John was baptizing in the area proves that these men could have been baptized after another John’s baptism and not after the baptism of John the Baptist.
The cited article, which was a reposting and enlargement of the original one, introduces Apollos. He was inserted into the article after its author learned that another John taught baptism in the same area where Apostle Paul found the twelve disciples. Apollos was a Jew who came to Ephesus as a disciple of John, but preaching Christ. He was from Alexandria, the center of learning in the ancient world. His learning and eloquence astonished people. The Bible states, “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue” (Acts 18:25-26). Apollos was not only baptized after the baptism of John the Baptist, but knew about Jesus, even fervently preaching him. This fact shows that those who were truly baptized after John the Baptist’s baptism knew about Jesus and that He was the one who would come after John with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Aquila and Priscilla heard him preach in the synagogue and privately taught him the gospel more perfectly.
The article introduces Apollos to bolster its view that the apostolic church rebaptized all of John’s disciples who believed in Jesus, but the scriptures do not state that assumption. They are silent about any rebaptism. While Apollos joined the church, he may have only received the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost.
The Bible confirms that John the Baptist’s baptism was sufficient. The chief example is John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus. Jesus said that He underwent that ordinance by His cousin’s hand to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:43). Jesus was not baptized again, showing that in Jesus’ case, the baptism by John the Baptist was sufficient to fulfill all righteousness. Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:40). It is likely that Peter, Andrew’s brother, was, too. Likewise, the sons of Zebedee, John and James, were probably disciples of John. The same might be said of others. We have no record that any of these apostles were rebaptized after their baptism by John. It is far more likely that the apostles who were baptized by John the Baptist were not rebaptized.
The restoration of the Aaronic priesthood and the baptism of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey provide additional confirmation that John the Baptist had authority to baptize. John the Baptist ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood, which is the priesthood under which the Baptist functioned during his earthly ministry. In so doing, the angel testified that the same priesthood that he had just restored would not be removed from the earth “until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.” (2) The angel also supervised Joseph and Oliver’s baptisms. All baptisms in the Restoration can be traced back to that event, showing that the Baptist’s authority was sufficient for properly restoring both the Aaronic priesthood and the ordinance of baptism. The assertion that all those baptized by John the Baptist needed rebaptism not only is an opinion that cannot be substantiated in scripture, but undermines the authority of all baptisms in the latter days.
The article maintains that Alma was authoritatively baptized and ordained before hearing Abinadi preach. It assumes that Alma’s position of priest in King Noah’s court is sufficient evidence for this claim. The article goes on to assert two more points: that Alma’s baptism at the waters of Mormon was a rebaptism; and that the church was reconstructed at that time.
The Book of Mormon suggests that the church and its ordinances did not properly exist when King Benjamin preached his sermon. During that discourse, the people received a remission of sins, but without baptism. That ordinance was apparently not practiced among them. An examination of Book of Mormon chronology reveals that Alma had already established the church by the time of King Benjamin’s sermon, although Alma did not gather to Zarahemla for several years thereafter, bringing the church with him.
In order for the church to have existed among the people who comprised King Noah’s subjects, it needed to have existed when Zeniff left the land of Zarahemla. In addition, the priests of King Limhi must have been authoritatively ordained. The Book of Mormon provides no indication that they were. In fact it shows that some priests who are mentioned in its history were not priests of the Lord. Alma, son of the Alma who served in King Noah’s court, and Amulek provide an example: “When they had been cast into prison three days, there came many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor” (Alma 10:61).
Even if Zeniff’s priests were divinely authorized, Noah dismissed them because he wanted priests who would support his wickedness. The Book of Mormon explains, “He put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts” (Mos 7:8). That is just what Jeroboam did when he wanted his subjects to sacrifice to the golden calves instead of going to Jerusalem: "And he made a house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Beth-el, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made; and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he had made” (1K 12:31-32). "And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem; for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the Lord. And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made” (2 Chr 11:13-15).
If the church existed at Zarahemla and its members had been baptized, two things must have happened: the church, along with the ordinance of baptism, must have been lost in the land of Zarahemla before King Benjamin preached his famous sermon; and the church, it it existed in the time of Zeniff, must have fallen into apostasy when King Noah appointed his priests. The Book of Mormon does not disclose how long King Noah ruled before Abinadi came with the Lord’s message, but is was sufficient time for the king to build “many elegant and spacious buildings” (Mos 7:11). He also built a palace (Mos 7:12), a temple (Mos 7:14), and “a very high tower” (Alma 7:16). Those building programs took a number of years, perhaps decades, before Abinadi came. Alma was only a young man then: “But there was one among them, whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken” (Mos 9:2-3). It is conceivable that Alma was not even born when King Noah appointed new priests and it is unlikely that Alma either learned or obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ before he became a priest of King Noah. He could not have been authoritatively baptized by king Noah’s priests, even if they observed that rite, for the Book of Mormon does not mention baptism among the people of King Noah. Even if the priests baptized, they could not have carried divine authority. After all, they not only sanctioned the king’s wickedness but participated in it. The account clearly states that the king’s taxes supported his priests “in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms” (Mos 7:9). The conclusion that Alma was already baptized prior to hearing Abinadi cannot be substantiated by scripture and contradicts other evidence contained in the Book of Mormon.
The article states that those who were baptized members of the church before Jesus’ appearance in ancient America were also baptized after the Savior’s descent. The Book of Mormon reports that when Samuel the Prophet prophesied on Zarahemla’s walls, “as many as believed on his words, went forth and sought for Nephi; and when they had come forth and found him, they confessed unto him their sins and denied not, desiring that they might be baptized unto the Lord” (Hel 5:110). This happened five years before Jesus was born. Nevertheless, when Jesus appeared, He commanded Nephi to be baptized and to baptize the other eleven disciples: “And it came to pass that Nephi went down into the water, and was baptized. And he came up out of the water, and began to baptize” (3N 9:12-13). Afterward, all the disciples began baptizing the rest of the people: “And it came to pass that the disciples whom Jesus had chosen, began from that time forth to baptize and to teach as many as did come unto them: and as many as were baptized in the name of Jesus were filled with the Holy Ghost” (3N 12:10).
Jesus’ command to baptize all those who believed in Him, even those who had previously been baptized, is not confined to America. The Jews in Judea observed baptism before the time of Christ. The Law of Moses specified that if a person had a discharge from his or her body or touched someone who did, they needed to be cleansed by water. The Torah decreed, “Whomsoever he toucheth that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even . . . And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean” (Lev 15:11-13). The Hebrews called this ritualistic act of bathing oneself Tvilah. It is the act of immersion in a natural sourced water, called a Mikva, or in a flowing stream. Even apostle Paul observed this purifying rite: “Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification” (Acts 21:26).
The Jews considered Gentiles unclean. Peter told Cornelius, “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation” (Acts 10:28). The Jews required that Gentiles who chose to fully convert to Judaism be purified by the cleansing rite specified in the Law. An eminent scholar on the Jews wrote, “It was otherwise with ‘the proselytes of righteousness’ who became ‘children of the covenant,’ ‘perfect Israelites,’ Israelites in every respect as regarded duties and privileges. All writers agree that three things were required.” (3) They were circumcised, were baptized, and sacrificed according to the Law. “In the case of women: baptism and sacrifice.” (4) Those not born into the house of Israel and who wanted induction into the kingdom of God needed Tvilah. They had to be immersed in flowing water, sometimes called living water.
After the cleansing ritual of the Tvilah, male Gentile converts made their covenant with God as any male Hebrew. They were circumcised. Purification by immersion in living water did not become a universal way for Gentiles to enter the kingdom of God as it existed among the Israelites until after the Babylonian Captivity. The Babylonian Talmud specifies, "A male convert who has been immersed but not circumcised, or circumcised but not immersed, is a convert.” (5) After the Jews returned and were influenced by Greek culture, they adopted the Greek noun baptmos, from which our word baptism comes, to refer to this ritualistic washing in Hellenistic Judaism. Edersheim added in his monumental work, “Baptism was absolutely necessary to make a proselyte is so frequently stated as not to be disputed.” (6) Gentiles who received the Jewish baptism were considered regenerated. Edersheim continues, “As he stepped out of these waters he was considered as ‘born anew’— in the language of the Rabbis, as if he were ‘a little child just born.’” (7)
Most educated Jews such as Nicodemus should have clearly understood that the baptism performed by John in the flowing waters of the Jordan River was a purification rite that ushered its participants into the kingdom of God. They also should have realized that the rite signified a rebirth. The Pharisees and scribes who came to observe the Baptist understood. They objected to the invitation that they needed the purification and initiation ordinance, for they were naturally born citizens of the kingdom. John perceived their thoughts and warned them, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt 3:9). Every person is a sinner, even the religiously observant Pharisees, and needs the remission of sins available in the waters of baptism for entrance into the kingdom of God.
Because of Jesus’ redeeming atonement, faith, not race, qualifies a person for entrance into the kingdom of God. Faith is manifest by repentance, which results in baptism. Mormon taught, “The Hirst—fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith, unto the fulHilling the commandments; and the fulHilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins” (Mor 8:29). All those who are baptized receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, “which is the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph 1:14), the evidence of the repentant person’s citizenship in the kingdom. Apostle Paul explained, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:19). The baptism that John the Baptist offered replaced the Jewish baptism that was established under the old covenant. John’s baptism not only cleansed sinners, but conducted them into the kingdom of God, in both time and eternity. For that reason, baptisms before John the Baptist were inferior, requiring the people in Judea to be rebaptized. Likewise, the baptisms under the old law in ancient America were inferior to the baptisms under the new testament, which Jesus wrought on the cross. That is the reason why Nephi and the other eleven disciples were baptized and why they rebaptized all believers.
The article saved the most applicable example for last: that all those baptized before April 6, 1830, the day that the church was organized, were rebaptized. Church history reports that Samuel Smith was the first person baptized after Joseph and Oliver, making him the third member. It happened a few days later, but Joseph Smith, Jr’s history, gives the date as May 15, 1829,(8) an obvious error. LDS Church History gives the date as May 25, 1829. Hyrum Smith, David Whitmer, and Peter Whitmer were baptized in June 1829. (9) Joseph Smith reported, “From this time forth many became believers, and were baptized.” (10) David Whitmer testified that there were three branches and 70 members of the church by April 6, 1830. (11)
None of those attending the organizational meeting report any rebaptisms. Both Joseph Smith, Jr. and Lucy Smith state that a baptismal service happened on that day. Joseph wrote, “Several persons who had attended the above meeting and got convinced of the truth, came forward shortly after, and were received into the church, among the rest, my own father and mother were baptized to my great joy and consolation, and about the same time Martin Harris and A. Rockwell” (RLDS CH 1:78-79). (12) Lucy Mack Smith states that the baptismal service occurred in the morning: “On the morning of the sixth day of the same month [April], my husband and Martin Harris were baptized.” (13) Afterwards, she adds, “On the same day, April 6, 1830, the church was organized.” (14)
No other reference to A. Rockwell is found in RLDS Church History. The LDS Church changed Joseph’s quote concerning that baptismal service to “O Rockwell,” (15) meaning Oron Rockwell, acknowledging that Joseph’s account is errant. This minor mistake may mean that Lucy Smith’s account is more accurate. In particular, it may mean that the baptismal service happened in the morning. After all, she was the one baptized and more likely to remember the time of day.
Like Joseph and Lucy, David Whitmer, who was at the organizational meeting, makes no comment about any rebaptisms. He states, “We attended to our business of organizing, according to the laws of the land, the church acknowledging six elders as their ministers; besides, a few who had recently been baptized and not confirmed were confirmed on that day; some blessings were pronounced, and we partook of the Lord's supper.” (16) The lack of any evidence that rebaptisms happened on April 6, 1830 or the night before, and the testimony that a few baptisms happened that day, as well as the confirmation of those there who had been previously baptized provides ample evidence to concluded that no person baptized before April 6, 1830 was rebaptized, especially Joseph and Oliver.
The Source: The article states that three of these four examples were taken from Doctrine of Salvation, Volume 2. They are contained in chapter 17, entitled “Baptism and Salvation,” under its closing section, entitled “Rebaptism.” The book was written by Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., who was president of the LDS Church from 1970 until his death in 1972 and president of its Quorum of Twelve from 1951 until 1970. He was ordained an apostle in 1910 while his father, Joseph F. Smith, was president of the LDS Church. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. was President of the Quorum of Twelve when the book was published in 1954.
Joseph F. Smith did not assert that the disciples of John the Baptist were rebaptized by the apostolic church, but he used Alma’s baptism at the waters of Mormon as an example of rebaptism: “WHY ALMA IMMERSED HIMSELF. Alma was baptized and held the priesthood before the coming of Abinadi. but he became involved with other priests under the reign of the wicked King Noah, and when he baptized Helem, he felt he needed a cleansing himself so he buried himself in the water as a token of full repentance.” (17)
He also used the baptisms at Jesus’ appearance in ancient America to justify rebaptism. He wrote, “REBAPTISM AMONG NEPHITES. When Christ appeared to the Nephites on this continent, he commanded them to be baptized, although they had been baptized previously for the remission of their sins. We read how Nephi beheld angels who came and ministered to him daily; how he baptized all who came to be baptized for the remission of sins; how he organized the Church; and how he even raised his brother from the dead, since he held the priesthood. Then we read that the Savior commanded Nephi and the people to be baptized again, because he had organized anew the Church under the gospel. Before that it had been organized under the law.” (18) In these closing sentences, Joseph Fielding Smith asserts that the rebaptism in ancient America was because the church was being restructured and not because the baptisms under the new testament replaced all baptisms under the old covenant.
Joseph Fielding Smith extends his idea when he discusses the organization of the church on April 6, 1830: “REBAPTISM OF JOSEPH SMITH. For the same reason Joseph Smith and those who had been baptized prior to April 6, 1830, were again baptized on the day of the organization of the Church. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized on the 15th day of May, 1829, Samuel Smith a few days later, Hyrum Smith a little later, and a few others, before the Church was organized. That baptism was for the remission of sins.
“When the Church was organized, each of the brethren who organized the Church, and the others who had been baptized, were baptized again. They had to be in order to come into the Church by the door. Suppose Joseph Smith had overlooked that. It is just a little thing, but how vital it is. You will Hind all through the ministry of Joseph Smith that all these little things are there; not a thing is overlooked that is vital to the story.” (19)
A similar statement appears in a book compiled and copyrited by Joseph F. Smith, Sr. A footnote on page 76 of that book states, “Names of the six members of the Church as they were organized on April 6, 1830— Oliver Cowdrey, Joseph Smith, Jun., Hyrum Smith, Peter Whitmer, Jun., Samuel H. Smith, David Whitmer. Some of these had been baptized previously; but were all baptized on the day of organization. These names were given to Joseph Knight by Oliver Cowdrey.” (20) Joseph Knight signed the referenced statement in an affidavit dated August 11, 1862 in Salt Lake City.
It is important to note that the LDS Church has a vested interest in the rebaptism of church members. Brigham Young required that all members moving to the Salt Lake Valley be rebaptized. Joseph F. Smith reports that fact in his book: “After the arrival of the Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, and subsequently for a considerable period, all those who entered the valley were baptized anew at the request of President Brigham Young who, with the Council of the Twelve, set the example to the people who were gathering from all parts of the world.” (21) Edward Tullidge, in his account of Brigham Young’s life, quoted Wilford Woodruff: “On the 6th of August , the Twelve were rebaptized. This we considered a privilege and a duty. As we had come into a glorious valley to locate and build up Zion, we felt like renewing our covenants before the Lord and each other . . . He [Brigham Young] then confirmed us and sealed upon us our apostleship and all the keys, powers, and blessings belonging to that office. Brother Heber C. Kimball baptized and confirmed President Brigham Young.” (22)
That evening, “the Twelve went to City Creek, and Heber C. Kimball baptized Hifty-Hive members of the camp.” (23) “On the next day (Sunday, August 8) the whole camp of Israel renewed their covenants before the Lord by baptism. There were two hundred and twenty-four baptized this morning, making two hundred and eighty-eight rebaptized in the last three days” (24)
In 1853, Brigham Young encouraged all those coming to Utah to be rebaptized: “I will refer again to the brethren and sisters who have lately come over the plains. My counsel to them to-day is, as it has been on former occasions to all who have come into these valleys, Go and be baptized for the remission of sins, repenting of all your wanderings from the path of righteousness, believing firmly, in the name of Jesus Christ, that all your sins will be washed away. If any of you inquire what is the necessity of your being baptized, as you have not committed any sins, I answer, it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” (25)
The rebaptism, reconfirmation and reordination of all members who migrated to Utah was unlawful. The Reorganization publicized this fact as it invited the scattered saints to return to the original church. It wrote, “We have had space for but very few of the many reasons why many fail to recognize in the Utah faction the original church of which we write. That they formed a new organization, and in doing so ignored the laws of organization before obtaining; that members coming to them from the original church were required to be rebaptized in order to retain membership with them; that those holding the priesthood in the original church, from President Young down, were required to be reordained; and that they departed in several material points from the original doctrine; are facts well known to the student of history.” (26)
Missionaries carried that message as they preached in Utah. Joseph Smith III wrote a tract about 1875 entitled Rejection of the Church. The title was taken from the warning that the Lord gave the saints at Nauvoo that if they did not complete the Nauvoo Temple within the allotted period, they would be rejected as a church (D&C 107:11a). The tract enumerated a series of unlawful acts that disorganized the 6irst organization. Joseph III rehearsed the rebaptisms already quoted, using the same words, and then reported the meeting on December 5, 1847 at Winter Quarters in which the Quorum of Twelve, already reduced to nine members, further reduced itself to six members by the elevation of Brigham Young to President of the church and Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors. The removal of those three from the Twelve left the apostolic quorum with only six members, thus disorganizing it without any prophetic means to appoint new apostles. The disorganization of both the First Presidency and Twelve disorganized the church. Joseph III went on to point out that this act began the events that “culminated in the completed rejection of the ‘church as a church.’ “ (27)
Joseph III made two signi6icant points about the rebaptisms that happened in Utah. The 6irst is that those rebaptized were baptized unto Brigham Young, not Christ. He wrote, “It was done, too, after the man so chosen had re-baptized his co-associates unto himself in the waters of Utah.” (28) The second point is that the required rebaptisms of all entering Utah were actually a baptism into the doctrine of polygamy. He wrote, “After the fatal introduction of the unauthorized revelation touching Plural Marriage, August 29, 1852, which Brigham Young had so artfully prepared the way for, a ‘Reformation’ took place. A general re-baptizing was ordered and the faithful and obedient were baptized into the spirit and power of the ‘New and Everlasting Covenant’—the Plural Marriage tenant.” (29)
The obvious conclusion of these points is that the rebaptisms instituted in Utah inducted members into a rejected church, one that had been organized as a separate church from the one established on April 6, 1830. Joseph Smith III made that point: “On December 24, 1847, nineteen days after the feast and council, one thousand of the then Hleeing multitude, met in a ‘Log Tabernacle’ and chose Brigham Young president. This was re- conHirmed the next year in October, at Salt Lake City, by a conference held there. This is when, and how, Brigham Young and his fellows organized the Utah Mormon Church.” (30) The Reorganization taught that the rebaptisms required of all people migrating to Utah baptized people in the Mormon church, not the Church of Jesus Christ that was restored in 1830.
Rebaptism and the Reorganization:
The issue concerning the rebaptism of those previously baptized, whether before the church fragmented in 1844, or afterward in one of the factions, was vigorously discussed in the Reorganization. The controversy began in 1854. The historical record states, “In July, of this year, Aaron Smith, the first convert to James J. Strang, and one of his chief witnesses and counselor, came to Zarahemla and united with the church by baptism, at which time the question of rebaptism was first prominently brought forward. It happened that a very general attendance of the church at Zarahemla and the surrounding branches were present . . . It was urged by some that we should begin anew, and all be baptized, and thenceforward make it a test of fellowship. Elders Deam, Cunningham, and Griffith favored this, and the latter, together with Bro. Aaron Smith, just received, urged it with great vehemence. On the other hand, Elders Z. H. Gurley and J. W. Briggs took the ground that where the evidence of a legal baptism once having been received, and in the absence of evidence of expulsion or apostasy, it was not admissible to require a rebaptism, to be identified with the Reorganization; but that in such cases it was optional with the persons themselves—a matter of conscience with them alone. This latter view had been acted upon generally up to this time, but now it was afHirmed; and became a ruling precedent thenceforward.” (31)
Brother Deam had been ordained an apostle in 1853, but at the end of that year he came to believe that Joseph Smith III had forfeited his right to succeed his father. He advocated completing the Reorganization by appointing a presidency. (32) During the 32 summer, those favoring rebaptism organized a First Presidency, with E. H. Deam as president. Their group became know as the Deam party and threatened the continuation of the fledgling church. That October, at the next General Conference, the church reaffirmed that rebaptism was not to be required, but remain a matter of conscience. In addition, “The schismatics [were] disfellowshiped as a body, and E. H. Deam and J. Cunningham were expelled from the Quorum of the Twelve.” (33)
When Joseph Smith III came to the Reorganization on April 6, 1860, he demanded that he and his mother, Emma, be received on their original baptisms. The conference unanimously agreed. That evening, Joseph Smith III brought a revelation to the church regarding rebaptism. It was never considered for inclusion in the Doctrine and Covenants. The only record of it is in Joseph Smith’s Memoirs. The revelation stated that those who submit to rebaptism “would be blessed with an added portion of the Spirit.” (34) Many followed his guidance. They were rebaptized and given the gift of the Holy Ghost again by the laying on of hands. Later, many testified that the promise “had been abundantly fulfilled.” (35) They had received a greater portion of the Holy Ghost after rebaptism and reconfirmation.
As a result of its previous decisions and the revelation received through Joseph Smith III, the Reorganized Church determined that rebaptism of those previously receiving an authoritative baptism was a matter of choice by each person who joined the church. At the same conference, “There were twenty two persons baptized and confirmed during the conference, some of them for a renewal of their faith. Nine members of the old organization united with the church, without rebaptism.” (36) Two of those nine undoubtedly were Joseph Smith III and Emma Smith. The Lord poured His Spirit on that conference, providing divine evidence that He accepted its decisions, including the acceptance of properly baptized members into the church without rebaptism. History records the abundance of spiritual blessings: “Prayer meetings were held every evening during the conference and the Spirit of God was poured out upon the saints in an extraordinary degree. The gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and other gifts, were graciously bestowed.” (37)
If there ever was a time when the Lord could have required rebaptism because of the apostasy of priesthood members, their loss of divine authority, and the restructuring of the church, it was when the church was reorganized and Joseph III came to it to succeed his father; but the word of the Lord said differently and the precedent was set.
The reorganization of the church in which the son of Joseph Smith, who had been set apart as his father’s successor by the laying on of hands at least twice, was received by the church and ordained as president of the high priesthood was a new organization of the church. In fact, it identified itself as the New Organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints until October 1867 when the Saint’s Herald substituted the word Reorganized for New Organization. If the Lord actually requires that previously baptized people be rebaptized whenever the church is organized again, the Reorganization provides an excellent example; but that did not happen. Rebaptism was a matter of choice on the part of those who were already baptized. To espouse that rebaptism is necessary for all those participating in a new organization of the church is to imply that the Reorganization was not a new organization of the church and that it was not recognized by God as His church after Joseph III became its president.
The precedent concerning rebaptism was followed after the ordination of Joseph Smith III. William B. Smith, brother to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, who allowed polygamy within his organization and whom the Lord condemned in the revelation to Jason Briggs, requested membership in 1878. A committee formed to consider William’s request and reported the following to the conference, “We, your committee appointed to consider the propriety of receiving William B. Smith into the church on his original baptism, respectfully report and recommend that said Wm. B. Smith be so received as a member, and upon the rule long since obtained and acted upon by the Reorganization, namely, that “‘it is a matter of conscience’ upon the part of the individual as to his being rebaptized when once it is shown that he has received a legal baptism, of which we have satisfactory evidence, namely, that said William B. Smith was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, in the early days of the church.” (38)
Evidence is completely lacking that wherever a new organization of the church is formed, all members must be rebaptized. Instead, history contradicts that view. The Reorganization, which reordered the church, concluded that rebaptism was a matter of conscience. The only organization that required rebaptism was the Utah Church and it used rebaptism to seal participants to both a usurping leader and the false teachings that he introduced. In Brigham Young’s case, he also required reordination, thereby insuring that all priesthood under his leadership received authority from him. It is far more likely that those who choose to be rebaptized today, as the article proposes, are following the same example set by those who went to Utah. Rebaptisms today will seal those who undergo them to Mauricio Berger and his representative in America. In doing so, they will attach themselves to other new teachings.
Those who choose to be reordained are testifying that the divine authority that they could have traced before in an unbroken chain to Joseph Smith and the angel is now replaced by a chain to Mauricio Berger and another angel. Such a claim was also made in the confusion after Joseph’s and Hyrum’s murders. James Strang, who did not join the church until February 25, 1844, maintained that Joseph appointed him as his successor; and as evidence that he was so appointed he produced a letter, which he claimed was written to him by Joseph Smith a short time before the martyrdom.“ (39)
Mr. Strang also alleged “that an angel of God appeared unto him at half past Hive o’clock in the afternoon of June 27, 1844, and ordained him to lead the people.” (40) When two of his missionaries reached England, Orson Hyde, who was editor of the Millennial Star at the time, tried to meet with one of them. When the Strangite elder did not appear, Brother Hyde wrote a short article to warn members of the Utah Church. In it, he offered his personal testimony about what Joseph Smith said a number of years before in the School of the Prophets during the winter of 1832-1833. An elder named Francis G. Bishop had alleged an ordination to the high priesthood by an angel. Orson Hyde’s testimony, which is not otherwise collaborated, asserts that Joseph made the following statement after Elder Bishop confessed that he lied: “An angel, said Joseph, may administer the word of the Lord unto men, and bring intelligence to them from heaven upon various subjects; but no true angel from God will ever come to ordain any man, because they have once been sent to establish the priesthood by ordaining me thereto; and the priesthood being established on earth, with the power to ordain others, no heavenly messenger will ever come to interfere with that power by ordaining any more.” (41) After explaining that the Lord sent Saul to Ananias instead of sending an angel, Joseph continued, “You may therefore know, from this time forward, that if any man comes to you professing to be ordained by an angel, he is either a liar or has been imposed upon in consequence of transgression by an angel of the devil, for this priesthood shall never be taken away from this church.” (42)
James Strange is particularly applicable to this topic because he also claimed to translate ancient metals plates. Church history explains, “He claimed further to have found by direction some plates known as the plates of Laban from which he translated what is known as the ‘Book of the Law.’ This was published in book form and is still extant. Seven witnesses testify to having viewed these plates, and that the kingdom of God was established.” (43) The title page of The Book of the Law of the Lord explains its content: “Consisting of an inspired translation of some of the most important parts of the Law given Moses, and a very few additional commandments, with brief notes and references.” (44)
Rebaptism, reordination, and the ordination by an angel are teachings of presumptuous leaders who used them to seal saints to a new organization. Those teachings were not advocated by Joseph Smith III or observed by the church that he led. Instead, he taught, “It was for this end that the renewal of a covenant made years before was presented in that far away land; and in the re-baptism and re-conHirmation that followed were more of the seeds of that disorganization laid which culminated in the completed rejection of the ‘church as a church’." (45)
The Clementine Homilies, Homily 2, Ch. 23 as published in The Ante-Nicane Fathers, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: 1Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986) 233.
History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1 (Independence, MO: Herald House, 21967) 35 hereinafter referenced as RLDS CH 1:35.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol. 2, (NY, NY: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1896) 3745.
RLDS CH 1:37.
David Whitmer, Address to All Believers (Richmond, MO: Self-Published, 1887) 43.
RLDS CH 1:45.
Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith and His Progenitors (Lamoni, IA: Herald House, 1912) 181.
History of the Church, Vol 1 (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Co., 2016) 79
Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrine of Salvation, Vol. 2 (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1954) 426.
Joseph Fielding Smith, 426
Joseph Smith, The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Period I. History of Joseph Smith
the Prophet (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News, 1902) 76. Ibid., 424.
RLDS CH 3:18.
RLDS CH 3:19.
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p 8-9 as quoted in RLDS CH 3:18
RLDS CH 3:366.
Joseph Smith III, Rejection of the Church, 4.
Joseph Smith III, 4.
RLDS CH 3:229.
Memories of President Joseph Smith III, 1932-1914, “Saints Herald”, July 17, 1937, 462-463.
Ibid., April 16, 1935, 498.
RLDS CH 3:277.
RLDS CH 4:212.
Orson Hyde, Although Dead Yet He Speaketh, “Millennial Star” Vol 8, November 20, 1846, 139.
RLDS CH 3:39.
An electronic copy is available at http://www.strangite.org/Law.htm.
Joseph Smith III, 4.