Rebaptism, May 7, 1896

-- May 7, 1896
[Apostle Heber J. Grant Diary] At 11 A.M. attended a meeting in the Temple. Presidents Woodruff, Cannon and Smith, Apostles Snow, Richards, Lyman, Smith, Cannon and myslef (sic) were present. It was decided to appoint Rulon S. Wells to preside over the European Mission. It was decided that in baptisms for the dead, and in fact in all baptisms to eliminate the words for remission of sins and the renewal of covenants, and to follow the exact form laid down in the Doctrine and Covenants for original baptisms as well as for those performed for the dead in the Temple. ...


-- May 7, 1896; Thursday
The meeting of the First Presidency and Apostles was held at the Temple at 11 A.M. There were present Presidents [Wilford] Woodruff, [George Q.] Cannon and [Joseph F.] Smith; and of the Twelve, Pres[iden]t. L[orenzo]. Snow, and Elders F[ranklin]. D. Richards, F[rancis]. M. Lyman, J[ohn]. H[enry]. Smith, H[eber]. J. Grant, J[ohn]. W. Taylor and A[braham]. H. Cannon. ...

Pres[iden]t. Lorenzo Snow called attention to the form of baptism used in the Temples on behalf of the dead, in which the words "for the remission of your sins" were interpolated, being different from the form of baptism for the living.

President Joseph F. Smith said he had noticed in baptizing a person for health the words were used "for the renewal of your covenants, the remission of your sins and the restoration of your health." It was the unanimous sense of the Council that these forms should be corrected by letter of instructions to the Temple Presidents... (2)

-- May 8, 1896; Friday
President Joseph F. Smith went to Centerville [Utah] ...

The following letter prepared by President Geo[rge]. Q. Cannon to carry into effect the action of the Council of the First Presidency and Apostles, on May 7, was addressed today to the Presidents of the Temples:

"In baptizing for the dead in the Temples we understand that the form of words used is as follows:

Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize _______________, for and in behalf of _______________ for the remission of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen."

We might go into explanation as to the reasons which have caused this form of baptism to be adopted; but it is not necessary, further than to say that baptisms for health and baptisms for the renewal of covenants, etc., have led doubtless to the adoption of this form of ceremony to distinguish it from others.

We have had this matter under consideration from time to time, and supposed that our views had been made known to the Presidents of the Temples; but we understand that they have not been informed upon this point, and that the form above given is still the one used in administering baptisms for the dead.

The form that we think proper, and that we desire to have used hereafter in administering the ordinance of baptism for the dead, is as follows:

"Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you _______________ for and in behalf of _______________, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."

We understand that in some instances baptisms have been administered in the Temples with something like the following


"Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for the remission of sins, for the renewal of your covenant, and for the restoration of your health, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."

We do not know upon what authority this form of administering baptism has been adopted but we think it improper. There have been times in the Church when the First Presidency have felt it necessary to call upon all the members of the Church to renew their covenants, and at such times it was suggested that the words "for the renewal of your covenant" be used in the ceremony; but it does not follow that at other times, and in individual cases, that form should be used.

We think it improper, speaking generally, for the words "for the remission of sins" or "for the renewal of your covenant," to be used in administering the ordinance of baptism.

Where it may be necessary to baptize a person who is already a member of the Church, the form of ceremony which the Lord revealed to the Nephites, and which has also been revealed to us in our day, is sufficient. It is sufficient for a sinner who joins the Church, for through that ordinance and the words of the ceremony which the Lord has given, his sins are remitted, and it certainly is for a man who is already a member of the Church, if it should be deemed necessary to administer the ordinance of baptism to him. The practice which has prevailed in some instances where members of the Church are baptized of using the words "re-baptism" and "re-confirmation" we think unnecessary. When we strictly follow the form the Lord has given us we are sure to be right.

In cases where people are baptized for their health, we see no impropriety in using the words "for the restoration of your health" in the ceremony. There is a difference between baptism for such a purpose and baptism for admission into the Church. One is an ordinance of salvation--the door provided by the Lord through which his children must enter into his Church, and become entitled to the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant; the other, while it may be termed in some respects an ordinance, is not imperative upon the members of the Church. If they have faith and believe, when they have some ailment, that the administration of baptism in that form will be beneficial to them, the privilege is granted to them. But there is a clear distinction between that form of baptism and the form of baptism which the Lord requires His children to obey to become members of His Church." Signed by the First Presidency. (2)

1 - Diary of Heber J. Grant,
2 - First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve minutes

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History