The Rich Man, Lazarus and LDS Proxy Baptism

Photo Credit: Pixabay

[ Author: Kathy Petersen ]

While LDS claim to believe the Bible (as far as it is translated correctly, according to the eighth Article of Faith), many of their beliefs actually do not accord well with what the Bible says. Consider as an example, the story Jesus told of the Rich Man and Lazarus, in Luke 16:19-31.

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:

28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (KJV)

We are probably all familiar with the story, and in fact may be so familiar with it that neither we nor the Mormons will immediately recognize the problem.

If you’re familiar with the LDS view of the afterlife, do you see the problems? According to their view, what happens after a person dies? He goes to spirit prison where he can receive visits from other spirits (those who believed in this world/lifetime) who come to him as missionaries and try to get him to believe the gospel of Mormonism. This raises a few questions –

Why does this parable (or possibly, this true story) seem to indicate that the state of the dead is permanent? That is, the rich man was being “tormented in this flame”, and though he could see and speak with Abraham, Abraham doesn’t preach the gospel to him nor tell him just to repent and believe and he’d get out of spirit prison as soon as he was proxy-baptized. Instead, Abraham offers him no hope, but only points out that the reversal of their situations is just.

Further, the rich man is concerned with his brothers, that they repent before death so that they would also avoid going to the place of torment, which coincides with the place of torment being permanent. Also, just as Abraham didn’t preach the gospel to the dead man, he also offered no hope for preaching the gospel to the dead man’s living brothers, saying that if they wouldn’t listen to Moses and the prophets, he wouldn’t listen if a man rose from the dead and came back and preached to them!

Why would Abraham say that there was a gulf between the righteous dead and the unrighteous dead, such that spirits couldn’t pass from one side to the other? How does that comport with the LDS idea of “spirit prison” which keeps the unrighteous dead imprisoned though the righteous dead can pass through?

I’m sure that LDS have explanations for all these pesky questions, so that they can continue to believe Mormonism while also reading the Bible, and claiming to believe it. I’ve been in Christian apologetics to Mormons long enough to know all too well the rescuing devices they have to get around such problems.

However, these rescuing devices ultimately fail, because even if they somehow manage not to contradict the Biblical account outright, they fail to account for why it exists in the Bible in the first place. That is, if Jesus taught His disciples LDS-style afterlife, in which believers can cross over to where the unbelievers are, why would He have such a story as one of the only stories if not the only story that speaks of the afterlife, since the tenor of the story goes almost entirely against LDS-style beliefs about the afterlife?

If LDS beliefs are true, why wouldn’t Jesus have included at least something in the story that sounds like or teaches what they believe, instead of being almost completely contradictory, so that they have to make exception after exception and excuse after excuse for why this story is basically the opposite of what one would expect, if Mormonism were true.

About Razor Swift

The mission of Razor Swift is to open hearts and minds through apologetics, sharing the Christian worldview with reasoned answers while encouraging those in the faith.
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