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Dear Gramps,

Why is family genealogy so important in the Mormon church?

Ernie, from Powell, Ohio

Dear Ernie,

In order to be saved in the celestial kingdom of God, a person must accept Jesus Christ as his Savior, repent of his sins, be baptized by immersion for the remission of those sins by one having the requisite authority to act officially in the name of God, and then remain true and faithful to the principals of the gospel for the remainder of his life—

Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness (Alma 7:14).

We all know that although God is kind and merciful, He is also just, otherwise He could not be God—

O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled (2 Ne 9:17).

Sectarian Christianity has a problem with the scriptural requirement of baptism for salvation and the justice of God, for how may people pass through mortality without ever hearing about the Savior and the principles of the gospel? And how many others, being deceived by the sophistry of men, believe that baptism is not an essential ordinance? So sectarian Christianity must take one of two positions–either baptism in not required for salvation, or those who have not been baptized are forever banished from salvation. For either of those two positions the justice of God is wanting.So God in His mercy and justice has made provision for all His children to hear and understand the principles of the gospel, and be in a position to choose the course they will take based on their knowledge of the principles of the gospel. The provision that He has made is that the gospel is preached to all the spirits of all those who have not had the opportunity to hear it during their time in mortality. Although this essential principle of the gospel is clearly announced in the Bible, there is not one single Christian church that has incorporated it into their doctrine. Paul, in speaking to the Corinthians, is trying to convince them of the reality of the resurrection. To do so, he cites an accepted practice of the church in his day, namely baptism for the dead. Paul says—

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Cor 15:29)

The practice of baptizing for the dead that was a common practice in the early church was re-instituted by the Lord when the gospel was restored to the earth through the prophet, Joseph Smith, and is a fundamental tenant of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints. So the members of the Church are encouraged to identify their ancestry and submit their names to the temple, where proxy baptisms are carried out for those who have passed on. In the spirit world after their mortal lives, having heard there the principles of the gospel, they will have the opportunity to accept the vicarious work of batpism done in their behalves, and continue their progression toward an inheritance in the kingdom of God. This is the stimulus for the interest in family genealogy in the Mormon Church.Gramps

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