Why do Mormons place a big emphasis on the study of genealogies?

Mormons or Latter Day Saints study the genealogies because of their belief in and practice of “baptism for the dead.” Baptism for the dead is an un-scriptural practice where a living person is baptized in the place of a dead person as a means of making a public profession of faith for the deceased.

The book Doctrine and Covenants 84:20, 21 says, there are ordinances that must be kept for a person to be saved, “Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.” The Latter Day Saints church (LDS) also teaches that faithful living members can fulfill these ordinances in the place of ancestors who have passed on without the opportunity to do so (Doctrine & Covenants 124:93).

The LDS church says that, once the ordinances are fulfilled and the person accepts the gospel of Jesus Christ (even if heard and accepted after death), he or she can move on to a higher kingdom (Doctrine & Covenants 76). For this reason, LDS members use genealogies to discover who their ancestors are and fulfill the covenants in their behalf.

But the Bible clearly teaches that these practices are completely wrong. For every living person has to hear the message first “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17) and then should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 13:61).

The Bible also teaches that ordinances don’t save anyone “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Therefore, no person can earn the salvation for another. And once a person dies, his book is closed until the Day of Judgement.

Studying the genealogies can be an informative topic but it should not be done for the sake of saving the deceased.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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