mrbob

Children and the Sacrament

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Can anyone provide doctrinal and direct documentation on whether children under the age of 8 (unbaptized children) should take the Sacrament?

I understand that Mormon was appalled that the Church in his day was performing baptisms for infants and children under the age of 8, and his reason for this is because children who have not yet reached the age of accountability are already guaranteed salvation, and therefore to assume that they require baptism is an affront to the Power of the Atonement.

Similarly, it is my opinion (I have not seen any direct doctrine to support it) that it is wrong for children who have not yet been baptized to "renew covenants" that they have not yet made (and do not need to make).

Can anyone show me revealed doctrine on the subject? (Lesson manuals, including nursery lessons, does not constitute doctrine -- I'm looking for something directly from the Prophet or an Apostle of the Lord.)

Many thanks!

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LDS.org - Liahona Article - Worshiping at Sacrament Meeting

Those conducting the meeting begin by extending a cordial greeting. Detailed announcements are more appropriately handled some other time. Because we invite all to come unto Christ, friends and neighbors are always welcome but not expected to take the sacrament. However, it is not forbidden. They choose for themselves. We hope that newcomers among us will always be made to feel wanted and comfortable. Little children, as sinless beneficiaries of the Lord’s Atonement, may partake of the sacrament as they prepare for covenants that they will make later in life.

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Last week we had an older gentleman talk in Sacrament meeting. In his talk he referred to a couple that had visited with them a few weeks prior. They had 'prepared' the visiting couple by letting them know that they we not expected to take the sacrament and so did not need to feel obligated to do so or uncomfortable by not partaking. On the ride home, the couple had asked about this topic, having heard the purpose of the sacrament was to renew baptismal covenants, they asked why the children partook, not having yet entered into the covenant.

There is no was I can do his talk justice, but he proceeded to explain that children take the sacrament because as their parents, we are tasked with preparing them to join the stakes of Zion. We teach them its meaning, its significance, and instill in them its importance, so that when they reach the age of accountability and enter into the covenant, they have an understanding of what and why the renewal of that covenant means to them.

My wife had a similar question when she joined the church. I once, briefly, felt the way mrbob does, however after pondering on it, I came to understand. Having explained my 'new' understanding to my wife when she asked, and having spent some years now striving at preparing myself, wife and children to 'join the stakes of Zion', I have a much deeper understanding of the importance of a parents role in leading the children to the Lord.

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Just a thought to ponder...I think the answers given here have been appropriate and really good. But I wonder if children and adults, too would consider taking the sacrament more significant and a privilege if we didn't give it to children till after their baptism. Catholics make a really big deal out of first communion (maybe too big a deal in some cases??) but they prepare the kids and put a huge emphasis on it as being something they do for the first time. So in their lifetime of communion taking, there is a "before" time when they weren't allowed it, then an "after" when they are old enough and prepared enough to participate... something to be cherished rather than something they have always done simply out of habit.

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And see, carlimac, that's how I feel. They *will* come to understand how we feel about it by watching us partake and by how we teach them... in Family Home Evenings, in conversations, during scripture study, etc.

I wonder, as you do, that if this is treated as a special thing for them, if it would become something sacred to them.

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Since 1998 the lesson manuals for Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society classes have been volumes of Teachings of Presidents of the Church (hereafter Teachings). Each manual focused on the life and teachings of one of our beloved prophets. These wonderful books create an invaluable resource for members across the world to come to know and love these great men and the marvelous doctrines they taught. Their counsel is as inspiring and pertinent today as it was when those Brethren first delivered the addresses included in those books. We hope that you continue to use the inspired literature of these faithful servants of the Lord. Their teachings are timeless.Russell M. Nelson, “The New Gospel Principles Manual,” Liahona, Jan 2010, 22–25

The manuals contain doctrines.

It is our hope that the new Gospel Principles manual will take a prominent place in the homes and lives of all Latter-day Saints. The new edition will inspire teaching and enhance personal study. Brothers and sisters, by reinforcing your study of the core doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, your testimony will grow, your happiness will increase, and you will find a greater abundance of the blessings of the Lord in your life

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And see, carlimac, that's how I feel. They *will* come to understand how we feel about it by watching us partake and by how we teach them... in Family Home Evenings, in conversations, during scripture study, etc.

I wonder, as you do, that if this is treated as a special thing for them, if it would become something sacred to them.

Being "allowed" to partake does not equate to sacrament being "special" or "sacred".

I was Catholic. Sure, First Communion was a big deal - well, because I've always wondered what communion wafers and communion wine tasted like. After the first time, I realized it tastes like cardboard and wine was bitter so it was no big deal. It didn't make all the communions following the first one more "special" or "sacred". LDS sacrament though - bread tastes like any other slice bread and water is, well, water. So, I don't know what would be more "special" about it if you hold it off until after you are baptized. What makes sacrament special is the BAPTISM. So, even if you have been partaking of the bread and water before hand, after baptism, sacrament becomes "special" because of the baptismal covenant you made. Sacrament is sacred, no matter the age.

My kids took sacrament before they were baptized. It's a reminder of the promise they made to always Choose The Right. Sure, they're not accountable for it yet, but that doesn't mean they can't make the promise.

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Similarly, it is my opinion (I have not seen any direct doctrine to support it) that it is wrong for children who have not yet been baptized to "renew covenants" that they have not yet made (and do not need to make).

!

I completely agree with your opinion...

3 Ne. 18: 5, 11, 16, 30

5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the Disciples: Behold there shall one be aordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall bbreak cbread and bless it and give it unto the people of my dchurch, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

• • •

11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in aremembrance of my bblood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

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it can also be seen as two categories of people the first being

5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the Disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

future tense.

and the second being

11 And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in aremembrance of my bblood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.

past tense.

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it can also be seen as two categories of people the first being

5 And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the Disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name.

Well, if we look at the sentence construction in this verse, it's all in the future tense (starting with the one who is /to be/ ordained.) Given that the person performing the ordinance has to be ordained in order to perform the ordinance, and the verb tense for that individual is in the future tense, (and so are his actions -- i.e. he /shall/ break break), it's fairly safe to assume that the tense used for the those who shall believe and be baptized is likewise in the future perfect tense (i.e. - the action /is/ in the future, /but/ it has been completed at the time the statement takes place.)

Does that make sense?

Thanks for the thought... it's definitely a good line of thinking. :)

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Well, if we look at the sentence construction in this verse, it's all in the future tense

Yeah, I might think that too, if it weren't for the fact that when Jesus said that, he had just delivered the sacrament to an entire crowd of people that had not yet been baptized.

3 Ne. 18

they (including Nephi, and the disciples that had been chosen) were baptized in Ch. 19 and then they did the sacrament again, administered by the Savior as recorded in Ch. 20.

Edited by jayanna

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Point taken. Thank you for the insight.

I still think the same about that particular sentence, but in this case, actions do speak volumes. (Or rather the order of operation of the actions.)

I wonder why He did things that way...

Thanks again, jayanna!

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I think He may have done it in that order because he doesn't particularly care about the order of events. The arguments I see against children taking the Sacrament begin in one of three places

1) Children are pure/unaccountable and are not in need of baptism. Since the Sacrament is the process by which we renew baptismal covenants, they are not in need of the Sacrament. (some extremists carry this even further to claim that children taking the Sacrament is akin to the abomination of infant baptism).

2) Sacrament is the process by which we renew our baptismal covenant, and so if a person isn't baptized, it isn't appropriate for them to partake of the Sacrament.

3) People shouldn't take the Sacrament until they can have a full understanding of its significance.

The first two of these impose a restriction on the Sacrament that wasn't imposed by the Savior or his disciples. The only restriction placed on participation in this ordinance is that you not partake unworthily. The automatic question, then is when is a person unworthy to partake of the Sacrament. Without getting into the specifics, the best answer I can offer is when he or she deliberately, knowingly, and willfully acting contrary to the commandments. The positive reinterpretation to that is a person is worthy of the Sacrament when he or she is actively seeking to repent and draw closer to God. Baptism is not a necessary condition for repentance or drawing closer to God.

With respect to the third argument, it's a noble idea, but continues to miss the point. For starters, how many eight year olds have the cognitive capacity to full understand and abstract ideas of the Atonement, Reconciliation, and Justification? Psychological studies would say very very few have such a cognitive capacity. Abstract concepts like these aren't fully developed until the last stages of adolescence and puberty. But a full understanding of the Atonement was never the criterion for baptism or the Sacrament. The criterion was an understanding of right and wrong.

What's more, children learn by repetition. If you want them to understand the Sacrament, its importance, and its meaning, you teach them about it repeatedly. If you want them to develop a lifelong habit of participation in the Sacrament, you start when they are young. You let them take the Sacrament and frequently teach them that we do so when we are trying to be our best, to be obedient, and to return to live with Heavenly Father.

I will concede this point: without baptism, partaking of the Sacrament has no effect on our covenants with the Lord. But taking of the Sacrament without baptism is still a valid way to express one's desire to remain obedient to the Lord's commandments, and it is a gesture that is pleasing to the Lord regardless of baptismal status.

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I completely agree with your opinion...

And lest any future readers be confused, BookofMormonLuvr's opinions are colored by his "restorationist" philosophies, may of which reject the counsel and teachings of LDS leadership. Some, such as this, even blatantly contradict the counsel given by LDS leaders. And he's not always (ie, rarely) careful to point out his non-membership when commenting on doctrinal and ritual practices of the LDS Church.

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maybe some of Why he did it that way is explained later in Ch. 18

First he explains that as He had shared with them, that they should share with others...to shine a light, not condemning each other. 22-25

He speaks about if someone partakes unworthily, not to cast him out, but to continue to minister unto him, because...32: for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.

This does not refer to little children, for they are not necessarily unworthy, but it is interesting.

Edited by jayanna
Whoa, sorry MOE I think I was writing my post when you were posting yours :)

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And lest any future readers be confused, BookofMormonLuvr's opinions are colored by his "restorationist" philosophies, may of which reject the counsel and teachings of LDS leadership. Some, such as this, even blatantly contradict the counsel given by LDS leaders. And he's not always (ie, rarely) careful to point out his non-membership when commenting on doctrinal and ritual practices of the LDS Church.

Interesting. I wasn't aware of that. I'm sure his posts add a colorful spin on things at times. I love diverse opinions as long as we play nice. ;-)

Edited by carlimac

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Yeah, I might think that too, if it weren't for the fact that when Jesus said that, he had just delivered the sacrament to an entire crowd of people that had not yet been baptized.

3 Ne. 18

they (including Nephi, and the disciples that had been chosen) were baptized in Ch. 19 and then they did the sacrament again, administered by the Savior as recorded in Ch. 20.

Actually, they had repented and been previously baptized. Baptism was a ordinance amoung the Nephites throughout their history.

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And lest any future readers be confused, BookofMormonLuvr's opinions are colored by his "restorationist" philosophies, may of which reject the counsel and teachings of LDS leadership. Some, such as this, even blatantly contradict the counsel given by LDS leaders. And he's not always (ie, rarely) careful to point out his non-membership when commenting on doctrinal and ritual practices of the LDS Church.

I love you too.

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Actually, they had repented and been previously baptized. Baptism was a ordinance amoung the Nephites throughout their history.

Okay, so if they were repented and baptized, which I don't know where I would find that, then why were they baptized again?

Could you maybe offer a scripture concerning their previous baptism?

I don't mean to sound offensive, I'm just really surprised, and I can't think of any scripture that says they had already been baptized and it was repeated even though they were worthy to receive the sacrament, which in principle, would be repeating that previous baptism already.:unsure:

thanks,

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Okay, so if they were repented and baptized, which I don't know where I would find that, then why were they baptized again?

Could you maybe offer a scripture concerning their previous baptism?

I don't mean to sound offensive, I'm just really surprised, and I can't think of any scripture that says they had already been baptized and it was repeated even though they were worthy to receive the sacrament, which in principle, would be repeating that previous baptism already.:unsure:

thanks,

Baptism was formally established in the Nephite church by Alma. It may have been introduced earlier, but as far as I can recall, we have no record of when or by whom. In fact, the argument that it had been established is based on the assumption that Alma got the idea from somewhere.

So, presumably, there were many people in the multitude that Christ taught that had already been baptized (it's unlikely that all of them were), but we wouldn't necessarily have of record of who or when or by whom. But after ushering in a new dispensation following the resurrection, it isn't unreasonable that Christ would instruct them to kick start the whole thing over and baptize everyone. If I recall correctly, some of the early members of the modern Church were baptized a second time after the Church was formally organized. There are a couple reasons why, but for whatever reason, they felt it was appropriate.

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Okay, so if they were repented and baptized, which I don't know where I would find that, then why were they baptized again?

Could you maybe offer a scripture concerning their previous baptism?

I don't mean to sound offensive, I'm just really surprised, and I can't think of any scripture that says they had already been baptized and it was repeated even though they were worthy to receive the sacrament, which in principle, would be repeating that previous baptism already.:unsure:

thanks,

I found this in the Book of Mormon institute manual which you can find and read here:

3 Nephi 19:10–13. Baptized Anew

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972)

explained why Jesus commanded the Nephites to be

baptized again:

“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. . . . The Savior commanded

Nephi and the people to be baptized again, because

he had organized anew the Church under the gospel

[see 3 Nephi 19:7–15; 26:17]. Before that it had been

organized under the law [see 3 Nephi 9:15–22;

11:10–40; 12:18–19; 15:4–10].

“. . . 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”

(Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie,

3 vols. [1954–56], 2:336).

(this was on page 320)

I don't know of a scripture that explicitly states this particular group had already been baptized, but it was instituted among the people as MOE has already explained. I am also of the opinion that it's unlikely that all of them would have been previously baptized.

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