I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 5:62)
And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it. (Moroni 6:1)
Baptisms for the dead, and for the healing of the body must be in the font, those coming into the Church, and those re-baptized may be baptized in the river. A box should be prepared for the use of the font, that the clerk may be paid, and a book procured by the moneys to be put therein, by those baptized, the remainder to go to the use of the Temple. (Joseph Smith, April 7, 1843, DHC, 4:566)
Extract from John S. Fullmer’s account of his mission to Vermillion and of James Emmett’s encampment: August 13, 1845: In company with Elder Henry G. Sherwood and James Emmett, I started from Nauvoo on a mission to James Emmett’s company, encamped on the Vermillion, a tributary of the upper Missouri river. . . .
September 13: We arrived at Emmett’s camp (625 miles from Raccoon Barracks) and met our brethren. On our way we encountered many deep streams, with miry bottoms, and steep banks, also some severe storms which caused some of the streams to overflow their banks.
Emmett’s camp contained about one hundred souls and were in a better condition than we expected to find them, they were tolerably well provided with provisions but somewhat destitute of clothing.
They feasted us on samp and milk and urged us to eat heartily of dried buffalo meat saying it would hurt no one, but we found to the contrary to our inconvenience and sorrow, its tendency is to swell to its natural dimensions as soon as eaten and this caused us to feel something like a beer barrel in a state of fermentation which no hoops can control.
Notwithstanding our caution and prudence, Elder Sherwood and myself were taken with violent ague and fever and for a week or more were unable to attend to business during which time Emmett sought to get the advantage of us, by intimating to the company that something was wrong with us, that the Lord was displeased with us, etc. John S. Butler and a few others had spirit enough to understand the spirit of these charges. Upon Elder Sherwood’s recovery he rebaptized John S. Butler and reordained him. I was then carried to the river and rebaptized for my health by Elder J. S. Butler and walked back and was so far recovered in a few days as to be able to attend council.
We explained our mission to the people, and gave what instruction we could, as to their temporal welfare. We learned that many of them had been led away by Emmett’s misrepresentations and such were glad to receive our counsel. Emmett opposed us and finally claimed equal authority with us. This drew forth our papers which gave us the presidency, while Emmett was only our conductor to the camp. The saints went forth and were all rebaptized by Elder John S. Butler. (DHC 7:34:495)
Article from the Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, November 20, 1846, “RE-BAPTISM:” Baptism by immersion in water is ordained of heaven for the remission of sins. The repentant, broken-hearted sinner is the fair and acceptable candidate to pass through this door into the church or kingdom of God; and “except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
When members of our church have become cold and indifferent by the neglect of duty, and have fallen into a lukewarm state, but afterwards cherish a desire to be re-baptized, and covenant anew to keep the commandments of God, it is their right and privilege to confess their sins, humble themselves before God, and do their first work by being immersed in water, and thus their second baptism is no less for the re-mission or forgiveness of sins than their first; yet to break a solemn covenant by be-coming cold, indifferent, or lukewarm, so is to render re-baptism often necessary, is certainly dangerous for repeated neglect of duty, and the frequent breaking of your covenant, will render you unworthy the protection of God’s spirit, and you will find yourselves caught in the snare of the devil in some unexpected moment.
Those who are re-baptized should be again confirmed, but not again ordained, unless they have been cut off from the church, for their priesthood is not taken away by the act of rebaptism. Such persons as have been cut off from the church for transgression, and admitted again by baptism three times, can no more be admitted to the fellowship and communion of the church, if expelled a third time; such members, therefore, as have been expelled from the body three times for transgression, can no more be baptized or admitted into the church. We have done our duty towards them—our garments are clear of their blood—and let their names not only be erased from all the records of the Saints, but completely obliterated or blotted out, so that no one can read them. Ye Saints and Elders see that this is done, lest their sins and iniquities cleave unto you. “But if they return and repent, before they are thus cut off, thou shalt forgive them until seventy times seven.”
The form of re-baptizing is very similar to that of the first. Calling the candidate by his or her given name, saying (James or Mary Ann) having authority given me of Jesus Christ, or being commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize thee for the remission of thy sins in the name of, &c., &c., after the usual mode. Let proper solemnity and decorum be strictly observed in all your ad-ministrations, and let not the multitude of the Saints rush thoughtlessly to the waters of re-baptism, but let them be well taught and faithfully instructed by the presiding Elders of the conferences before the work is begun; and let every Saint fully under-stand, that every time he may renew his covenant by baptism or otherwise, that he is held under stronger obligations to do his duty, and also exposed to greater snares, temptations, and evils, if he does not do it. Be wise and humble, and indulge not in sin, thinking you can be baptized for re-mission, for the bow that is too often bent loses its elasticity.—The Elders and friends are requested to be particularly careful in selecting safe and proper places for baptizing; and to avoid any accident, the per-son officiating should first go into the water alone with a stick, and ascertain if he can baptize with safety and convenience. People in this country [England] have not much spare time, and therefore they frequently have to avail themselves of the night season to get baptized in. This fact renders it very necessary for the Elders to be very cautious and particular in the selection of a safe and proper place, even if they have to go a little further, that this ordinance may be safely attended to, even in the night season, as in the case of the Jailer and his household. (Millennial Star, Novermber 20, 1846)
After we had arrived on the ground of the Great Salt Lake City we pitched our tents by the side of a spring of water; and, after resting a little, I devoted my time chiefly to building temporary houses, putting in crops, and obtaining fuel from the mountains. Having repented of our sins and renewed our covenants, President John Taylor and myself administered the ordinances of [re-] baptism, etc., to each other and to our families, according to the example set by the President and pioneers who had done the same on entering the valley. These solemnities took place with us and most of our families, November 28, 1847. (Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 1985 edition, page 331)
About this time [around the beginning of August 1847] President Young felt impressed that he and the brethren of the camp should renew their covenants by baptism. August 6th, the Twelve were rebaptized by President Young. Elder Kimball baptized President Young and the latter confirmed his brethren and resealed upon them all their former blessings. Following this, the brethren selected their inheritances. Brother Woodruff’’s was the corner diagonally across the street from the southwest corner of the Temple Block, facing the east and north. In the evening Elder Kimball baptized fifty-five members of the camp. Elder Woodruff assisted in their confirmation. August the 8th the general work of rebaptizing continued. Elders Kimball, Snow, Lewis, Goddard, Everett, and Shumway did the baptizing, while President Young and the Twelve confirmed. “This made 288 in all who had been rebaptized during the last three days. The camp assembled as usual at 10 o’clock for public meeting and was addressed by Heber C. Kimball, much to our edification. I followed and was never blessed with greater liberty of speech. (Diary of Wilford Woodruff, August 1847)
My advice to you is, go and be baptized for the remission of sins, and start afresh, that temptation may not overcome you again; pause and reflect, that you be not overcome by the evil one unawares. In the first place, if you were re-baptized for the remission of sins, peradventure you may receive again the Spirit of the Gospel in its glory, light and beauty; but if your hearts are so engrossed in the things of this world, that you do not know whether you want to be re-baptized or not, you had better shut yourselves up in some canyon or closet, to repent of your sins, and call upon the name of the Lord, until you get His spirit. (Brigham Young, JD October 6, 1853, 1:324)
My counsel to them today is, as it has been on former occasions to all who have come into these valleys, go and be baptized for the remission of sins, repenting of all your wanderings from the path of righteousness, believing firmly in the name of Jesus Christ, that all your sins will be washed away …I have heard some of you cursing and swearing, even some of the Elders of Israel. I would be baptized seven times, were I in your place; I would not stop teasing some good Elder to baptize me again and again, until I could think my sins forgiven. I would not live over another night until I was baptized enough to satisfy me that my sins were forgiven. Then go and be confirmed, as you were when you first embraced the religion of Jesus. That is my counsel. (Brigham Young, October 23, 1853, JD 2:8-9)
In the spring of 1854, I was sent to Saint Louis to preside over the stake there. Stayed there one year, rebaptized and confirmed about 800 saints. (Milo Andrus, Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S)
About this time came a revelation concerning baptism for the dead. I know that in my traveling and preaching, many a time, I have stopped by beautiful streams of clear, pure water, and have said to my-self, “How delightful it would be to me to go into this, to be baptized for the remission of my sins.” When I got home Joseph told me it was my privilege. At this time came a revelation, that the saints could be baptized and re-baptized when they chose, and then that we could be baptized for our dear [deceased] friends. (Brigham Young, June 23, 1876, JD 18:241)
I will here state that Martin Harris, when he came to this Territory a few years ago, was rebaptized, the same as every member of the Church from distant parts is on arriving here. That seems to be a kind of standing ordinance for all Latter-day Saints who emigrate here, from the First Presidency down; all are rebaptized and set out anew by renewing their covenants. (Orson Pratt, July 18, 1875, JD 18:161)
Now it is time for a reformation. I do not wonder at the Lord calling upon his servants to ask the people to go and be baptized, and rebaptized into a different spirit, a spirit to obey the counsel that is given. All of you have proved by your experience the wisdom of this counsel. We know that we have a man leading us who has more wisdom in managing the affairs of a community than any man on the American Continent or anywhere else that we know anything of. (George Q. Cannon, October 8, 1875, JD 18:107)
Sat. 17, 1875 —Pres. Brigham Young, his counselors and others renewed their covenants by baptism at Ephraim, Sanpete Co. (Utah). This example was subsequently followed by the Saints generally. (Church Chronology, p. 94)
I was rebaptized, confirmed, set apart, ordained a Seventy and started on my mission, all within a month from the time I was called. (Lorenzo, Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, by Eliza R. Snow Smith 55:408)
Last week the brethren were very busy rebaptizing and confirming the people, numbering in all, including new members, five hundred and forty-nine. We took turns in baptizing. I baptized seventy two—fourteen of this number were new baptisms. (Lorenzo Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, by Eliza R. Snow Smith 57:428)
One generally thinks of baptisms in the temple as being for the dead only; however, some baptisms for the living have been performed in temples when other baptismal fonts were not as readily available, or when many individuals were baptized on the same day. These baptisms were recorded by both clerks and temple recorders. There were also re-baptisms of living L. D. S. members performed in the Logan Temple from 1884 and 1914. These re-baptisms are referred to as “renewal of covenants” and are recorded separately from first baptisms for the living which were performed in the Logan Temple. (Register of L.D.S. Church Records, Classified by the Library of The Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, compiled by Laureen Richardson Jaussi and Gloria Duncan Chaston, Deseret Book, 1968, p. 369)
Near the turn of the century, rebaptism was halted in the LDS Church:
We hear a good deal of talk about re-baptism, and the First Presidency and Twelve have felt that so much re-baptism ought to be stopped. (Conference Report, October 1897, p. 68)