Critics of Mormon Genealogy
Some critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that remain unconvinced of the Christian doctrines of Salvation for the Dead and its kindred doctrine Baptism for the Dead as taught and practiced by Latter-day Saints point to a statement made by Saint Paul in his letter to Timothy, and aver that it is a denunciation of Family History when it is a reference to Jews of paulo's tiome claioming descent from Priestly lines without cause.
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1 Timothy 1:3-7
Those that use this against the doctrine and practice of Baptism for the Dead and employ genealogy, or family history, to discover their ancestors that have died not in Christ so that proxies can be baptised in their behalf to fulfil the teaching of Jesus that:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5
Christ referenced the ordinance of baptism as being born again of the water, an essential rite to which he willingly submitted himself at the hands of John the Baptist.
"Birth of water" points at once to the method so frequently adopted in Jewish ceremonial, by which a complete change of state and right before God was instituted by water. Thus, a man who had not gone through the appropriate and commanded lustrations was unfit to present his offering, to receive the benediction sought by his sacrificial presentment; the priest was not in a fit state to carry the blood of the covenant into the holy place without frequent washings, which indicated the extent and defilement of his birth stain. Nicodemus for probably thirty years had seen priests and men thus qualifying themselves for solemn functions. So great was the urgency of these ideas that, as he must have known, the Essenes had formed separate communities, with the view of carrying out to the full consummation the idea of ritual purity. More than this, it is not improbable that proselytes from heathen nations, when brought into covenant relation with the theocratic people, were, at the very time of this conversation, admitted by baptismal rites into this privilege. To the entire confusion of Pharisee and Sadducee, John the Baptist had demanded of every class of the holy people "repentance unto remission of sins," a demand which was accepted on the part of the multitudes by submitting to the rite of baptism. [Pulpit Commentary on John 3:5]
Thus was baptism by immersion for the remission of sins established as a necessary ordinance for those that would be added to the Church of Christ, and in the fullness of time, be saved. Those members of a family that lie in the past so that where no continuous family history has been kept, and no more than three or four generations are known by name, it is necessary to search for the unknown ancestors so that they may benefit by proxy baptism to which Paul pointed in support of the Christian teaching on the resurrection of the dead.
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 Corinthians 15:29
To discover unknown ancestors it is essential to perform genealogical research, now called Family History, by Mormons. Although to Latter-day Saints, genealogical research to find their kindred dead in order that they may be baptised in their behalf as living proxy for their deceased ancestors, some critics point to the verse containing the clause “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies,” in the erroneous belief that it refers to the search for our ancestors for ordinances required to place them in a favourable condition before God, having, by proxy, been ‘born again of the water and of the Spirit.’
That this kind of genealogy for this specific purpose is not proscribed by the Apostle, nor was it intended to prevent sacred rites and ordinances from being carried out for and on behalf of those of our kindred dead that died not in Christ. To believe that it was, requires us to believe that God, who is our Father in Heaven, withdraws his mercy and love from those that died out of the Truth, and that the invitation to all to ‘Come unto Christ and be perfected in him’ is subject to God’s whimsy and caprice. Adam Clarke wrote:
I suppose the apostle to mean those genealogies which were uncertain - that never could be made out, either in the ascending or descending line; and, principally, such as referred to the great promise of the Messiah, and to the priesthood. The Jews had scrupulously preserved their genealogical tables till the advent of Christ and the evangelists had recourse to them, and appealed to them in reference to our Lord's descent from the house of David; Matthew taking this genealogy in the descending, Luke in the ascending, line. And whatever difficulties we may now find in these genealogies, they were certainly clear to the Jews; nor did the most determined enemies of the Gospel attempt to raise one objection to it from the appeal which the evangelists had made to their own public and accredited tables. [dam Clarke Commentary on the Holy Bible 1 Timothy 1:4]
All was then certain; but we are told that Herod destroyed the public registers; he, being an Idumean, was jealous of the noble origin of the Jews; and, that none might be able to reproach him with his descent, be ordered the genealogical tables, which were kept among the archives in the temple, to be burnt. [Eusebius H. E., lib. i. cap. 8]
From this time the Jews could refer to their genealogies only from memory, or from those imperfect tables which had been preserved in private hands; and to make out any regular line from these must have been endless and uncertain. It is probably to this that the apostle refers; I mean the endless and useless labour which the attempts to make out these genealogies must produce, the authentic tables being destroyed. [Adam Clarke OP. Cit.]
The genealogies to which Paul refers then, were Jewish pedigrees, used to exalt individuals as being of priestly or of Davidic origin (such as the pedigrees of the Desposyni,* or later to prove descent from the so-called Princes of the Captivity, presumed to be fictitious descendants of Kind David), and also used by such as the Hasidim to extract far-fetched doctrines from the names in a genealogical tree.
*Desposyni, from the Greek δεσπόσυνος, meaning “of or belonging to the master or lord” was a sacred name reserved for Jesus' blood relatives
Paul had no intention, uttered or unexpressed, to stop the fundamental work of the Church of Jesus Christ in its three-fold mission to preach the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead. He did speak against Christians converted from Proto-Judaism to the Gospel of Jesus Christ wasting their time repeating fables and imaginary stories, and of exposing their children to such nonsenses.