Baptism of the Dead

Baptism Of The Dead, a superstitious custom which anciently prevailed among the people in Africa of baptizing the dead. The third council of Carthage (canon 6) speaks of it as a matter of which ignorant Christians were fond, and forbids "to believe that the dead can be baptized." Gregory Nazianzen also observes that the same superstitious opinion prevailed among some who delayed to be baptized. It is also mentioned by Philastrius (De Haeres. cap. 2) as the general error of the Montanists or Cataphrygians, that they baptized men after death. The practice seems to be founded on a vain opinion that when men had neglected to receive baptism during their life, some compensation might be made for this default by receiving it after death. See Burton, Bampton Lectures, art. 78; Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 11, ch. 4, § 3.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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