Stendahl and Madsen discuss "holy envy" for the practice of baptism for the dead.

Mar 11, 2009
Krister Stendahl

"Between Heaven and Earth (2002)," Hard-to-Find Mormon Videos, YouTube, March 11, 2009, accessed November 12, 2021

Truman G. Madsen, Krister Stendahl
Reading Public, Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Krister Stendahl: 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul speaks about those who baptize themselves for the dead and obviously takes for granted that (a) there were people who did so and he has no complaint about it. Now with the Mormons we have it again as a practice.

Truman G. Madsen: Professor Krister Stendahl of Harvard Divinity School became the Bishop of Stockholm in Sweden. During a visit we made there, he called a press conference, invited various of his friends, and then said the following. He said, "I have three rules for interfaith discussion. To whit. Number one: If you're going to ask the question "what do others believe in their various faiths," ask them. Not their critics. Not their enemies.

Krister Stendahl: Because what one religious tradition says about another is usually a breach against the commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

Truman G. Madsen: Number two: If you're going to compare, don't compare your bests with their worsts. But compare bests with bests.

Krister Stendahl: Most people think of their own tradition as it is at its best and they use caricatures of the others.

Truman G. Madsen: And then number three, he said: "leave room for 'holy envy.'" And then, he said, "Let me give you an example of my holy envy for the Latter-day Saints. We Lutherans, when we lose our loved ones, we have funerals, we have cemeteries. But that ends our concern with those who have come before. But the Latter-day Saints care about their forebears to the point that they want to bring the blessings of Christ's atonement to them. So they build temples and according to Paul's instruction in First Corinthians they perform baptisms for the dead." And then he smiled and said, "I have holy envy for that."

Krister Stendahl: In a world where we have finally learned what I call the "holy envy," it's a beautiful thing. I could think of myself as taking part in such an act: extending the blessings that have come to me in and through Jesus Christ. That's generous. That's beautiful. And should not be ridiculed or spoken badly of.

BHR Staff Commentary

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