Reader question: Renewing baptismal covenant? Really?

April 7, 2009    By: Geoff J @ 2:20 pm   Category: Reader Questions

One of our readers emailed me recently with an interesting question. Here it is:

I have a question that has been percolating in my mind for several years. It seems to me that we have witnessed the birth of a new doctrine in General Conference over the last couple of decades. The doctrine states that by taking the sacrament we are renewing the covenants we make at baptism. From this, there has come the logical extension, articulated quite forcefully by Elder Jay Jensen in the Priesthood session of October 2008, that taking the sacrament properly results in a re-remission of our sins.

In my studies of the scriptures, the teachings of Joseph Smith, or any earlier prophets, I can’t find anything about this doctrine. The article on the Sacrament in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism refers to it, but only cites Mosiah 18, Jesus the Christ, and Articles of Faith. In my opinion, these citations are underwhelming as support for the doctrine. A simple search of Conference addresses seems to show the doctrine originating with Bruce R. McConkie and/or Marion G. Romney in the early 1950’s. Earlier references to “renewing our covenants” through the sacrament seem to be talking about the sacramental covenants of taking upon us his name, always remembering him and keeping his commandments.

I would be interested in an online discussion of this topic. Or, perhaps you are aware of a place where it has already been discussed. If so, please let me know.

What say ye?