EQ lesson for this Sunday: Baptism/Mikvah

November 12, 2010    By: Matt W. @ 10:53 pm   Category: PH/RS Lessons

So my current calling is to teach Elder’s Quorum once a month. It’s been about 8 years since I’ve taught the Gospel to adults, so I am feeling a bit rusty. I’ve taught 3 times now, and I haven’t quite found my rhythm. Anyway, I am posting my notes here in hopes that some of you brilliant folks here can come by and give me some pointers on what I can do to make this lesson better. I have decided not to do a power point, but to just go through the lesson material on the board, if I feel like I need to use a visual aide. My biggest challenge in teaching these lessons has been that I have two gentlemen with disabilities who wander radically off topic that I don’t know how to handle, so any tips for dealing with people with Schizoaffective Disorder and/or Autism/Aspergers would be greatly appreciated.

“ I had the distinct impression that this instructor was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. At any rate, he certainly did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader.” – Richard G. Scott

I am here trying to communicate principles, but do worry about going to far.

History of Baptism

a. Traditional Christian Baptism begins with John the Baptist and Jesus Christ- both Jews

b. Before and after this in Judaism this is called Mikvah

c. Jewish Midrash points out that this ritual purification began with Adam, as does Joseph Smith’s Midrash, the JST section we now call the book of Moses 6:64.

Mikvah is similar to LDS baptism

a. For ritual purification (spiritual)

b. Traditional procedure for conversion to the religion (for conversion requires witnesses)

c. Mikvah via immersion

d. Symbolic of being “born again”

Mikvah is different than LDS baptism

a. Mikvah is not a one and done (talk about rebaptism and baptism for health in early lds church, replaced by emphasis on sacrament around 1922. Talk about Sacrament as our modern ritual for self-purification)

b. Mikvah without white clothing(Naked actually)

c. Mikvah for utensils (to make them Jewish, convert them)

d. Mikvah must be supplied with a natural spring (“living water”) Mosiah 18:5 (Book of Mormon evidence?)

e. Today in Judaism, Mikvah does not require priesthood to administer the ordinance, but is a self-dunking. (May sound strange to us, but think of Alma in Mosiah 18:14)

Central purpose of mikveh is ritual purification for the purpose of renewal. It is a key component of repentence.

Why must we be baptized?

a. for the remission of Sins- baptism is an important step in the repentance process. Ask Naaman (Another Mikvah!) how it works. It gives us an act of faith to perform to be healed.

b. for Membership
__i. Gift of Holy Ghost (Br. N will discuss next week)
__ii. Token(or sign) of Obedience
__iii. Access to God’s Kingdom (Here and hereafter)

Who is Baptized and How?

a. Believer’s Baptism (or credobaptism)

b. Immersion (like the mikvah)

“Baptismal Covenants”

a. Taught by Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 273
“Baptism is a covenant with God that we will do his will.”

b. It is acceptable to say Baptismal Covenant because baptism is the first ordinance of the Gospel and is thus entry via baptism into the “Covenant of Christ”. However, Baptism does not itself directly contain the covenant, but merely a sign or witness thereof.

c. Mosiah 18:10,13– sign of the covenant to serve God until you are dead

d. Sacrament Prayers- We do this as a sign of the same covenants

e. Alma 7:15– show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism

New Beginnings-Born Again-Galatians 3:26-27

a. In Baptism, we put on Christ and all are equal in Christ

b. become Christlike

c. If prompted by the Spirit and time permits, tie this to Ardis’ Post on San Antonio saints building a house for the poor and needy.


  1. Here are some thoughts I had on the mikvah, in case they are useful for you:


    Comment by Kevin Barney — November 13, 2010 @ 6:38 am

  2. I think the outline is great, and I would love to have a class that gives me something more than just the basic text from Gospel Principles. (I don’t hate Gospel Principles. In fact, I greatly appreciate the book. I do hate when teachers simply read to me. It makes me feel like I am wasting my time being there, when I could be at home researching the topics more fully.)

    In regards to ways to respond to those who go off-tangent, there are two tricks. The first is really hard to develop. It is figuring out a way to bring the tangent back to the topic. I don’t know if it can be taught; I think this is a trick that just comes with experience.

    The other trick is to simply say, “You know, that is a great point, and I think it would be worth discussing at some length at another time. Let’s talk about it after class.” Of course, you have to be willing to stay around for a bit to actually talk about it if he so desires.

    Comment by Alex T. Valencic — November 13, 2010 @ 6:44 am

  3. When one of my wandering pontificaters takes over, I watch for the first opportunity to break in gracefully — or, if I have to, to jump in and talk over him — by saying, “Thank you — and to summarize your point in terms of the lesson …” and simply answer my own question or repeat another commenter’s point, or whatever it takes to refocus on the lesson. If I can, I’ll use some of the pontificater’s words or actually summarize his point, but at other times I don’t hesitate to ignore every irrelevant ramble and simply state something relevant.

    If your quorum members have actual disabilities and that isn’t just your rhetorical device here, then the rest of your quorum leadership and other teachers must face the same problem — do they have tricks you can adapt? or at the least you should be able to talk to them privately and request that they help you as a teacher by corralling the mavericks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 13, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  4. Ardis: It’s definitely NOT a rhetorical device. Out of respect for privacy, I don’t want to say more. (And maybe shouldn’t have said what I already have.) I am thinking about asking the EQ president to sit by them and try to “filter” certain topics before they become class wide.

    What I can say is this is a universal problem for all EQ teachers in my ward, and it typically takes about about one-third to half the class time.

    Kevin: I actually already read your post in prep for this. It’s the reason I went with the spelling mikvah over mikveh. I am on the fence as to whether I can or should mention anything about the nida or the inherent sexual tension of the mikvah. It may be too tangential for what I am attempting to go after here.

    Alex: I have a personal rule for myself that we talk about the manual and the material in the manual, but do not open the manual. I think it started on my mission when we all had the quote from President Hinckley posted in our apartments “When you teach from your hearts, and not from the books, then you will have the power to change lives.”

    Comment by Matt W. — November 13, 2010 @ 8:07 am

  5. Sounds like it’s time for a united plan of action by quorum officers, teachers, and bishopric, not something you should have to solve alone — as if you could. Good luck.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 13, 2010 @ 9:26 am

  6. looks like nice outline to me. i think you do well to talk about stuff rather than cite non-correlated sources talking about stuff.

    with your historical approach, what are the odds of someone wondering why we find christian baptism instead of jewish mikvah in the BCE book of mormon for instance?

    Comment by g.wesley — November 13, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  7. G.- I am sort of going to talk about that when I talk about Alma baptising at Mormon.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 13, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  8. good for you. a brave soul.

    Comment by g.wesley — November 13, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  9. Ok, my Jewish brother-in-law says the mikvah is the font, not the act itself. He doesn’t remember the name of the act itself. Any ideas?

    Comment by Matt W. — November 13, 2010 @ 11:42 am

  10. Matt, I believe the term is Tevilah.

    Comment by Alex T. Valencic — November 13, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  11. The lesson went well. I kept it tight, so there was little room for commenting. I actually ended with ten minutes to spare, so ended by talking about my own baptism then let them out early. I wish I had thought to show them the pictures of the San Antonio house.

    Comment by Matt W. — November 14, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  12. (Weird, my normal email appears to always flag my comments as spam)

    Regarding white clothes there is considerable evidence the early Christians baptized naked as well. I think the mikvah/baptism connection is a bit complicated. i.e. I don’t think baptism is a mikvah. But there’s undoubtedly some connection between the two.

    The more interesting question is the development of Lehite baptism which appears to evolve somewhat differently from Palestinian baptism (John, Jesus and then the later Christians) Of course the sacramental prayers develop differently as well. Compare and contrast the Didiche reflecting most likely 1st century Palestian practice with the prayers in Moroni.

    Comment by Clark — November 18, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  13. BTW – read that passage in the Didiche on types of water used. i.e. it’s not always a mikvah but the tevilah can actually in extreme cases be done by sprinkling. That’s probably how the Catholic practice developed.

    Comment by Clark — November 18, 2010 @ 9:56 am

  14. Very interesting Clark

    Comment by Matt W.'s wife — November 21, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

  15. An an autistic adult: Autistic people have extremely focused attentions and interests. It may be that they’re not trying to derail your lesson, but that they honestly have concerns about whatever their focus is. How you “handle” them may not be as important as how you answer their questions — and if they’re asking relevant questions and not just making seemingly-random statements, that might be very difficult.

    Comment by Tachyon Feathertail — November 23, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  16. I gave the same lesson. I got a tickle in my mind when I read D&C 20:37 – We are required to fully repent of our sins before receiving a remission of our sins through baptism. So, is there a difference between receiving forgiveness and obtaining a remission ( being obsolved) of the sin? Hence repentance and baptism/sacrament/covenant making go hand in hand. Thus we can not enter heaven without baptism as only clean things can enter and baptism is required to remove the sin? It is a topic, I really hadn’t thought about before.

    Comment by Richard Christensen — November 25, 2010 @ 9:13 pm