Many do not know that one of the biggest influences in the recent genealogy craze is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), also known as the Mormons. The LDS interest in genealogies is connected to their belief/practice of “baptism for the dead.”
The LDS church believes that several ordinances, including baptism, must be fulfilled for a person to be saved. The LDS church also teaches that members in good standing can fulfill these ordinances in the place of ancestors who have passed on without the opportunity to do so. The church says that once the ordinances are fulfilled and the person accepts the gospel of Jesus Christ (even if heard and accepted after death), they can move on to a higher kingdom. LDS members use genealogy to discover who their ancestors are and fulfill the covenants in their stead.
These beliefs are faulty in several ways. First, there is only one way to salvation, and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ordinances and sacraments are works, and therefore, not required (Ephesians 2:8–9). The second is that no person can earn the salvation of another. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). It does not come by another being baptized or completing ordinances in your name. There is nothing wrong with studying genealogies. Jesus’ ancestry is given in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. But once a person has passed on, their chance to come to a saving relationship with Christ is over.
Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.