To help mitigate the soteriological problem of evil, that one having had no chance to hear the gospel would be sent to hell, many early Christians practiced baptism for the dead. The only reference to this in the New Testament comes in 1 Corinthians 15:29, a scripture that some scholars attempt to reinterpret or repunctuate to dismiss baptism for the dead but that most scholars defend as a legitimate reference. Further strengthening the historicity of the practice are references by early writers such as Tertullian and Ambrosiaster. The quest for authenticating the practice of baptism for the dead should rest on these and other historical references, not on retroactively applied standards of orthodoxy.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Paulsen, David L. and Mason, Brock M.
"Baptism for the Dead in Early Christianity,"
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Vol. 19
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/jbms/vol19/iss2/4