From USA TODAY comes this glimpse into the faith life of The King—whose death 40 years ago will be commemorated by fans next week:
Elvis was baptized, undoubtedly, as a child by a Trinitarian Pentecostal preacher in Tupelo, Miss.
He was re-baptized, reportedly, as a young teenager by a Oneness Pentecostal preacher in Memphis.
He also was baptized, posthumously, by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Multiple baptisms aren’t uncommon here in the land of religious liberty, where beliefs and practices vary widely, even within various Christian denominations.
Elvis grew up in the heart of the Pentecostal South at East Tupelo First Assembly of God, where his parents met and his great-uncles were co-pastors.
The Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal body, follow the traditional triune formula found in Matthew 28:19: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
As a child, Elvis was water baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, according to biographers.
When Elvis was 13, the Presleys moved to Memphis. They lived near the Church of Jesus Christ, led by Rex Dyson, a Oneness Pentecostal preacher.
Oneness Pentecostals reject the triune formula for baptism. Instead, they use Peter’s instructions in Acts 2:38: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
They baptize believers in the name of Jesus only.
“Vernon and Gladys heard me preach about baptism a few times, then they came to me and said they wanted to be baptized in the name of Jesus,” Dyson told me in 2000, two years before he died. “I baptized Elvis in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Worth mentioning: there is only one baptism for Catholics, if done with the proper words, matter and formula. Periodically, I’ll hear from people requesting to “re-do” a baptism for one reason or another. No can do. If you’ve been baptized validly once, the sacrament cannot be administered again.