Glossary

This thematically organised glossary includes vocabulary and terminology used in this blog. Mormons and Christians often share common terms but attach different meanings to them.

 

Mormon

1. A member of the LDS (Mormon) Church. 2. Someone who identifies as part of the Mormon faith and/or culture, independently from the Church and regardless of their actual beliefs. Note: Originally a nickname used for those who believed in the Book of Mormon and the claims made by Joseph Smith in the 1830s. 3. Adjective (as in ‘a Mormon hymn’).

LDS/Latter-day Saint 

1. The proper term for ‘Mormon.’ 2. Adjective (as in ‘an LDS hymn’). 3. Adjective used when referring to organisations that stemmed from the teachings of Joseph Smith (as in ‘the Latter Day Saint movement’).

LDS Church/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The official name of the ‘Mormon’ Church, founded & organised by Joseph Smith in 1830 in upstate New York. Notes: Joseph Smith claimed his was not a new Church but the restoration of the primitive/original Church of Christ in these latter-days. Most Fundamentalists aren’t affiliated to the LDS Church.

Mormon Fundamentalist 

1. A Mormon who believes that the LDS Church wrongly discarded or modified ‘fundamental’ teachings or practices. 2. Those born in a Fundamentalist family, regardless of their own personal faith.

FLDS/Fundamentalist Latter-day Saint

1. A member of the FLDS Church, which is not affiliated to the LDS Church. Note: Contrary to popular belief, most Mormon Fundamentalists aren’t affiliated to the FLDS Church. 2. Adjective (as in ‘an FLDS speech’).

Salvation

Being saved from the consequences of sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Notes: All will be resurrected, but only those who’ve been baptised and have received ‘the gift of the Holy Ghost’ through the (Mormon) Priesthood may be saved, provided they keep the commandments of God. Therefore, salvation come from grace after all we can do.

Exaltation

Being saved ‘to the highest degree’ & dwell with God the Father and Jesus Christ after the resurrection by making & keeping sacred covenants made in the temple. Men must hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. To receive the most glorious exaltation, man & woman must be sealed/married ‘for time & for eternity’. Note: Fundamentalists believe plural marriage is essential too.

The Priesthood  

1. The authority to ‘act’ in the name of God, like conducting ordinances (such as baptisms) & presiding. Notes: Most Mormon men are ordained to the Priesthood. Leaders at the local & global levels are called among them & are not remunerated. Fundamentalists believe the Church has lost some—some say all—of her Priesthood. They turn to men they believe have the necessary ‘keys’ outside the Church. 2. The governance of the Kingdom of God.

Aaronic & Melchizedek Priesthoods 

There are two priesthoods: The ‘lower’ Aaronic Priesthood (with the offices of Bishop, Priest, Teacher & Deacon) & the ‘higher’ Melchizedek Priesthood (with the offices of Apostle, Seventy, Patriarch, High Priest & Elder). Note: What the offices involve can be different for LDS members & Fundamentalists.

Ordinances

Sacred acts or ceremonies performed through the authority of the Priesthood (such as baptism, the blessing of the sacrament, ordination to the Priesthood, temple endowment & marriage ‘sealing’.)

Meeting house

Mormons worship in church—called a meeting house—on Sundays. Notes: Mormons sing hymns, give & hear speeches, bless & partake of the Sacrament—the Lord’s Supper/communion—& attend Sunday School & other meetings. Fundamentalist meetings are much like the LDS. Those who don’t have access to a church worship in homes instead.

Temple

The most sacred ordinances are conducted in temples, which only those Mormons who hold a recommend can access. Note: Fundamentalists who do not have a temple dedicate a setting for those ordinances. To receive the most glorious exaltation, Mormons must ‘take out their endowment’ and be sealed in a ‘celestial marriage.’ 

The endowment

Temple ordinance that prepare Mormons to become kings/queens & priests/priestesses in the afterlife. It consists of symbolic washings & anointings, receiving the temple garment & learning gestures & secret passwords. Notes: Those who want to be missionaries or have a ‘celestial’ marriage must go through the endowment. Because it has gone through changes, Fundamentalists perform one of the previous versions.

Sealing/‘Celestial marriage’

To receive the most glorious exaltation, Mormons believe a man & a woman must be married ‘for time and for eternity’. The ordinance is called a ‘sealing’. Note: Fundamentalists believe plural marriage is essential too, as per the revelations received by Joseph Smith & other leaders of the Church. 

Temple garment

Received during the ceremony of the endowment, it consists of underclothing marked with sacred signs. It is to be worn at all times under street clothing. Note: Because it has gone through changes, Fundamentalists generally use one of the previous patterns.

The Gospel

The doctrine of Christ. God’s plan for His children—us—including teachings & ordinances. It is faith with works. 

The fulness of the Gospel

All the sacred teachings & saving ordinances restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Notes: Fundamentalists claim that a ‘fulness’ cannot be found in the modern Church, as it discarded fundamental doctrines and practices. They turn to men they believe have the necessary ‘keys’ of the Priesthood to administer those ordinances instead.

Scriptures

1. The Bible (as long as it is translated correctly), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants & the Pearl of Great Price. The canon remains open to receive more revelations/Scriptures. 2. The inspired word of some Church leaders. 

The Book of Mormon

A sacred text which contains the writings of ancient prophets on the American continent from 2200 BC to AD 421. Notes: Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, reportedly found & translated it. It was published in 1830.

The Doctrine and Covenants

A sacred collection of revelations from God, given since the organisation of the Mormon Church. 

The Pearl of Great Price

A sacred collection of Scriptures given through Joseph Smith. It contains the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, parts of the translation of the Bible by Joseph Smith & his history.

Joseph Smith

The founder of Mormonism (& the LDS Church). Born in 1805 in Vermont, USA, he published the Book of Mormon at 24. His followers considered him a prophet like those in the Bible. His teachings included unique views about the nature of God, the universe, family structures & political organisation. He was killed by a mob in 1844 (14 years after founding the Church). Note: Several organisations consider themselves to be the continuation of the movement/Church ‘the Prophet’ organised.

Journal of Discourses

26 volume collection of sermons delivered by Mormon leaders in Utah between 1854 and 1886. Note: Once to be considered ‘Scripture’, it has been disavowed by the modern Church for its extensive teachings on the ‘fulness of the Gospel’, which predate the changes made by the turn of the 20th century. It is a popular collection with Fundamentalists of all stripes. 

Degrees of Glory

Section 76 of the  Doctrine & Covenants relates a vision received through Joseph Smith, in which, at the Final Judgment, all will be assigned to one of 3 “degrees of glory,” called (in order of importance) the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom & the telestial kingdom. 

Bearing Testimony

When Mormons bear their testimony, they declare to others what they believe they know is true by the power of the Spirit.

The gift of the Holy Ghost

After baptism, a Melchizedeck Priesthood holder confirms the new member as belonging to the Church by the laying on of hands and declares “receive the Holy Ghost” to find comfort and guidance and have the Holy Ghost abide with the member who needs to remain worthy.

Blessing

In the LDS Church, a Melchizedeck Priesthood holder may give a blessing by the laying on of hands, saying whatever words he feels are prompted by the Spirit for the benefit the person receiving it.

Kolob

In Mormonism, God is embodied. Since he’s embodied, he resides somewhere. Kolob is (near) where he is. Like the sun is in one place but its rays illuminate the galaxy, so it is with God.