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A-Z Terminology


Aaronic priesthood. Known as the lesser of two priesthoods held by Mormon males (Priesthood and Church Government, p. 106). It is taught that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were visited by John the Baptist on the bank of the Susquehanna River on May 15, 1829; he laid hands on them and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood. The Mormon Aaronic Priesthood holds the "keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins" (Doctrine and Covenants 13:1). According to the Bible, the Aaronic priesthood is reserved only for those who were direct descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Numbers 3:6-12 makes it clear that only those in the line of Aaron were to hold the Levitical Priesthood.

Adam. Known in the pre-existence as Michael. Adam "sat in the council of the gods in the planning of the creation of this earth" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 16). According to Joseph Smith, Adam participated in the creation of the earth and occupied a position of authority next to Jesus Christ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 158). Smith also taught Adam was the Ancient of Days, the father of all (D&C 27:11; 138:38). Second Mormon President Brigham Young taught that Adam was not created from the dust of this earth but rather from the dust of an earth (Journal of Discourses 3:319). He referred to the biblical account of the creation of Adam as found in Genesis 2:7 as one of many "baby stories" (Journal of Discourses 2:6). In the Bible, Adam is first human created by God and formed "of the dust of the ground" (Genesis 2:7). It was through Adam's disobedience in the Garden of Eden that sin entered into the world (Romans 5:12). The consequence of that sin was death. "For the wages of sin is death ..."(Romans 6:23).

Adam-God. First taught openly in a conference message by second President Brigham Young on April 9, 1852, Young claimed that Adam was Michael the Archangel, the Ancient of Days, and that Eve was "one of his wives."Young also said Adam "is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do" (Journal of Discourses 1:50). This teaching has been the source of much controversy and has since been denounced. In 1976, President Spencer Kimball referred to the Adam-God "theory" as false doctrine (Church News, October 9, 1976). Young claimed this to be a doctrine when he said, "How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them and which God revealed to me--namely that Adam is our father and God" (Deseret News, June 18, 1873, emphasis ours). Heber C. Kimball, first councilor to Brigham Young, concurred with Young's assessment when he said, "The first man sent his own son to redeem the world"(Journal of Discourses 4:1).

Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Supposedly taken from the "pure Adamic language" meaning "the place or land of God where Adam dwelt." Mormonism teaches Adam-Ondi-Ahman was located in Daviess County, Missouri (Mormon Doctrine, p. 20), showing that Adam lived on the North American continent.

Age of accountability. The age of a child when he has "sufficient mental, spiritual, and physical maturity to be held accountable before God for his acts" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 852). Normally this is the age of eight (D&C 68:27).

Agency. The ability to choose right from wrong, which goes back to man's pre-existence. "Agency makes our life on earth a period of testing to see whether we are worthy to become like our Heavenly Father.... Without the gift of agency, we would have been unable to show our Heavenly Father whether we would do all that he commanded us" (Gospel Principles, p. 19).

Ancient of Days. Adam. Joseph Smith stated, "Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157).

Anti-Mormon. Mormon J. Nelson-Seawright writes that "the terminological sleight of hand involved in the label ‘anti-Mormon’ allows [Mormons] to ignore the differences between honest and honorable men and women who oppose us, on the one hand, and unprincipled villains, on the other." Mormon Joni Hilton advises fellow members: "First of all, anti-Mormon literature, Internet sites, conversations, ideas, etc. are like spiritual pornography. Once they are in the mind, they are very difficult to get rid of. As you try to reach out to your husband, I would advise you to avoid any material, even if you think it might help you understand him better. You don’t want those seeds of doubt planted in your own mind, because no one is immune to them."

Apostasy, Complete. True Christianity is said to have ceased after the death of Christ's apostles. This made it necessary for God to restore the true church through Joseph Smith in 1830. Without this belief, there is no reason for the Mormon Church to exist. The History of the Church declares, "Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (1:XL).

Apostate. Ex-members of the Mormon Church who believe doctrines contrary to the current teachings of the LDS Church or those whose lifestyle does not reflect that of a Latter-day Saint (Finding fault with the LDS leadership, drinking alcohol, smoking, etc.). According to D&C 41:1 apostates will receive the heaviest of God's cursings. Can also include those who align themselves with Apostate Christianity.

Apostle. A member of the Council of the Twelve, the second level in the Mormon hierarchy. The twelve apostles are also known as the Traveling Presiding High Council and officiate under the direction of the First Presidency in all parts of the world. In Christianity, apostle usually refers to one of a number of specific disciples of Christ, named in the New Testament, who were called and commissioned by Him with special authority to be the foundation of the Christian church (Ephesians 2:20). The inspired teachings of the Apostles are recognized as authoritative in the Church and are the Christian rule of faith and life.

Articles of Faith. A list of thirteen fundamental and characteristic doctrines of the Mormon Church. Originally known as the Wentworth Letter, it was intended to briefly outline the basic tenets of the Mormon faith. The Articles of Faith is also a book written by Mormon Apostle James Talmage.


Baptism for the dead. Also known as baptism by proxy or vicarious baptism, performed in Mormon temples. It is believed that the deceased for whom the ritual is performed will have an opportunity to receive the Mormon gospel in the spirit world though acceptance of such an act is not guaranteed.

Although Paul mentions a practice known as baptism for the dead in 1 Corinthians 15:29, little is really known on the subject other than he appears to exclude himself from such a practice by using the word they. The Mormon interpretation is rejected as are all ideas of a post-mortem salvation. Hebrews 9:27 clearly shows "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." This makes an after-death restitution with God an impossibility. Ironically, this same idea is taught in the Book of Mormon in Alma 34:34, 35.

Bible. One of the four standard works considered to be scripture. Of these, only the Bible is considered to be mistranslated and cannot be fully trusted. Article Eight of the Articles of Faith reads, "We believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly." The King James Version is the official LDS Bible text.

Bishop. Non-paid leader of a Mormon ward. His duties are similar to a Christian pastor.

Bishopric"Any office or position of major responsibility in the (LDS) Church, any office of overseership under the supervision of which important church business is administered." A ward bishopric consists of an individual ward's bishop and his two counselors, all of whom belong to the Melchizedek priesthood (Mormon Doctrine, p. 89).

Blood Atonement. A doctrine that stems from the belief that the blood of Christ does not cleanse all sins; therefore, one who sins a sin beyond the cleansing power of Christ must atone for his own sins by having his blood shed. While current Mormon leaders may deny the blunt description of this practice as taught by their predecessors, tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, "man may commit certain grievous sins--according to his light and knowledge--that will place him beyond the reach of the atoning blood of Christ. If then he would be saved, he must make sacrifice of his own life to atone--so far as in his power lies--for that sin, for the blood of Christ alone under certain circumstances will not avail.... Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that men may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent" (Doctrines of Salvation 1:134, 135).

In Christianity, blood atonement is Christ's death on the cross as the Great Sacrifice that provides cleansing for all mankind who place their trust in Him. The Bible maintains that the blood of Christ is powerful enough to cleanse from all sin. 1 John 1:9 reads, "If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Book of Abraham. Included in the Pearl of Great Price. Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Book of Abrahamfrom papyrus found on Egyptian mummies he purchased from Michael Chandler in 1835. Smith said the "rolls contained the writings of Abraham" (History of the Church 2:236). Later examination from qualified Egyptologists showed Smith was totally incorrect concerning his alleged translation. Despite this refutation, many Mormons insist the Book of Abraham is authentic and Joseph Smith a true prophet.

Book of Commandments. A collection of Joseph Smith's early revelations, printed in 1833. These were edited, added to other revelations, and renamed the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835.

Book of Mormon. One of Mormonism's standard works. It contains the story of a group of Jews led by a man named Lehi who left Israel and sailed to the American continent around 600 B.C. with, among others, his sons Nephi and Laman. The book records the wars and ultimate demise of their followers known as Nephites and Lamanites. The narrative also includes the story of a group of people known as the Jaredites whom God spared from having their language confused at the Tower of Babel. Joseph Smith claimed the Book of Mormon was "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194).

Book of Moses. Found in the Pearl of Great Price, one of Mormonism's standard works. Mormon scholars claim the Book of Moses was given to Joseph Smith by direct revelation in June of 1830. Its purpose was to restore many"lost truths" that are not included in the Pentateuch. Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie claimed the Book of Moses "is one of the most important documents the Lord has ever revealed" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 564).

Branch. Mormon congregations that are not large enough or stable enough to form wards. These are divided into two categories: independent branches, which comprise larger and more powerful branches; and dependent branches, usually smaller in size and "less endowed" with local leadership. Several branches comprise a district.

Brethren. Mormons in general. It is also used to denote the Mormon leadership. "When we speak of following the Brethren, we mean particularly the First Presidency and the Twelve." (Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p. 102).

BYU. Brigham Young University. A college and graduate school located in Provo, Utah, owned by the Mormon Church. Extension campuses are located in Hawaii, Idaho, and Israel.


Celestial kingdom. The highest kingdom of glory in the LDS concept of heaven, available only to Mormons who exhibited complete obedience to LDS laws and ordinances during their entire lifetimes. This is the only kingdom of glory where one may enjoy the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Within the Celestial kingdom there are three levels, the highest reserved for those who were married in the temple and subsequently obtain Godhood.

Celestial marriage. Marriages performed in Mormon temples, which are not only binding in this life but also in the next. Celestial marriage and plural marriage (polygamy) meant the same thing in Mormonism's earlier years.

Child of God. In LDS thought all humans are the literal children of God, born in the pre-existence as offspring of Heavenly Father and one of his heavenly wives. In the Bible, the children of God are those adopted by faith. They are sinners who have trusted in Christ for their salvation. Galatians 3:26 says, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." John 1:12-13 says, "To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

Church News. A weekly, tabloid-sized periodical reporting LDS Church news and events.

Church of the Firstborn. The highest of three levels in the celestial kingdom. Only Mormons who keep all the commandments of God will enter this heaven and become Gods (or exalted) in eternity (The Way to Perfection, p. 206). "Eternal life is life in the presence of the Father and the Son. Those who receive it become members of the "Church of the Firstborn" and are heirs as sons and daughters of God. They receive the fulness of blessings. They become like the Father and the Son and are joint-heirs with Jesus Christ" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:9).

Community of Christ. Previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, on January 1, 2001 the church officially changed its name to the Community of Christ (COC). It is the second largest splinter group of the Latter-day Saint movement. Headquartered in Independence, Missouri, this group historically has been led by direct descendants of Joseph Smith, whereas the Utah Mormons take their leaders from the Quorum of the Twelve, or twelve Apostles. A comparison between COC and LDS teachings show the COC to be less controversial than their LDS counterparts.

Comprehensive History of the ChurchA six-volume history of the Mormon Church compiled by Mormon Seventy/historian Brigham H. Roberts.

Council in heaven. A council of the gods held in the pre-existence to arrange for the creation and peopling of the earth. This council was called by Elohim, the "head of the Gods" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 349). Also present were Jehovah, Michael, and Lucifer. This council also determined how mankind would be saved.

Creation. Joseph Smith taught that matter is eternal and God had no power to create out of nothing. God reorganized already present elements, which have no beginning or end and cannot be destroyed (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350-352). “Since Mormons believe that the elements are eternal, it follows hat they deny the ex nihilo creation” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 1:400).

In Christianity, since there are no actualities that are coeternal with God, it is understood that God created all things "ex-nihilo," or out of nothing. God made the world without any use of pre-existent materials. God is the primary cause of all things (Psalm 33:6; John 1:3; Romans 4:17; Hebrews 11:3).

Cumorah. Traditionally the hill in upstate New York located south of the town of Palmyra. Moroni buried the golden plates in this hill and appeared to Joseph Smith fourteen centuries later to reveal their whereabouts. Mormon scholars today are divided on the actual location of the Hill Cumorah. Many believe the hill was located in Central America.


Danites. A title attributed to Sampson Avard, a Mormon, who described the Danites as a band of armed men formed into companies of tens and fifties who were bound by secret oaths never to discuss their activities which they carried out against those unfriendly to the Mormon cause. Mormon historians and leaders have since tried to distance themselves from this objectionable organization, which was also known as the Destroying Angels. In October 1838, Joseph Smith claimed that this illegal group had nothing to do with a Church-ordained Council of Fifty, which was set up as a defense mechanism against mob attack (Documentary History of the Church 3:178-182). Joseph Smith later denied that the Danites ever existed (Documentary History of the Church 6:165).

Deacon. Chosen from among 12- to 14-year-old boys. His job is to "watch over the Church and to be a standing minister to the Church" (Priesthood and Church Government, pp. 164-165). In the Bible, deacons are men chosen as subordinate officers in the church. Their qualifications include not being greedy, being sound in the faith, and able to rule their children and houses well. They are also to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:8-12).

Deseret. According to Ether 2:3 in the Book of Mormon, Deseret means honey bee. It was also the name given to the territory settled by the Mormon pioneers in the late 1840s. The name was changed to "Utah" when the Deseret Territory became a state in 1896.

Doctrine and Covenants. One of Mormonism's standard works. Also known as the D&C. Printed in 1835, the D&Cis primarily a collection of supposed revelations given to Joseph Smith by God. Parts of the D&C were printed in 1833 under the title Book of Commandments.

Doctrines of Salvation. A three-volume set of doctrinal writings authored by tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith. Compiled in 1954, the jacket of this set reads, "His [Smith] teachings are the Doctrines of Salvation as they have been made known by revelation. He is universally esteemed as the chief doctrinal authority of the Church."

Documentary History of the Church. Also known as the History of the Church or DHC. A seven-volume set expounding on the history of the Mormon Church.


Elder. The lowest ordained office of the Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood (Priesthood and Church Government, p. 111). By this office Mormons feel they have the authority to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church, etc. Also known as a standing home minister.

Elder Brother. Jesus Christ. Mormonism teaches that Jesus was the firstborn to Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Since all humans are God's literal offspring, He is by birth our Elder Brother.

Elohim. God the Father. The literal father of Jesus Christ. "Elohim is literally the Father of the spirit of Jesus Christ and also of the body in which Jesus Christ performed His mission in the flesh ..." (The Articles of Faith, pp. 466-467). Elohim was once a mortal man who progressed to the level of God. In the words of Mormon Apostle James Talmage, Elohim is a "Being who has attained His exalted state" (Ibid., p. 430).

Endowment"Certain special, spiritual blessings given worthy and faithful saints in the temples are called endowments, because in and through them the recipients are endowed with power from on high" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 226-227). In order to enter the celestial kingdom and become a God, it is necessary for a Mormon to participate in the endowment ceremony. These ordinances are administered for both the living and the dead. Those who participate must swear to never reveal what they have learned in the ceremony. The endowment ceremony includes a film depicting the Mormon view of the creation and fall of man, the great apostasy of Christianity, the restoration of the gospel "with all its ancient powers and privileges," as well as the absolute conditions of personal purity and strict compliance with Mormonism's requirements.

Ensign. The official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its predecessor before 1971 was theImprovement Era. Most Mormons receive a monthly issue of Ensign, and members are directed to use the material as a basis for curriculum in Sunday morning talks. Twice a year the publication contains reports of General Conference, a semiannual meeting where Mormon prophets and apostle speak to the membership in the capacity of their offices. As a religion that accentuates the theme of "continuing revelation", "priesthood authority", and the general primacy and vitality of living latter-day prophets over scripture, publications like Ensign are important institutional outlets of divine guidance for Latter-day Saints. Although not considered "official" in the strictest sense of being a part of the canonical "standard works", Latter-day Saints functionally treat church publications as quasi-canonical, and celebrate the stream of doctrinal and devotional material as evidence of modern-day prophetic counsel.

Eternal increase. The ability to procreate throughout eternity. This is reserved for Mormon couples who have complied with all the requirements for exaltation. "Those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 301).

Eternal life. Being exalted to the level of God. "Only those who obey the fulness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life ... Thus those who gain eternal life receive exaltation; they are sons of God, joint heirs with Christ, members of the Church of the Firstborn; they overcome all things, have all power, and receive the fulness of the Father. They are gods" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 237).

Eternal life is described in the New Testament as living eternally with God in heaven. Also referred to as everlasting life. Eternal life is obtained when one places his faith in the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). John the Baptist concurred when he said, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). First John 5:11, 12 adds, "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."

Eternal progression. The progressive life-cycle of humans: beginning as unorganized eternal intelligences; being organized (created) by God into spirit-beings; becoming mortal; and ultimately attaining Godhood where the life-cycle repeats with the new God(s) organizing eternal intelligences into spirit-beings who become mortal and eventually become Gods, etc., throughout all eternity. Eternal progression had no beginning and has no end; all Gods that ever were or ever will be must achieve their exalted state in this way.

Exaltation. The attainment of Godhood. It is the continuation of the family unit throughout eternity in the Celestial kingdom. Those who are exalted will create worlds and populations, receive the worship of those people, and rule as Gods and Goddesses over their creations.

Excommunication. A process by which an LDS Church membership is terminated. " ... Unless the excommunicated person repents and gains his church status again, he cannot be saved in the celestial kingdom.... Apostasy, rebellion, cruelty to wives and children, immorality, and all crimes involving moral turpitude, are among those which warrant excommunication" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 258).


Fall of Adam. According to the Book of Mormon, "Adam fell that men might be" (2 Nephi 2:25). "The fall of Adam and Eve was no tragedy. It was a blessing in disguise, for without it none of us would have been born, since Adam and Eve, in their original state, were not able to have children, as the Book of Mormon explains" (Apostle Mark E. Petersen, Adam: Who Is He? p. 4). Adam's fall is considered to be a transgression, not sin. "The 'fall' of Adam and Eve was not a sin but an essential act upon which mortality depends" (Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith,Answers to Gospel Questions 5:15). In Christianity, the fall of Adam was the result of sin against God's command to not eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Adam's disobedience caused death to enter the world. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

Fast offering. An offering designated to be given to the poor, contributed during a fast and testimony meeting."These contributions come from members of the Church, who abstain from two meals per month and pay the equivalent amount of these meals in cash to the bishop. The bishop uses these funds to provide for the cash needs of welfare recipients and to pay rent, utilities, hospital and medical bills" (Elder Henry D. Taylor, May 16, 1962, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1962, p. 7).

First Presidency. Consists of the Prophet/President and his two counselors. "Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church" (Doctrine and Covenants 107:22).

First Vision. Occurred in 1820 (officially) when Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was 14 years old. Confused about religion, Smith retired to the woods to pray and ask God which church to join. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him: "I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt" (Joseph Smith – History 1:19). It was this vision that ultimately led Joseph Smith to organize what is today known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The historic reality of the First Vision is extremely important to Latter-day Saints. Gordon B. Hinckley, fifteenth President of the Church, said, "Upon that unique and wonderful experience stands the validity of this Church. ... The truth of that unique, singular, and remarkable event is the pivotal substance of our faith" (Ensign, November 2002, p. 80). Though the official version of the First Vision is contained in the Pearl of Great Price, there are at least nine different versions of this vision, each of which differs in the more significant parts of the story.


Garments of the holy priesthood. Sacred underwear worn by faithful temple Mormons which, they are told in the temple, "will be a shield and protection to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your work here on earth." Sewn into the garments are markings that resemble the compass, square, and level of Freemasonry. Mormons are told these garments are symbolic of the covering God gave Adam and Eve after their fall.

General authorities. Men "called to serve in the highest levels of leadership" in the LDS Church (Encyclopedia of Mormonism 2:538). These offices include the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, quorums of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric.

General Conference. An assembly of LDS membership held in Salt Lake City, Utah each April and October. These meetings are for official instruction, announcements and teaching given by General Authorities and other LDS leaders.

Gentile. Basically non-Mormons, but also understood to include non-Jews. “Like Israel of old, the Saints also referred to themselves as a ‘covenant people,’ and often concluded correspondence with phrases such as ‘yours in the everlasting covenant.’ In thinking of themselves as Israel, they began to refer to non-Mormons as ‘gentiles,’ not in derision but as a symbol of their own special status” (The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed., p.149). In Christianity, gentile simply refers to non-Jews.

Golden contact. A person who knows little or nothing about Mormonism but is eager to learn and may possibly join the LDS Church.

Golden Plates. An historical record of American peoples written on plates of gold. In A.D. 421, Moroni, a Nephite warrior and son of Mormon, buried the plates in the Hill Cumorah. In 1823, as a resurrected being, Moroni revealed the whereabouts of the plates to Joseph Smith who was permitted to retrieve them in 1827. The Book of Mormonwas supposedly translated from these plates. Joseph Smith claimed that after he finished translating the plates they were given back to Moroni (Joseph Smith History 1:60).


Heavenly Father. Also referred to as God the Father or Elohim, a created being who was originally a mortal man and became God at a certain point in time (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 104). God is the offspring of another god who was also once a man, ad infinitum (The Seer, p. 132). Heavenly Father is but one of many gods.

In Christianity, God the Father was God from all eternity to all eternity (Psalm 90:2; John 8:41). He is self-existent and independent of any external cause. He always was God and always will be God. He alone is God and knows no others. Isaiah 44:8 says, "Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."

Heavenly Mother. The wife of "Heavenly Father." Early Mormon leaders openly taught that Heavenly Father was a practicing polygamist making Heavenly Mother merely one wife among many (The Seer, p. 172). Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie claimed the teaching of a Heavenly Mother is an "unspoken Truth" not mentioned in the standard works (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).

Hell. Also called Spirit Prison. "That part of the spirit world inhabited by wicked spirits who are awaiting the eventual day of their resurrection...Hell will have an end...After their resurrection, the great majority of those who have suffered in hell will pass into the telestial kingdom; the balance, cursed as the sons of perdition, will be consigned to partake of endless wo (sic) with the devil and his angels" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 349-350).

In the Bible hell is a place of eternal punishment. Jesus used the perpetual fire of Jerusalem’s garbage dump in the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) as a vivid illustration of what he called “hell fire” (Matthew 10:28; 18:9; 23:33; Mark 9:23).

High priest. An office within the Melchizedek Priesthood that operates under the direction of the presidency. In the Mormon Church there are many individual men who hold this office of authority.

In the Bible, only one man at a time held this office of high priest under the Old Covenant. Numbers 3:6-10 states only those of the lineage of Aaron could officiate in this capacity. Hebrews 4:14 states that Jesus Christ is now the great high priest and that this office does not transfer to another.

Holy Ghost. Third member of the godhead sometimes described as the Holy Spirit and sometimes described as distinct from the Holy Spirit. Mormon Apostle John Widtsoe stated, "The Holy Ghost, sometimes called the Comforter, is the third member of the Godhead, and is a personage, distinct from the Holy Spirit. As a personage, the Holy Ghost cannot any more than the Father and Son be everywhere present in person" (Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 76-77). The LDS Bible Dictionary claims the Holy Ghost is another name for the Holy Spirit (p. 704). Heber C. Kimball, first counselor to Brigham Young, taught, "The Holy Ghost is a man; he is one of the sons of our Father and our God; and he is that man that stood next to Jesus Christ, just as I stand by brother Brigham"(Journal of Discourses 5:179).

Holy Spirit"The agent, means, or influence by which the will, power, and intelligence of God, and the Godhead ... may be transmitted through space" (John Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 76). Mormon Apostle Parley P. Pratt taught the Holy Spirit was a "divine substance or fluid," which filled Jesus Christ (Key to the Science of Theology, 1855 edition, p. 29). In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and is synonymous with Holy Ghost. The word "Spirit" comes from the Greek word pneuma, translated both spirit and ghost in the King James Version of the Bible.

Home teachers. Members of the LDS Church who are given the responsibility of visiting the homes of assigned members once a month. Their job is to encourage members to grow spiritually through prayer, study, and performance of their church duties (D&C 20:42-54).


Immortality. Living forever in the resurrected state. "Now there is a difference between immortality and eternal life. Immortality is the gift to live forever. It comes to every creature" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:9). Mormonism teaches that everything will become immortalized, including the earth (D&C 77:1; 88:16-26).

Inspired Version. Otherwise known as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). According to Doctrine and Covenants73, Smith was commanded by God to work on a new translation of the Bible. It is said this was accomplished by way of revelation. While Mormon leaders have argued that the translation was not finished, the History of the Churchreports that Smith finished his translation of the Bible in 1833. In a personal letter dated July 2, 1833, Smith wrote,"We this day finished the translating of the Scriptures, for which we returned gratitude to our Heavenly Father"(DHC 1:368). The Inspired Version is really not a translation at all because Smith did not use ancient manuscripts in his rendition. He merely changed the King James Version of the Bible wherever he saw fit and even inserted a prophecy concerning his own birth in Genesis 50:33 (JST).

Institute of Religion. An LDS school offering college-level classes on various subjects of Mormonism, often found on or near major university campuses.

Intelligences. Mentioned in the standard works only in Abraham 3:21-22, this word can refer to either the pre-existent spirit offspring of God or individual eternal entities that existed before the pre-existence. At one time every person existed as an intelligence. Joseph Smith stated, "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be" (D&C 93:29). Twelfth LDS President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Our spirit matter was eternal and co-existent with God, but it was organized into spirit bodies by our Heavenly Father" (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 5). Former BYU professor W. Cleon Skousen added that if God"should ever to do anything to violate the confidence or `sense of justice' of these intelligences, they would promptly withdraw their support.... He would cease to be God. Our Heavenly Father can do only those things that the intelligences under Him are voluntarily willing to support Him in accomplishing" (The First 2000 Years, pp. 355-356).

Investigator. A person taking the Mormon missionary lessons, said to be investigating the LDS Church.


Jack-Mormon. More commonly a term that describes a lukewarm Mormon who does not fully practice his faith. However, it has also been used to describe non-Mormons who showed kindness and/or sympathy to the Mormons.

Jaredites. A group of people who supposedly came to the Americas around 2247 B.C. The Book of Mormon details their exploits in the book of Ether.

Jehovah. The name given to the premortal Jesus, the son of Elohim. "It is to be remembered that the Personage most generally designated in the Old Testament as God or the Lord, is He who in the mortal state was known as Jesus Christ, and in the antemortal state as Jehovah" (Articles of Faith, pp. 465-466). In the Mormon temple endowment ceremony, Jehovah assists Michael, the premortal Adam, in the organization of the world.

Jehovah is a hybrid word taken from the tetragrammaton YHWH. Vowels were added to these consonants to form the word Yahweh, another name for God. The King James Version of the Bible often renders Jehovah as Lord; in many verses the words Jehovah and Elohim (Lord God) are combined when speaking of the one true God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Psalm 100:3; Jeremiah 10:10).

Jesus Christ. Known in the pre-existence as Jehovah. One of three gods in the Mormon godhead. The spirit brother of Lucifer and elder brother of the human race, Jesus was the literal firstborn (The Only Begotten) son to Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. He became a God in the pre-existence prior to experiencing mortality. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity. God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16) and the creator of all things, including Lucifer (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus stands in equal authority with the Father since He is the true God (Philippians 2:6).

Journal of Discourses. A twenty-six-volume set of books containing sermons from various Mormon leaders until 1886, including General Conference addresses. Most of the volumes were published under the direct supervision of an LDS General Authority. In recent years these sermons have often been categorized by many Latter-day Saints as mere opinions of the individual speakers; however, many of these sermons are quoted in LDS Church manuals and conference messages. Mormon Apostle John Widtsoe, for example, used the Journal extensively in his book,Discourses of Brigham Young.


Kingdom of God. Mormonism teaches a three-fold meaning for the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God on earth is the Mormon Church. The Kingdom of God in the millennium will be both an ecclesiastical and political kingdom ruled and governed by the LDS Church. Following the resurrection of mankind, the Kingdom of God is the celestial kingdom and does not include the terrestrial or telestial kingdoms (Mormon Doctrine pp. 415-417).

Kolob. Described as a star or planet nearest to the residence of God. It is near Kolob where God resides and where all humans live until they take human form here on earth. Tenth Mormon President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote,"He [Eternal Father] revealed to Abraham that his throne is near Kolob, the great governing star of our universe"(Man: His Origin and Destiny, p. 537).


Lamanites. The followers of Laman, who is mentioned in the Book of Mormon as the eldest and wicked son of Lehi. First Nephi 12:23 states that after the Lamanites "dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations." The Lamanites annihilated the light-skinned Nephites at the battle at the Hill Cumorah. The Book of Mormon teaches that the dark-skinned Lamanites are of the "House of Israel" and many Mormons believe Lamanites were the ancestors of the modern American Indians. However, DNA evidence yields no support for such a conclusion.

LDS. Short for Latter-day Saint(s).

Lehi. According to the Book of Mormon, Lehi was a righteous man who was told to flee Jerusalem before its destruction in 600 B.C. He led his family by boat to the American continent. Others mentioned in the Book of Mormon by this name include Lehi, the son of Zoram; Lehi, the Nephite commander; Lehi, the son of Helaman; and the city and land of Lehi.

Lorenzo Snow couplet. Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president and prophet of the mainstream sect of Mormonism, is famous both in and outside of Mormonism for his couplet: "As man is God once was, as God is man may be." This short couplet summarizes the traditional understanding of what Joseph Smith taught in the "Sermon in the Grove" and, most famously, in the "King Follett Discourse".

Lucifer. One of the literal sons of Elohim and Heavenly Mother. A spirit-brother of Jesus (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 34). Lucifer was present at the council of the gods, which was called to determine how mankind would be saved. Lucifer's plan was rejected, resulting in his rebelling against his father Elohim (D&C 29:36, Book of Abraham3:27-28). In the Bible, Lucifer is a fallen angel whose rebellion against God caused him to be cast out of heaven (Luke 10:18). He was a created being brought into existence by Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:1-2).


Man. All mankind was "in the beginning with God" (D&C 93:29). Joseph Smith taught "the mind or intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself.... There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 353). When editing this sermon, Church historian B. H. Roberts said the word co-equal should read co-eternal and blames the discrepancy on the stenographer's reporting. Brigham Young stated, "It is fully proved in all the revelations that God has ever given to mankind that they naturally love and admire righteousness, justice and truth more than they do evil"(Journal of Discourses 9:305).

In the Bible, man had his beginning on the sixth day of creation. His disobedience in the Garden of Eden caused man to take on a sinful nature. Romans 3:11-18 describes man as one who is in rebellion against God. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.... Their throat is an open sepulchre.... Whose mouth is full of cursing.... Whose feet are swift to shed blood.... There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Manifesto. A declaration signed by fourth LDS President Wilford Woodruff in 1890, officially promising the abolition of the practice of polygamy. This was in response to allegations that Mormon leaders were still teaching and encouraging the practice of plural marriage though it was illegal. Woodruff claimed these charges were false and that the leaders were not "teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice."Long after this promise was made, future presidents Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant were arrested, tried, and convicted of unlawful co-habitation (polygamy). Early Mormon leaders taught the doctrine of polygamy could not be overturned as this was an essential step to godhood. Interestingly, Wilford Woodruff, who signed the Manifesto in 1890, made this statement in 1869: "If we were to do away with polygamy, it would only be one feather in the bird, one ordinance in the Church and kingdom. Do away with that, then we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians ..." (Journal of Discourses 13:166).

Melchizedek priesthood. A special authority given to Mormon men eighteen years and older designed to enable them to gain exaltation in the highest heaven. It is taught that this priesthood was restored sometime between May 15, 1829 and April 6, 1830 although there is no written documentation for such an event prior to late 1834. Peter, James, and John appeared to both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and bestowed the Melchizedek (also spelled Melchisedec) Priesthood on them. It is named after Melchizedek, King of Salem (Genesis 14:18). Mormonism teaches this priesthood was handed down originally to Adam who received it from God (Priesthood and Church Government, p. 109). Although Genesis 14:18 speaks of a priest of the most high God named Melchizedek, nowhere does the Bible mention a Melchizedek Priesthood per se. Hebrews 5:6 states that Christ is a priest forever after "the order of Melchisedec," not a Melchizedek priest as Mormonism implies. It is clear in Hebrews 7:24 that the priesthood held by Christ is unchangeable and does not transfer to another since He lives forever.

Mission. A voluntary commitment on the part of a Mormon. Although a majority of the Mormon missionary force is composed of young males in their late teens (about 75%), females and retired people also devote their time and service to the Mormon missionary program. Length of service lasts eighteen months for females to two years for males.

Missionary lessons. A series of lessons taught by LDS missionaries to potential converts, the basis of which is found in the missionary manual, Preach My Gospel. All points contained in the lessons must be taught before a person is allowed to become a member of the Mormon Church.

Missionary Training Center. Also known as the MTC. It is here the Mormon missionary learns doctrine and procedure that will be used during his/her missionary service. Time spent at the MTC varies from 3-13 weeks. The LDS Church operates 17 such training centers. These are located in Provo (Utah), Preston (England), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Mexico City (Mexico), Santiago (Chile), Bogotá (Columbia), Lima (Peru), Guatemala City (Guatemala), Hamilton (New Zealand), Manila (Philippines), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul(South Korea), Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Madrid (Spain), Accra (Ghana), and Johannesburg (South Africa).

Molly Mormon. A Mormon female who aspires to be everything the Mormon Church expects a woman to be.

Mormon. Claimed by Latter-day Saints to be an ancient Nephite prophet who abridged and compiled the records of his people known today as The Book of Mormon. Originally this was a derogatory term given to followers of Joseph Smith. Today it is a non-offensive nickname commonly used to describe either The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints based in Salt Lake City, Utah, or its members.

Moroni. Believed by Mormons to be the son of Mormon. Moroni supposedly buried the gold plates containing the record of the Nephite people and later revealed their location to Joseph Smith in 1823.


Nauvoo. Literally means "beautiful place." Originally known as Commerce, Illinois. This city became the headquarters of the Mormon Church until Joseph Smith's death in 1844.

Nauvoo Expositor. A newspaper published by enemies of Joseph Smith. Its only issue appeared on June 7, 1844 to reveal Joseph Smith's abuse of authority in both ecclesiastical and civil affairs (Smith was also mayor of Nauvoo), as well as expose his plural-wife system. Three days later, on June 10, the Nauvoo city council ordered the Expositor'sprinting press destroyed.

Nephites. The followers of Nephi, a righteous son of Lehi. The Nephites are said to have been exterminated by the Lamanites at the battle at the Hill Cumorah.

New Jerusalem. A city to be built in Jackson County, Missouri. The Book of Mormon prophesies the coming forth of the New Jerusalem that "should be built up upon this land" (Ether 13:5). Joseph Smith claimed New Jerusalem would begin with the building of a temple and that the city would become a gathering place for God's "covenant people" (D&C 42:35-36). Neither the temple prophesied by Smith (D&C 84:1-4) nor the city was ever built. Smith attributed this failure to God's enemies (D&C 124:51). Another name for New Jerusalem was Zion. In the Bible, the new Jerusalem is mentioned In Revelation 3:12 as a city of God reserved for those who have "overcome" earthly trials. Revelation 21:2 describes the New Jerusalem as a holy city prepared for the bride of Christ. This city will come into play only after the former heaven and earth are passed away.


Outer darkness. The dwelling place of the devil and his followers, including humans who once embraced Mormonism but later denied it.


Paradise. A part of the spirit world where deceased Mormons go to await the resurrection. As they wait, these spirits act as missionaries, taking the LDS gospel message to the deceased who are in spirit prison.

Patriarchal Blessing. A pronouncement given to worthy individual LDS Church members, typically once in a lifetime, declaring their lineage. The blessing usually also includes prophetic statements regarding the recipient's future along with cautions, admonitions, and promises conditioned upon a lifetime of obedience.

Pearl of Great Price. One of Mormonism's standard works. This volume contains the Book of Abraham, the Book of Moses, and writings by Joseph Smith. These writings include an extract from his Inspired Version of the Bible, a brief history of his life, and the Articles of Faith.

Polygamy. A doctrine practiced in the LDS Church from the 1830s until 1890 in which men were encouraged to have multiple wives in order to receive greater blessings in eternity. Polygamy is no longer a practice of Mormonism, but the revelation which teaches it is still found in Doctrine and Covenants, section 132. Joseph Smith had approximately 40 wives; Brigham Young married at least 55.

Patriarchal blessing. A blessing or conditional prophetic utterance given to a Mormon either by a natural patriarch such as a father or grandfather, or an ordained patriarch appointed by the LDS Church to give such blessings (Doctrines of Salvation 3:169-172). "We can learn more about our talents and calling when we receive our patriarchal blessings" (Harold B. Lee, Gospel Principles, p. 10).

Pearl of Great Price. One of Mormonism's standard works. This volume contains the Book of Abraham, the Book of Moses, and writings by Joseph Smith. These writings include an extract from his Inspired Version of the Bible, a brief history of his life, and the Articles of Faith.

Polygamy. Otherwise referred to as plural marriage. It was also known as celestial marriage in the early Mormon Church. Joseph Smith claimed God gave him this doctrine in 1843. Early Mormon leaders taught polygamy was essential if a man hoped to become a god. Brigham Young taught in 1866, "The only men who become gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses 11:269). Today the practice of polygamy is denounced by the LDS Church.

Pre-existence. Also referred to as the First Estate or Pre-Mortal State. Mormonism teaches all humans lived near a planet called Kolob as God's spirit children before coming to earth and taking on human form. Since God's children could only progress so far in the pre-existence, it was necessary that they go through a probationary state here on earth in order to prove their worthiness to return to God's presence and continue their eternal progression (Gospel Principles, p. 11).

President. The highest office in the Mormon Church. It is the president's duty to preside over the whole church. Also known as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, he is chosen from among the Council of the Twelve Apostles. Revelations concerning the LDS Church must come through the Presidency.


Quad. All four of the Mormon standard works -- the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price -- bound together in one volume.

Quetzalcoatl. An ancient Central American Aztec god believed by many Mormons to be Jesus Christ who visited the Americas after His resurrection. The name means plumed serpent and is derived from a colorful bird (quetzal) and a snake (coatl). “Quetzalcoatl, under a variety of names as presented in the traditions of the Indians of North, Central, and South America, is none other than Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord, as was maintained by President John Taylor” (Seventy Milton R. Hunter, Christ in Ancient America, p.54) Many modern Mormon scholars have abandoned the theory connecting Quetzalcoatl with Christ.


Recommend. A certificate which identifies LDS Church members who have been deemed worthy by their Bishop and Stake President. This certificate allows the bearer entrance into dedicated LDS temples for participation in temple ordinances.

Reformed Egyptian. Mormon 9:32 describes the characters written upon the gold plates (containing the Book of Mormon) to be in a language called Reformed Egyptian. It should be noted that there is no evidence to show this language ever existed.

Restoration. The act by which God returned true Christianity to the earth. Mormonism teaches Christianity ceased to exist soon after the original twelve apostles died and that God restored the true church through Joseph Smith in 1830.

RM. Short for Returned Missionary.


Sacrament meeting. A solemn church service held weekly, that allows Mormons to renew their covenants by partaking of the sacrament (bread and water).

Salvation. Salvation is broken down into two categories. Individual or personal salvation (more correctly termed "exaltation"), and general salvation. The road to individual salvation begins with a belief that Joseph Smith was a true prophet sent by God. Tenth President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that there is "No Salvation Without Accepting Joseph Smith" (Doctrines of Salvation 1:189). Exaltation requirements include living a life of good works and temple participation. Keeping the whole law is absolutely essential. "Those who gain exaltation in the celestial kingdom are those who are members of the Church of the Firstborn; in other words, those who keep ALL of the commandments of the Lord" (Doctrines of Salvation 2:41, emphasis his). General salvation, otherwise called salvation by grace, was obtained through the death of Christ and is nothing more than universal resurrection, which occurs to all people regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle.

In the Bible, salvation is only obtained by trusting Christ. A person must recognize himself as a sinner and trust in Christ alone to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Salvation and exaltation are synonymous terms. Those who receive Christ as Savior will be resurrected unto eternal life while those who refuse will be resurrected to damnation (John 5:29) and be eternally separated from God. Trusting in the fact that Christ paid the complete penalty for man's sins warrants salvation. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (John 6:47).

Second anointing. A rare temple ordinance whereby a person has his or her "calling and election made sure." Only Mormons who have received the second anointing can know for sure in this life if they will obtain godhood upon death. Not much is known about the second anointing because of the secret nature of this ceremony.

Second estate. Mortality. Physical bodies were given to those who were faithful in the pre-existence, or first estate. Those who were unfaithful (the devil and his angels) were denied physical bodies and must forever remain as spirits.

Seed of Cain. Members of the black race (Moses 7:2). Until 1978, LDS leaders taught that "one drop of negro blood" banned a Mormon male from holding the Mormon priesthood. The dark skin was the mark given to those pre-mortal spirits who were "less valiant in pre-existence" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 527, 1966 edition) when Lucifer rebelled against God. These spirits came to earth through the lineage of Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve. Tenth LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith claimed, "Cain became the father of an inferior race" (Way to Perfection, p. 101).

Seer stone. Described as a chocolate-colored, egg-shaped rock Joseph Smith found while digging a well near Palmyra, New York (Comprehensive History of the Church 1:129). A number of witnesses claimed Smith used the stone when translating the Book of Mormon.

Seminary. A high-school level course that teaches the basics of the Mormon faith to young people. Evangelical Christians normally use this term to describe a school or college offering training for those entering the ministry.

Sin. Acts of transgression against divine law. It is taught that man is by nature a lover of truth and righteousness. Brigham Young stated, "It is, however, universally received by professors of religion as a Scriptural doctrine that man is naturally opposed to God. This is not so" (Journal of Discourses 9:305). Third Mormon President John Taylor said, "In fact, as the President [Young] stated here not long ago, it is not natural for men to be evil" (Journal of Discourses 10:50). According to Mormon teaching, there are times when transgression is not considered a sin, such as in the case of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

In the Bible, sin is synonymous with transgression (1 John 3:4). Sin permeates all of mankind; it is an innate part of man's nature. King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:3, "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live." Psalm 14:2-3 says, "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." A man transgresses revealed law because he is by nature a transgressor. Just as a dog acts like a dog, so too, a sinner will act like a sinner. Upon faith in the true Jesus, a person is transformed into a new creature in Christ and is given the power to overcome sin (Romans 6:14).

Sons of perdition. Those who rebelled with Lucifer in the pre-existence. The term can also apply to those in this life who had a perfect knowledge of Mormonism but chose to reject it and fight against it. “Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power--They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity” (D&C 76:31-33).

Spirit prison. A part of the spirit world where deceased non-Mormons go until they receive the LDS gospel and repent; they are then released from spirit prison into paradise to await the resurrection.

Sunstone Mormon. A slang expression describing a liberal Mormon. Sunstone is a magazine known for its more liberal (and sometimes more objective) view of Mormonism.


Telestial kingdom. The lowest kingdom of glory to which "liars, sorcerers, adulterers and whoremongers" are assigned after death. The residents of this kingdom will be visited by the Holy Ghost, but not by the Father or the Son.

Temple recommend. A barcoded certificate that allows a member of the Mormon Church access to a temple. This is given only after an interview with his or her bishop and only if the applicant is deemed worthy. A temple recommend expires after two years. When a renewal is sought, the applicant must repeat the worthiness interview.

Terrestrial kingdom. The middle kingdom of glory to which honorable non-Mormons are assigned after death. The residents of this kingdom will be visited by Jesus Christ but will be separated from God the Father throughout eternity.

Testimony. An often emotional recitation of certain perceived "truths." For example, a Latter-day Saint might say, "I know Book of Mormon is the Word of God. I know Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's true Church on the earth."

Times and Seasons. A monthly Mormon periodical printed during the time when the LDS Church was headquartered in Nauvoo, Illinois. Edited by Ebenezer Robinson and Don Carlos Smith (Joseph Smith's brother). Its first issue appeared in November 1839.

Triple Combination. The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price bound together in one volume.

Trinity. Three separate gods: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost make up the Mormon godhead. They are "one God" only in the sense that they are united in the attributes of perfection. "Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere present. The oneness of the Gods is the same unity that should exist among the saints" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 319). Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie called the Christian view of the Trinity “the chief and greatest heresy of Christendom” (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie , p.59).

In Christianity, the Trinity is one God, who is eternally existing in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whereas Mormonism states they are three separate Gods, Christians maintain the triune godhead neither confounds the Persons nor divides the substance. In the words of the Athanasian Creed: "For there is one Person of the Father: another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal."


Ward. A local LDS congregation, usually meeting in a chapel. Several wards form a stake.

Wentworth Letter. A letter written by Joseph Smith at the request of John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat. The 1842 letter briefly gave an account of Joseph Smith's background and his new movement. The letter concluded with a list of Smith's beliefs, which has since come to be known as the Articles of Faith.

Word of Wisdom. A Mormon health law found in Doctrine & Covenants, Section 89, which tells Mormons to abstain from hot drinks (interpreted as coffee and tea), tobacco, excessive amounts of meat, and alcoholic beverages. Obedience to this health law is one of the requirements to receive a temple recommend. Those who keep these sayings are promised that "the destroying angel shall pass by them" (89:18, 21).


Zion. A name that has had a number of different meanings throughout Mormon history. Zion is a name given by the Lord to his saints. "And the Lord called his people Zion" (Moses 7:18). Zion was the name given to Jackson County, Missouri, in a number of Joseph Smith's revelations (D&C 58:49; 62:4). In 1831, Joseph Smith said Jackson County would come to be known as the New Jerusalem (D&C 45:66-67). In 1844, Smith said that the Land of Zion comprised all of North and South America (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362). In the Bible, Zion was the highest and southwesternmost hill in Jerusalem. Zion is also used in the Bible to describe the heavenly New Jerusalem (Revelation 14:1).

See Terminology Differences, by Sandra Tanner.


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