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Definition of Common Mormon Terms

Posted by nebula0 on August 23, 2008


Since my Mormon Theology 101 is a tad long, I thought I’d make a shorter, easy to use version by defining common Mormon terms.  Notice how they tend to be different from normative/historic Christianity’s usage of the same terms.

God: A god is a person who is exalted, that is, a person who has reached his full potential (there are goddesses, too).  We all have the potential to become gods/goddesses.  There is no qualitative (different in kind) between us and God, it is all a matter of quantity (or degree).  There are potentially an innumerable number of gods in existence.

Godhead: The Godhead in Mormonism refers to three particular gods, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  These are separate, exalted beings who act as one in their intentions.  The Father became a god first, helping the Son and Holy Ghost achieve their godhood.

Christ: Christ is the Son in the flesh who was literally crucified and risen from the dead in three days.  Without him Mormons do not believe it is possible to achieve salvation.  He doesn’t have a dual nature as in trinitarianism, he has only the divine (as defined above under ‘God’).  It is also a traditional belief in Mormonism, going out of style, that Christ was conceived by Mary through intercourse with the Father.

Ordinance: rituals which require the LDS priesthood to be considered binding in Mormon theology.  Some which are essential to go to the CelestialKingdom are: baptism, confirmation and reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, the temple endowment, eternal marriage/sealing/temple marriage.  Some which are not essential for salvation include: blessings for healing or comfort through anointing with oil and laying on of hands.

Callings: since the LDS church is run on the local level by unpaid lay members, every lay member is giving a ‘calling’ or job within the church.

Word of Wisdom: the dietary law set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants prohibiting the intake of alcohol, tobacco, coffee or tea.

Ward/Stake: parallels parish/diocese in the Catholic setting.  A ward is presided over by a bishop, and a stake by a stake president.

Celestial, Terrestial, Telestial Kingdom: the 3 kingdoms of heaven in which almost every single person will go to.  The Celestial kingdom is reserved for those who have participated in LDS ordinances and upheld the covenants they made.

Pre-mortal realm: before humans came to earth they lived as spirits in the presence of Heavenly Father.  This is referred to as the pre-mortal realm or life.

 Spirit world: the place where spirits of the dead await the resurrection.

 Exaltation: Deification, being made a god or goddess. This is the divine potential of every human.

Temple: unlike chapels, only Mormons may enter these.  In them, ordinance work such as baptisms for the dead is done, as well as endowments and sealing of spouses and families for eternity.

Eternal marriage/temple marriage: marriages which are performed in an LDS temple and considered binding throughout eternity.  This is a requirement for exaltation.

Temple endowment: a series of blessings and covenant making made within an LDS temple.

Garments: the infamous underwear.  These are received in the process of the temple endowment, and are worn throughout life under clothing.  They are white, and resemble long underpants and a t-shirt, meant to remind one of covenants made within the temple.

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2 Responses to “Definition of Common Mormon Terms”

  1. Greg said

    I thought you might be interested in an extended explanation of the temple endowment in keeping with the sacredness of The House of the Lord at What is an Endowment?. I hope it is helpful.

  2. nebula0 said

    Thanks Greg.

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