Agency: the ability to choose and act under one’s own volition and will. Christ’s atonement makes possible agency for the human race. The Book of Mormon affirms that we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).
Apostasy: departing from truth. When one turns away from truth and denies God’s word, they have fallen into apostasy. Apostasy can also reference the loss of authority to act in God’s name (i.e. one’s priesthood is no longer authorized). The Great Apostasy is the period of time between the death of Christ’s apostles and the restoration of Christ’s church through the prophet Joseph Smith.
Apostle: an ordained and authorized witness of Jesus Christ. Apostles differ from other disciples because theirs is a calling to be a special witness of Jesus Christ. In Mormonism the apostles are considered prophets, seers, and revelators. They are oracles of God for humanity.
Atonement: the redeeming act of Jesus Christ. After the fall of Adam and Eve man was separated from God both spiritually and physically. The Atonement of Jesus Christ reconciles man to God by making them at one both spiritually and physically: spiritually, through the remission of sins; physically, through the resurrection of the dead. Christ’s atonement also enables us to do righteous acts.
Baptism: a sacred ordinance of salvation. Baptism is immersion in water by one who holds authority from God to administer the ordinance. Baptism is necessary to receive the redeeming power of the atonement. It is the act of covenanting with God and taking the name of Christ upon oneself.
Bible: a collection of records from prophets and apostles. There are two major sections in the Bible: the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains the “old” law, or the Law of Moses, and a record of the Israelite people. The New Testament contains a record of Christ’s teachings including the “new” law which fulfilled the Law of Moses.
Bishop: a congregational leader in the Mormon organization. Also, a calling in the priesthood. A bishop oversees the temporal and spiritual needs of a ward (congregation).
Book of Mormon: A record of the inhabitants of the Americas from about 600 B.C. to 400 A.D. It chronicles an exodus from Israel to the Americas and the subsequent histories and ministries of the people in the Americas. Most Notably, 3rd Nephi, a book in the Book of Mormon, contains a record of Christ’s visit to the people in the Americas. The Book of Mormon is evidence of Christ’s restored church.
Celestial: the highest possible kingdom of glory, often attributed to divine beings or revelations. Mormons believe that rather than there being a heaven, there are degrees of glory: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The celestial glory is the glory of God and Christ.
Cleansed: being clean from sin and guilt. This term is often used to refer to a person who has repented and been purified through the atonement of Christ.
Confirmation: confirmation is the finalizing act of the baptism ordinance. After one has been immersed in water by one with authority, he or she is confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the laying on of hands. This is also the ordinance where one receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Conversion: the change of heart that accompanies testimony. One can have a testimony without being converted, but one cannot be converted without having a testimony. One becomes converted when one changes one’s life and habits to be in line with the testimony of Christ.
Covenant: a two way promise between God and a man or woman. God sets forth the conditions of the covenant, and the man or woman accept the covenant through an ordinance performed by priesthood authority.
D&C (Doctrine and Covenants): primarily a collection of revelations received by Joseph Smith setting out the doctrines, covenants, and gospel of Jesus Christ’s church. There have been a few additions since Joseph Smith. Considered to be of the utmost importance along with the Book of Mormon and Bible as scripture.
Dispensation: a period of time from restoration to apostasy. A dispensation begins when God’s church is set in place on the earth, and ends when God’s children reject his gospel and lose the authority by falling into apostasy.
Endure to the end: after one has received the gospel of Jesus Christ through covenant, one must endure to the end by obeying God’s commandments throughout the remainder of his or her life.
Eternal Life: the promised blessing of obeying God and enduring to the end for humanity. It is the kind of life that God and Christ have.
Eternal Marriage: marriage is made eternal through an ordinance called sealing. This ordinance is only performed in the Temple. Mormon’s believe that the power to seal was restored by the prophet Elijah to Joseph Smith. Eternal marriage is the kind of marriage available for those who are married for time and for all eternity, and who have covenanted to obey God’s commandments together. This means that husbands and wives, along with children, will be together after this life.
Exaltation: This is another name for eternal life. Exaltation is the highest achievement of humankind. It is to become like God. Exaltation is only available to those who have been sealed in the temple and who are obedient to God’s commandments.
Faith: believing in things not seen. Faith is a commitment to follow an assurance with a hope that it will be confirmed. One has faith by receiving an assurance, acting in obedience to that assurance, and receiving confirmation that the assurance is true. True faith can only exist when the assurance itself is true.
Fall: the Fall refers to the separation from God after Adam and Eve partook of the Fruit of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This allowed death and sin into the world. Mormons believe that the Fall was a part of God’s plan. Before the Fall there was no death, neither was their birth. The Fall was necessary for God’s children to fulfill their lives on earth.
Forbidden Fruit: this is the name of the Fruit of The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God forbid Adam and Eve to eat it lest they should die.
Gospel: this refers to the teachings and lifestyle that Jesus Christ taught while he was on the earth during his mortal ministry. Sometimes Gospel is used to refer to the doctrines and principles set out by the church.
Grace: grace is the applied power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is only through the grace of Christ, the power of the atonement, that mankind can be saved and return to live with God again.
Holy Ghost/ Spirit/ Spirit of God/ etc.: the third member of the Godhead. Separate from God and Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost is the teacher and testifier of truth. When one receives a testimony of Christ, he or she receives the testimony through the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost manifests himself in different ways. Most commonly, thoughts, impressions, and intuitions come to us. These witnesses from God are characteristically different from our own thoughts and feelings, and are thus recognizable as the Holy Ghost.
Immortality: the state of the body after it is resurrected. All of God’s children that come to earth will be resurrected. Thus, all of God’s children that have lived on the earth will become immortal. Immortality is not the same at Eternal Life. One can be immortal without having eternal life., but one cannot have eternal life without becoming immortal first.
Judgment: the judgment is the day of reckoning. God judges us according to the desires of our hearts and the actions of our hands. The Book of Mormon teaches us that we effectively judge ourselves each time we choose.
Kingdoms of glory: the end habitation of God’s children. Each person will be judged and receive a degree of glory—celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. Each degree of glory corresponds with a kingdom of glory.
LDS: Latter-day Saint. Mormons use this to refer to themselves and to other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (E.g., “I am LDS.” Or, “are you LDS?”)
Mercy: treating someone better than one has earned or deserved. Christ extends mercy to us through the atonement. We receive Christ’s mercy, by receiving his atonement in our lives.
Missionary: a person who has been formally called and set apart to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mormon missionaries are all over the world inviting men, women, and children to come unto Christ. Missionaries are trained and prepared to teach through diligent study and formal training. Contemporarily, they are characteristically young (19-23 years old), clean in appearance, and wear a black name badge that identifies them as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. Also, any person who shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with another person.
Mormon: A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sometimes refered to as Mormonism.
Mortality: the name for this life, or the life on the earth. Also the name of this period of testing and trial. Mortality includes birth, life, and death.
Opposition: the Book of Mormon teaches that there is “opposition in all things.” Opposition is characterized in many different ways, but most often as resistance to any given thing. Mormons believe that opposition is necessary for progression spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Ordinance: a rite or ceremony performed by one who has priesthood authority, usually accompanying a covenant. An ordinance is a physical symbolic covenanting with God that is confirmed by priesthood authority. Examples of ordinances are baptism, confirmation, receiving the priesthood, temple marriage, baptism for the dead, etc. Mormons believe that ordinances are necessary for salvation, because they are one of the essential parts of receiving the atonement of Christ.
Pearl of Great Price: contains two records translated by Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith’s brief history, and the Articles of Faith. It is considered scripture by Mormons. It is usually collected together with the Doctrine and Covenants.
Physical death (death): the death of the body. Physical death occurs when the spirit body departs from the physical body. Mormons do not view this as a time of annihilation, but a change of status for the soul of the person.
Prayer: the process of communication with God. A man or woman speaks, either vocally or internally, to God and God replies through the Holy Ghost. Mormons believe that prayer is a direct communication with God, and not just simply an offering up of thoughts and feelings. It is, rather, a conversation with God.
Premortal Life: The life of the spirit of a person before he or she came to a body on earth. Mormons believe that our spirits have lived long before they were born on earth. They also believe that we knew God and Jesus Christ before this life, and that we were taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this way, Mormons appeal to our intuitions as possible memories of something long forgotten. Also, premortal life sometimes refers to the period of time before the earth was created when God’s children gathered together in council. It was during this time that Satan rebelled and took a third of the host of heaven with him and was cast out. This is taught as part of the Plan of Salvation.
Priesthood: the authority to act in God’s name. Also, the power of God. Mormons believe that Moses performed his mighty miracles through the power of the priesthood, and that Christ healed and performed miracles by the power of the priesthood. Mormons believe that the priesthood was taken from the earth after Christ’s apostles were all killed (during the apostasy). They believe that Christ restored his priesthood to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith.
Probation: this term is used in Mormon literature synonymously with mortality or earth life. It refers to the period of time that we have to make choices which will affect our eternal state. Most generally used in connection with other terms, e.g., moral probation, earthly probation, pre-mortal probation, etc.
Prophet: strictly, a person who has received a revelation of Christ. Mormons usually use the word prophet in connection with the leader of Christ’s church, or the leader of God’s people on earth. E.g., Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Enoch, Peter, Joseph Smith, etc.
Redeemer: one who redeems. Christ is the great redeemer of Mankind.
Redemption: the process of being redeemed or saved, from sin and death. Christ provided for the redemption of all Mankind. This is often used in reference to the atonement or grace of Jesus Christ.
Repentance: the process through which a man or woman forsakes sin and turns his or her heart to God. True repentance is accompanied by change inwardly and outwardly. The inward change occurs by a change in desires, feelings, and thoughts. Outward change occurs by a change in lifestyle, habit, and behavior. The inward change is the most important. Repentance is the process of accepting the atonement of Jesus Christ, and without the atonement repentance would be impossible.
Restitution: the process of making right things that have been made wrong. One cannot fully repent unless one has made restitution as well as he or she is able in applicable circumstances.
Restoration: in Mormon literature, this most often references the establishment of Christ’s church on the earth in the last days (in our contemporary age). The restoration continues to go forth as more people are converted and brought into God’s church.
Resurrection: the reuniting of the body and spirit. The resurrection was made possible when Christ was resurrected, effectively breaking the bonds of death. This is important in two ways: 1) all humans that live on the earth will be restored to a perfect body without sickness, pain, or death, and 2) the resurrected body is necessary to obtain a kingdom of glory. We are resurrected into a degree of glory. This is referenced by Paul in 2 Corinthians 15.
Revelation: the process of receiving knowledge from God. Also, a reference to intelligence that God has given us. For example, the Bible contains the revelations of God to the Israelites. Mormons believe that we are all entitled to receive revelation, and that we can all know independently of the same truths through the process of revelation whether something is true or not.
Sabbath: a day set aside by God for rest and worship. Joseph Smith was told by God to worship on Sunday, thus Sunday has become the Sabbath day.
Sacrament: the ordinance instituted by Christ at the last supper. Also called communion. The ordinance is accompanied by eating of bread and wine (or water) that has been blessed by one who has authority to represent and symbolize the body and blood of Christ. It is a reminder that Christ has suffered and died for our sins. Mormons partake of the sacrament weekly during their church services.
Salvation: the saved state of a person who has received the atonement of Christ. Often used in reference to grace, mercy, atonement, eternal life, and exaltation.
Scripture: any work that is considered canonical or officially sanctioned as God’s word or direction given through a prophet, seer, or revelator. Mormons consider these works to be scripture: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price, and the words of the prophets given sanctioned by the first presidency of the church.
Sin: rebelling against the commandments of God or the light of Christ. To act against a better knowledge.
Spirit World: a place where the spirits of God’s children go after death to await the resurrection. The spirit world consists of two demarcated places—spirit paradise, and spirit prison. Spirit paradise is for the spirits of those who have received the gospel of Jesus Christ during mortality. Spirit prison is for those who have either not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ or never knew about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that Christ’s gospel is being preached to those in spirit prison, and that those in spirit prison can choose there to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why Mormons emphasize work for the dead.
Spiritual Death: the separation that occurred at the fall between man and God. Also, the separation that occurs when we sin that furthers us from God’s presence. Those who reject Christ will be eternally dead spiritually.
Spiritual experience: this term is usually used in reference to an encounter with the Holy Ghost. If someone receives revelation, or feels the power of the Holy Ghost, one may refer to these experiences as spiritual experiences.
Stake: a geographical boundary designating a collection of wards (or congregations). A stake usually has about 1500 to 2000 active members inside of its boundaries. Overseen by a stake president.
Stewardship: a responsibility and obligation with attendant blessings associated with different roles. E.g., parents have a stewardship over their children, a bishop has a stewardship over his ward, or a stake president has a stewardship over his stake.
Telestial: the lowest possible degree or kingdom of glory. This place is reserved for those who have been sinners and who did not partake of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that rather than there being a heaven, there are degrees of glory: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The celestial glory is the glory of God and Christ.
Temple: the temple is the house of the Lord. The tabernacle of Moses was the first recorded temple-like structure. The temple of Solomon is another example of a temple. Temples are sacred places for performing ordinances of God, the highest of which is the sealing of couples to be married for all eternity. One must prepare to enter the temple by receiving all of the ordinances prior to the ordinances received in the temple: baptism and confirmation, as well as receiving the priesthood for men. The temple is sacred and only those who follow God’s commandments to the best of their ability, and who have gone through an interview process can obtain entrance.
Temptation: temptation is the desire or enticement to do something contrary to God’s will or to sin. We are tempted when we desire to do something that we know we should not do.
Terrestrial: the middle degree or kingdom of glory. This place is reserved for those who were just men but not valiant in their testimony of Christ. Mormons believe that rather than there being a heaven, there are degrees of glory: celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. The celestial glory is the glory of God and Christ.
Transgression: this references the violation of God’s commandments. It is not willful. In this way it is different than sin.
Ward: a geographical boundary designating one congregation. A ward usually has between 150 and 400 active members. Overseen by a bishop.
Zion: the name of the city of Enoch. Also, references a place where the saints of God live. Also, Zion can refer to a type of person. i.e., one who is pure of heart, and who serves his neighbor. Mormons believe that Zion will be established at some point in the last days.