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Monday, August 8, 2011

Glossary of Mormon Terms - Or What Does That Mean?? A - M

Thanks God for Terrasola today! I have been out working, and didn't have anything ready! There in my inbox was my saving grace! We needed something for folks to refer to, and new folks to know what the heck we were talking about!

Glossary of Mormon Terms A - M
13 Articles of Faith: the 13 articles of LDS faith.  Someone, maybe me, will do a separate post on this.

1886 Revelation: Fundamentalists believe that the 3rd  LDS Church President, John Taylor, received a revelation from God in 1886 in which he was promised that the “New and Everlasting Covenant” (i.e. plural marriage) would never be revoked. Fundamentalists consider it to be an authoritative reaffirmation and vindication of the continued practice of plural marriage.

Adam/God doctrine: The doctrine that Adam (also known as Michael) is God, the Father, and that He came to the Garden of Eden with Eve, one of his wives. This doctrine was officially repudiated by the LDS Church in 1902, but many fun­damentalists still believe it.

Aunt: Used by fundamentalists to refer to a biological aunt, “sister wife”, “another mother” or just a title of respect and endearment for an elderly woman in the family or community.

Baptism for the dead by proxy (or "vicarious baptism"): an ordinance, performed only in temples,  where  a living person acts as a proxy for the deceased person, and the deceased is baptized into the LDS church.  Mormons believe  that baptism is required to enter the Kingdom of God.   Baptism for the Dead allows this  ordinance to be offered to all who have died without having heard the Gospel – if they wish to accept it. 

Bishop: Clergyman of a local congregation (called a ward) whose duties are similar to that of a pastor, priest or rabbi. In the LDS Church the position is unpaid.

Bleeding the beast - An expression used by some fundamentalists as a rationale for accepting assistance from governmental agencies that may otherwise not be trusted. Occasionally, the same term may be used to justify abuse or exploitation of such systems. Within certain groups it is taught that “bleeding the beast” will assist God in destroying the “evil” U.S. government and is considered a righteous endeavor.

Blood atonement - a controversial doctrine that teaches that some sins, such as murder, are so heinous that the atonement of Jesus does not apply. To atone for these sins, the perpetrators must shed their blood upon the ground as a sacrificial offering.  Blood atonement is an important doctrine within Mormon fundamentalism and has purportedly been used to apply to such sins as leaving a Celestial Marriage.

Book of Mormon (BoM): recorded on gold plates and translated by Joseph Smith. The record contains both a history of the people and the fullness of the gospel as revealed by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.  According to Mormon doctrine, the Book of Mormon is more correct than the Bible, (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 461.)

Callings: Invitations to accept an office or assignment in the Church; also the offices or assignments themselves. 

Celestial marriage (also: the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, Eternal Marriage, Temple Marriage) – a religious term for plural marriage.  Modern day LDS also use this term to refer to a “sealing”.

Committed Relationship: A term often used by polygamists to describe the polygamous relationships (not legal marriages) that a man has with the mothers of his children so as not to break Utah’s bigamy laws.

Creekers: Members of the FLDS who live in Colorado City, AZ, and Hildale, UT are often called “Creekers.” The nickname “Creekers” began when this area was called Short Creek

Curse of Cain: The "curse of Cain" (dark skin) resulted in Cain being cut off from the presence of the Lord.  For a period of time during LDS history this resulted in a ban on those with dark skin or ancestry being priesthood holders.  See Pretty in Pink’s July 28 post on this subject.

Doctrine and Covenants (D&C): A Mormon sacred text containing selected revelations given to Joseph Smith and his successors in the presidency of the Church.   Over the years some of the revelations now in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to, and some have been removed, such as the Principle of Plural Marriage.  The D&C is the subject of frequent criticism and controversy as critics charge that God and angels would not make a revelation and subsequently change that revelation.

Double Cousin: One may call a relative a “double cousin” if one is related to that person through both the mother’s and father’s families.

Elect of Israel (also “the elect”): Some fundamentalists believe they are literal descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel and  are called to do God’s work in the last days. Thus, they are God’s chosen people or “elect”.

Endowment: an ordinance (see definition below) that prepares participants for full church membership and exaltation in the afterlife.  Participants take part in a scriptural reenactments and are taught highly symbolic gestures and passwords (reminiscent of Masonic ceremonies), thought to be needed to pass by angels guarding the way to heaven, and are instructed not to reveal these gestures and passwords. The ceremony also includes washing and anointing, and receipt of a "new name" which they are not to reveal to others (except husbands as it is required to be pulled through the veil to get to heaven) , and the receipt of the temple undergarments.   The endowment ceremony also consists of a series of oaths that include symbolic throat slitting and disemboweling gestures.    Men participate in their first endowment ceremony at 18, women before marriage.

Exaltation (Eternal Life): a belief among Mormons that mankind can return to live in God's presence and continue as families after death.  A man becomes a God on his own planet with his wives as Goddesses.

Excommunication:  the highest punishment the Church can impose by revoking a person’s church membership.   Every blessing of the gospel is thereby lost, and unless the excommunicated person repents and regains his church status, he cannot be saved in the celestial kingdom.

Family home evening: A program in which family members gather once a week (usually Monday evenings) for family-centered spiritual instruction and social activities.

Fast Sunday: A Sunday, usually the first one each month, when Church members abstain from food or drink for 2 meals and donate the equivalent cost to the Church to assist the poor and needy (in addition to tithing).

First Presidency: The President of the Church and his counselors;  the highest ranking church quorum.

Garments (or temple garments): also known to non-Mormons as holy/magic underwear: white undergarments worn by Mormons who have received their endowment. See Pretty in Pink’s July 26 post.

General Authority: Church leaders who serve in a general or Church-wide capacity, including members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the 12 Apostles, the Quorums of the 70, and Presiding Bishopric.

Gentile – a non-Mormon

Gold plates: The anciently engraved metal plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon

Heaven: There are three levels of Mormon heaven: telestial, terrestrial, and celestial.

      Celestial - People sent to the Telestial Kingdom after death will be the last to be resurrected and cannot dwell where God and Christ live.  Those inheriting this kingdom: rejected the gospel, the testimony of Jesus, the prophets, and the everlasting covenant; and/or were liars, adulterers, murderers, thieves, and all others who flouted God's commandments.

Terrestrial – This is heaven’s 2nd level.  Those here receive God's glory but cannot receive of His fullness or dwell eternally in His presence.  People dwelling here include: those who received a testimony of Christ after this life but rejected it while on earth;  honorable people who allowed themselves to be blinded by the world’s wickedness; and those who were not valiant in their testimonies of Jesus Christ. 

      Celestial - The Celestial Kingdom is the highest degree of heaven and there may be degrees within it.  Only those who were married and sealed in the temple (married for time and eternity) can attain the very highest realm of the Celestial Kingdom. Neither a man nor a woman can attain this level of heaven by themselves.  Opportunity will be provided for those who didn’t have the opportunity to marry when alive to marry after Christ's Second Coming so that they may attain this level of heaven.  Plural marriage exists here for eternity for all Mormons. 

Home teaching - Members in good standing are assigned to visit the homes of other members monthly as "home teachers" (men) or "visiting teachers" (women).

Independent Fundamentalist Mormons: Independent Fundamentalist Mormons believe in the early LDS Church doctrines (e.go. polygamy). They are “independent” because they are not members of a formally or­ganized community or church.

Joy Book: Some believe this book, kept by the FLDS, contains infor­mation about unmarried girls in the community who are awaiting direction from their prophet regarding whom to marry.

“Keep Sweet”: An admonition (to females) to be compliant and pleasant despite the circumstances.

Keys: Fundamentalists believe that the original LDS Church was endowed with priesthood authority by receiving certain “keys” from God to administer ordinances. Many fundamentalists believe that, before the LDS Church abandoned the practice of plural marriage, God passed specific “keys” of authority to others, but  disagree over who holds these keys today.

Kolob - a star or planet described in Mormon scripture that is nearest to the throne / residence of God (God’s home); referenced in a popular LDS hymn, “If You Could Hie to Kolob”

Lamanites: According to the Book of Mormon, a Lamanite is a member of a dark-skinned nation of indigenous Americans.  Mainstream archaeologists, geneticists, and historians have disproven their existence, adherents of the LDS church typically believe that the Lamanites comprise some part, if not the entirety, of North and South American indigenous peoples and the Polynesian people.  In the Book of Mormon, Lamanites are described as having a "skin of blackness" caused by God's curse on the descendants of Laman for their wickedness and corruption.

Latter Day Saints (LDS): Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the Mormon church. 

Law of Abraham: Fundamentalist Mormons sometimes refer to plural marriage as the “Law of Abraham”. They believe this law allows them to take additional wives as Abraham did.

Law of Sarah: The Law of Sarah states that a man's first wife was given the right to consent to, or prohibit, her husband's wishes to marry additional wives. Further, she could select who these additional wives would be.   However, there were serious consequences if a wife refused to consent to additional wives. if the wife does not consent, then she is considered a transgressor, and the husband is exempt from the law of Sarah and God will destroy her.    

The Lifestyle – Term the Browns, and others, use to refer to The Principle of Plural Marriage.  See Mister Sister’s August 7th post.

Little Known Discourse (or “The Peacemaker”): This principle, used by some fundamentalists,  teaches that once a woman is married to a man, she cannot divorce him for any reason, unless he commits adultery with another man’s wife. However, it is not considered adultery for a married man to have sexual relations with an unmarried woman. This theory also includes the concept that, if a wife is rebellious toward her husband, this constitutes a form of “fornication” or alienation of affection, for which cause he may discipline her or put her away. In the event of a divorce, the children must remain with the husband.  It also states that the wife is the property of the husband and should submit cheerfully to his will.

Lost boys: young men, usually aged 13 – 21, who have been excommunicated or pressured to leave polygamous groups such as the FLDS, allegedly by adult men to reduce competition for wives within such sects.  As FLDS men are each expected to marry at least 3 wives, and  the number of boys and girls born are roughly equal, without an influx of women from outside the community, the practice of one-husband/multiple-wives  leads to shortages of reproductive-age females and surpluses of reproductive-age males.  While a few boys leave by their own choice, many are banished for conduct such as watching a movie or TV, playing sports, or talking to a girl. Some boys are told not to return unless they can return with a wife.  These boys usually have little education or life skills and must learn to live in a world about which they know little, while dealing with the consequences of being shunned by their families, and believing they are beyond spiritual redemption. The families of banished boys are told that the boys are now dead to them.  Many turn to drugs or crime to survive.

Manifesto of 1890: The pronouncement that the LDS Church had officially ended the practice of entering into polygamy (on earth).

Mission: Period of volunteer service (from 6 – 24 months), when Church members devote themselves full time to proselytizing, humanitarian service, or strengthening members in the gospel. Also, a geographical area where missionary work is organized.  All male members are expected to serve a 2-year mission at the age of 19, though there are high standards of worthiness, physical and mental health that prohibit many men from serving. Women may optionally serve a mission if they are over age 21 and not married, as may retired married couples. Women serve a mission for a period of only 18 months compared to 2 years for men. 

Missionary companion: A missionary's partner. Missionaries in the Church work in pairs.  There have been many stories of how companions are instructed to “spy” and “rat” on each other.

Moroni: An ancient American prophet who around A.D. 420 buried a record of his people written on gold plates. In 1827, the resurrected Moroni delivered these plates to Joseph Smith, who translated them into the Book of Mormon. A statue of Moroni is placed on top of many Church temples.  Many of the revelations given to Joseph Smith by Moroni are written in the D&C.

Mother Church: Some fundamentalists use this term for the current LDS Church. They believe themselves to be custodians of certain “keys” to rites and authority until the LDS Church is eventually “set in order”.

Written by: TERRASOLA


  1. I needed this myself sooo bad!!!! Thank you!
    We flip flop so much, it's hard to keep up!

  2. I learned so much from this: blood atonement; the keys and one-man rule explaining why the FLDS are so loyal to their Prophet; etc.

  3. I'm only on "B" and I'm scared.
    Blood atonement - WHEW!
    " Baptism for the Dead allows this ordinance to be offered to all who have died without having heard the Gospel – if they wish to accept it. "
    Now, call me dumb, how can they accept it?

    God came to earth as Adam? who is Michael?

    THANK YOU doe writing this, so many times we forget what the ral menaing behind these terms are. scary, creepy, to say the least.

  4. Law of Sarah: The Law of Sarah states that a man's first wife was given the right to consent to, or prohibit, her husband's wishes to marry additional wives. Further, she could select who these additional wives would be. However, there were serious consequences if a wife refused to consent to additional wives. if the wife does not consent, then she is considered a transgressor, and the husband is exempt from the law of Sarah and God will destroy her.

    So really, the Law of Sarah is just bullshit?

  5. Hey Mykeltimelti,

    Glad you see the "logic".
    * Yes, the dead will only receive the ordinance (sacrament) if they accept it. Their souls choose to accept it after their bodies have died. This practice is controversial because for many years the LDS performed Baptism for the Dead for Jewish people, often Holocaust victims or survivors. They have been asked, and have agreed, to stop.
    * Blood Atonement - since there is no list of sins to which this applies, it can apply to whatever the leaders say.
    * God came to earth as Adam - aka (also known as) the archangel Michael.
    * Yes, the Law of Sarah says a woman has the right to agree to her husband taking another wife or she can disagree. If she disagrees her husband can take one anyway AND God will destroy her. Great choices, eh? Don't they call that Hobson's Choice? aka Bullshit.
    *But the thing that really got me was the "Little Known Discourse". A wife really is her husband's property.

  6. Great! I have something to refer to!
    Don't the "Heavens" have something to do with how many wives you have?

  7. Does anyone know...I have wondered about this for a while, and even asked the LDS missionaries that stopped by one day about it, but they were flummoxed. Since the dead can get sealed by proxy, can they get unsealed by proxy? The situation I am thinking about was the Lori Hacking murder case that occurred a few years ago. Her husband killed her. They were an LDS couple and had had a temple marriage. So technically, according to LDS rules they are together forever...so guess who she will have to spend her afterlife with? The guy who did her in! I'm wondering if her surviving parents can get her an official LDS divorce/unsealing after her death, if only to have things sit better in their minds.

  8. That's a VERY GOOD question. Can they get a after-life divorce?
    I think they can "seal" a woman to a man if she's not married, so why not.

  9. Oh, I see the answer to my previous question - Blood Atonement - they'd get killed if they told on Jeffs.
    Great List!

  10. GREAT! I'm going to run these off and read them at work! Everybody have a nice day!

  11. I'm going to do the same, Mimi, thanks Terrasola!

  12. Thanks! We should be able to use these quite a bit!

  13. Wonder how long these things will be by the time were through another season!

  14. Somewhere is needs to be put in that the babies they have are "spirit babies" that come from heaven, not made here between a man and a woman. (you can see why I'm no writer- but you get the point)

  15. I know that this is really late to the party, but I just finished reading "Stolen Innocence". She briefly discusses blood atonement when she was threatened with it as a punishment of her failing her (forced) marriage.

    She did not go into great detail, but it was brought up that one reason Warren Jeffs built the temple in Texas was because blood atonement could only be performed in a temple. It's a good thing Jeffs was caught when he was, but there are a lot of people left behind who are still following him.

    It's a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in how on earth someone could live that lifestyle. When you are raised with nothing else, you know nothing else.

    FLDS teaching for women can be easily summed up:
    Put up, Shut up, Make Babies until you die trying.