Whenever an evangelical Christian and a Latter-day Saint have a discussion of their beliefs, they will soon encounter the problem of terminology. The words Mormons use do not always mean the same thing to Christians. Mormonism uses many of the same terms and expressions common in biblical Christianity, but with radically different (and sometimes completely contradictory) definitions.
To truly understand what Mormons believe, and to have meaningful faith conversations with them, you should never assume that your LDS friend understands common terms in a biblical way. It is very important to understand what they are thinking when they hear or use a given world, compared to what might be thinking when you hear or use the same word.
Below are some examples. For a complete list, see the related resources on this page.
[External Resource: Terminology Differences]
[External Resource: Mormon Definitions]
[External Resource: Same Words, Different Meanings]
||The Church is an institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the only true church on earth today. It is a restoration of the original church founded by Jesus, which lost its authority after the apostles died.
||The Church is a body of people, comprised of all true followers of the biblical Jesus Christ, unbroken throughout its history, and not bound or defined by any denominational or organizational distinctions.
||In reference to LDS salvation, the grace of Jesus Christ permits all humans to raise from the dead; while it provides the opportunity to work and progress in eternity, it does NOT provide any eternal blessing in and of itself.
||Grace is the free gift of Jesus Christ to all who will receive it, and is completely and wholly sufficient for salvation (eternal life with God); it is by definition not dependent upon our works or worthiness.
||Salvation is a universal gift (given to all humanity, righteous and wicked alike), but refers only to the resurrection of the body from the dead. Beyond this, a human earns exaltation by his or her own effort and personal righteousness. Those who have faithfully kept the commandments and “gospel precepts” earn the right to eventually become gods.
||Salvation is a free gift to all who will accept it, is provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his merit alone (not by our own worthiness), and refers to salvation from the wrath of God (eternity in hell) and the right to live eternally with Him.
||Basically, anything lesser than exaltation (becoming a God).
||The state of condemnation, judged by God in eternal hell.
||Exaltation (obtaining godhood) in the Celestial Kingdom.
||Forgiveness of sins and a redeemed life forever with God.
||The “fall” of humanity was a necessary step in the “plan of salvation”. Without the fall, there could be no procreation, and therefore no earthly dwelling for the pre-existing spirit children, and consequently no opportunity for exaltation.
||The fall was mankind’s disobedience of God, through which sin and death entered the world, necessitating the saving work of Jesus Christ.
||A present-day temple used to practice the ordinances of the LDS church on behalf of the living as well as the dead.
||The Old Testament building where God dwelt, sacrifices were offered, and holy priestly rites were administered. There is no longer a need for temples.[/su_table]