Words or terms Mormons use with a different meaning than is used and understood by Christians
Using the same terminology and words (as for example Jesus, God, Heavenly Father, salvation, baptism, born-again etc.), but having attached a different meaning for each of these words, only creates confusion, not meaningful conversation. Without an understanding of what is said there is no communication at all. Words must have the same meaning to each participant; otherwise it is like speaking two different languages and not understanding each other. Those participating in this kind of conversation can only get frustrated – and give up any further discussions on the subject.
We have been asked to explain “Mormon-ese”, i.e. what do Mormons mean when they are using “our words”, the words and terms they have adopted from Christianity, for it is obvious that they do not mean the same to them.
A person wrote to us saying that she was talking with a couple of Mormon missionaries, but she sensed that their words meant something different than the standard meaning of those words commonly understood and as defined by dictionaries. She asked us to explain what they mean in “Mormon-ese”.
Many others have said that when they have talked with Mormons about their faith in Jesus and the biblical gospel, they become confused, for as they have said, Mormons seem to have the very same beliefs as Christians. The fact is that they are not the same!
The problem is that they have not understood “the language barrier” we have with Mormons. The words may be the same, but they do not mean the same to Mormons. The LDS Church uses a “different dictionary”, i.e. they have changed the meaning of these words Christians use and are found in the Bible. Mormons just seem to be saying what we as Christians are saying, but we could not be further apart in the meanings behind these words and terms.
Let’s look at a few of the words and terms that make us very far apart: (We will first explain what Mormons mean by these words and below that what the Christian meaning and teaching is.
When talking with Mormons, use the KJV of the Bible, for that is the one they use.)
1. God (or Heavenly Father) – When Mormons talk about God, they mean that He is an exalted man, and that he was once like we are now, that He has not always been God, but a mortal man who became aGod, just as they believe that they too can become some day. They believe that their God also has a father and mother, and that He is an exalted man with a body of flesh and bones. (D&C 130:22; Gospel Principles, Chapter 1.) They also believe, as they have been taught, that all mankind and angels are God’s spirit-children, born to their Heavenly Father and His wives in the “pre-existence”, they call it the“first estate”.
God of the Bible (God of Christianity) is Eternal Triune God, who has always been God. (Ps. 90:2; Deut. 33:27; 1 John 5:7.) The Shema declares, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.”(Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29.) In Hebrew it reads, “Jehovah our elohim is echad [one] Jehovah.” Echad signifies unity, oneness of more than one. God is complete in Himself being three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, separate and distinct, yet at the same time eternally one God. The three Persons of the Godhead loved, communed, fellowshipped with each other, and took counsel together before creation. Paul, in Romans 1:20, explains that God’s eternal power and Godhead are seen in the creation He made:
The triune nature of God is stamped on His creation. The cosmos is divided into three: space, matter and time. Each of these is divided into three, but are yet one cosmos. Space is composed of length, breadth and height, each separate and distinct in itself – yet three in one. They are not three spaces but three dimensions comprising one space. If you run enough lines lengthwise you take in the whole – same with width and height. Each is separate and distinct, yet each is all of space – just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, yet each is fully God.
Time also is triune: past, present and future – two invisible and one visible. Man himself is a tri-unity of spirit, soul and body, two of which are invisible and one visible. Our God, God of the Bible, is the only God that has ever existed, or will ever exist. (Isaiah 43:10; 44: 6, 8.) God is Spirit. Spirit does not have flesh and bones. (John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Col. 1:15.) God is not a former man.(Numbers 23:19; Hosea 11:9.) God does not have a wife or wives. Men were not born in the pre-existence to God and His wives. God BECAME a man as John 1:14; Phil. 2:5-8 and Col. 1:16 say. Only Jesus, who is God, came from heaven. (John 8:23-24) God becomes our Father and we become His children when we believe the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4) and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. (John 1:12.)
2. Jesus Christ, as taught in Mormonism is the spirit-child of God and one of his wives, and thus he has not always existed; i.e. he is not eternal God.
They teach that Jesus is an elder spirit-brother of mankind, Lucifer and all angels. (Gospel Principles, Chapter 3.) They say that Jesus is “the only Son of God in the flesh”, and that “Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by their mortal fathers”. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547.) They teach that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost as the Bible says. (Come unto Christ, by LDS president and prophet Ezra Taft Benson, p. 4.)
– Christianity teaches and believes what the Bible says about Jesus. He was begotten by the Holy Ghost. (Matt. 1:18-23.) He has always been God – He is the beginning and the ending, the Almighty.(Rev. 1:8; Matt. 1:23; John 1:1, 14.) He is the Virgin-born Son of God. He is God who became a man. He is Lucifer’s Creator, not his brother. (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Phil. 2:5-8.) There is no salvation in any other ‘Jesus’ but in Jesus, who is God. (See John 8:23-24; 14:6; Acts 4:12.)
3. Mormonism teaches that all men are spirit children of God and His wives, and that men can become creator-gods, who will also have spirit-children who, in turn, will worship them as their Heavenly Parents. (Gospel Principles, Chapters 2 and 47.)
— Christianity believes what the Bible says – that God created man. Men were not born to Him. We must be born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:7) to become God’s children. (John 1:12; Romans 9:8.) Men will not become Gods. There is only one True God – there never will be another God. (Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 48:11-12.) Jesus alone came from heaven – mankind did not. (John 8:23-24; 1 Cor. 15:46-47.) [Men are born as “natural” (physical) first, and after that spiritual, i.e. born again. (1 Cor. 15:46; John 3:7.)]
4. Salvation – Mormonism teaches that everyone, even those who don’t believe in God, will end up in one of the three heavenly kingdoms [only apostates from Mormonism, will, according to them, end up in “outer darkness’ as “sons of perdition”]. Only Mormons who have been married in a temple and live a faithful Mormon-life till the end will go to the highest kingdom (celestial kingdom). They will become Gods. (Gospel Principles, Chapter 47; Mormon Doctrine, pp. 669-671.)
– Salvation according to the Bible is the gift of God, available to all who come to know the true Jesus, repent and are cleansed from their sins by His blood (1 John 1:7; John 3:16; 8:24; 17:3; Romans 10:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9). They will enter heaven by the “narrow gate that leads to eternal life”. People who do not want to believe and accept the Lord Jesus and His cross, will choose the wide gate that leads to destruction. (Matt. 7:13-14; John 14:6; Acts 4:12.) Salvation “is the Gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9.)
5. Salvation by grace alone, as taught in Mormonism, means resurrection only. “True salvation” to them means exaltation/godhood. They teach: “Immortality comes by grace alone, but those who gain it may find themselves damned in eternity.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 671.)
– Salvation by grace alone is the only salvation taught in the Bible. We cannot add anything to it. Jesus paid it all. It is the gift of God, received by grace of God through faith. (Eph. 2:8-9.) Adding anything to the gospel of God (1 Cor. 15:1-4) makes it “another gospel”, warned of by Paul in Gal. 1:8-9. (See also 2 Cor. 11:4.)
6. Born-again according to Mormonism means water-baptism into the Mormon Church, followed by the “laying on of hands by Mormon elders”
to “receive the Holy Ghost”. In addition to this water-baptism – life-long obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church (3rd Article of Faith) is required to keep a person on his/her journey to the celestial kingdom. The LDS church teaches that no one can be born again without baptism (into the Mormon Church) and that by their “legal administrator” (meaning LDS priesthood holder). (Mormon Doctrine, p. 101.)
– Born-again (new birth) according to the Bible takes place when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty, and ask Him to forgive our sins, and save us. (Romans 10:9-10.) Only Eternal God can forgive sins. (John 8:24; Mark 2:7.) The Spirit of God takes up residence in our hearts and lives at that very moment, never to depart (John 10:28-29;1 Peter 1:23) – no ordinances or rituals are needed. (John 3:7; 1:12; Eph. 2:8-9.)
7. Marriage – “eternal marriage” in Mormonism is a temple-marriage “for time and all eternity”. It is a requirement for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. They teach that those who reach exaltation will have “eternal increase”, i.e. they will give birth to spirit children throughout eternity.
Joseph Smith taught that plurality of wives is commanded by God and they must “obey the same”. (Gospel Principles, Chapter 47 – D&C 132:3-4, 16-26, 37 “pertaining to exaltation”)
– Marriage in Christianity is for this life only, established by God for procreation. (Gen. 1:28.) There is no marriage in heaven. (Matt. 22:30.)
All believers are the Bride of Christ in heaven. (Rev.19 through 22.)
8. Baptism in Mormonism is entrance into the Mormon Church. (See above LDS meaning for “Born-again”.)
– Baptism in Christianity is an outward expression of a person’s faith in the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-4) –i.e. faith in His death, burial and resurrection. When a Christian is baptized, he/she is testifying of his/her faith in Christ’s finished work for salvation. Baptism is not a saving ordinance. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4.) Note: Christians are baptized “into Jesus Christ”, NOT into a church.
9. Baptism for the dead. The Mormon Church teaches that just as all living persons have to be baptized into the Mormon Church in order to be born again, and in order to gain entrance into the celestial kingdom they have to be endowed and sealed in their temples, all dead also have to receive these same ordinances by proxy. Mormons say that they are doing “redemptive work” for the salvation of the dead. They teach that when worthy Mormons die, they will go as missionaries from Paradise to Spirit Prison, where non-Mormon dead are housed, and they preach Mormonism to the dead. When baptism and other ordinances are performed for the dead by proxy in Mormon temples, the baptized and endowed dead can be released from Spirit Prison and they can go to Paradise to wait for the last judgment.
[Note: The Mormon Church bases this teaching on only one verse taken (out of context) from 1 Cor. 15:29. This entire chapter 15 is about resurrection, not about baptism. Paul is referring to something strange happening there. There were men who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, but yet some of them were being baptized for the dead! Paul did not include himself nor those with him in this strange practice, but simply asked a question: “why are THEY then baptized for the dead?”]
Christians do not baptize or do work for the dead. The Bible says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27.) After death comes judgment, not a second chance. Jesus, in Luke 16:19-31, taught that no one can go from one place of the dead to another, for “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”(Verse 26.) That simply means: No missionary work can be done beyond the grave! The Psalmist likewise assured us that no one can redeem another person, or give God a ransom for him. (See Ps. 49:7.) Salvation is individual and can only be obtained while living. (Hebr. 3:7-15.) After Jesus’ resurrection all who die as true believers in Jesus’ redemptive work in their behalf, will go immediately to be with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:6-8.) Unbelievers will be in “Hades” till the Great White Throne Judgment. (Rev. 20:11-15.)
These are perhaps the most often used terms, even though there are others that can cause confusion among Christians who talk with Mormons – and visa versa.
Meaningful communication between people can only happen when the words used are understood the same by both. Our standard dictionaries explain what words are intended to mean.
Mormons say that they are Christians, even though they do not believe in God of the Bible nor Christian doctrine.
What does our English dictionary say about that? It says that Christianity is based on the Bible alone, and not on any other “sacred books”. Christian doctrine is a belief in One God, God of the Bible,who is One God in Unity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit as three Persons in Godhead, not three Gods. (Deut. 6:4; 1 John 5:7 KJV.) A Christian is a person who believes Christian doctrine. A Mormon is a person who believes Mormon doctrine,
which is a belief in plurality of Gods –i.e. three Gods for this world and a countless number of Gods elsewhere in the universe.
Mormon Doctrine, on pp. 576-577, explains: “Three separate personages – Father, Son and the Holy Ghost – comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods.” (Emphasis added.)