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What Do You Need to Know?

Reviewing LDS Terminology Differences



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Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commonly use words and phrases also employed by Evangelical Christians. While the terminology may sound the same, the intended meanings are often quite different. Misunderstandings arise when words are not clearly understood, thus communication is severely hindered. In order that your discussions with a Latter-day Saint may be more productive, a short comparative list of terms is supplied below. While this list should help you better understand LDS vocabulary, it is always a good idea for all participants in a conversation to define their terms.


LDS--The unified "committee" of a Father god, his Son Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Father god is a resurrected man with a physical body. Christ is a separate resurrected god with a physical body. The Holy Ghost is a separate god with only a spiritual body. These are three totally separate and distinct Gods.

BIBLE--A reference to the Trinity: One God eternally existent in three Persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In addition, the Bible teaches God is not a man (Numbers 23:19); There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6; 45:21-22); The Father is Spirit and invisible (John 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17).


LDS--A created being, the first spirit child of Elohim and one of his wives, the spirit brother of Lucifer the devil.

BIBLE--The eternal God manifested in the flesh; the One that created all things (John 1:1-3, 14).


LDS--A separate God from the Father and the Son; different from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost is a person whereas the Holy Spirit is an influence from Father, not personal.

BIBLE--The same Greek word is used for Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). He is the third Person of the one triune God.


LDS--God, as a resurrected physical man, became the literal father of Jesus in the flesh. Christ was conceived in the same physical manner in which all mortals are conceived. (LDS contend that Matthew 1:18 is in error.)

BIBLE-- The Holy Ghost, without the participation of a human (or physically embodied) father, conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary (Matthew 1:18).


LDS--The Bible (with reservation) plus additional revelation from God found in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Words of latter-day Prophets are also recognized as scripture.

BIBLE--The Bible alone, which is infallible and without error, and the sole authority for all matters of Christian belief and practice (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:3).


LDS--The Mormon church system and doctrines.

BIBLE--The message of Christ's death and resurrection as atonement for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Colossians 1:22-23).


LDS--Adam's transgression which brought mortality and physical death to humanity, but not a fallen nature. Adam was given two conflicting commandments and chose the correct one to obey.

BIBLE--The event in which Adam and Eve disobeyed the explicit command of God, bringing sin and death onto the human race. As a consequence of the Fall, humans are alienated from God and in need of a Savior. In addition, the Bible teaches God tempts no one (James 1:13-14); Man is sinful in his very nature (Romans 8:5-8; 1 Corinthians 2:14).


LDS--Specific acts, not man's basic nature.

BIBLE--The fundamental unbelief, distrust and rejection of God as God. The Bible presents sin as both fallen humanity's state of separation and alienation from God and as an individual's purposeful disobedience to God's will. In addition, the Bible teaches we are in spiritual rebellion until conversion (Ephesians 2:3-5; Romans 5:21); We do not just commit sins, we are by nature sinful (Matthew 1:21).


LDS--Repentance of individual acts, not of sinful nature. To repent, one must feel sincere sorrow for his sins, stop sinning and keep the commandments of God. Some serious sins also require confession to LDS priesthood authority. True repentance is evidenced by the person never committing the same sin again; if he does, it is evidence that he did not truly repent and so his former sin returns to him.

BIBLE--A deep sense that the worst thing about one's sin is that it has offended a holy God. Repentance involves turning from sin to Christ, with a sincere desire to live in obedience to His leading. It is an attitude of the heart. In addition, the Bible teaches one must repent of basic rebellion toward God (Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 5:32).


LDS--Universal resurrection, also known as salvation by grace, brought about by Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and death on the Cross. Beyond resurrection, man must earn his own place in heaven.

BIBLE--Refers to God's act of dealing with the primary human problem of sin, which has broken the relationship between God and humankind. God accomplished the way of restoration through Christ's sacrificial death on the Cross. Salvation is not universal, but based on each individual's relationship with Jesus, being given as a free gift of grace to those who trust in Christ alone (Romans 1:16: Hebrews 9:28: Ephesians 2:8-9).


LDS---Baptism into the LDS church.

BIBLE--Refers to our spiritual rebirth through faith, having previously been dead in our sins (1 Peter 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17).


LDS---Redemption from mortal death only, not sinful rebellion or spiritual death. See Atonement-Salvation By Grace.

BIBLE--Redemption through Christ from more than mortal death. He redeems us from spiritual death (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1).


LDS--Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom with the ability to eternally bear children in heaven. Requires an LDS temple marriage.

BIBLE--Dwelling forever in the presence of God, a free gift given to all who believe. No mention of parenthood or marriage (John 14:2; Matthew 22:30).


LDS--The eternal dwelling place of deceased humans, divided into three kingdoms: Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial with a place for almost everyone (misuse of 1 Corinthians 15:40-41).

BIBLE--The eternal dwelling place of the redeemed. The Bible does not mention various levels of heaven. Rather, there are only two post-mortal conditions: everlasting punishment or life eternal (Matthew 25:31-46).


LDS--An eternal institution where deceased people pay for their mortal sins; inmates come and go as in jail, they do not spend eternity there. They stay until their debt to God has been paid in full.

BIBLE--A place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked. There is no indication that people will ever be released from Hell (Revelation 21:8; Matthew 13:24-43; 47-50; Luke 16:26).


LDS--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All other churches are corrupt to greater or lesser degrees.

BIBLE--The community of all true believers for all time. The Bible does not recognize an institution or denomination as God's church, but defines it as being comprised of people -- those who have been redeemed by Christ's blood (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Matthew 16:18; 18:19-20).


LDS--The premortal period of time between the birth of spirit children to God and their birth into mortal life. Everyone pre-existed before life on earth. All have existed eternally.

BIBLE--Refers to Christ as the only pre-existent One (John 8:58; Colossians 1:17). For humans there is no spiritual existence prior to mortality (1 Corinthians 15:46).


LDS--The power and authority of God given to men to act in things pertaining to the LDS Church and salvation. Only LDS have authority to baptize, ordain, and so forth. In the LDS Church there is a two-part system of priesthood: Melchizedek and Aaronic.

BIBLE--Refers to the priesthood of believers which is the privilege and freedom of all believing Christians to stand before God in personal communion through Christ, directly receiving forgiveness without the need for human intermediaries. In addition, the Bible teaches Christ brought an end to the Aaronic priesthood and He is the ONLY High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10; 1 Peter 2:5).

Adapted from "Terminology Differences" by Jerald and Sandra Tanner

Copyright © 1989 - 2004 Word for the Weary. All Rights Reserved. Permission to use article granted by Word for the Weary at

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