The responses to part 1 were great. Here are some additional things I’ve observed that are noteworthy. Again, for brevity’s sake, I may have referred to non-Mormons as “Christians,” so I expect everybody to be on the same page with that. As with part one, sometimes these are terms we use that will sound strange to Christians, and sometimes these are terms they use that will sound strange to us. Enjoy.
1. Gethsemane. To Christians, it appears as though we attribute virtually all of Christ’s suffering to the episode in the Garden, and this can be very offensive for Christians. We do dwell on this event much more than the climax of the atonement – the crucifixion. I have found in my life that avoiding our particular view of what happened in the Garden (up front) is best. True, there is a passage in Luke which indicates that Jesus sweated great drops of blood in the Garden, but this passage largely eludes commentators; and rightly so. They don’t use the D&C to help them understand it (logically). Moreover, the cross is central to the message of the Synoptics (and John), as well as for Paul (I’m thinking Phil. 2) and it is there that the Gospel authors indicate the climax and fulfillment of Jesus’ sufferings. It’s all about the Cross until one comes under the influence of the D&C material. One may wonder – how did the Garden so seamlessly replace the Cross in our history?
2. Jew. Adam wasn’t Jewish. Neither was Moses, really. The tribal distinctions came much later, even after Jacob’s blessings (Gen. 49). These distinctions, so far as the Bible reveals, occurred during and following the conquest of Canaan. Judah’s prominence can’t be easily located (again, there are hints of it in the Joseph story and again during Jacob’s blessing of his children – this may be an indicator of a late date for the composition of the Pentateuch, but that’s for another day), but to say the very least, “Jewish” probably didn’t occur until the time of the schism between the Northern and Southern kingdoms (8th century BC). Our Christian friends might think it strange that we seem to suppose (unknowingly yet innocently) that Judaism goes back much, much farther than most.
3. Prophet. Mormons, for the most part, tend to think that anybody who is important or holds some form of leadership role in a given time period is automatically a prophet. It feels almost like a substitute title for just about anyone who leads. Our Christians friends may not agree with some people that Mormons think were prophets, especially Adam (who caused this mess), Enoch (only 2 or 3 verses on this guy in the Bible), etc. This one is just a mere observation, as I’m willing to bet some of you can think of people who actually joined the church because we throw the title around a lot. I can think of two from my own mission (12 years ago). But we do put a lot of (well-placed) emphasis on prophets and prophecy, which may sound cultish to our Christian friends. But hey, we can create some mutual understanding here.
4. “Knowing God.” For the Christian, this is very, very liberal and open. They even say “God told me that…” and then usually continue with what we would call “testimony.” But for a Mormon, I think “knowing God” is something a bit more serious (TPJS p. 149-150?).
5. Testimony. For the mainstream Christian, this term indicates the sharing of one’s conversion to God, or a story which heavily involves God’s workings and presence in their lives. It usually mentions God a lot, and illustrates how he has changed their lives for good. It has nothing to do with how well our kids are doing at school, how much we love our roommates, where we traveled for summer vacation, and is usually devoid of lame allegories.
6. Ward. Most Protestants would agree that the equivalent of a ward is a parish.
7. Stake. As a unit of wards/branches, Catholics might refer to this as a diocese. Some Protestants use state boundaries, and refer to their state area as “The [insert name of state] Annual Conference.”
8. Ordinances. From part one, I indicated this is somewhat of a misnomer on our part. It doesn’t have to mean “ceremony” or “ritual” like we think it means. In fact, the fourth AofF, in its original, used to read “We believe the first ordinances of the gospel are…” The words “principles and” were added later for clarification. I don’t know the history behind the usage of the word “ordinance” in place of “ceremony” or “ritual,” but we’re alone in that usage. Our Christian friends simply don’t use it that way. For them, it is more like a “statute” or “commandment” (Heb. chuqqah). Sometimes it might be best to qualify what we mean by “baptism ordinance” and the like.
9. Original Sin. This one will really upset some of you people, but what I’ve observed withstood the test of fire. When I started my M.A., again, at a Protestant school, I heard this used a lot, and I mentally scoffed it. The more I heard them use it, the more I realized they were simply describing the effects of Adam’s sin, but not necessarily the sin itself. I asked peers and professors repeatedly to clarify this, and became very frustrated because I couldn’t disagree with their definition. Maybe it’s just the Methodists, I don’t know. But when they say “the original sin,” they’re basically just saying “the effects of the Fall.” So you and I live under the curse of the original sin, according to them, and I’m fine with that because I understand what they’re saying. They also think that Adam’s sin could have been forgiven of him, but that if it was, it happened upon the Cross. I tacitly agree, as there may be an indication of this in 1 Corinthians 15 (cf. N.T. Wright’s Jesus and the Victory of God for more). That should make most Mormons madder than a scalded dog, but from the Protestants I know, it doesn’t have the loaded definition that we attribute to it. Maybe there are other faith traditions that use the term in a more non-Mormon way.
10. Orthodoxy. The feeling I get from most Mormons is that this term only refers to the Greek Church. A Protestant would be deeply and fervently offended by this. True, the Greek Church goes by the name “Orthodox Church,” but context is what gives away that usage (other names are Eastern Church, Eastern Tradition, Greek Church, etc.). Orthodoxy, to a Protestant, is anyone who believes in accordance with the Creeds. I think some blogger-ninjas were calling it “Creedal Christian,” but I have yet to encounter this term among non-Mormons. Protestants feel that they are starkly orthodox (despite what Catholics might think). So when Christians discuss Mormonism, which I’ve heard more times than I can number, we’re referred to as “unorthodox,” which they feel doesn’t apply to Protestants even though they’re not active members of the Greek Church. Protestants feel that they are orthodox (miniscule “o”) Christians.
11. Bishop. Bishops are one of the highest offices in some denominations like the UMC, for example. Our equivalent would be one of the Brethren. And there are lots of bishops for them. The local, congregational leader equivalent would be a “pastor.”
12. Sermon. This is a sacrament meeting talk, only the pastor gives it every week unless he asks someone else to preach, which is rare, but not non-existent.