20 years ago, you could be a Mormon that was inactive so you used your free agency to tell your Home Teachers you didn’t want a visit. Today it is all different. Today you would be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was less active, so you used your agency (not free anymore) to tell your Ministers you don’t want an e-mail.
Lots of other words have changed in Mormon speak. What I find most interesting is when the word does not change, but the meaning changes to fit a shifting knowledge, doctrine, or culture.
For example, the words Celestial Marriage, and New and Everlasting Covenant used to mean plural marriage (polygyny and sometimes polyandry). While a strict reading of D&C 132 can still convey this meaning, for the most part today it is used to mean a monogamous marriage that is sealed in the temple.
The word Lamanite used to mean any Native American, Pacific Islanders, or South American indigenous people. There are multiple example in the D&C of this:
And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites.D&C 54:8
This is one of those “Thus saith the Lord” sections in the D&C, so even God thought the Lamanites were Native Americans, just over the boarder from Missouri. Is it any wonder that even modern Prophets up until about 30 years ago referred to them as such? So what happened? Science is what happened. In fact it was so obvious that the indigenous people of the Americas did not come from Jerusalem, that the church changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon in 2006, indicating that the Lamanites are no longer the “principal ancestors of the American Indians”, they are just among the ancestors.
The word “translate” is morphing right before our eyes today. It is ever so gradually changing from the accepted definition of “expressing the sense of words or text in another language”, to expressing the mind of the Lord (revelation) into English, with no original text needed. The “catalyst theory” of the Book of Abraham is a good example of this. Also see Elder Soares talk in General Conference below:
The translation process of the Book of Mormon was also a miracle. This sacred ancient record was not “translated” in the traditional way that scholars would translate ancient texts by learning an ancient language. We ought to look at the process more like a “revelation” with the aid of physical instruments provided by the Lord, as opposed to a “translation” by one with knowledge of languages. Joseph Smith declared that through God’s power he “translated the Book of Mormon from [hieroglyphs], the knowledge of which was lost to the world, in which wonderful event [he] stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries, with a new revelation.” The Lord’s help in the translation of the plates—or revelation, so to speak—is also evident when considering the miraculously short time Joseph Smith took to translate them.April 2020, Saturday Afternoon
There are lots of other words that have changed over the years. Horse means something other than a horse (tapir anyone?). Jehovah once meant God the Father, but since Talmage’s book “Jesus the Christ” was published, it now means Christ. The word “know” means to believe something, or have faith in something.
What words can you think of that the church has changed the meaning of over the years?