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In orthodox Mormonism, the term God generally refers to the biblical God the Father, whom Latter-day Saints sometimes call Elohim ,and the term Godhead refers to a council of three distinct divine persons consisting of God the Father, Jesus (His firstborn Son, whom Latter-day Saints sometimes call Jehovah ), and the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit). Latter-day Saints believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings, and that the Father and Jesus have perfected, glorified, physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost is a spirit without a physical body. Latter-day Saints also believe that there are other gods and goddesses outside the Godhead, such as a Heavenly Mother who is the wife of God the Father, and that faithful Latter-day Saints may attain godhood in the afterlife. Joseph Smith taught that God was once a man on another planet before being exalted to Godhood.
Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 30s.
God the Father is a title given to God in various religions, most prominently in Christianity. In mainstream trinitarian Christianity, God the Father is regarded as the first person of the Trinity, followed by the second person, God the Son, and the third person, God the Holy Spirit. Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in "God the Father (Almighty)", primarily as his capacity as "Father and creator of the universe". However, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus Christ goes metaphysically further than the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle's Creed where the expression of belief in the "Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth" is immediately, but separately followed by in "Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord", thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.
Elohim is a word in the Hebrew Bible, which sometimes means deities in the plural, and elsewhere refers to a single deity, particularly the Jewish God.
This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity in several ways, one of which is that Mormonism has not adopted or continued the doctrine that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are of the same substance or being. Also, Mormonism teaches that the intelligence dwelling in each human is coeternal with God.Mormons use the term omnipotent to describe God, and regard him as the creator, they understand him as having absolutely unlimited power, but do not teach that he is the ex nihilo creator of all things. The Mormon conception of God also differs substantially from the Jewish tradition of ethical monotheism in which elohim (אֱלֹהִים) is a completely different conception.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—as "one God in three Divine persons". The three persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is. Sometimes differing views are referred to as nontrinitarian. Trinitarianism contrasts with positions such as Binitarianism and Monarchianism, of which Modalistic Monarchianism and Unitarianism are subsets.
Homoousion is a Christian theological term, most notably used in the Nicene Creed for describing Jesus as "same in being" or "same in essence" with God the Father. The same term was later also applied to the Holy Spirit in order to designate him as being "same in essence" with the Father and the Son. Those notions became cornerstones of theology in Nicene Christianity, and also represent one of the most important theological concepts within the Trinitarian doctrinal understanding of God.
Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing", chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but it also occurs in other fields.
This description of God represents the Mormon orthodoxy, formalized in 1915 based on earlier teachings. Other currently existing and historical branches of Mormonism have adopted different views of god, such as the Adam–God doctrine and Trinitarianism.
Orthodoxy is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. In the Christian sense the term means "conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early Church." The first seven ecumenical councils were held between the years of 325 and 787 with the aim of formalizing accepted doctrines.
The Adam–God doctrine was a theological idea taught in mid-19th century Mormonism by church president Brigham Young. Although the doctrine is rejected by the LDS Church today, it is still an accepted part of the modern theology of some Mormon fundamentalists.
Most early Latter Day Saints came from a Protestant background, believing in the doctrine of Trinity that had been developed during the early centuries of Christianity. Before about 1835, Mormon theological teachings were similar to that established view. –a view sometimes called social trinitarianism.However, founder Joseph Smith's teachings regarding the nature of the Godhead developed during his lifetime, becoming most fully developed in the few years prior to his murder in 1844. Beginning as an unelaborated description of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as being "One", Smith taught that the Father and the Son were distinct personal members of the Godhead as early as 1832. Smith's public teachings later described the Father and Son as possessing distinct physical bodies, being one together with the Holy Ghost, not in material substance, but in spirit, glory, and purpose
The Latter Day Saint movement is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian Restorationist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Joseph Smith Jr. was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement. When he was 24, Smith published the Book of Mormon. By the time of his death, 14 years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion that continues to the present.
Mormons view their concept of the Godhead as a restoration of original Christian doctrine as taught by Christ and the Apostles. Elements of this doctrine were revealed gradually over time to Smith. Mormons teach that in the centuries following the death of the Apostles, views on God's nature began to change as theologians developed doctrines and practices, though they had not been called as prophets designated to receive revelation for the church. Mormons see the strong influence of Greek culture and philosophy(Hellenization) during this period as contributing to a departure from the traditional Judeo-Christian view of a corporeal God in whose image and likeness mankind was created. These theologians began to define God in terms of three persons, or hypostases , sharing one immaterial divine substance, or ousia —a concept that some claim found no backing in scripture, but closely mirrored elements of Greek philosophy such as Neoplatonism. Mormons believe that the development process leading up to the Trinity doctrine left it vulnerable to human error, because it was not founded upon God's established pattern of continued revelation through prophets.
Hellenization or Hellenism is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion, and, to a lesser extent, language over foreign peoples conquered by Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence, particularly during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. The result of Hellenization was that elements of Greek origin combined in various forms and degrees with local elements, and these Greek influences spread from the Mediterranean basin as far east as modern-day Pakistan. In modern times, Hellenization has been associated with the adoption of modern Greek culture and the ethnic and cultural homogenization of Greece.
Hypostasis is the underlying state or underlying substance and is the fundamental reality that supports all else. In Neoplatonism the hypostasis of the soul, the intellect (nous) and "the one" was addressed by Plotinus.
Ousia is an important philosophical and theological term, originally used in ancient Greek philosophy, then later in Christian theology. It was used by various ancient Greek philosophers, like Plato and Aristotle, as a primary designation for philosophical concepts of essence or substance. In contemporary philosophy, it is analogous to English concepts of being and ontic. In Christian theology, the concept of θεία ουσία is one of the most important doctrinal concepts, central to the development of trinitarian doctrine.
The Book of Mormon teaches that God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are "one",with Jesus appearing with a body of spirit before his birth, and with a tangible body after his resurrection. The book describes the "Spirit of the Lord" "in the form of a man" and speaking as a man would.
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement, which adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith as The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.
Prior to the birth of Jesus, the book depicts him as a spirit "without flesh and blood", with a spirit "body" that looked the same as he would appear during his physical life.Moreover, Jesus described himself as follows: "Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters." In another passage of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi states,
I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
After Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, the Book of Mormon states that he visited a group of people in the Americas, who saw that he had a resurrected, tangible body. During his visit, he was announced by the voice of God the Father, and those present felt the Holy Spirit, but only the Son was seen. Jesus is quoted as saying,
Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.
The Book of Mormon states that Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are "one".The LDS Church interprets this "oneness" as a metaphorical oneness in spirit, purpose, and glory, rather than a physical or bodily unity. On the other hand, some Latter Day Saint sects, such as the Community of Christ, consider the Book of Mormon to be consistent with trinitarianism. Some scholars have also suggested that the view of Jesus in the Book of Mormon is also consistent, or perhaps most consistent, with monotheistic Modalism.
In 1835, Joseph Smith, with the involvement of Sidney Rigdon, publicly taught the idea that Jesus Christ and God the Father were two separate beings. In the Lectures on Faith , which had been taught in 1834 to the School of the Prophets, the following doctrines were presented:
Lectures on Faith were included as part of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants. They were eventually removed from the Doctrine and Covenants by the LDS Church and the Community of Christ on the grounds that they had never explicitly been accepted by the church as canon. Most modern Latter Day Saints do not accept the idea of a two "personage" Godhead, with the Father as a spirit and the Holy Spirit as the shared "mind" of the Father and the Son. Moreover, many Mormon apologists propose a reading of Lectures on Faith that is consistent with Smith's earlier or later doctrines, by putting various shadings on the meaning of personage as used in the Lectures.
In 1838, Smith published a narrative of his First Vision, in which he described seeing both God the Father and a separate Jesus Christ, similar in appearance to each other.
In the endowment ceremony, introduced by Smith in 1842, the name "Elohim" is used to refer to God the Father. "Jehovah" is used to refer to the pre-mortal Jesus.
In public sermons later in Smith's life, he began to describe what he thought was the true nature of the Godhead in much greater detail. In 1843, Smith provided his final public description of the Godhead before his death, in which he described God the Father as having a physical body, and the Holy Spirit, also, as a distinct personage: "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us."Even though this quote is included in canonized LDS scripture, some dispute its authenticity, particularly that of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, since it was not consistent with the manuscript source's wording about the Holy Ghost and underwent various revisions and modifications before arriving at this final form.
During this period, Smith also introduced a theology that could support the existence of a Heavenly Mother. The primary source for this theology is the sermon he delivered at the funeral of King Follett (commonly called the King Follett Discourse). The LDS Church believes that a Heavenly Mother exists,but very little is acknowledged or known beyond her existence or the number of Heavenly Mothers as early LDS leaders did teach that it was "clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives."
Lorenzo Snow succinctly summarized another portion of the doctrine explained in the King Follett Discourse using a couplet: "As man now is, God once was: / As God now is, man may be."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) holds that the Father and the Son have glorified physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost has only a body of spirit.
Leaders and scriptural texts of the LDS Church affirm a belief in the Holy Trinity but use the word "Godhead" (a term used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20, and Colossians 2:9) to distinguish their belief that the unity of the Trinity relates to all attributes, except a physical unity of beings. Church members believe that "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit."
This theology is consistent with Smith's 1838 account of the First Vision. This account, published as part of the church's Pearl of Great Price state that Smith saw a vision of "two personages", the Father and the Son.Mormon critics view this 1838 account with skepticism, because Smith's earliest accounts of the First Vision did not refer to the presence of two beings. The church also teaches that its theology is consistent with the Biblical account of the baptism of Jesus which referred to signs from the Father and the Holy Spirit, which the denomination interprets as an indication that these two persons have distinct substance from Jesus.
Smith taught that there is one Godhead and that humans can have a place, as joint-heirs with Christ, through grace,if they follow the laws and ordinances of the gospel. This process of exaltation means literally that humans can become full, complete, joint-heirs with Jesus and can, if proven worthy, inherit all that he inherits. Leaders have taught that God is infinitely loving, though his love "cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional." Though humanity has the ability to become gods through the Atonement of Jesus, these exalted beings will remain eternally subject to God the Father and "will always worship" Him. Among the resurrected, the righteous souls receive great glory and return to live with God, being made perfect through the atonement of Christ. Thus, "god" is a term for an inheritor of the highest kingdom of God.
LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley offered a declaration of belief wherein he reaffirmed the teachings of the church regarding the distinct individuality and perfect unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, affirms the doctrine of the trinity. The trinity is described in Community of Christ as a "living God who meets us in the testimony of Israel, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit...[a] community of three persons." [ citation needed ]This belief is consistent with the earliest versions of the text of the Book of Mormon and the First Vision accounts.
Mormon fundamentalists seek to retain Mormon theology and practice as it existed in the late 19th century. As such, the faith accepts the Adam–God doctrine, which identifies God the Father with Adam. Within Mormon fundamentalism, Jehovah and Jesus are considered distinct and separate beings.[ citation needed ]
Latter-day Saints believe in an eternal cycle where God's children may progress to become "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17) and thus become one with God or like God. This is commonly called exaltation within the LDS Church. In addressing this issue, former church president Gordon B. Hinckley, noted the church believes that man may become as Gods. Hinckley said that growth, learning and gaining intelligence are eternal principles, and is one of the reasons why education is important to members of the LDS Church.
Previous prophets or leaders of the church have made statements about their personal beliefs about exaltation. Joseph Smith taught, and Mormons believe, that all people are children of God. Smith further stated in the King Follett discourse that God was the son of a Father, suggesting a cycle that continues for eternity.
Mormons emphasize the relative independence of the three divine persons of the Trinity. Many theologians today, whatever their church tradition, are developing what is called a "social Trinity," which is very similar to Mormonism in seeing the Trinity as a society of persons rather than a single immaterial substance defined by a set of internal relations.
Inasmuch as God was the first husband to her, it may be that He only gave her to be the wife of Joseph while in this mortal state, and that He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his wives to raise up immortal spirits in eternity. ... We have now clearly shown that God the Father had a plurality of wives, one or more being in eternity by whom He begat our spirits as well as the spirit of Jesus His First Born, and another being upon the earth by whom He begat the tabernacle of Jesus.
Dr. William E. Phipps noted that the belief that 'Jesus married, and married often!' was used to encourage and promote the doctrine of polygamy amongst timid Latter-Day Saints ... By the late-1850s the idea that more than one woman was married to Jesus was widely accepted among Mormon circles. ... As if the concept of Christ's polygamy was not unsettling enough, Mormonism even taught in the nineteenth century that God the Father had a plurality of wives as well.
Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?
A: I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about.
Q: So you're saying the church is still struggling to understand this?
A: Well, as God is, man may become. We believe in eternal progression. Very strongly. We believe that the glory of God is intelligence and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the Resurrection. Knowledge, learning, is an eternal thing. And for that reason, we stress education. We're trying to do all we can to make of our people the ablest, best, brightest people that we can.
Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity that rejects the mainstream Christian doctrine of the Trinity—the teaching that God is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence. Certain religious groups that emerged during the Protestant Reformation have historically been known as antitrinitarian, but are not considered Protestant in popular discourse due to their nontrinitarian nature.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, priesthood is the power and authority of God given to man, including the authority to perform ordinances and to act as a leader in the church. A body of priesthood holders is referred to as a quorum.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, Heavenly Mother or the Mother in Heaven is the mother of human spirits and the wife of God the Father. Those who accept the Mother in Heaven doctrine trace its origins to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. The doctrine became more widely known after Smith's death in 1844.
"Lectures on Faith" is a set of seven lectures on the doctrine and theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, first published as the doctrine portion of the 1835 edition of the canonical Doctrine and Covenants, but later removed from that work by both major branches of the faith. The lectures were originally presented by Joseph Smith to a group of elders in a course known as the "School of the Prophets" in the early winter of 1834–35 in Kirtland, Ohio.
Within the Latter Day Saint movement, the Articles of Faith is a statement of beliefs composed by Joseph Smith as part of an 1842 letter sent to "Long" John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, and first published in the Latter Day Saint newspaper Times and Seasons. It is a concise listing of thirteen fundamental doctrines of Mormonism. Most Latter Day Saint denominations view the articles as an authoritative statement of basic theology. Some denominations, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have adopted the articles as scripture. For some sects, the Articles of Faith are known collectively as "An Epitome of Faith and Doctrine".
A spirit body is, according to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the organization of the spiritual element, made into the spiritual form of man, which was made in the same likeness of God the Father. This likeness apparently gave rise to the phrase and meaning of, "like father like son," which means the son is in the likeness of the father, which provides meaning to the claim that humanity was made in the likeness of God. Generally, people in the world have commonly used the word "soul" to denote this spirit body.
The light of Christ is a doctrine of the Latter Day Saint movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that is defined as "the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things." The light of Christ is "the law by which all things are governed in heaven and on earth" and is often said to bestow conscience upon people. The doctrine teaches that the light of Christ is given to every person.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and The Bahai Faith are called Abrahamic religions because they all accept the tradition of the God that revealed himself to Abraham. The theological traditions of all Abrahamic religions are thus to some extent influenced by the depiction of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, and story of Abram, the idol craftsman and worshipper, who had a revelation of God being God alone, and idols are not God.He is acclaimed as the Father of monotheism in the history of Judaism. In the Biblical narrative, he changed his name to Abraham once accepting his new life as a man believing only in One God, and this God being One. On a side note, the narrative also continues that God promised Abraham he would be "the Father of a great nation, whose descendents would out number the stars in the sky and the fish in the sea".
Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are two denominations that share a common heritage in the Church of Christ founded by Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830. Since Smith's death in 1844, they have evolved separately in belief and practices. The LDS Church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and claims more than 16 million members worldwide; Community of Christ is headquartered in Independence, Missouri, and reports a worldwide membership of approximately 197,000.
Mormon cosmology is the description of the history, evolution, and destiny of the physical and metaphysical universe according to Mormonism, which includes the doctrines taught by leaders and theologians of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormon fundamentalism, the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, and other Brighamite denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement. Mormon cosmology draws from Biblical cosmology, but has many unique elements provided by movement founder Joseph Smith. These views are not generally shared by adherents of other Latter Day Saint movement denominations who do not self-identify as "Mormons", such as the Community of Christ.
Whether the earliest Church Fathers believed in the Trinity is a subject for debate. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are triadic statements from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the substance of the Father, God of God...very God of very God' was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople, where the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified.
Mormonism and Christianity have a complex theological, historical, and sociological relationship. Mormons express the doctrines of Mormonism using standard biblical terminology and have similar views about the nature of Jesus' atonement, bodily resurrection, and Second Coming as traditional Christianity. Nevertheless, most Mormons do not accept the Trinitarian views of orthodox Nicene Christianity, codified in the Nicene and Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creeds of 325 and 381; Though Mormons consider the Bible as scripture, they do not believe in biblical inerrancy. They have also adopted additional scriptures, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Mormons practice baptism and celebrate the Sacrament, but they also participate in religious rituals not practiced by traditional Christianity.
Islam and Mormonism have been compared to one another ever since the earliest origins of the latter in the nineteenth century, often by detractors of one religion or the other—or both. For instance, Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism, was referred to as "the modern Mahomet" by the New York Herald, shortly after his murder in June 1844. This epithet repeated a comparison that had been made from Smith's earliest career, one that was not intended at the time to be complimentary. Comparison of the Mormon and Muslim prophets still occurs today, sometimes for derogatory or polemical reasons but also for more scholarly and neutral purposes. While Mormonism and Islam certainly have many similarities, there are also significant, fundamental differences between the two religions. Mormon–Muslim relations have historically been cordial; recent years have seen increasing dialogue between adherents of the two faiths, and cooperation in charitable endeavors, especially in the Middle and Far East.
Christian denominations have variations in their teachings regarding the Holy Spirit.
Exaltation or Eternal Life is a belief among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that mankind can return to live in God's presence and continue as families. Exaltation is believed to be what God desires for all humankind. The Church teaches that through exaltation believers may become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ as stated in Romans 8:12 and Revelation 21:7. The objective of adherents is to strive for purity and righteousness and to become one with Jesus as Jesus is one with the Father (God). A verse in the canonized scripture, Doctrine and Covenants, states that those who are exalted will become gods, and a 1925 statement from the church's highest governing body said that "All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother ... [and are] capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God."
Remnant fellowships are a loosely organized branch of the Latter Day Saint movement formed by individuals who accept divine revelations allegedly received by Denver Snuffer Jr.. The Remnant Fellowships generally feel called to personal and social renewal preparatory to Christ's eventual second coming. According to movement beliefs, participants anticipate a coming time when remnants remain within the full restored covenant with Jesus Christ: an allusion to a belief that "The Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, prophesy that the gospel of Jesus Christ would shift from the Gentile stewards of the gospel back to Israel in the last days." The movement places a renewed focus on individual communion with God, gifts of the spirit, tangible expressions of faith, and the eventual establishment of Zion. While the movement has no official name, the term "Snufferite" has been used to denote followers. Other designations include covenant of Christ movement and Denver Snuffer movement. Participants sometimes reference each other as "covenant Brother," "covenant Sister".