Legal Repentance and Evangelical Repentance

Feb 12, 2015
1 min read

If you look up repentance in a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (the fifth “standard work”):

2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.

3. Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life.

Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God.

Let’s define evangelical:

1. According to the gospel; consonant to the doctrines and precepts of the gospel, published by Christ and his apostles; as evangelical righteousness, obedience or piety.

Seriously, I don’t know how any Latter-day Saint gets by without the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. It’s rare that I ever open the scriptures and not refer to it at least once.

Here’s the online version I’ll use when on my laptop:

And here’s the app I use on my iPhone:


  1. Richard J. Nobbe III

    It’s a great resource and personal discovery, for which I have you to thank!

    Is there ever a time in the scriptures when “legal repentance” is implied? I would imagine that every mention of the word “repentance” implies “evangelical repetance.”

    • Richard J. Nobbe III

      And btw, the Symphonies of Gustav Mahler are the fifth “standard work.”

    • I think Mormon called it the “sorrowing of the damned”:

      “But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” (Mormon 2:13-14)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *