Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wait, Mormons or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

As I talk to people and they ask what church I attend or for which church I served a mission, I respond "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" to which I usually get a slightly puzzled look. The light of understanding then turns on when I clarify, "the Mormon church."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the "Mormon" church, or rather, the "Mormon" church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Mormon" is merely a nickname given to our church members because we read The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS Church, and I am a Latter-day Saint.

The nickname "Mormon" is not offensive, it simply is inaccurate.1 One reason knowing the real name of the "Mormon" Church is helpful and important is because it helps clear up confusion whether Mormons are ChristianMormons are Christians. I worship Jesus Christ and I believe that His suffering and Atonement enable me to become cleansed from sin through repentance. It is only through His grace that we can be saved. We do not worship Mormon, or Joseph Smith, or anyone else for that matter save God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

In accordance with ancient and modern revelation, the Church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (see D&C 115:3-4). Jesus Christ Himself taught:

"And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

"Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake." (3 Nephi 27:6-7.)

Just a week ago, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles very clearly and succinctly expounded on the name of the Church. In his address, "The Importance of a Name," (Ensign, Nov 2011), Elder Ballard discusses what it means to take upon ourselves the name of Christ, the importance of the full name of the Church, the significance of each part of the name of the Church, and the proper use of the nickname, "Mormon." I really like how Elder Ballard breaks down the name of the Church and discusses the significance of each part of the name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." From Elder Ballard:

"I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church. It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straightforward. How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words?"

In an earlier General Conference address, President Boyd K. Packer also discussed the name of the Church, citing the importance and significance that we belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. Read his talk entitled, "Guided by the Holy Spirit," (Ensign, May 2011, 30).

In addition, the Church has a webpage that gives a breakdown of the word "Mormon" in relation to the people, the church, and the prophet.

I conclude with the simple words of a song I learned as a child:

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I know who I am. I know God's plan. I'll follow Him in faith.
I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll honor His name.
I'll do what is right; I'll follow His light. His truth I will proclaim.

("The Church of Jesus Christ," Children's Songbook, 77.)


1. The term "Mormon" is used by the Church in various functions. The Church operates a website under the URL, we have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the people who migrated to the Salt Lake Valley in the 1800s will always be called the Mormon pioneers.