In a recent General Conference, President Nelson said, speaking of Jesus, “When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives.”
The irony is that Joseph Smith used three different names for the Church in the span of eight years. Why would Jesus instruct Joseph Smith in 1830 to call it the “Church of Christ”, then change it in 1834 to the “Church of Latter Day Saints” and, then change is once again in 1838?
Was Joseph carelessly removing Jesus as the central focus of LDS members lives during that time period?
One possible reason it took Smith eight years to settle on an official name for the Church is the fact that God wasn’t involved at all in the decision.
President Nelson said that “For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the ‘Mormon Church.’ But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. Unfortunately, many who hear the term Mormon may think we worship Mormon. Not so! We honor and respect that great ancient American prophet. But we are not Mormon’s disciples. We are the Lord’s disciples.”
In my entire life I’ve never heard or read of anyone having the silly idea that the LDS worship the “ancient American prophet”, Mormon. Most people aren’t that naïve.
President Nelson spoke of the revised style guide that should be used. Quote: “It states“It states: ‘In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: When shortened second reference is needed, the terms ‘the Church’ or the ‘Church of Jesus Christ’ are encouraged. The ‘restored Church of Jesus Christ’ is also accurate and encouraged.”
The Bible Jesus never mentioned what the future church would be called. That’s because it was never intended to be a formal organization. They were simply believers in Jesus Christ. Those believers were known by a number of titles: like, “the Way”, “Christians”, “Nazarenes”, “Church of Christ”, “Church of God”, “Church of the Firstborn”, even by location such as the “Church of the Thessalonians”, etc.
The term “Church” comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia” which means “a called-out assembly or congregation”. It is a gathering of people “called-out” to follow Jesus. What it is NOT – nor ever has been – is an institution that serves as the gatekeeper of salvation or eternal life.
I see what President Nelson is trying to do here. Calling the Mormon Church “The Church” or the “Church of Jesus Christ” or ” would be an acknowledgement of Mormonism’s truth claims. However, non-members will recognize that those are more than titles and people outside your faith should not give validation to those designations.
It would be an admission that the “Great Apostasy” really occurred. Thus, the need for the Church to be “restored.” And, Christians certainly do not support that doctrinal position.
Besides, how is it any better to call it “The Church” or “The Restored Church” if the name of Jesus is still absent?
Look! It’s hard to break old habits and I believe the terms “Mormons” and “LDS” will be used by members and non-members till the end of time. President Nelson has taken what seems to be his personal, opinion and used his authority as CEO to persuade others that it is God who is making this “correction” in the name of the Church.
By declaring as Prophet that members are not to refer to themselves anymore as Mormons – He has in, essence declared all Mormons – “non-Mormons”.