What’s in a Name?

Every Church President since Joseph Smith has freely used “Mormonism” when describing the religion. Now, suddenly God has revealed to Russell Nelson that He is offended by the reference to “Mormon” and “Mormonism.” All this confusion should cause a member to wonder, which of all these current and former church apostles was truly a prophet? If any?

In 2010, the LDS Church launched a public campaign, “I’m a Mormon,” featuring biographical sketches of Church members throughout the world.   In 2014, the LDS Church released a full-length film, “Meet the Mormons.”   Thomas Monson was the President and Prophet of the Church during that era.  He had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1963 and for a half century, Elder Monson was involved in the public affairs department of the Church.  It seems that if anyone would have known the will of God concerning the offensive term “Mormon” or “Mormonism” it would have been this tenured LDS apostle.  But once Russell Nelson replaced Monson as prophet he confessed, “I realize with profound regret that we have unwittingly acquiesced in the Lord’s restored Church being called by other names, each of which expunges the sacred name of Jesus Christ.”  

It seems that President Nelson is condemning every LDS leader from Joseph Smith on for the past 180 years, for using the terms “Mormon” and “Mormonism” in their speeches and writings.  As prophets and apostles, shouldn’t they have known they were being offensive to God?  How could they not know that it was such a big deal to the God of Mormonism?  And, why did God wait so long to make this “correction?”  For a century and a half, past church leaders were giving victory to Satan and offending Jesus.  Even, disregarding Christ’s atonement.  Sounds awfully serious!

Nelson is admitting that former LDS leaders for 170 years were wrong in allowing the Church’s choir to be known as the “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”  He is acknowledging that Church leadership was wrong in allowing the words “Mormon” and “Mormonism” to appear on official LDS websites, in periodicals, and in correlated manuals that are approved by the First Presidency.  President Hinckley quoted Joseph Smith when he said, “Mormon means more, good.” (Ensign, November 1990).  Apostle Russell Ballard said, “While Mormon is not the full and correct name of the Church, and even though it was originally given by our detractors during our early years of persecution, it has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution.  We do not need to stop using the name Mormons when appropriate.” (Ensign, November 2011, p. 81).  “Mormonism” is a term that has been used since the Church founder Joseph Smith, Jr. said, “One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:499).

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