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-Mormons Aren’t Mormons Anymore?

by Dr. D ~ September 11th, 2018


A couple of weeks ago the leader of the Mormon Church declared that we should stop calling them ‘Mormons’ and instructed his members and the press to refer to his church by the official name only: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the New York Times:

The word “Mormon” is out, says the president of the Utah-based church. But the proper term for what to call the faith and its followers is a mouthful.

… President Russell M. Nelson insisted that Mormons and non-Mormons alike stick to the term “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Mr. Nelson, 93, said that the policy change came to him in a revelation from God and that members of the church must work to adjust their vernacular. …

The church’s updated style guide specifies that “Mormon Church,” “Mormons” and “Mormonism” are no longer acceptable. And no, you should not use the abbreviation “L.D.S.,” either.

<Read the whole article>,

Response: Every group or organization has the right to name themselves. However, the chances that this religious group will no longer be called ‘Mormons’ is somewhere between slim and none and far closer to no way.

I perceive that even members of this church will have some difficulty not using the nickname, L.D.S or Latter-day Saint, which was also outlawed by their leader. I can’t even begin to count all of the cars I have followed over the years with a ‘LDS’ bumper sticker or in the back window. Also I have noticed that among the Mormon acquaintances I do have, most have referred to other members of their church as LDS. I can’t imagine them saying- oh, he’s a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also. A real mouthful to say the least.

On the other hand, if members of this church revert to calling themselves members of ‘The Church’ instead of ‘LDS’ or ‘Mormons’ it could potentially be offensive to others on the outside. Historically Mormons have claimed to be ‘The’ Church of Jesus Christ and all others false in some way which was the reason given for its organization in the first place.

A little bit of history is in order. The original name of the Mormon church when it was organized in 1830 was- ‘Church of Christ.’ A few years later they became known as the Church of Jesus Christ and then the ‘Church of Latter Day Saints.’ Finally, in 1838 the official name became ‘the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ which it still is today.

Meanwhile those outside of the church began to call them ‘Mormons’ after the Book of Mormon which is part of the scriptural canon of the LDS and differentiates them from the majority of religious groups in America which accepts only the Bible. The term was descriptive and sometime used in pejorative way. Nevertheless, its usage became  dominant in reference to this religious group. So much so that even members of the LDS church finally became comfortable enough with it to use it themselves: Mormon Trail, Mormon History, and in the “I’m a Mormon” series.

Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic and Episcopalian- all nick names used in America for different religious groups instead of the official church names along with more general terms like Evangelical, Charismatic, and Pentecostal. After 188 years the name ‘Mormon’ and ‘Mormon Church’ has become part of the American language, culture, and history and it will continue to be used far more than the official name regardless of the recent declaration.                *Top

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3 Responses to -Mormons Aren’t Mormons Anymore?

  1. -Mormons Aren't Mormons Anymore? | ANSWERS For The Faith

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  2. Brian

    My cynical read on this Dr. D – the unspoken goal of Mormon (there! I said it!) leadership is confusion. Lots of Americans now know generally that there is something “different” about the Mormons. Those who have actually learned about Mormonism know that core beliefs are antithetical to basic Christian beliefs. For example, God was once a human who “got promoted”, Jesus is a different person (a different human) who likewise got promoted, Satan is Jesus’ brother, and salvation by works are all Mormon doctrines that are radically different from Christianity. So different, in fact, that I do not think one can truthfully describe “Mormons” as being Christian.

    I concede that Mormons use the language of Christianity in their religious beliefs but they ascribe fundamentally different meanings to so many core concepts (examples of which I listed above) that they cannot be considered Christian. By way of analogy, if one went to Haiti, one could sit in on a voodoo ritual. One would observe the houngan conducting a ceremony that in many ways resembled a Catholic mass and invoking the names of saints and even the Virgin Mary. But it is not Catholicism. Similarly, a Mormon missionary may tell you that “We believe in Jesus Christ just like you do” but because their beliefs ABOUT Jesus are so fundamentally altered, it is no more Christianity than the voodoo rite is Catholic.

    Ultimately, I believe that the goal here is to deceive the general public believe that this is just another Christian church (in the classic sense) by de-emphasizing the names which would identify the church as Mormon and encouraging people to mistakenly view it as just another Christian denomination.


  3. Dr. D

    Thanks Brian, I believe you are correct.

    However if you asked Mormon leaders they would claim that they are merely trying to emphasize what they believe themselves to be- ‘The Restored Church of Jesus Christ’ which is a title and name they still are going to permit their members to use.

    This is why they want to de-emphasize ‘Mormon’ and ‘Latter-day Saint.’ Though they are pretty much stuck with their full name they are in the process of coaching their members to say the name with an emphasis on ‘THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST’ part and a quick under the breath gloss over the rest-‘Latter-day Saints.’

    Internally they teach that their beliefs are exactly the same as the first century Apostles and that the doctrines of all other churches have been changed over the years along with the Bible and therefore false.

    Also Brian, if you talk with most LDS members today they will disagree that the following are teaching of their church even though major Mormon leaders have promoted such in the past: “God was once a human who “got promoted”, Jesus is a different person (a different human) who likewise got promoted, Satan is Jesus’ brother, and salvation by works.”

    In the last 15 years or so the current leaders have tried to back their church away from some of the more controversial teachings of the past. In that process they have made a concerted effort to engage a number of evangelical seminary professors, leaders, and theologians to come to BYU for dialogues and conferences. There are a number of books out that reflect and record those dialogues. Definition of terms still remains a major problem since LDS use Christian language but their understanding can be quite different.

    Here’s a link to my reviews on 3 of the dialogue books: http://answersforthefaith.com/bookreviews/category/religion/mormonism/

    The major doctrine that continues to separate Mormons from Christian denominations, no matter what was said in the past or said today, is their belief that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate Gods.

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