The church has a big new public relations approach on it's website Mormon.org. It's gotten some press lately. It features everyday people who are "Mormon" and it's intent I believe is to show a good, everyday, positive image of those belonging to the church. It is likely geared to give an attractive, positive view to nonmembers of the diversity, and "normalness" of those belonging to the faith. It will probably work. A very interesting approach to public relations. It's being "tested" in test markets to make sure it is well received. I'd be curious how "success" is measured. But my thought and post here is about the term Mormon. (by the way click on the scripture references or you'll miss stuff)
Least anyone miss the obvious truth in plain sight, there is a trend of substituting the name of Christ for the name of a man. It's played off as a nickname, or because the churches official name is a mouthful. "The mormon church" is a common phrase by both members and nonmembers. It's false, Christ couldn't have been more clear on the matter. (3 Ne. 27: 7-11, see below)
I also understand overuse of the Lords name is a problem too, hence the use of "Melchizedek" priesthood D&C 107: 4. But the name of the church, and the name in our heart is another matter. The reference in this post today is individual and internal in nature. If someone were to ask "are you Mormon" I don't know that correcting their word usage to reflect the official name of the church is always the right thing to do. What I am saying is that there is a critical distinction in those words, and I think it's absolutely vital to internally and personally have a look at it. One relies on an institution, a string of emotions or emotional experiences, a set of prescribed beliefs, is very cultural, the other has its' foundation on the Rock of Heaven, the Son of God and a confirmation that originating in Heaven. The doctrine of Christ IS in the Book of Mormon, it is had within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I just hope we don't get so caught up in calling ourselves one thing that we subtly forget what is the most important thing. I hope we don't just broadcast to the world "I'm Mr. Ms. or Mrs.________ and I'm Mormon" yet forget the saving doctrine of Christ who's name He said was the one we should be known by. How can we be known by his name if we call ourselves by another name? When the scripture says "be known by his name". Be known by whom? Who's it talking about? That all may be entirely personal, that's for you to decide.
Christ, in the scriptures Mormon's claim to believe in, was very clear on what should be the name of His church. The words are so clear you have to try really really hard, as well as close your eyes and plug your ears to misunderstand. "3 Ne. 27: 8 : "And how be it amy bchurch save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel."
Those are the words of Jesus Christ, notice his example uses Moses, a prophet. It seems there is a growing culture of membership in the "church of a prophet", in our case the Mormon church. This clearly is not what Christ taught to call the church. Now again I'm talking about the heart of the individual, not how they would answer every single question about their religious affiliation. But do you think such a distinction exists? Are our words reflective of our inner selves? I think you can sense the difference if you listen closely to two people using the same words. The Spirit of God is able to discern our hearts, it can give a person the correct words in a particular situation depending on what is appropriate for that moment. (D&C 100: 6). Could a distinction be evident our countenance? I think so.
So to sum this up, this post is more about how we as people orient ourselves and how our words are often important indicators. The critics view of Mormons is often that they are not Christian. Rather than fight back with a bunch of intellectual understanding or points of doctrine or quotes from someone you heard one time I think it'd be FAR better to respond humbly and maybe ask the "Am I a true Christian" question inside your own heart. Instead of a battle, you may find a brother, or a sister and both could be edified together by learning from each other.
So about Mormon, the original person bearing the name, in his own words declares the following: 3 Ne. 5: 13 "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been acalled of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." He is obviously a Christian. The words he declares are not his own, they are Gods word. He refers to himself as a disciple of Christ, and his actions are consistent with that. There is a modern tendency to refer to ourselves as Mormons and perhaps our actions are consistent with our words. Hum...... a bit of irony perhaps. This whole process happens subtly, so much so that it's viewed as completely normal, and totally acceptable. I mean who up and assimilates into a false church named after someone other than Jesus Christ? Who does that in one fell swoop? It happens step by step, subtly, and carefully. All the while assured "all is well in Zion," and "your church is the true one". This has already been foreseen, scriptures warnings have said this for a long time (2 Ne. 28: 21). Drawing near the Lords servants, or mouthpieces, then calling ourselves after them is not really what the scriptures taught us to do (D&C 76: 98-100). The Lord says "draw near unto me". Thank goodness He is no respecter of persons, and will answer each of our prayers asked in faith, there need not be an intermediary.
More from our friend Mormon (Morm. 8: 38). He talks about the holy church of God becoming polluted. How people are ashamed to take upon themselves the name of Christ. Interesting how that scripture is in the actual book written by Mormon, it identifies a group who has trouble taking upon themselves the name of Christ. Since we are the group of folks who believe in the book we should pay attention to when it may refer to us. So why is one of the official church websites named after Mormon anyway? Is being Mormon synonymous with Disciple of Christ? Interesting to think about.
I understand how others apply the mormon nickname to the church. But when people inside it call themselves "Mormons" and say "I'm a Mormon" I go to the "Mormon church" what is it's meaning? Are they in that moment saying they are a follower of Jesus Christ, the restored Gospel and internally biting their tongue as they endure the temporary cultural nickname? Or are they confirming they merely ascribe to a set of outward beliefs and outward actions termed the Mormon church involving things like tea and coffee, food storage, moral principles and abstinence from alcohol? I don't know, food for thought. You see the distinction I'm trying to make? It's mostly an internal distinction.
I love the truth, I have found incredible light in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit and learning doctrine from the Book of Mormon. I do not see any value in claiming membership in the church of a man, or looking to cultural trends to satisfy spiritual needs. It doesn't work. I don't see to rely on traditions. The Lord yes, the Spirit yes, and if the instrument is a human or earthly organization then that poses no problem because it's the Spirit I'm following not the mouthpiece. I trust in the programs and ordinances the Lord has instituted. I sustain the leaders because I love them and wish for Gods support in their duties. I also however have the personal obligation to discern truth from error and to align with the truth, heeding the right Spirit. I do not say anything in these posts to criticize, instead I hope it is helpful and interesting. Jesus said "Come follow Me". I think He has provided a way to learn and grow and receive ordinances with the Church. But membership in an institution and following Christ may in fact not fundamentally be synonymous, although they obviously go together. When I say what group I belong to, my meaning and orientation is clear to me. If someone cared to ask, they would learn that very quickly. I too however have flaws and errors, I'm no one special.
Hopefully I've been able to communicate what I think is a vital difference in life orientation. We should look to Christ and live. He is the author and finisher of our faith after all. We should experience moments when words are not sufficient, nor are our bodies able to contain the joy as well as our gratitude and love for Him who in perfect love gave his life a ransom for all.