I am not Mormon.
Mormon was an ancient Prophet and historian.
I am not him.
For those who ask my religious affiliation, if I respond that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, most likely you look at me with confusion until I add the tag line, “I am Mormon.” It is the quickest response. It is the most recognizable answer. It rolls easily off the tongue – but it is only a nickname¹ and it may be misleading
Why misleading? Because so often the follow up question to stating I am Mormon is: “Oh. You’re Mormon, so you aren’t Christian, right?” Or, “So do you celebrate Christmas?” Had the nickname not been so popular, and the full name of Christ’s church declared dominance, there would be no question as to whether “Mormons” are Christians. And for me, that is a really big deal.
Here’s a little inside scoop: The Prophet Mormon (A.D. 300’s) was a pivotal man in recording and safe guarding gospel doctrine, ancient history and divine revelation. Mormon was one of the prophets who wrote in the Book of Mormon. The book bears his name because he was the grand compiler of the sacred plates. Mormon was a Prophet of God. It is not Mormon to whom I pray. It is not Mormon from whom I receive answers. It is not Mormon who offered me redemption. It is not Mormon who sacrificed for my sins. It is not Mormon of whose doctrine I am a disciple. It is also not Joseph Smith to whom I pray or who I worship. Joseph Smith (1800’s) was the prophet who was called by God to translate the Book of Mormon and restore the fullness of Christ’s gospel to this dispensation.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. A follower of Jesus Christ. A believer of Jesus Christ. A seeker of Jesus Christ. And as such, I am a member of Jesus Christ’s Church. The Church of Jesus Christ. The same church² that God established for Adam and Eve. The same church that Christ established when He lived on this earth. The same church that has seen both persecution and acclaim, apostasy and baptism, crucification and praise, rebellion and restoration.
The Book of Mormon tells us the “name” we Christians should call our church. In the book of Third Nephi, chapter 27, the disciples of Christ ask the resurrected Jesus which name they should be called:
3 And they said unto him: Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church; for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.
4 And the Lord said unto them: Verily, verily, I say unto you, why is it that the people should murmur and dispute because of this thing?
5 Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day;
6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.
7 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.
8 And how be it my church 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.
Thus you may see why I do not call my church or myself, “Mormon.” It is not Mormon’s church or doctrine that I follow. It is Jesus Christ’s Church of which I am a believer and disciple.
Having explained all of this, however, the nickname really has stuck. And we have stuck it to ourselves! For example, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mormon.org, and the movie Meet the Mormons. We are not offended by the nickname whatsoever, because we love the prophet Mormon. We just desperately hope you also know the real name.
If you care to dig in even a little deeper:
In these latter days of the earth, the last dispensation of time, Jesus Christ’s church has been revealed to be called “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Until recently I have wondered why “of Latter-day Saints” must be part of our name. Then my brother shared with me the following information:
Elder B. H. Roberts commented on D&C 115: “It will be observed that in verses three and four of this revelation the Lord gives to the Church its official name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ … The appropriateness of this title is self evident, and in it there is a beautiful recognition of the relationship both of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Saints to the organization. It is ‘The Church of Jesus Christ.’ It is the Lord’s; He owns it, He organized it. It is the Sacred Depository of His truth. It is His instrumentality for promulgating all those spiritual truths with which He would have mankind acquainted. It is also His instrumentality for the perfecting of the Saints, as well as for the work of the ministry. It is His in all these respects; but it is an institution which also belongs to the Saints. It is their refuge from the confusion and religious doubt of the world. It is their instructor in principle, doctrine, and righteousness. It is their guide in matters of faith and morals. They have a conjoint ownership in it with Jesus Christ, which ownership is beautifully recognized in the latter part of the title. …” (History of the Church, 3:23–24n; see also 3 Nephi 27:7–8.)
Christ’s Church is the “Sacred Depository of His truth” and “His instrumentality for promulgating all those spiritual truths with which He would have mankind acquainted.” And this is why I study Christ’s teachings in all of His holy scriptures.
There is indeed “confusion and religious doubt” in this world, but peace can be found amidst the confusion. I have supernal peace as I study the word’s of Christ and the doctrine taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do not understand all of Christ’s doctrines. I have questions yet. But I have complete peace and faith in Christ’s teachings that I have come to learn, comprehend and live. Thanks to many a faithful prophet, like Moses and Mormon, Christ’s truths were recorded, passed down and restored to us in these last days.
I may not be Mormon, but I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I have taken upon me His name.
I am Christ’s.
I am Christian.
A Few Fancy Footnotes:
The nickname Mormon was created by people who were not members of the Church to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name comes from the sacred book of scripture compiled by the ancient prophet Mormon and entitled the Book of Mormon. The name given by the Lord by which members of the Church are to be known is “Saints.” The correct name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
²CHURCH (noun): (1) a building for public and especially Christian worship, (2) the clergy or officialdom of a religious body, (3) a body of organization of religious believers
³CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, THE
See also Church, Name of; Church of Jesus Christ; Church, Signs of the True; Restoration of the Gospel
The name given to the Church of Christ in the latter-days to distinguish it from the Church in other dispensations (D&C 115:3–4).