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Thursday, March 14, 2013

What's in a name?

Many people only know members of my faith as "Mormons" or members of the "Mormon" Church. Though it is a handy nickname for members of the Church, we are not actually called the Mormon Church officially. This is simply a term that others applied to the Church based on our belief in the book of scripture entitled the "Book of Mormon". Truly, the Church is not focused on Mormon very much at all; he was a prophet and was the man who abridged the many records of these ancient people into a shorter, more efficiently organized, concise record. Though we respect him highly for this effort, we by no means worship Mormon or center our doctrine on him. When Jesus Christ commanded the Nephites to name the church after Him, He explained, "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" (3 Nephi 27:8). Therefore, we do not hold that we are the "Mormon" church, because we are focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ explained that we must take upon ourselves the name of Christ and follow Him. The Nephites then called themselves the Church of Christ. In this time, since the Church of Christ has been restored to the Earth, the Lord revealed the name of His Church to the prophet Joseph Smith. He said, "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4).

As my professor explained today, the name of the Church has very deep and symbolic meaning. First, the word "The" signifies that it is the single Church of God. It is the Church of Christ restored in this last time period of Earth, called the "Latter-days". The original Christian usage of the word "saint" means a believer in Christ, or a follower of Him. Therefore, the members proclaim to be followers of Christ. Even the "of" before "Jesus Christ" and before "Latter-day Saints" is significant. A word of possession or ownership, the "of" before Jesus Christ signifies that the Church is His possession. It is also a possession of the Saints, or members, but is primarily Jesus Christ's ownership that He delegates the members to organize and administer over. Finally, the most beautiful symbolism to me is that the Church is the "bride" of Christ, as referred to in the Bible several times. When a man marries, he gives his name to his wife, and later to his children. In the same way, Christ gives His name to His "bride" the Church and the members are children of Christ. Jesus is the protector, provider, and presides, just as a father does for his family. The Church, symbolizing a wife and mother, nurtures, teaches, and comforts the members through different programs. As I have grown up in the Church, I have strongly felt this sense of family and support in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as everyone strives to love one another and serve God.

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