What’s in a name?
3 Nephi 27:7-8 “ Therefore ye shall call the church in my name;....And how be it my church save it be called in my name?”
Mormon Apostle James E. Talmage said the following about 3 Nephi 27:4-12
In such wise did the Lord confirm as an authoritative bestowal, the name which, through inspiration, had been assumed by His obedient children, The Church of Jesus Christ. The Lord's explanation as to the one and only Name by which the Church could be appropriately known is cogent and convincing. It was not the church of Lehi or Nephi, of Mosiah or Alma, of Samuel or Helaman; else it should have been called by the name of the man whose church it was, even as today there are churches named after men; but being the Church established by Jesus Christ, it could properly bear none other name than His.” (Jesus the Christ, 1973 edition p. 737)
Why would the Lord give a specific name to a Church when He never did this in the Bible? The Bible lists many names to describe the true Church, church of God (1 Cor. 1:2 and many other passages) church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), churches of Christ (a plurality of local churches Rom. 16:16), assembly of God, flock (Acts 20:28), church (Acts 11:26 and many other passages), general assembly and church of the firstborn (Heb. 12:23), body (Eph. 1:23 and other passages), body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), kingdom of God (Col. 4:11 and other passages), kingdom of his dear Son (Col. 1:13), kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5), family of God/ household of God/ house of God (1 Tim. 3:15), assembly of Christ. So its not a name that makes one official or authentic, but that Christ the true Lord, who is God over all dwells in the people as they assemble to worship and serve Him.
“In June, 1829, the Lord gave us the name by which we must call the church, being the same as He gave the Nephites. We obeyed His commandment, and called it The Church of Christ until 1834, when, through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to The Church of the Latter Day Saints, dropping out the name of Christ entirely.” (An Address to Believers In Christ, Witmer, p. 73).
Why do this if it was a command from the Lord? Well the answer becomes obvious with anyone with a small amount of Biblical knowledge. Jesus never gave a specific name to the Church and he certainly was not the one who commanded the Mormon church to have a name.
On April 6, 1830 church founded on the Name The Church of Christ. From the beginning the Mormon Church on April 6, 1830 to May 3, 1834, the name of the church was the “Church of Christ.”
For this reason their Church's name was “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said, “One or more of the names of Christ has always been used in the formal name of the Church.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1979 edition, page 136)
But the name The Church of the Latter-day Saints was used from May 3, 1834 to April 25, 1838, almost four years without Christ. At a conference of Elders on May 3, 1834, Joseph Smith, Jr. as moderator, had the name “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” adopted by unanimous vote (The Evening and Morning Star, Vol. 2 No. 20, page 160, May 1834, also the History of the Church 2:62.)
Then from April 26, 1838 to the present it has been known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” as it is named in the Doctrine and Covenants 115:3.
Why did they disobey the command of the Lord? Does this mean that for almost four years, since they did not have the name of Christ, they were NOT Christ's church? According to their own teaching in 3 Nephi 27:6-8 “And how be it my church save it be called in my name?” That would be Christ. Does this mean the Mormon church joined the apostasy that they claimed all of Christianity was in?
Why couldn't they get their name right in the first place, if it was divinely inspired?
On April 8, 1973, LDS Apostle Mark E. Petersen proclaimed that salvation “comes only through the Church itself as the Lord established it... Therefore it was made clearly manifest that salvation is in the Church, and of the Church, and is obtained only through the Church.” This is just as Roman catholic church teaches.
The Bible on the other hand teaches salvation comes through Christ the person and His work on the cross. The Church is to proclaim this message, salvation by God’s grace - through the cross which we (the true church) believe and proclaim. But this is not what the Mormons believe. So does it matter what name they use?
A tract published by the Mormon church Which Church Is Right? 1982, page 17 states Other churches cannot save souls, they have no divine authority. Who says they do? They say it, I say so what. You need to prove it. And the only way to prove it is to preach what the Bible teaches as it alone is eternal truth.
Mormon president, Gordon B. Hinckley clearly stated to the leaders: “Our message is so imperative, when you stop to think that the salvation, the eternal salvation of the world, rests upon the shoulders of this Church. When all is said and done, if the world is going to be saved, we have to do it” (Church Is Really Doing Well, Church News, 3 July 1999, 3.) Imagine the fate of all people rests on sinful people of a church that has a false witness of Christ. Hardly comforting. For the Bible teaches the savior is a person and the Church finds its authority by how it adheres to the bible and the apostles teaching, the ancient apostles personally appointed by the Lord, not some Johnny come latelys.
But there are more problems than just the name. In Alma 46:15 it states, “And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come.” This is taking place in 73 B.C. Could they be called Christians before the church was established, yea even before Christ was born? Nowhere do we find in the Old Testament that they were called Christians, not even when Christ was alive among them. It was only after his resurrection when they followed him by his holy spirit that they were first called Christians. The Bible teaches Acts 11:26… the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” This was approximately 40 A.D. a distance of 100 years. To be called a Christian means one follows Christ. How can one do this if Christ was not incarnated to be a man yet? The Bible as usual has a very different story.
Today they have made the words Jesus Christ bigger as if this makes them more official, as if the name gives them authority. The name on the door of a church matters much less than the doctrine it teaches. The Mormon church teaches so many false doctrines condemned by the Bible that the only thing they may have in common is the name. But putting Jesus' name on their wall doesn't change that fact that they are not Christ’s. Because they have a completely different Jesus. In the same way wearing badge with elder on it certainly does not make one an elder in the Biblical sense. There is no elder I have met that can answer adequately their own doctrines much less the Bibles.
Now the Mormon church is going to change the name to “The Church of Jesus Christ”, dropping the Latter- day Saints. They would be more accurate to describe themselves as “ The church of another Jesus Christ (“of Latter- day saints”), just like they have another Testament of Jesus Christ. The LDS Church advertises the Book of Mormon as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” If it is another as meaning same, than the “Testaments” should agree! But they differ more than they have similarities, so it really should be called a different testament (Gospel) of Jesus (see Galatians1:6-9). Their Jesus is the preexistent angel who came to earth while the other angels, that is you and I, stayed in heaven waiting to be born in bodies. This is not Christianity nor should it be accepted as such today.
Recently the Mormon church built a new chapel in Keolu hills Kane'ohe where 3 wards meet with an attendance of about 250 at the weekly service (Honolulu Advertiser Faith section Oct. 26, 2002). Breaking from their tradition to call the church its official name this is named Keolu Hills Chapel. This is a significant move to m ake the community think they are just one of the many Christian churches.
So I ask you what’s in a name? Well not much if what is behind the name is completely different than the real thing.