Jesus Christ – the Symbol of “Mormonism”

“[I]f it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – Acts 5:39

I recently saw an angry meme created by virulent, self-proclaimed anti-Mormons who have a very unChristian ministry devoted completely and wholly to supposedly “Leading Mormons to the REAL Jesus Christ.” The meme, like nearly all hostile propaganda past and present that I have seen, is based on lies. It quotes from four different latter-day prophet-presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints referring to this or that as symbols of our faith. The meme twisted the words to mean that we exclude Jesus Christ and, therefore, we are fake Christians and that these men are “false prophets.” I take it upon myself today to disabuse the unwitting of this false idea and to rebuke the creators of this ministry for fighting against God. 

Art by Michael Malm – http://www.mikemalm.com/religiousart

Firstly, it is disingenuous to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “Mormons” or to our Christian religion as “Mormonism.” Yes, it is absolutely true that we have used these terms to refer to ourselves at times, but they have never been the preferred or formally accepted terms. We have used them because they were the only terms that the world knew. To make it easier for them to find and identify them, we were sometimes lackluster in our use of the proper name of the Church.  

The formal name of our Church was given by revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith and is codified in modern scriptures which we happily join to the Holy Bible to form a powerful witness for Jesus Christ’s divinity, love, and redemption. The Lord stated: 

“Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. . . .  

“And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world; 

“For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

“Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations; 

“And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:1, 3-6). 

The name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” has always been the correct name of our Church. It is the name which sets us apart and makes us a “light [and] a standard for the nations.” While we have sometimes used “Mormon Church,” it is nevertheless true that this term is more particularly used in a derisive way by detractors and dissenters. I have found it fascinating in my life as I have seen friends become disaffected and apostatize that they begin to deemphasize the correct name of the Church, removing Jesus Christ from the equation and settling on the term “Mormon.” Faithful members, however, hold up the Lord and are willing to take His name upon us and be called Christians. 

In 2018, shortly after President Russell M. Nelson was chosen and ordained as the prophet-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he gave an address titled “The Correct Name of the Church” wherein he emphasized the need to never compromise on the name revealed by Heaven. He stated: 

“Let me explain why we care so deeply about this issue. But first let me state what this effort is not

“It is not a name change. 

“It is not rebranding. 

“It is not cosmetic. 

“It is not a whim. 

“And it is not inconsequential. 

“Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord. Joseph Smith did not name the Church restored through him; neither did Mormon. It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” 

“Even earlier, in AD 34, our resurrected Lord gave similar instruction to members of His Church when He visited them in the Americas. At that time He said: 

““Ye shall call the church in my name. . . . 

““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.” 

“Thus, the name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended. 

“What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement. . . . 

“When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives. . . . 

“For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the “Mormon Church.” But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. Unfortunately, many who hear the term Mormon may think that we worship Mormon. Not so! We honor and respect that great ancient American prophet. But we are not Mormon’s disciples. We are the Lord’s disciples. 

“In the early days of the restored Church, terms such as Mormon Church and Mormons were often used as epithets—as cruel terms, abusive terms—designed to obliterate God’s hand in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. . . . 

“If someone should ask, “Are you a Mormon?” you could reply, “If you are asking if I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yes, I am!” 

“If someone asks, “Are you a Latter-day Saint?” you might respond, “Yes, I am. I believe in Jesus Christ and am a member of His restored Church.” 

“My dear brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. 

“So, what’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is “Everything!” Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power. 

“I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. He leads His Church today. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.” 

Can it be any clearer? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and correct name of the Lord’s restored Church. I declare by the Holy Spirit, which has given me a personal and independent witness, that this Church is in fact the Lord’s. I testify that Joseph Smith was a righteous man chosen by the Lord as a prophet and instrument in His holy hands to restore His Church. I also know this because the Lord taught that “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:17). 

I witness sincerely and plainly that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fulfills numerous ancient promises, including that the Lord would do a “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14), that He would give the Gospel to mankind in the last days through an angel (Revelation 14:6), that He would gather “together in one all things in Christ” in the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10), and that He would make the Bible and The Book of Mormon one in His hand to establish His Gospel truth (Ezekiel 37:19). 

It is a misrepresentation to call the Lord’s restored Church anything but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Often, the name “Mormon” is used maliciously like a scoffing epithet by those attempting to distance us from our Redeemer Jesus Christ and paint us as something we are not. They don’t mind calling people of a hundred different denominations – Baptists, Methodists, Seven-Day Adventists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Episcopalians, etc. – “Christians,” so why is it so hard to call members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints “Christians”?  

Calling ourselves “Christians,” or even “Saints,” links us to the Lord’s primitive Church and it is something we happily and gladly do. When people join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they do so through baptism, which is conducted in these words by the officiator: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” These words come from a revelation given in 1830. I quote a few lines from it: 

“Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. 

“He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. 

“He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; 

“And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father; 

“That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved. . . . 

“And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. 

“And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; 

“And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. . . . 

“And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:21-26, 29-31, 37). 

I won’t tell you how many references there were to Jesus Christ in these few verses, but I challenge you to go back and count them. Everything we do in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relates back to our Savior. The Prophet Joseph Smith once remarked that: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion” (Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal, July, 1838, 44). 

Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith. He is our Lord and Master. He is our hope and our Mediator. He is matchless in His might and majesty. He is the One we are waiting for to return to earth in glory, cleanse the wicked, and build Zion. Everything we do, everything we hope, everything we are, is because of, through, and for, Jesus Christ. 

The resurrected Lord ministering to Nephite children, as recorded in 3 Nephi 17 of The Book of Mormon

One of our most beloved verses of scripture from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is a tree that produces the sweetest fruit, comes from the ancient Israelite prophet Nephi, writing around 580 B.C. He bore an endearing testimony that all Latter-day Saints joyfully echo: 

“Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. 

“And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church. 

“Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. 

“And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things. 

“And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. . . . 

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after [i.e. not withstanding] all we can do. . . . 

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . . 

“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:13-17, 23, 26, 29). 

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is so hated and reviled by those who have never read it and who know precious little about it besides what detractors have written in anger, speaks of Christ on nearly every page. Of the 6,607 verses in the record, 3,925 speak of the Savior. It is a Christian book if ever there was one. 

A depiction of the Savior’s visit to ancient America, as recorded in 3 Nephi 11

The ancient Israelite prophets who wrote and compiled the record foretold Jesus’ virgin birth, His ministry and the healings He would perform, His crucifixion and Atonement for the sins of the world, His resurrection from the dead, and His eventual appearance in the New World. When He appeared in ancient America, He repeated the Sermon on the Mount and gave other teachings regarding the House of Israel and the last days that are precious. He explained, for instance, that this branch of Israel was among those He called “other sheep” when He said in His ministry: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). 

The Book of Mormon does not preach some other or mysterious Christ, it preaches the same Christ who is Alpha and Omega, the Word, Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of Hosts, the Bread of Life, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer. I am personally grateful for this extra flood of knowledge that shines such a powerful beam of light on my Lord and His Gospel, confirming their meaning and helping me walk more faithfully and precisely the path of Christian discipleship. 

I bear my witness, for whatever it is worth to you, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s Church. It is, as He said it is, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). It was restored by angels who conferred their Priesthood authorities and keys and powers on Joseph Smith and his associates, many of whom witnessed of these truths. At least twelve separate men signed their names to documents and published them throughout the world witnesses that they saw the metallic records upon which The Book of Mormon account was recorded. Three of these men, apart from Joseph Smith, stated that an angel showed them to them: 

“And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things.” 

We don’t need angels to minister to us to know in the depth of our soul that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a true witness for Christ. I know it. The Holy Ghost has given me a firm testimony of its authenticity. And the Savior’s words confirm its goodness, for it points our souls to Him, teaches us to do good, speaks harshly against error and the Devil, and has a distinct ring of truth.  

I know that from the Prophet Joseph Smith’s day to our own, the Lord has called prophets to oversee His “marvellous work and a wonder.” The Lord’s current mouthpiece is President Russell M. Nelson. He is a watchman on the wall. He is a witness of Jesus Christ. 

To conclude, the chief symbol of this thing that scoffers and the unknowing call “Mormonism,” is none other than Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His organization restored to the earth. In it is His Priesthood authority. In it shines His Gospel light. In it are true Christians who humbly serve the Lord, love others, and attempt to follow the Lord’s instruction to “go . . . into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). 

Art by Michael Malm

To any who may have sincere questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Restored Gospel of the Savior, I encourage you to either write to me, to search on the Church’s website, or to have an in-person or virtual meeting with missionaries. I also urge you to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ for inspiration. He will not fail you if you are sincere in your searching. Anyone can know the truth of these things if they will but pay the price for an answer from the Lord. God bless you. 

Zack Strong, 
October 18, 2022

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