Giving Back His Name

Jeff Spector christ, christianity, doctrine, Jesus, Mormon, sacrament 20 Comments

“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; And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:5-6)

At baptism, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ.  Taking the name of Jesus Christ means you “always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.” (D&C 20:77; Moro. 4:3.) If we are truly born again, we become His Sons and His Daughters and taking upon His name has even more significance. (Mosiah 27:25)

This is a universal Christian principle, not exclusive to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Apostle Paul wrote “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27) Peter reinforced the idea that “neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

And while the Church teaches that salvation and exaltation come in and through the Lord’s true church, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one can make the case that taking on the name of Jesus Christ and belonging to the LDS Church can be independent of one another. You will not find that taught in the Church, but certainly, there are many, many non-LDS Christians who are deeply committed to the Savior, follow His example and keep His commandments as best they can.

So, what of those who reject His Gospel, whether as members of LDS Church or not? While most Christian denominations believe in the principle of “once saved, always saved,” the LDS Church does not teach this principle.  Through sin, unbelief or rejection, one can lose their place in heaven.

So, for those who have left the Church, forsaken the covenants made at Baptism and through partaking of the sacrament, have they, in fact, given back His name?

And, does it matter?

Comments

comments

Comments 20

  1. I’ve expressed my views on this so won’t go into details, but I have a much broader view than the “one True Church” philosophy we teach and upon which our Church was founded. At the end of the day, I think it matters if we are good people and don’t think it matters if you’re LDS. Any necessary ordinances can be taken care of in this life or the next, so that doesn’t really matter too much either.

    I view the LDS Church more as the tribe of Levi. The Levite priests performed ordinances for all the tribes, but that didn’t mean all of the tribes need to be Levites. Perhaps for the vast majority of the world, being LDS isn’t the right path for them, but ordinances can be done as needed, just like in ancient times.

  2. A statement by Stephen E. Robinson (from an Ensign no less!!!) resonates with me in this regard, he wrote (para) ‘Being a member of the Church of Christ is a matter of who has your heart, rather than who has your records’. I suspect that it is possible (and that some do) become closer to Christ as a result of leaving the Church. What this will mean for them at Judgment day I am unsure. I suspect that the factors which create the situation that carries someone to leave (but in a move toward Christ) are actually the result of failures within the Church (which even the Lord is unhappy with) and therefore I suspect will be forgiven.

  3. “So, for those who have left the Church, forsaken the covenants made at Baptism and through partaking of the sacrament, have they, in fact, given back His name?”

    Sorry, Jeff, but this is borderline offensive. It may not represent your own views, and you may be simply asking the question to elicit a response to the murky doctrinal waters of mormon apostasy, but I would venture to guess that most people who leave the faith don’t feel that they are leaving Christ behind as they go. They may feel that they can only follow Jesus the way they feel compelled by the spirit to follow him by leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  4. Mike, Ann, SteveS, take a closer look at what (I think) Jeff’s trying to say:

    “[T]aking on the name of Jesus Christ and belonging to the LDS Church can be independent of one another. You will not find that taught in the Church, but certainly, there are many, many non-LDS Christians who are deeply committed to the Savior, follow His example and keep His commandments as best they can.

    So, what of those who reject His Gospel, whether as members of LDS Church or not?”

    I read that as asking the question, “What of those (be they LDS or other Christian) who expressly reject Christianity?”

    I’m inclined to believe that God forgives honest error at least as readily as He forgives, say, getting angry with your spouse. The charitable interpretation of the Christian doctrine of apostasy is that the condemnations for it, only apply to people whose apostasy is the result of moral fault. Intellectual integrity is not a moral fault. If a person has not been unreasonably lax in seeking the truth, then if the circumstances of his life have shaped his thinking such that he is genuinely convinced that it would be intellectually dishonest to continue to call himself a Christian, then I don’t see how he is to be faulted for that. In that case, he will be judged according to his faithfulness to the light and knowledge he has received. It is possible that inasmuch as he does good to his fellow men, it will be counted as service unto Christ.

    Alternatively, all of this is just fallible mortal reasoning, and the truth is simply that some are called to salvific faith in Christ, and others are predestined to unbelief and damnation. I say that’s a TULIP, and I say the hell with it.

  5. #1, Mike S, “Tribe of Levi.” That is very intriguing to me. I will think about that a bit. I agree with the other parts of your comment.

    #3, ARakaR, You got the point of the post. Thank you. That might be a better perspective for us to consider rather than blame the person.

    #4, SteveS, borderline offensive.” No intention on my part to do that. Many members who leave profess to become agnostic or atheist rather than continue as Christian. I also point out that being LDS and having the name of Christ upon you can be two different things.

  6. I don’t think that people who leave the church are leaving Christ. I think in many situations, the reasons why people leave is because of the people in church, saying and doing things which are very hurtful. I think people leave the church when they feel like they have been abused and have taken every appropriate action including utitilizing ( sorry for the spelling) church leadership to resolve the situation but it goes ignored or unanswered.

    In my case I’ve attempted(I’ve emailed at least twenty times)to resolve issue and my SP has refused to even pick up a phone or write me back. So, who is leaving the church then. A SP is responsible for everyone under his stewardship, not just a select few.

  7. “Through sin, unbelief or rejection, one can lose their place in heaven.”

    Of course, you’re going to have to get more fine-grained than that for Mormon beliefs. All are saved thru faith in Christ except sons of perdition. They don’t lose a place in “heaven” and they don’t lose salvation in Christ. They lose their reward.

  8. Well, I read all the disclaimers at the beginning, with the caveats that the LDS Church doesn’t necessarily agree, and then came to the closing question:

    “So, for those who have left the Church, forsaken the covenants made at Baptism and through partaking of the sacrament, have they, in fact, given back His name?”

    I took the uppercase “C” “Church” to mean THE Church (ofJesusChristofLDS), not The Gospel. This interpretation is driven home by the qualifier about the Baptismal covenant – mainstream Christians do not view baptism as a covenant.

    If I misinterpreted, excuse me.

  9. “mainstream Christians do not view baptism as a covenant.”

    Well, if the Calvinists don’t want to include us Mormons as “mainstream Christians,” I suppose we can return the favor.

    Covenant theology, and in particular the conception of baptism as a covenant with God, is common among mainstream Christians.

  10. Ann,

    thanks for coming back and making you comment:

    “I took the uppercase “C” “Church” to mean THE Church (ofJesusChristofLDS), not The Gospel. This interpretation is driven home by the qualifier about the Baptismal covenant – mainstream Christians do not view baptism as a covenant.”

    I purposely made it somewhat vague as to allow for a wide range of answers. I think the main qualifier was that the Church and the Gospel can be independent of one another. To me, there are too many wonderful non-LDS Christians not to think that.

  11. Jeff,

    If the fullness of the Gospel “includes the eternal truths or laws, covenants, and ordinances needed for mankind to enter back into the presence of God” and those can only be performed within the authorized framework established by and through Jesus Christ-then how can the Church/The Kingdom of God on earth/Body of Christ and the Gospel be independent of one another?

    A church without the fullness of His Gospel is not His Church no matter how wonderful it or it’s members might be.

  12. Post
    Author

    Apollo #13,

    I don’t have an argument with what you are saying. But, you have to realize that good Christians are good Christian regardless of their Church affiliation. And those, who do not have the opportunity to hear the Gospel (capital G), will have the chance and be just as able to inherit “all that the Father hath” as a lifelong member of the Church. Those who “take on the name of Christ” and do their best will be rewarded in the next life regardless. We, as LDS, cannot be arrogant about that.

  13. #13, 14 —

    Catholic conservatives were outraged when the Second Vatican Council changed the Catechism from saying that the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God, to saying that the Kingdom of God subsists in the Catholic Church. The RCC still believes itself to be the only Church with all of the apostles’ authority (there’s an asterisk for the Orthodox), and that it has a unique Magisterium, or authoritative teaching authority. “Subsists in” wasn’t meant to make the Catholic Church just one church among many. (Liberals continue to be outraged that Catholics don’t consider Protestant churches technically “churches” at all.) However, it was meant to acknowledge that while the RCC is a crucial part of God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom is larger than the organized Church. Its boundaries are fixed by God, not Rome, and the RCC doesn’t presume to state authoritatively just where those boundaries lie.

    Many of the controversies quietly percolating in LDS culture were grappled with by Catholics at various times over the past century. I notice that we tend to cover the same territory, and ultimately wind up at more or less the same position. (One exception is birth control and abortion, where we’ve outflanked the RCC to the left.) I do expect that at some point, the Church will pronounce something like the Catholic doctrine of “subsists in.”

  14. #15, Thomas, Very good points. I’ve become a bit more ecumenical with regard to that point. While I subscribe to the “one true Church” idea, I don’t want to rule out the good in other churches. Doctrine is a whole other issue, but let’s celebrate good people everywhere.

  15. I can’t believe none of the nonbelieving ex-Mormons have really addressed this topic in the way that (I think) Jeff was really going for. I mean, sure sure, “leaving the church doesn’t mean leaving Christ,” but really, I think the focus was on people who leave the church and disaffiliate and dis-identify with any sort of idea of Jesus Christ.

    I guess the question is, what does it mean to reject the gospel, forsake Baptismal covenants, etc.,?

    Is the dis-identification with Jesus Christ all that is necessary. Is a literal, “I don’t believe Jesus died for my sins” what will axe you or me or anyone?

    Or is it something more?

    Careful with the answer…you can answer in an LDS way, with LDS church answers for what it means to forsake baptismal covenants (as well as LDS answers for what it means to “live the commandments”)…but then you go a bit against what you say earlier that taking the name of Jesus Christ and belonging to the LDS church are different.

    If we have a different view of what the commandments are, what the covenants are, and what the gospel entails, then I think what it means to “take the name of Christ” can be different as well.

    Does one necessarily need to verbally and literally take the name of Christ to have taken the name? We know that 1) not all who have cried Lord, Lord, necessarily have “taken the name of Christ” and also that 2) some may ask, “Lord, when did we serve thee?” and the Lord will say that when we have served the least, we serve him.

    So, could it be that the taking the name of Christ hinges upon the two great commandments…love God, with all heart, blah blah blah…and love neighbor as thyself?

    If at this time, you’re thinking: “but aha, that requires you to love God first. So atheists and nonbelievers are out,” then again, I’d ask: what does it MEAN to reject (and accept)?

    If loving God isn’t about crying, “God, God…” and rather, it is about serving the least of these, then shouldn’t that have radical implications for whom we consider part of “us” and whom we consider part of “them”?

  16. Pingback: What does it mean to give back the name of Christ? « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  17. Jeff-

    Yes, I realize good Christians are good Christians, and I’d add that there are many Buddhists and Jews etc. are also good people. But one’s “goodness” isn’t the only requirement for joining and participating in God’s kingdom. It also requires authorized covenants, ordinances and being born again, both of water and of Spirit. I agree with you that there are many good people who will take His name upon themselves in the afterlife and obtain all the rewards and blessings as those who were lifers, but there will also be millions of very good people, both LDS and not, who inherit the Terrestrial Kingdom. I’m not trying to be arrogant-just truthful.

    But this thread was about giving something back, and one cannot truly give something back that one has never had in their possession first. I can “take upon myself” anyone’s name any time I wish to, for example I could legally change my last name to Spector and declare myself a disciple of Jeff. But those actions on my part would not constitute any kind of formal/authorized/legal agreement to which you would then be bound. I could even declare myself a co-inheritor of your estate and inheritance- but it would be no more than a declaration.

    It is the authority of God, exercised through the Priesthood keys GIVEN by God (not taken by man) that creates a binding seal both on earth and in heaven. A covenant cannot be made by one person, no matter how good or sincere they might be.

    D&C 63:62 “For behold, verily I say, that many there be who are under this condemnation, who use the name of the Lord, and use it in vain, having not authority.”

    Andrew said:
    “If loving God isn’t about crying, “God, God…” and rather, it is about serving the least of these, then shouldn’t that have radical implications for whom we consider part of “us” and whom we consider part of “them”?”

    Some people misinterpret what Christ said regarding “the least of these my brethren” when speaking to the sheep and the goats-as if that parable stands completely independent from the two just prior to it. It doesn’t. All three parables are directed to the coming of “the Kingdom of Heaven/the marriage feast between the Lord and His Bride (Church)”. In the 3rd parable, His “brethren” are the same people He had earlier declared to be His brethren when His mother and His actual brothers came to see Him and could not reach Him due to the press of the crowd. Matt, Mark and Luke all record it. Luke 8:21 “And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” Mark 3:35 “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” Matthew 12:50 “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

    Those whom Christ views as His “brethren” are obedient DOERS (as opposed to simply believers or unbelievers)of the will/word of God. The Greek word used here for “least” applies to the “smallest” among ranks, importance, authority etc. In other words, these “least brethren” are 1) faithful members of His Kingdom 2)lowest in rank or authority.

    10 virgins-foolish virgins among the wise ones until the time came for the bridegroom to appear-and the 5 who did not have what was necessary when the Bridegroom comes are shut out of the feast. Talents-given by the Lord to those whom He CALLED to be His servants-all were expected to expand upon them-2 did, and the one who did not was cast out and his inheritance given to another. Sheep and goats-are the righteous (who do His will) and the wicked (who do not).

    It should also be noted that Christ’s minimum requirement is only “one”.

  18. #17, Andrew,

    You know when you do these posts, you kinda go with the flow and see how others understand your post. But you are 100% right on. I was originally thinking about folks who have a strong testimony of the Savior and then, for whatever reason, go 180% away from that. Not because of sin, necessarily, but for the other reasons we have discussed in the past. i was trying to get conversation on how that is possible and how one reconciles it against their former belief.

    #18, Apollo, Again, I am very sympathize to your views but I also harbor an alternative view that God wants goodness and charity more than performance. I have a post coming up that will address that in a bit more details.

    While the ordnances are important, anyone can get the ordnances either while living or through vicarious Temple work. Living the Savior’s example to me is just more important in the long run.

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