A guest post by our friend Dan
Does the label “Mormon” truly explain who we are? Does it truly embody everything that we believe in? I propose that we consider a re-labelling of the brand “Mormon” to more accurately describe who we are.
I propose that we call ourselves from here on out “Mormon Christians.” It has a nice ring to it, and it also better describes who we are. Elder Jeffery R. Holland spoke in October 2007 General Conference about how our doctrinal beliefs make us Christians by definition.
As Elder Ballard noted earlier in this session, various crosscurrents of our times have brought increasing public attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord told the ancients this latter-day work would be “a marvellous work and a wonder,” and it is. But even as we invite one and all to examine closely the marvel of it, there is one thing we would not like anyone to wonder about—that is whether or not we are “Christians.”
By and large any controversy in this matter has swirled around two doctrinal issues—our view of the Godhead and our belief in the principle of continuing revelation leading to an open scriptural canon. In addressing this we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood. So with a desire to increase understanding and unequivocally declare our Christianity, I speak today on the first of those two doctrinal issues just mentioned.
He goes on to make the point on the Trinity. He concludes with the following testimony:
Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace can we gain eternal life.
My additional testimony regarding this resplendent doctrine is that in preparation for His millennial latter-day reign, Jesus has already come, more than once, in embodied majestic glory. In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy, confused by many of these very doctrines that still confuse much of Christendom, went into a grove of trees to pray. In answer to that earnest prayer offered at such a tender age, the Father and the Son appeared as embodied, glorified beings to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. That day marked the beginning of the return of the true, New Testament gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of other prophetic truths offered from Adam down to the present day.
I testify that my witness of these things is true and that the heavens are open to all who seek the same confirmation. Through the Holy Spirit of Truth, may we all know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.” Then may we live Their teachings and be true Christians in deed, as well as in word, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
We are believers in Christ through and through. We call our church The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but in terms of slang language, we do not use His name anywhere. We either call ourselves “Latter Day Saints” or “Mormons.” But neither is complete; and frankly, “Latter Day Saints” feels somewhat condescending, as if to imply that those who are not LDS are sinners.
I therefore propose that we call ourselves what we are: “Christians.” But we do have to find a way to identify ourselves separate from other Christian sects. “Mormon” also describes ourselves well. So let us combine the two. I give the following reasons for this.
1. It has a nice ring to it, as I stated above. “Mormon Christians.”
2. It will spark a conversation and questions because it is something new, something not used before. Imagine in a conversation someone asking you what you are religiously and you respond, “I’m a Mormon Christian.” They’ll wonder about that change. They’ll ask about it.
3. It will cause other Christians sects and denominations to also talk about it, even in unkind ways. This is what I would like to see, more conversations about who we are. Let the whole world talk about us. That’s beautiful.
4. The “Mormon” label should be kept because it has historical value (seeing that we’ve been called “Mormons” from since the beginning). It describes a lot of what we believe in (The Book of Mormon). But it is lacking the one most important thing that describes our central belief: Jesus Christ.
5. By adding “Christian” to the label, we make a stand to the world that we really are what we say we are and stand by it through thick and thin. We are Christians. We are believers in Christ. He is our Lord and our Savior.
6. It might irk Baptists and Pentecostals and Evangelists enough into also considering adding the “Christian” appendage to their labels.
So what do you all think? Could this be something we can do? Is it feasable? Is it workable? Is it possible?