Not only are middle initials used when referring to the leaders of the Church, one cannot even say the names without the middle initials. It just doesn’t sound right. Gordon Hinckley, Russell Ballard, Reuben Clark? In some cases,the first name is not even used just the initial, probably to distinguish a son from his father.
Many of the early leaders of the Church didn’t have middle names, like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Wilford Woodruff, Hyrum Smith, to name a few. But, then again, some did. Heber C. (Chase) Kimball, John W. (Willard) Young, George Q. (Quayle) Cannon and George A. (Albert) Smith, for example.
In some case, it is understandably necessary to distinguish one person from another. Joseph F. Smith, for example, not to confuse him with his uncle, Joseph Smith, and Joseph Felding Smith, not to confuse him with his father, Joseph F. Smith.
In some case, leaders used their entire name, Ezra Taft Benson, George Albert Smith.
And what is wrong with perfectly good names like Nathan (N. Eldon Tanner), Joshua (Joshua Reuben Clark) or Melvin (M. Russell Ballard). Ok, maybe Melvin.
Why the rest then? We would know who Gordon Hinckley is/was without the B (Bitner)? Thomas Monson with the S (Spencer)?
What is strange to me is that not only do we all know the full names with the initials, in many cases, even what the initials stand for.
Any ideas as to why we do this?