Wednesday, March 6, 2019

That's Not My Name

Church websites have finally begun to adapt to President Nelson's prophetic tantrum about the correct name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Predictably, this triggered a bonus round of chucking, eye-rolling, and meme-making for this embarrassingly trivial divine revelation among the ex-Mormon community.  And, yeah, it's funny and annoying and all, but can we talk about how the church wasn't even named properly in the first place?

I'm not referring to the absurdity of the word "Mormon" granting influence to Satan.  I'm not talking about the church having two other names during the first decade after its restoration.  I'm talking about doctrinal, scriptural principles that imply that the church's official appellation should never have been a tribute to Jesus Christ.

Let's go back to the War in Heaven in the Pre-existence.  The key difference between Lucifer and Jesus—other than their divergent plans for our redemption—was that Lucifer wanted to bask in the acclaim and Jesus wanted to humbly cede the credit to his father (Moses 4:1-2):
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. 
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
So, if we're supposed to be glorifying God instead of Jesus, then the whole thing about the Mormon moniker being a victory for Satan is completely moot. It's not supposed to be about Jesus. It's supposed to be about worshiping God and following God's plan. Why are we naming the Lord's only sanctioned institution on the planet after our older brother?  God scored, Jesus got the assist, and God's the one we should be carrying off the field on our shoulders, right? This should be called the Church of God or, to be more specific, the Church of Elohim. 

Admittedly, this gets a little muddier in the Doctrine and Covenants, because that's the scriptural source Nelson cites to justify his repudiation of the Satanic nickname (D&C 115:4): 
For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But...why?  The church isn't about Christ.  Christ didn't create us.  We don't pray to him.  We worship him, but isn't God the Father the greater recipient of devotion in Mormon mythology?  Christ is the vehicle through which God accomplishes his work.  And besides, Christ specifically surrendered his glory to the Father, so why are we disregarding Jesus's express wishes in one of his moments of pure selfless humility?  Why are we making God's church a monolithic namesake of the very person who deflected that kind of adulation?  Maybe Jesus is a flip-flopper.  Maybe he changed his mind.  Maybe he's going back on his word and trying to make a greedy late-in-the-game grab for veneration.

In case you haven't already figured it out, this post isn't really about lobbying to fix the name of the church.  It's just another demonstration that Mormon doctrine is internally inconsistent and that, just like those celebrated Mormon prophets of old who penned the Mormon scriptural canon, Russell Nelson is making things up as he goes, focusing on the insignificant Mormon minutiae to the exclusion of macrocosmic human events, and shaping a Mormon religion into one unworthy of carrying either Jesus's name or God's.

Or Mormon's, I suppose.

Okay, maybe it is a little bit about the name.


  1. What a great post! I have often had the same thought for years, as in "why is so much made of Jesus? As you point out, we pray to God, not Jesus, but it seems that everything else in the church and in our worship is all about Jesus, and not our father. I think it was God in the Old Testament, (who Mormons have co-opted to be Jesus) that said in the first 4 of the 10 commandments that there should be no other God before him, and that you should only worship him and him alone, because....well.....he's insanely jealous and he will visit you and up to your 4th generation with punishment if you don't believe and follow him.

    1. That's a good point, too, I hadn't even considered the Ten Commandments! Does this mean we're also causing Jesus to sin by not allowing him to honor his father?