Why are we called Mormons?

The nickname “Mormons” stems from our unique book of scripture, The Book of Mormon.  Initially, it was a derogatory term used by the critics (haters, killers, mobs) to refer to the members of the Church.  Eventually, members of the church seemed to own the name, even took pride in being a peculiar Mormon.

A well-known anecdote from the life of Joseph F. Smith (nephew of the founder, Joseph Smith) provides a look at both sides of this label.

After serving a four-year mission in the Hawaiian Islands, from 1854 to 1857, young Joseph F. Smith began his long journey home to Utah. He boated across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, then slowly began his journey by foot with a small company of Latter-day Saints.

One day when the company had stopped to camp and rest, a group of troublemakers came storming through. Most of the men ran and hid, but Joseph decided he had nothing to be afraid of, so he continued the task of piling firewood in the camp. As he did so, one of the men approached him with a pistol, declaring that it was his duty to exterminate every Mormon he came in contact with. As he pointed his pistol at Joseph, he demanded, “Are you a Mormon?”

Without fear or hesitation, Joseph answered, “Yes siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through.”

The man was so startled by the courage of young Joseph F. Smith that he dropped his pistol and said, “Well, you are the [expletive deleted] pleasantest man I ever met! Shake, young fellow, I am glad to see a man that stands up for his convictions.” The man rode off, with the others following behind (Joseph Fielding Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938, 189).

Since the “Mormons” settled in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, we have used, and even embraced, the name “Mormons”.   We have also embraced the acronym LDS (Latter-day Saints) as a shortened version of the official name of the church.  Both of these are technically inaccurate.

The actual name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That was the name that Jesus Christ revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830, which he set about to organize the church. It’s long, and maybe a little bit of a mouthful, but when you break it down, it is very instructive–

  • The Church of Jesus Christ.  This is His church.  He restored it, He leads it.  It’s the same church with the same authority and doctrines and ordinances that He first founded in 30 AD.
  • Of Latter-Day this iteration is in the latter-days.  Not the former-days. Not the ancient days.  It’s the same church, just in a different time period.  The Bible is full of references to the “last days”.  This is the Church that Isaiah prophesied would be on the tops of the mountains in the last days.
  • Saints The members of the church are referred to as Saints.  Not because we are flawless, infallible or perfect.  The early apostles wrote letters in the New Testament and often addressed them to the “Saints”.  It’s the title for people who believe and belong to Christ’s church.  All other definitions of the word have been imposed on it since the time of the apostles, but they inflate the credentials of what it means to be a Saint.  A Saint is a follower of Christ, a member of His church.

So take it all together again: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  We refer to ourselves as Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

In fact, (and I can’t believe I didn’t see more news about this) in October 2018, just two years ago, our current Prophet Russell M. Nelson announced that we will no longer refer to ourselves as “Mormons” or “LDS” because both of those nicknames leave out the most essential part of our church’s identity–Jesus Christ.  We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ.  The church has diligently renamed websites, organizations, even colleges that use either of the two nicknames.  Instead of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, for example, we now have the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square.  LDS Business College has just been changed to Ensign College.  LDS.org is now ChurchofJesusChrist.org. (This website stays the same because if you only know of us as Mormons, you’ll Google that–and we are here for curious readers).

We wouldn’t want anyone to be confused about who we are or what we believe if we self-identify as anything but followers of Jesus Christ.  So even though “Mormons” is shorter, please be patient as we introduce ourselves as Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We Believe In Jesus Christ

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints our faith is rooted in the reality of Jesus Christ.  We believe in Him, we believe that He is the Son of God, we believe that He is our Savior.  We believe that “whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life” (John 3:16) We believe that He is the way, the truth, and the life and no man cometh unto the Father, but by Him (John 14:6).   

We also believe that he is the Bread of Life and The Living Water and if we will eat and drink of Him that we will never hunger or thirst (John 6:35).  I know that this is true.  My life has been full of the blessings of God.  The beautiful part is that I know that God will bless any and all people if they will follow His Son and His teachings.  That knowledge brings peace in an increasingly turbulent world.  I believe in Jesus Christ!   


The Christ Child: A Nativity Story

This new depiction of the Nativity story recounts in beautiful detail the sacred events found in the Bible about Jesus’s birth over 2,000 years ago. Journey with Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Witness the awe of the shepherds in the plains of Judea. Feel the joy of the wise men as they kneel before the Light of the World – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

The Reality of a Living Prophet

the first vision

In 1820 when Joseph Smith was visited by God the Father, and Jesus Christ, a young boy became God’s prophet.  He became a prophet like Moses, Abraham, Enoch, or Noah.  His purpose was the same–to teach all of God’s children about the reality of Christ and Christ’s mission, that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was once again upon the earth, and that the coming of Christ was close at hand.

Prior to Joseph Smith there had not been a prophet on the earth since the martyrdom of Christ’s apostles.  As such people had departed from God’s truth.  When God does not have a mouthpiece to speak to his children, God’s children are left to their own understanding and invariably they get off track.  This pattern is repeated in the Bible–God calls a prophet, that prophet teaches God’s words, the people believe, then they stop believing, then the people fall into error and depart from God’s ways.

One might ask, “Who needs a prophet? We have the Bible, and it is sufficient!”  The Bible is the word of God, but it was God’s word to people in a different time and place.  It is absolutely still relevant today, but Moses didn’t know what a movie was, or computers. Pornography wasn’t available on every screen, and if you slept with someone you weren’t married to, you just might have rocks thrown at you until you died.  Nor did the children of Israel, or the Jews of Christ’s time have to deal with the social issues that beset us today.  Hence the need for a prophet.  He is a beacon of light in an ever darkening world.

Many people accept Moses as a prophet, because they can read about him and think of him as if he was something out there, some force for good and “Of course, I would have followed him out of Egypt.  He
was God’s prophet!”  However, you must ask yourself a question, would you? Really?  Would you really leave all of your possessions just because he said it was time to leave Egypt?  Or how about when he said you should look at his serpent on a stick and it would heal you? Isn’t that kind of crazy? Plus “what does he know? My friends say there is no way that looking at a snake can heal you.”  Or how about Abraham?  Would you leave your favorite city–the place where your home and work was?  You would surely miss all that the big city had to offer, all of the nice restaurants, and shopping, and entertainment.  What about Christ?  Would you believe in Him, the son of your next door neighbor who is now quite possibly homeless?  The list could go on forever.  It is easy to watch a re-run of a football game and say exactly what you would do as a lazy-chair quarterback, but what if you were in the game and didn’t have a coach on the sideline, would you know what to do? 

football coach

There is a prophet on earth today, Thomas S. Monson is his name.  He stands at the head of Christ’s church and together with his counselors, and 12 other men who are Christ’s apostles, he speaks to all of God’s children and lets us know what is true and what is right. He is the coach on the sidelines and he can see what the other’s team playbook is, but we still have to listen to him to know what plays to run.  If you will listen to him, you will be guided back to live with God, just the way that Moses and then Joshua, lead the children of Israel back to the promised land.





Question Box: How do I arrange a Mormon funeral for my mother?

Q: My mother is a Mormon, I am not.  I have been asked to get things in order.  I would like her religion to do the funeral.  Who do I see?

Great question.  The bishop (ecclesiastical leader) of the local ward (congregation) can help you.  You can find who the bishop of your mother’s ward is by going to this link, https://www.lds.org/locations?lang=eng  Click on the “find a meetinghouse” link.  From there you can input your mother’s home address and it will list which ward your mother’s address is in as well as the bishop of her ward.  Contact this man.

While you are on this website, feel free to look around.  You may find some things that you find comforting.  We appreciate your interest.  Our condolences to you and your family.