Well, if there was any doubt before, General Conference pounded it into dust. President Nelson is dead serious about using Christ’s name when referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members. He called the name of the Church “nonnegotiable,” and promised blessings which he re-emphasized on social media:
I promise that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. #GeneralConference
— Russell M. Nelson (@NelsonRussellM) October 7, 2018
Many Latter-day Saints were more than confused by the initial name-correction announcement from a month or two ago, especially in the wake of the Church-wide “I’m a Mormon” campaign. Some members even scoffed at the admonition. Some will continue to do so. But to those who may still have questions about the importance of this “course correction,” I leave these scriptural examples for you to ponder:
The longest three hours of the brother of Jared’s life
You remember the story of Jared and his brother. They lived during the era of the Tower of Babel. They prayed to retain their own language as “the Lord confounded the language” of others. The pre-mortal Christ led their party through the wilderness until they reached coastline. There, the brother of Jared’s group “pitched their tents” and hung out for four years. But then something crucial happened in Ether 2:14,
And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.
I’ve always interpreted “calling upon the name of the Lord” to be a simple reference to prayer, and that’s certainly a part of it. But in light of the recent revelation to President Nelson, this verse takes on new meaning. How long might the Lord have talked with President Nelson, chastening him because we remembered not to use the name of the Lord?
Do you remember what happens after the brother of Jared’s chastisement? The next verse tells us that “the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him.” Then, the Lord forgives their sins and admonishes them to “not sin any more.” Once they start to use the name of the Lord appropriately, He leads them to “a choice land above all other lands.”
Compare this to President Nelson’s promise:
If we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church … We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.
In ancient times, the name of the Lord enabled the brother of Jared to lead his people to promised foreign lands. In modern times, the name of the Lord will enable us to bring the gospel to promised foreign lands.
Calling upon the name of the Lord makes all the difference.
The other side of the coin
Some time ago, Christ Himself visited Moses on Mt. Sinai and, with his own hand, engraved the ten commandments into stone tablets. These commandments have survived the test of time. They’re just as applicable today as they were anciently. Out of all the things the Lord could have commanded, he chose to emphasize this as one of the ten:
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
The simple fact that this commandment gained a slot in the Big 10 is evidence that maybe Christ’s name is much more important than we may realize.
So, on the one hand, we are strictly forbidden from using Christ’s name in vain. On the other hand, if we don’t use it enough (or at all), we’re going to be stuck on a beach with the brother of Jared.
Let’s take Mormon’s advice
As President Nelson mentioned, we have inadvertently allowed variations of the nickname, “Mormon,” to replace Christ’s name in the Church. I’m no exception. It’s a real habit that’s going to be tough to break. If you go through past articles I’ve written, you’ll find me rampantly using nicknames we’re now trying to shed. But it’s cool to see that even Mormon himself made it clear what name really mattered to him:
And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression.
Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.
Even Mormon knew that his true identity was that of a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s a title the Lord wants each of us to wear proudly.
The power of Christ’s name
It’s one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That may be true in most cases, but there’s something more to Christ’s name. As President Nelson affirmed:
So, what’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is, ‘Everything!’ Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power.
And that power is real. I don’t fully understand it, but it’s there. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can reach God the Father through prayer. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can reach the Father in the physical eternities. It is only through Jesus Christ and His name that Satan is cast out. And if the only way to get rid of Satan is through Jesus Christ, President Nelson’s prophetic statement rings ever truer:
To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s church is a major victory for Satan.
So, let’s respond. Let’s follow the prophet. Let’s follow Christ how He’d like us to follow Him—in His name.
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.
2 Nephi 31:21
And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.
And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts.
I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.
Mosiah 5: 10-12
Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness.
And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved;
Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day;
Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have place in the kingdom of my Father.
Doctrine and Covenants 18: 21-25