This is an archived copy of a post written by Conflict Of Justice (conflictofjustice.com). Used with permission: Conflict Of Justice may not agree with any alterations made.
- 1830: Church of Jesus Christ
- 1834: The Church of the Latter Day Saints
- 1838: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
So what? – The specific name is not important. Why is it important what the specific name of the church is? The Book of Mormon, which was published in 1830 before any name change, made it clear that the important thing is that the church do everything in the name of Christ: “Ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you; And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it.” (3 Nephi 27)
When Joseph Smith established the Church of Jesus Christ, it turned out there were already several denominations that claimed that name, “Church of Christ.” The Book of Mormon and D&C 20 (1830) made it clear that this was the church of Christ. But the church needed a practical name to distinguish itself.
Always The Church of Christ – So if the church is to be in the name of Jesus, why was it called the “church of the Latter Day Saints?” Well, the 1834 record which delcared the name to be “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” is itself titled “the elders of the church of Christ.” Christ was still in the title, so obviously the church still considered itself the “church of Christ.”
The footnotes in History of the Church point out that this document was not published in the Star until July 1834. The July 1834 Star also called the name of the church: “The Church of Christ, recently styled the Church of the Latter-day Saints, contumeliously called ‘Mormons.'” Christ was still in the title. An earlier Star publication from May 1834 referenced that earlier meeting record and declared: “the conferences have always shown by their minutes they took no other name than the name of Christ.” So the “style” change to “church of the Latter Day Saints” was simply a step where the church recognized that Mormons are “Latter-Day Saints.”
It was continuously known as the Church of Jesus Christ, and before all this, was known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Minutes recorded from earlier in April 1830, of Joseph Smith ordaining Oliver Cowdery, called him “an elder of the ‘Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.'” So from the beginning in 1830, this was understood to be the church’s name. They just hadn’t settled on how to “style” the name, due to confusion with other denominations with similar names and the name’s length. In the end, the church went with this full name: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
There have been all kinds of names for Christ’s church through the ages. The important thing is that it is called Christ’s church.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Falsehood||CES Letter claims: “After deciding ‘Church of Jesus Christ’ on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith made the decision on May 3, 1834 to change the name of the Church to ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints’.” (CES Letter) This is false. “Church of Christ” was never the church’s official name. The April 6, 1830 revelation reads: “The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days…” Where does it say the name is to be “Church of Christ”? It doesn’t. It simply says that the church is Christ’s, which is true. Joseph Smith did not make the decision to make the name “Church of the Latter Day Saints.” Signey Rigdon proposed it and it was voted on by the conference. CES Letter asks, “is it reasonable to assume that God would instruct His Church leaders to entirely leave out the name of Jesus Christ”? But this is another lie. There is no evidence that direct revelation was involved. Meeting minutes prove they were simply trying to figure out how to “style” the church’s name, which the April 1830 record proves was already established fully as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” The entire premise of this argument is false. The name “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” was used from the beginning.|
|Strawman Argument||CES Letter uses a photo of Kirtland Temple with the phrase “Church of the Latter Day Saints” in it. But this sign is a modern creation by the RLDS splinter-sect.|
|Appeal To Ridicule||CES Letter: “If the Prophet Joseph Smith couldn’t even get the name right for eight years then what else did he get wrong?”|
|Repetition||CES Letter repeats their sarcastic slogan “one and only true Church” which they already repeated in previous arguments. CES Letter lists the alleged name changes in the church and then repeats them. Redundant: “Christ is the Head… Jesus is the central character…His one and only true Church” Lots of repetition within this argument. CES Letter repeats their question “Is it reasonable to assume that God would periodically change the name of his Church?” in a rephrased way: “is it reasonable to assume that God would instruct His Church leaders to entirely leave out the name of Jesus Christ”. CES Letter three times repeats the question “Why did Joseph take the name of ‘Jesus Christ’ out of the very name of His restored Church?” in a rephrased way: “What possible reason could there be for the name changes?…Why would Christ instruct Joseph to name it one thing in 1830 and then change it in 1834 and then change it again in 1838? Why would the name of Christ be dropped from His one and only true Church for 4 whole years?” Basically, CES Letter repeats the same rhetoric over and over again for several paragraphs.|
|False Dilemma||If the church is “the church of Christ” does that mean it can’t be “the Church of latter day Saints?” Why does it have to be one or the other? Joseph Smith made it clear early in 1830 that this was “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”|
|Appeal To Ridicule||CES Letter takes a snippet of quote out of context and ignores surrounding statements that say the opposite of what CES Letter is arguing.|
|Reification||CES Letter uses abstract church symbolism to argue for a concrete name which Mormons ought to have for their church: “The one and only true Church on the face of the earth in which Christ is the Head?” Other church have truth, so what does “one and only true Church” mean in Mormon context? What does “face of the earth” mean? What does “Christ is the Head” mean? By throwing in abstract symbolism that is unique for Mormons, CES Letter illogically sets an expectation that Mormons uniquely ought to have a specific unchanging name.|
|Big Lie – One Big Lie that CES Letter repeats over and over again is that Mormons are not allowed to change anything. No change in name. No change in policy. No change in commandments. Why?|
We must understand, followers of Satan do not believe truth is constant. The only thing constant to them is their ideology of compulsion and universal salvation. Everything else is a narrative that can shift at any moment as needed to propagate the ideology. They can change their name however they wish. In following their contradiction strategy, skeptics seek to prove that truth is changeable by holding Mormons to an unrealistic rigid standard for unchanging truth. Ever single word spoken in the holy temple throughout human history must line up perfectly, or else truth must be changeable. If one day Solomon said something in a temple ceremony and modern Mormons said something different, then that means it’s a contradiction and truth changed. If anyone can possibly misconstrue something to sound different than what was said in the past, then anti-Mormons will use that to reaffirm their belief in relative truth.
This narrative introduces a false dichotomy between continuing revelation and eternal rigid truth. How is truth supposed to be eternal when we have all these new prophets saying different things than ancient prophets and the church’s name changing “style”? Why do we need modern prophets if truth is eternal? Satan’s followers believe church policy is the same thing as doctrine, and that doctrine is therefore always changing. But the reality is policy is different than doctrine, and while doctrine is unchanging, policy is always changing to fit with modern circumstances. We don’t drink wine in modern times because drinking is a much more dangerous vice than it was in ancient times, for example.
You could take the easy path and go apostate from the church, or taken the other path which is the lengthy task of answering every single nit-picked question that anti-Mormons throw at you. Either make the easy assumption or be forced to back up every detail of your beliefs from attack. That is your choice.
CES Letter frames the narrative like there must be a specific name for the church which never changes, and Joseph Smith “couldn’t even get the name right for eight years.” Leftists in general believe in shifting truth, so anytime the church changes policies or anything, they immediately pounce and start complaining. The subtle and dangerous message with the Anti-Mormon argument in general is that Mormons shift to conceal themselves. This is much like Nazis who accused Jews of ‘going undercover’ by changing their Jewish last names to German names. This argument reinforces bigotry by propagating Mormons as the ‘outgroup’ different from the ‘ingroup.’
Slogans and Symbolism – Marxists are all about slogans and symbols. A name is of utmost importance to them because the name is the main symbol for what they are all about. Abstract symbolism like “face of the earth” and “Christ at the Head” is likewise just as immediate and important. Names and symbols are repeated by Marxists to turn they abstract portrayal into reality: reification.
CES Letter uses several slogans throughout their PDF, such as “one and only true church.” With the media in general, we see the use of reification and sloganism: For example, “Equality is love.” Names and abstractions are important to Leftists because they encourage fallacy by abstraction. If you call yourself a “progressive” enough times people will start to believe you.
Contradiction Strategy Communist Saul Alinsky famously put it: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Anti-Mormons in general complain that Mormon priesthood leaders keep changing the name of the church, and hold us to a standard of unchanging eternal truth, while these same Anti-Mormons do not have to keep the same unchanging policies, names, commandments, and standards.