Note: This article was written before Russell M. Nelson wrote on mormonnewsroom.org on 8/16/18 that “LDS,” “Mormon,” or “Mormonism” are not words that can be used as nouns. For more on this issue, check out “Russell M. Nelson Draws a Line in the Sand over “LDS” and “Mormon” describing his church and people.”
Have you ever had a Latter-day Saint get upset at you when you used the term “Mormon” to describe either them or the LDS Church? We have noticed that this has become more and more of a response by those we attempt to share the Gospel with.
As many of you know, The Book of Mormon gets its name from a character in the book whose name was Mormon. He was a Nephite warrior and the father of Moroni. It was Moroni who was supposedly given the task of burying the gold plates which contained a record of the Nephite people and who would later appear to Joseph Smith as an angel in 1823 (unless of course you accept Joseph Smith’s 1842 version of the story where he changes the angel’s name to Nephi).
Granted, the term Mormon began as a derogatory nickname given to the followers of Joseph Smith, but even LDS President David O. McKay admitted it has since become an “honorable title.” In his book entitled “Ancient Apostles”, McKay stated, “A large number of these converts gathered in Antioch and it was there as you already know that the Saints were first called Christians. It was first applied to them in derision just as the word ‘Mormon’ was first applied to the Church in this day, but later was accepted as an honorable title” (Pg. 148).
You might point out to those who object that many LDS authors have used that very word in the title of their books and periodicals. For example, John Taylor (who would later become third president of the LDS Church) edited a weekly newspaper entitled “The Mormon” from February 17, 1855 to May 30, 1857. In the book “The Gospel Kingdom,” Taylor speaks of Mormon Social Science, Mormon Philosophy, Mormon Political Thought, Mormon Principles, and Mormon Standards.
Let’s not forget Bruce McConkie’s “Mormon” Doctrine or Stephen Robinson’s Are Mormons Christian? Apparently these writers didn’t have a problem with the term Mormon. The use of the word Mormon is also used as the name of the pageant we minister at every summer. Remember, it isn’t the “Latter-day Saint” Miracle Pageant, it is The Mormon Miracle Pageant.
This new fad of not liking the word Mormon has us baffled. Perhaps those who dislike the term think this title doesn’t sound as “Christian” as Latter-day Saint. Outside of this explanation we can’t understand what the problem is.
The 1951 NIT Champion BYU Cougars men’s basketball team (source)