Two women talking together at General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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What is the difference between the Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

By Bowen Fjord and Blake Olson

What is the difference between the Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Here’s the best part. There isn’t! How you ask? They are the same people. The name “mormon” is only a nickname and was given to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when it was restored in the 1830s. This nickname was used, until recently, to refer to our Church and its members, by non-members and members alike. 

In biblical times, Jesus Christ organized and established His Church. We believe that He has done the same in our modern times through living prophets and apostles. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that Christ is the head of the Church. In the Book of Mormon, a companion scripture to the Bible that testifies of the divinity of Jesus Christ, we learn that Christ visited the ancient inhabitants of the Americas after His resurrection. The Savior spoke of the need to gather His other sheep to His apostles in the Bible. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). As far as I understand, Jesus Christ was, in part, referring to the people who lived in the Americas at the time of His resurrection.

While visiting the people of the Americas, the Lord taught, ministered, and healed out of the pure love He has for all of God’s children. In the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 27: 6-8, Christ is speaking to His followers and apostles when it reads:

6 And whoso taketh upon him my name, and endureth to the end, the same shall be saved at the last day.

7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.

8 And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this commandment that Christ gave anciently in the Book of Mormon remains in effect to this day. To Joseph Smith, the first prophet in the modern days, Jesus Christ revealed what His Church should be called. The Savior said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (D&C 115:4).

If Jesus revealed what His Church should be called, then where does the nickname “mormon” come from? 

The name “Mormon” is the name of the prophet who was responsible for compiling and abridging the record that we know today as “The Book of Mormon.” This book was given by revelation, to Joseph Smith, as another testament of Jesus Christ and as a record of His followers in ancient America. Mormon was undoubtedly an important prophet, but the focus of the Church, and the lives of its members is the Savior, Jesus Christ. That is why we have His name at the core of the Church’s title. We believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Church of Jesus Christ on the Earth today and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we follow is the same as it was taught when the Lord was on the Earth.

In his talk “The Correct Name of the Church,” the prophet, Russell M. Nelson, explained this further. “For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the “Mormon Church.” But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. Unfortunately, many who hear the term Mormon may think that we worship Mormon. Not so! We honor and respect that great ancient American prophet. But we are not Mormon’s disciples. We are the Lord’s disciples.”³

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have been making a renewed effort to emphasize the true name of Christ’s Church. By including the Lord’s name in His restored Church, we fully acknowledge all that He and His Atonement have done for and make available to us. We do this because He has commanded us, and to show our gratitude to Him.

So the next time you run into a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we will surely not be offended if you call us “Mormons” but we do always prefer “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Or, if you feel like that is too long, don’t hesitate to call us “members of the Church of Jesus Christ!”

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