I Have a Question


Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

What changes have been made in the name of the Church? Its full designation does not appear in the revelations until 1838. (D&C 115:4)

Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of religion and history, Brigham Young University A concise answer to this question is found by comparing the name of the Church on the title pages of the first three printings of the revelations: “The Church of Christ” (Book of Commandments, 1833), “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835), and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1844).

The Savior told the Nephites that his church should be called in his name. (See 3 Ne. 27:8.) As a result, the restored Church’s official title from 1830 to 1834 was “The Church of Christ.” That title is found in the revelation on the organization and government of the Church (D&C 20:1) and in early minute books. During this period, however, members of the Church regularly called themselves “saints”; the word saint is used approximately three dozen times in the D&C before 1834.

On 3 May 1834, official action modified the name of the Church. In a priesthood conference presided over by Joseph Smith, a motion passed “by unanimous voice” that the Church be known as “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” (See The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 2:160.) This alteration was not seen as a de-emphasis of Christ; on the contrary, it was done in hopes that the name of the Church would more clearly reflect the fact that Christ was at its head.

In the same issue of the Kirtland newspaper in which the announcement appeared, an editorial explained that the change stemmed from a misleading nickname: the “Mormonite” church. The new name also had these advantages: (1) Since American Christians, including Congregationalists and reformers, frequently designated themselves as “The Church of Christ,” that title did not distinguish the restored gospel from a host of Protestant sects. (2) Since Paul and Peter used the Greek word saint (“a holy person”) to refer to believers in Christ, the term Latter-day Saints implied that Church members were modern followers of Christ. Thus it also asserted the claim of restoration.

Just as the term saint flourished when the official name was “The Church of Christ,” the name of Christ regularly supplemented the official name of “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” For example, in 1835, the church was referred to as “the church of Christ” and the Twelve apostles were commissioned as “special witnesses of the name of Christ.” (D&C 107:59, 23) The Saints certainly did not feel that the Church was leaving out the name of Christ.

Sometimes during this period the first and second titles would be combined—“the church of Christ of Latter Day saints”—as they were in priesthood minutes (Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1836, 2:266) and in the publication of the first high council minutes (see headnote, D&C 5, 1835 edition).

A vivid illustration of the way members then understood the official name of the Church is found in a letter from John Smith, the Prophet’s uncle, to his son Elias before the latter was converted. Writing 19 Oct. 1834, Uncle John answers the question of why the name could be changed:

“The Church of Christ is the Church of Saints and always was. This is the reason why the apostle directed letters sometimes to the Church of God, others to the Church, and again to the Brethren, sometimes to the Saints, always meaning the Church of Christ.” (Archives, University of Utah)

Thus, the final version of the Church’s name was no radical shift from the previous practice of using both “Christ” and “Saints” in designating the restored Church and its members. Revealed on 26 April 1838 (D&C 115:4), the full title, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” is striking by comparison to the names of the scores of churches that obscure their Christianity under the label of their founders or of some characteristic belief or aspect of church organization. It is a highly effective name, for while it is distinctive, it indicates that Jesus is at its head. It is also descriptive of divine restoration. And it is more than a name—it is a public commitment to a holy life through the Savior’s power.

I’m frustrated as a Sunday School teacher because I struggle with the irreverent behavior of the children. What can I do?

Mary James, mother of ten, instructor of teacher development basic course, Provo Eleventh Ward, Provo Utah West Stake Any irreverent behavior of children in our church classes is certainly cause for concern. Children must learn to walk and sit quietly, sing, and take part in class in the right way. I call this kind of reverence “manners for church.”

But there is a higher kind of reverence. You may have noticed it in classes where the students seem to want to listen and learn. Good manners seem to be spontaneous. What makes the difference?

Teachers who achieve this kind of reverence seem to have at least one thing in common. They define reverence as a profound respect for the Lord based on a personal testimony of the reality of spiritual principles.

I reasoned that if this kind of reverent behavior is based on a testimony of God and Jesus Christ, then maybe irreverent behavior is caused by lack of testimony—or by failure of a class member to realize that he has a testimony. If this is true, then helping students recognize their own spiritual feelings would create a more reverent atmosphere. Though children may not have the same kinds of spiritual experiences that adults have, they can certainly recognize the promptings of conscience and other manifestations of the Spirit in their lives. I therefore try to include three things in my lessons:

First, I always try to make things real by bearing testimony and, where appropriate, by sharing information to which classmembers can relate. I try to use experiences I had when I was their age so that they can identify with them more easily and recognize their own experiences. The response? One little mischievous ringleader said, “Be quiet, you guys! I want to hear this.” Teens in one stake after a fireside said, “That was really good. How come nobody’s ever told me that I could do faith and repentance?”

Second, I use ideas from the lesson manual to help children recognize their own spiritual feelings and experiences. I stress that Heavenly Father is no respecter of persons. He loves us just as much as he loved the prophets who shared their experiences to help us with ours.

Third, when appropriate to the lesson, allow time for students to share their experiences and discuss their feelings. When students tell how they felt during good and bad experiences, I am able to help them identify what kind of feelings come from the Lord.

I have found that as our students learn to recognize the Spirit in their lives and live by it, reverent behavior becomes more spontaneous, and as a bonus, such things as church attendance, missions, and temple marriage also become so desirable that more of our children will set them as personal goals.

We recognize the importance of helping our children develop self-esteem, but we aren’t sure how to do this and teach them right from wrong at the same time. Can you give us some help?

Paul and Marie Bergeson, Tempe Ninth Ward, Tempe Arizona Stake, parents of five daughters Although not successful in every instance, several principles have served us well throughout the years.

First, we believe that the best parents work themselves out of a job. This means that helping a child acquire the skills to solve his own problems is better than simply telling him to do a task or doing it for him. Eventually the parent need no longer be the child’s constant overseer.

When a child complains about a problem, parents may feel it their duty to pass judgment or offer the child hasty advice. But such a reaction robs the child of a precious opportunity to think out the problem for himself and reach his own decision.

Since wisdom and good judgment are developed gradually, parents must take time to teach children—by hearing them out as they learn to describe and analyze a problem, to think of alternative solutions, and to make a decision. Unless the situation is dangerous to our children’s well-being, we usually try not to impose solutions. Sometimes the children choose incorrectly and must experience the consequences, but the next time they do better.

Children who begin this process at a young age develop good self-esteem because they learn that they can handle most situations. By the time they are ready for missions, military service, or marriage, they are self-starters, needing no one to tell them which socks to wear or when to bathe or how to budget their money. We try to avoid dos and don’ts, phrasing our responses this way: “Tell me about your problem,” “What do you think is the best thing to do?” and later, “Well, how did your plan work?”

Discipline is an inevitable part of child-rearing, but it can leave a child’s self-esteem intact. We have found that we should let the child know we are angry or disappointed, but physical or verbal abuse solves nothing. Statements such as “I am disappointed” or “I am angry,” are better than “You are bad” or “Why are you so stupid?” The children understand we are angry but we have not belittled them or engaged them in a power struggle. The best time for discussing problems is often in the parents’ bedroom or outside under a tree when tempers have cooled—wherever a child can express feelings without feeling threatened.

Parents also need to allow children to experience natural consequences. If John was marked tardy at school because he stayed in bed too long, or Jane couldn’t go to the movie because she didn’t finish her Saturday work, they will begin to develop responsibility for their actions. We have found that nagging, on the other hand, doesn’t help us teach responsibility. Instead, it often makes a child more defiant.

We believe that a child may be indulged too much but not loved too much. Affection and compliments flow in a steady stream at our home. The children relate the day’s activities at dinner time and we all rejoice in their accomplishments. If we have to express disappointment, we do so honestly and in private, without attacking the child himself.

Finally, family scripture reading each morning gives us the chance to emphasize responsibility for making right choices. We have been able to teach the beauty and importance of each child in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. No idea has done more to help develop self-esteem.

How can we help people to be more conscious of the time assigned to them for talks and reports?

Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, of the First Quorum of the Seventy This is a question that sincerely concerns all priesthood and auxiliary leaders who have the responsibility for conducting helpful, enjoyable, and informative meetings. Several procedures can assist our leaders to help those who have a tendency to speak longer than is appropriate.

1. The meeting participants should be told the specific amount of time assigned for their talks or presentations. An effective and courteous leader specifically communicates the number of minutes allocated, mentioning also the approximate time a speaker will begin and the time he should be finished.

2. A written reminder of the topic, if assigned, and the amount of time allowed should be either sent or given to the participant several days before the occasion in which he will participate.

3. Thirty minutes before the meeting begins, a short prayer meeting should be called for all participants. In this meeting the topics will again be reviewed and the time allocations mentioned, with a kind word that a speaker who goes over his time by more than a minute or two may be handed a reminder at the podium. The meeting agenda needs to be reviewed at this time.

Allowing a speaker to go beyond his assigned time may not be a favor to the speaker or the audience. It may injure the rest of the meeting and may take valuable time from other speakers, visiting authorities, musical numbers, and from those who have been called upon to offer concluding remarks.

Simply stated, if our leaders will do several things the problem will be solved: They should (1) kindly communicate with those called upon to speak, letting them know explicitly how much time they have; (2) remind participants just before the meeting of the time they are allowed and not to encroach upon the time of other participants; and (3) give a reminder at the pulpit, if necessary, if a speaker exceeds his assigned time. Those ideas should be able to take care of the occasional problem, which in some areas seems to be epidemic.