While the name of the Church was, and still is sometimes, shortened to “the LDS church” and its members are frequently referred to as “Mormons”, in recent years President Nelson has encouraged us to stop using those abbreviations, because by omitting the name of Jesus Christ we create a separation between Him and His church.
On Saturday evening, he reemphasized those statements he made in a 2018 conference talk, “The Correct Name of the Church,” and promised that if we “do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s church,” God will “pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen.”
After reaffirming the importance of using the true name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Russell M. Nelson then introduced its new official symbol, that will identify the church in official literature, news, and events.
The symbol consists of an image of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s marble Christus statue standing in an arch over a cornerstone bearing the name of the church. The cornerstone symbolizes Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone of the faith.
Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus is a marble statue which the church has included in various sites for its temples, including an 11-foot statue in its Temple Square North Visitors’ Center and in the visitors’ center of the Rome Italy Temple.
“This symbol will now be used as a visual identifier for official literature, news and events of the church,” he said. “It will remind all that this is the Savior’s church and that all we do, as members of his church, centers on Jesus Christ and his gospel.”
In the new symbol, the Christus stands underneath an arch, remembering the resurrection of the Savior emerging from His tomb on the third day following His crucifixion. Such imagery is meant to represent the church’s emphasis on a living, resurrected Christ, and not a crucified Christ as represented by most of the other Christian Churches.
After President Nelson introduced the new symbol of the Church, I remembered a talk by President Hinckley in 2005. In that talk President Hinckley told the story of a clergy who, after touring the newly renovated Mesa Arizona Temple, and noticing the absence of any representation of the cross, the usual symbol of Christianity, asked: “Why is the symbol of the cross absent when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?”
The first reply of President Hinckley focused on the fact that the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while the message of the Church of Jesus Christ is a declaration of the Living Christ.
“If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”, insisted the clergyman.
To that question, President Hinckley’s final reply was: “the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.”
What a great reply that was. Surely the lives of the members of the Church are a much better symbol of our faith than the cross.
However, to have also an official symbol for church literature, news, and events which will promote more clearly our belief in a Living Christ, will surely help in advancing the cause of the Church.