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A Latter Day Saint is an adherent of the Latter Day Saint movement, a group of denominations tracing their heritage to the teachings of Joseph Smith, Jr. and the Church of Christ he organized in 1830. This article concerns the use of the term Latter Day Saint and its variant Latter-day Saint, which is used exclusively by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Usage of the term

Origin of Latter Day Saint

The first known use of the term Latter Day Saint was in 1834, shortly before the Church of Christ was informally renamed "the Church of the Latter Day Saints" to distinguish it from other "Churches of Christ" that were being established at the time. The term derives from Smith's teaching that adherents of the religion God established were "saints" in the same sense that Paul of Tarsus used the term, meaning that they were followers of Christ. They are termed latter day saints in order to distinguish them from the saints of the early Christian church (former day saints) . The church adopted the term officially April 16, 1838 with a revelation delivered through Smith, "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

Latter Day Saint vs. Latter-day Saint

The British styling Latter-day Saint — including both the hyphenation and lower-case d — came into common use in about 1852 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was incorporated by that name in Salt Lake Citymarker, Utahmarker. This form is used only by that denomination, and its usage and the abbreviation LDS generally denote only members of that church.

Because the LDS Church is by far the largest and most well-known of the various Latter Day Saint denominations, a number of churches who consider themselves Latter Day Saints have informal terms that refer to their members, in order to avoid confusion. For example, the denomination that is officially named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints refers to itself informally as the Strangites. Similarly, members of the Church of Christ are often referred to as Hedrickites, and members of The Church of Jesus Christ are often called Bickertonites. In 2001, the Community of Christ, the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination, changed its name from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while retaining the longer name for legal purposes, partly to avoid these types of confusions, although they have always referred to members as saints and the church informally as the Saints' Church. Nevertheless, the term Latter Day Saint may be appropriately applied to all denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement.

Latter Day Saint vs. Mormon

Latter Day Saints are commonly referred to as Mormons, a nickname derived from the title of The Book of Mormon. However, the size and prominence of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have led to the terms Mormon and Mormonism being generally understood to apply only to the church and its members; that is, to the Latter-day Saints. The desire of the church to emphasize doctrinal teaching of Jesus Christ has led to its urging journalists to use the terms Latter-day Saint and Mormon only in reference to members of the church or as an adjective in such expressions as Mormon pioneers, while referring to the church as either The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the shortened form, the Church of Jesus Christ. The Associated Press Stylebook states the following concerning the use of the term Mormon: “The term Mormon is not properly applied to the other Latter Day Saint churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death.” Nevertheless, the term is often used to refer to adherents of Mormon fundamentalism who believe in plural marriage (a practice that the LDS Church officially abandoned in 1890), as well to refer to other Brighamite sects within the Latter Day Saint movement such as the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ and others.

See also



Notes

  1. See "Minutes of a Conference", Evening and Morning Star, vol. 2, no. 20, p. 160.
  2. Burton, Rulon (1994) We Believe: Doctrines and Principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Tabernacle Books. ISBN 0964069601
  3. Judd, Peter & Lindgren, Bruce (1976) Introduction to the Saints Church. Independence, MO: Herald House. ISBN 0964069601
  4. LDS Style Guide
  5. The term "Mormon fundamentalist" appears to have been coined in the 1940s by Apostle Mark E. Petersen: Ken Driggs, "'This Will Someday Be the Head and Not the Tail of the Church': A History of the Mormon Fundamentalists at Short Creek", Journal of Church and State 43:49 (2001) at p. 51.


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