In January Deseret News ran a story titled, “LDS Church terms no longer in use.” The article listed some of the old names and abbreviations the Church once used, but which have become outdated as the Church has made changes. For example, 10- and 11-year-old girls in Primary used to be called Bluebirds. Their boy counterparts were Trekkers. The Sunday School program was once known as Deseret Sunday School Union, and the Ensign magazine was once the Improvement Era.
This article started me thinking about some of the other names and terms once used within the LDS Church that have changed. Here are a few:
The Church of Christ. The LDS Church has had three different names throughout its history. It was begun as “The Church of Christ” in 1830. And even though the Book of Mormon states that the true church must bear the name of Christ (3 Nephi 27:8), in 1834 the name was changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” Four years later, on April 26, 1838, the name of the church was changed again to its present iteration, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (For more information see The Name of God’s Church)
King Benjamin. In two places in the Book of Mormon, the king formerly known as “Benjamin” is now called “Mosiah.” On page 200 of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon it is said that king Benjamin had a gift from God to interpret engravings. In the modern edition of the Book of Mormon, it is king Mosiah who had the gift (Mosiah 21:28). Likewise, the 1830 Book of Mormon states that king Benjamin kept the writings of the brother of Jared away from the people until the appointed time (page 546). In the modern rendering of Ether 4:1, king Mosiah carried that responsibility. It is unknown why king Benjamin was changed to king Mosiah, but according to Book of Mormon chronology, at the time of these reported events king Benjamin was dead; Mosiah was his successor.
The Angel Nephi. Joseph Smith’s official testimony states that an angel named Moroni appeared to Joseph in 1823 and subsequently led him to the gold plates which were eventually translated and published as the Book of Mormon. However, as this testimony is found in the 1851 Pearl of Great Price (page 41) and volume 3 (page 753) of the Mormon periodical Times and Seasons (April 15, 1842), it was reported that Nephi, not Moroni, appeared to Joseph Smith.
White and delightsome. This phrase was previously found in the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 30:6. It was part of a passage that taught that if dark-skinned Lamanites came to believe in the Book of Mormon, their dark skin would fade and they would become a “white and delightsome” people. Spencer W. Kimball, who became the twelfth LDS Prophet, was fond of using this phrase. During the October 1960 General Conference of the LDS Church he said,
“The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.
“At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl–sixteen–sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents–on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was a doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.” (Conference Report, October 1960, 34)
The phrase in the Book of Mormon, “white and delightsome,” was changed in the 1981 edition to read “pure and delightsome.”