Where Did the Word “Mormon” Come From?

mormon bible

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often called Mormons.  This has been bothersome to many members of the Church, because they want to be known as Christians, and that’s what the The Book of Mormonfull name of the Church implies.  Why are church members called Mormons?  The following will answer this question.

Around 600 B.C. many prophets were calling the citizens of Jerusalem to repentance.  Among them was Jeremiah, whose record we have in the Bible.  But there were others who prophesied of impending destruction at the hands of the Babylonians, if God’s people continued to corrupt true religious practices, break the commandments of God, and trample upon the rights of the poor.  Among these prophets was a rather wealthy man named Lehi.  Jeremiah had already been arrested (something that would happen several times), and the Lord warned Lehi that his life was in danger and to take his family and flee into the wilderness.  Lehi did so, taking very little of his fortune and goods.  A few days’ journey into the wilderness, the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to fetch the biblical record.  This was a dangerous undertaking, but Lehi’s sons were successful.  In the record, Lehi found the writings of Isaiah, his own genealogy (his descent from Joseph who was sold into Egypt), and other writings.  The Lord led Lehi’s family, and a few others who had joined them, through the wilderness, and down through Arabia to the sea, where the Lord instructed them as to how to build a ship.  They managed to sail to the Americas, where they established a culture based upon their religious beliefs.  They lived according to the Law of Moses, but their prophets taught of Jesus Christ, who would come to Jerusalem, but who would manifest Himself to them.

The Nephites, as they called themselves after Lehi’s righteous son, added to the record they had brought with them to the Americas.  The Lord intended part of it to come forth in the “last days” before the Second Coming of Christ, to restore the purity of the kingdom of God on earth, with its saving ordinances and gifts of the Spirit.  Mormon, a great Nephite warrior-prophet, abridged the record and compiled it for this purpose.  He said, in about 385 A.D.,

And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites.  And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ, that perhaps some day it may profit them.

…I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.  And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will (Words of Mormon 1:1-2, 6-7).

Mormon was killed in the wars that finally destroyed his people, but not until he had entrusted the records to his son, Moroni, who said,

I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi. And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless.

…it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God. …it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.  Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands; And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.

Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.  Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.  Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing (Mormon 8:13-14; 16; 28-32; 34-35).

It was Joseph Smith, born in 1805, who was led to the hidden plates and enabled by the gift God to translate them as The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, therefore, are casually called Mormons.  Mormons want their friends of other faiths to know, however, that they are sincere followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they worship Him as the Creator of the Universe, their Mediator with the Father, and the Savior of Mankind.  They want the world to know that the name of Christ is the only name through which we can be saved.  He has restored His kingdom as at first, with the power and authority to act in His name.  It is a kingdom of love and healing into which all are invited.


  1. Dannyboy

    As I read it your people migrated Americas from 600 B C to 400 A D. Then, for One Thousand year immigration to Americas, had your ancestors established their tribe? If so, what particular tribe to identify the stated claim and where to identify in what particular place?

    • Gale

      There were not migrations over that entire time period. One group, called in the Book of Mormon the Jaredites, that migrated to the Americas when the Tower of Babel was destroyed. Another group, the family of Lehi and some associates migrated around 600 BC. They were called the Nephites, after Lehi’s son. One more recorded group was called the Mulekites. Mulek was a son of Zedekiah, probably very young, who was rescued from the invading Babylonians and taken to the Americas. All three migrations were led by revelation from God to this land. All three were small groups. After His resurrection Christ visited their remaining descendants to establish His church among them, although they had already looked forward to his coming and kept the law of Moses. Many Indian tribes have traditions that coincide with these stories. “In 1980, an entire Nivaclé native tribe of 200 people converted to the gospel when missionaries told them the story of the Savior visiting the Americas. The leader of the tribe recognized the story as one passed down from their ancestors and knew he was hearing restored truths.” (http://ldsliving.com/story/78258-tribe-knew-book-of-mormon-stories-before-missionaries-arrived-4-more-facts-about-the-church-in-paraguay) Most Mormon scholars feel the Book of Mormon peoples lived in Meso-America and may have reached northward, but that they never were a large group of people.

  2. Chris

    The fact that The Book of Mormon contradicts the Holy Bible is the main reason why they cannot be called Christians, because they do not believe or follow the teachings of Christ in the Bible.

    • Gale

      Except that the Book of Mormon does not contradict the Bible. It supports it.

  3. Westpalm

    This religious group
    is one more church added to the gazillion christian groups that we have today.The real church was the catholic church and later on people began to split up to organize their own churches; period.

    • tjones1971

      Among the many Christian denominations, Catholicism and Mormonism are unique. Orson F. Whitney, an early Apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, shared a story of a Roman Catholic acquaintance who talked with him after delivering a speech at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. “I became well-acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy. One day he said to me: ‘You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, your are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.”
      His conclusion makes sense. Either the gospel has continued, uninterrupted, from the time of Christ’s apostles (Catholicism), or parts of it were lost and needed to be restored in the latter days (Mormonism). Fortunately, we can discover truth for ourselves through The Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit), who is the great testifier of all truth. (John 15:26)


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