The name Thomas has a tortured history in Mormonism. Thomases were instrumental in the downfall of the church in Nauvoo. Two Thomases in particular, Sharp and Ford, played key roles in the death of the prophet Joseph Smith and the expulsion of the saints from Nauvoo. Thomas Sharp, editor of the Warsaw Signal, participated actively in the process, publishing inflammatory reports and editorials that called for Mormon blood. Thomas Ford’s role was less active but equally crucial in the downfall of Nauvoo. His (relatively) well-intentioned wishy-washiness allowed anti-Mormon sentiment to fester, and his spineless and lukewarm attempts at compromise only resulted in Carthage.
Another Thomas has a dubious place of honor in Mormon history. Thomas B. Marsh was an early church leader, but left the church in Missouri. He was famously used as a cautionary tale by church president George Albert Smith, and his name has since been linked to milk and cream.
Since Marsh’s time, church leadership has been all but devoid of Thomases. Prior to President Monson’s ordination in 1963, there was only one other Thomas general authority — Thomas E. McKay, brother of David O. McKay, who served as an Assistant to the Twelve. And in the past four decades, there has only been one other Thomas ordained (J. Thomas Fyans, another Assistant to the Twelve and later a Seventy.) As Mormons, we seem to be awfully good at doubting Thomas.
Will President Monson’s tenure result in redemption of the name? Will the presence of a beloved Mormon Thomas lead Mormons to start naming their children Thomas, like Catholics name their children after beloved Catholic Thomases (Aquinas and More)? Or will President Monson remain a lone Thomas in a sea of non-Tom-formists?
Is it okay to be a Thomist Mormon now?
Only time will tell.