Are we as church members downplaying Jesus?
I don’t mean this in a theological sense; rather, it seems to me that church members (and leaders) tend to de-emphasize the use of the single-name description Jesus. We regularly use the name Jesus when it is associated with the title Christ. However, when we use a single-word name, LDS speakers — unlike speakers I’ve heard from other denominations — tend to use the name Christ, not Jesus.
For instance, Elder Uchtdorf’s talk The Way of the Disciple uses the combined title Jesus Christ more than two dozen times. Elder Uchtdorf uses a one-word title four times; three of them are Christ.
“Perhaps the disciples thought this was a turning point—the moment when the Jewish world would finally recognize Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.”
“The gospel is the good news of Christ.”
“The more we fill our hearts and minds with the message of the risen Christ, the greater our desire is to follow Him and live His teachings.”
“This, in turn, causes our faith to grow and allows the light of Christ to illuminate our hearts.”
Elder Uchtdorf’s recent talk The Love of God also focused on being a disciple of Jesus Christ. This talk does not make any references to the stand-alone name Jesus; it does contain five references to the stand-alone title of Christ.
“Our walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful.”
“Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Christ.”
“Don’t feel downcast or despair if you don’t feel worthy to be a disciple of Christ at all times.”
“As you reach out to your Heavenly Father, as you pray to Him in the name of Christ, He will answer you. ”
“If you listen for the voice of the Father, He will lead you on a course that will allow you to experience the pure love of Christ.”
A decade ago, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve issued a statement about the divinity and importance of Jesus Christ. Its title? “The Living Christ.”
Why is this?
Are there theological reasons to use title rather than name? Could Elder Uchtdorf’s references be replaced with the name Jesus? “Our walk as disciples of Jesus becomes more joyful”; “Love is the defining characteristic of a disciple of Jesus”; “If you listen for the voice of the Father, He will lead you on a course that will allow you to experience the pure love of Jesus”? It even sounds a little wrong, doesn’t it? We have grown accustomed to an environment where the stand-alone name of Jesus is used much less than the title Christ. More extensive use of the name Jesus sounds — well, evangelical.
Is this just a cultural tic, or is there theological content to this tendency? What do folks think?