Insights on Names and Ordinances
H. Martins, Ph.D.
Essay Posted on Social Media - 2018
This article is a response to
a Facebook post about my curiosity regarding the use, by a few LDS
families in Brazil, of the word "presentation" when referring to the
ordinance of "naming and blessing children."
interest in this subject began as mere academic curiosity. Yesterday I
saw in it just another sociological phenomenon. However, soon after
waking up this Sunday morning (21 January 2018), as I
scoured my "memory banks" to program my activities for the day, other
thoughts, more ecclesiastical and doctrinal, came to mind, and the
sociologist had to yield the brain to the high priest. The result is
Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
is the highest deliberative and regulatory body in the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's this council that approves the
contents of the Church's Handbook of Instructions. With very few
exceptions, local leaders and members are not authorized to change the
official terminology used in instruction manuals.
see with a certain concern especially those cases involving the
introduction of words and religious terms created by men and women of
the world, well-intentioned and wise in the eyes of the world, but who
have neither the divine priesthood nor the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
my curiosity about the use of the word "presentation" in referring to
"blessing"--the ordinance of "naming and blessing children." At this
point I suppose some may already be thinking, "Oh, Brother Martins … there you go inventing problems!" But hang on ...
Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "Ordinances instituted in the heavens
before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the
salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved
on the same principles." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church--Joseph Smith, p.417)
propose that even the names of priesthood ordinances should not be
changed, for these ordinances--including their names and
procedures--were received by revelation. And these names of the
ordinances bring to the mortal mind certain "impressions" concerning
the divine purposes for the performance of such rituals. Because of
this, we do not call the ordinance of baptism "diving" nor the
sacrament "supper" or "snack."
to the ordinance of naming and blessing children, allow me some
additional thoughts, to be "savored" slowly and calmly.
learn in the House of the Lord that the names we receive from our
earthly parents can be reutilized for exceedingly sacred purposes,
involving heavenly power and honors whose eternal extent and
consequences cannot be fully conceived or evaluated by the mortal mind.
blessing of a little child is the precursor of the future ordinances
that that child may receive in the holy Temple when he or she becomes a
young man or woman over 18 or 19 years old.
use their creativity and at times inspiration to choose names for their
children. A birth certificate issued by a government official records
the name of a child before the government of the country. The ordinance
of naming and blessing a child, officiated by a Melchizedek Priesthood
holder, combined with a certificate issued by the bishopric or branch
presidency (Doctrine & Covenants 128:9), records
the name of a child in the kingdom of God on earth. Eventually, through
the ordinances of the House of the Lord officiated by the Melchizedek
Priesthood, the name of a child (now an adult) is recorded in the "...
book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world."
short, the ordinance we officiate for our little children is far, far
more than a mere "presentation," and although the use of that term may
be seen as not necessarily wrong, it does not, however, describe the
ordinance correctly, neither reveals to the mind the ordinance's true
nature in time and in eternity.
I almost forgot ... shaking the baby also is not part of the ordinance.
And if the baby, cries, shaking him/her will only make the situation
worse. Just saying ...
is a professor of religion and leadership and former dean of religious
education at Brigham Young University-Hawaii. He wrote the book
"Setting the Record Straight: Blacks and the Mormon Priesthood", and
the manuscript "The Priesthood: Earthly Symbols and Heavenly
Realities". He has spoken at conferences and events in the United
States (where he has lived since 1990), Brazil, China, England, Hong
Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Portugal, Qatar and Singapore.
Brother Martins joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
in 1972 and became the first Latter-day Saint with Black African
ancestry to serve a full-time mission after the 1978 Revelation. He
served twice as bishop, seven times as stake high councilor, three
times as temple worker, translator of the Book of Mormon, and president
of the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission with his wife, Mirian Abelin
Barbosa. The couple has four children and eight grandchildren.
Marcus H. Martins, 2018