Symbols are all around us. Coins, cards, and cars have them. Backpacking equipment, books, and bikes do, too. Logos, licenses, letters, and lives depict symbols as well.
According to Webster’s dictionary, a symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship.
Since they are so prevalent and common, what is the symbol of our religion?
While you consider the possibilities, I have a brief anecdote to share that will help answer that question for you.
Following the renovation of the Mesa Arizona Temple, clergy of other religions in the area were invited to tour the building the first day of the open house. Hundreds responded. President Hinckley addressed the guests and offered to answer any questions. Among these attendees was a Protestant minister. The Ensign reported the following conversation in President Hinckley’s own words:
Said [the minister]: “I’ve been all through this building, this temple which carries on its face the name of Jesus Christ, but nowhere have I seen any representation of the cross, the symbol of Christianity. I have noted your buildings elsewhere and likewise find an absence of the cross. Why is this when you say you believe in Jesus Christ?”
I responded: “I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian colleagues who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the Living Christ.”
He then asked: “If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?”
I replied that the lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship . . .
Because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of His death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? No sign, no work of art, no representation of form is adequate to express the glory and the wonder of the Living Christ. He told us what that symbol should be when He said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.'” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Symbol of Our Faith,” Ensign, April 2005)
We have all heard this declaration, and now, more than a dozen years later, how are we doing? Is our voice being heard? Have our lives become our faith’s most meaningful expression?
In this article, we will identify and acknowledge a few of the ways I believe the Church is attempting to highlight this important symbol of our faith.
I remember the day when you could watch all the newly-released videos produced by the Church. At first they came out maybe weekly, and later, every few days. Now, there are thousands of profiles, videos, scripture stories, and true life experiences. I have watched hundreds, but there are probably thousands, many of which I will probably never see because new content is so prolific and regular.
Mormon.org profiles are published online in dozens of countries and available in many languages from all continents of the world. I actually prefer to watch the profile videos on YouTube.com because there they automatically load one after the other. I find myself smiling frequently, laughing at times, and even shedding tears on occasion. It is truly amazing how much I have in common with these people and the number of things I learn.
Advertisements on YouTube have been coming up lately with “I’m a Mormon” profiles in between videos.
The I’m A Mormon campaign, Meet the Mormons, dozens of stories of Christ’s life, and thousands more media help us learn about good examples of people in the Church and the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all of our lives—members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those of other faiths alike! And these are just the beginning. We have available to us General Conferences since 1971, devotionals, missionary presentations, gospel libraries, websites, and more coming every day.
We also have temples that now dot the earth, a missionary force of tens of thousands of men and women, revealed scripture, saving ordinances, priesthood authority, and living apostles and prophets. All of these provide many possible symbols for our religion.
All point toward and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ and His glorious message.
That is something we can all agree on.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.