A Different Jesus? Really? And Just When Do Saved Christians Lose Their Souls?

My head is still spinning–or rather, my heart aching–after a painful encounter with a local minister who tried to explain to me and a couple of the members of his flock (two sweet and devout Christians) that I am not Christian because I believe in a different Jesus. Didn’t matter that I claim to believe in the New Testament and the Jesus that was born in Bethlehem, the Son of God, the one who died on the cross for all of our sins. My Jesus is a different Jesus because my theology isn’t up to snuff. I believe in false doctrines like baptism for the dead, modern revelation, and the Book of Mormon. I also wrongly think it’s necessary to be baptized, important to try to keep the commandments (works!), and so forth, plus my understanding of what happens after resurrection (eternal families? gag!) is non-biblical. All of which means that I am not even close to being a Christian because the Jesus I believe in is a different Jesus–not the Jesus of the Bible, but maybe (I’m guessing) Jesus Rodriguez, a shoe repairman in Veracruz, Mexico who smokes cigars when he’s got them and yells at his kids. Or some other Mormon Jesus, not the one that saves.

That eventually led me to an interesting question which I wasn’t shy about asking.

“Exactly when do saved Christians lose their souls?”


“Well, consider one of your followers who has accepted Christ, turned his heart to Jesus, and has been saved. What might he do to lose his soul?”

Nothing, really. God is powerful to save, and once God saves someone, he’s going to heaven.

“But tell me when he loses his soul in this scenario. Imagine that he decides to walk into a Mormon church service one day. Has he lost his soul? Not yet? Suppose he enjoys the service and wants to come back? Soul lost? Suppose he starts to think that maybe he should keep the commandments to really follow Jesus. Then he starts to believe that maybe God does want him and his wife to be together even after death. He starts to believe eternal family life might be possible. Is that doctrine so abominable that his soul will be lost? Then he starts to read the Book of Mormon and he feels that it is also a witness of Christ. Is his soul lost then? Still believing in Jesus and in the Bible, he also begins to believe in baptism, even baptism by immersion Mormon style, and then baptism for the dead, and a dozen other incorrect Mormon doctrines–all while sincerely feeling that he still loves the same Jesus he once accepted. He eventually becomes a Latter-day Saint. At which point does God say that his theological understanding has become so flawed that the once-saved Christian must be kicked out of heaven and cast into hell? So when did he lost his soul?”

The minister, who couldn’t quit talking before, seemed surprisingly quiet. Then he came back and challenged the scenario by saying he’d never known of a born again Christian who had become Mormon. But there have been people like that, I insisted. It’s not merely theoretical. If a saved Christian can become Mormon, and many have, at what point do they lose their souls–especially when they still believe, in their hearts, in the same God and Jesus that they turned to for salvation in the first place?

Likewise, the path that I and others have been through, even while LDS, of turning to Jesus and seeking salvation from Him as the only source of redemption ought to fulfill every requirement of salvation from his perspective. If I am wrong about the Book of Mormon, if I’ve got my info on baptism and various other doctrines all wrong, then I’m truly sorry, but after all it is Jesus I believe in, the Jesus of the Bible, and it is through His Atonement that I have peace and hope. So in spite of all the flaws I may have in my knowledge of theology, does not my sincere acceptance of Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, and my sense that I have been born again through His grace not count for something? I may have all sorts of errors in my understanding, perhaps I have been deceived on many points of doctrine, but is it not possible to recognize that in spite of such flaws, I too may be Christian?

No, absolutely not. Because of the Book of Mormon and all our many mistakes, I believe in a different Jesus. End of story.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

114 thoughts on “A Different Jesus? Really? And Just When Do Saved Christians Lose Their Souls?

  1. Oh! I know this one! Or at least I've talked to evangelicals enough to know how many respond:


    A true Christian (read: not a Mormon) could never just walk into a Mormon place of worship and lose his/her soul because such a person would never have been a true Christian deep down in the first place. We're all predestined after all.

  2. Yeah, Jeff – that's exactly where the theology falls apart. Thanks for stating it so well.

    It's really ironic to me that the "Mormon Jesus" is MUCH mightier to save than the "Protestant Jesus" – at least, according to the respective theologies.

  3. Ha, I used to be in this camp.

    I always experienced some cognitive dissonance when I realized how this line of thinking means that if anyone holds a different view of Jesus, then it's essentially a "different" Jesus, and poor soul them.

    I think it's part of the denial coming from people such as those at MRM and such that Mormonism is, in fact, a Christian religion. Just like Catholicism, though, it has its own line of theology that separates it from everyone else.

    It would've been better to say that there are many Christian aspects to Mormonism, and different interpretations of scripture, but there are some Mormon-specific doctrines as well, and so it's Christianity plus Mormonism.

    It's almost like what Christianity did to Judaism–it added the teachings of Christ. Mormonism added the "revelations" of Joseph Smith.

    I don't think it's a big deal, and I refer to Mormonism as just another Christian denomination to my friends. But a lot of research has shown that a key factor in resistance to persuasion is threat, and I feel like people at MRM (et al.) are threatened by the idea that Mormonism is definitely a Christian religion.

  4. or another common response along with what Jon says is that many will also tell you many sincere, kind, nice people die and go to hell every day…. don't know about you but I want to be with the kind and nice people!

  5. Let's say I adore President Obama. I think his liberal, environment-centric policies and tax ideas are pure genius and will truly stabilize our planet and economy. My friend Jim ,on the other hand, believes he is a lying illegal immigrant, a plant from the progressive communist left who deeply hates America and is here to destroy it.

    Those are pretty different beliefs about one man! So logically, we know the universe will create a whole new Barack Obama. He will slip into reality and now Jim and I will both believe in different Barack Obamas. It's common sense guys…….wait……hmmm……no….um, yeah that's not right, I forgot that just believing in a person who does certain things does not make that person come to life. So what common sense really says it there is, was and only ever will be ONE Barack Obama, and Jim and I just believe different THINGS about the SAME President. Huh, I wonder if this could be used as a metaphor? Nah

  6. Mormons do have some views about Jesus that are different from those held by most Christians, including denial of the Trinity and the belief that Jesus has been popping back to Earth to talk to LDS prophets now and then. The case of "A Different Jesus" can be reasonably made.

    However, it doesn't sound like that's what this was really about. It sounds like it was just bog-standard "Mormonism is not Christian" sermonizing.

  7. Jeff, you need to open your mind and be understanding of your kind neighbors. They are not stupid. They are trinitarians who believe in one God. We believe in multiple Gods. Christianity and Islam believe in one God.

    Therefore Jesus is different in parentage. O Magnum Mysterium. Oh great mystery. Yes the Trinity is a Mystery. There are endless writings of it in Christianity. FARMS is not the only place with bright religious students.

    And yes Jeff, we do have a different Jesus.

  8. Anon, I'm open-minded enough to recognize that there are major differences between some of our beliefs and those of other Christians and that honest, intelligent, and well-meaning people can hold beliefs different than mine. I did not say that the pastor or his followes are stupid–absolutely not.

    I'm also open-minded enough to accept that when someone claims to sincerely believe in Christ and be a Christian, that I have no right to deny their status as a Christian just because I disagree with some of their doctrines. I am open-minded enough to recognize that they may in fact believe in the Jesus of the Bible, the Son of God, even if they are confused about some of the things that Jesus taught.

  9. Anon, when you group Muslims and mainstream Christians in the same one-God, you mind be interested to know that this can be offensive to Muslims who often feel that Christian monotheism is a far cry from their pure monotheism since we have God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost – three persons, not just one. Wrap all the metaphysics around it you want, the use of three persons smacks of polytheism. All they have to do to win that argument is read, among many example, 1 Cor. 8:5-6 where Paul says there are many gods and many lords, but to us there is but one God, the Father, . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ. Oops – that's two persons.

    Ah, but we know that they are One. But how are they one?

    As a Altter-day Saint, I worship one God, God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, who are One God. It is in the nature of their oneness that we differ with the interpretations of mainstream Christianity. See my page on the oneness of God. We accept the kind of oneness Jesus speaks of in John 17: 11, 20-23. The kind of oneness that allows Christ to have an immortal, tangible body that could be touched and felt in Luke 24, a body in the express image of God the Father per Heb. 1, a body in whose physical image we are created per Gen. 1, a body that could be seen by Stephen in Acts 7:55,56 when he saw Christ standing on the right hand of God, as did Joseph Smith. Two persons, two Beings, yet perfectly united in heart, mind, and will, the Son fully representing the Father, being the Almighty God and Only Begotten Son, yet able to say "My father is greater than I" in John 14:28. Able to pray to Father. A Father who made a genuine, painful sacrifice when He gave His only begotten Son per John 3:16, for He was giving His son, not just Himself or a manifestation of Himself. The love of a parent for a child is so much different than the love I have for the various parts of me. Father and Son describes God and Jesus better than any of the metaphysics of the philosophers. And it describes why God is called our Heavenly Father, for He is the Father of our Spirits (Heb. 12:9) and we are His offpsring (Acts 17:28,29). Shocking stuff, I know, but biblical truth as well. Call us crazy for accepting the Bible too literally, but recognize that we, too, worship Jesus and are Christian.

  10. This oneness of God is what makes sense of the full range of teachings found in the Bible. The true oneness of God is not the neo-Platonic oneness of immaterial, incorporeal substance as taught by Hellenized philosophers who prevailed in the bickering councils of men in the 4th and 5th centuries and gave us the modern, post-biblical doctrine of the Trinity as defined in creeds like the Nicene Creed. These post-biblical creeds, in spoite of the influence of Greek philosophy, are still close to the truth, so close to what we believe, yet have a few major defects like missing the real nature of the oneness of God. Ironically, those who claim that there can be no revelation outside the bible, that all truth is found in the bible, require that we turn to those post-biblical creeds and accept all of their metaphysical utterances in order to be Christian. We can accept the vast majority of what is in the creeds, but a Christ who lost His resurrected, glorious body, not a Christ who is the same immaterial Being as his Glorious Father, in whose image we are created. But in spite of the differences we have with Trinitarians, I don't say they believe in a demonic Jesus because they misunderstand some aspects of His nature. I don't say they aren't Christian because of these differences. I'm just grateful for the restoration of the Gospel that has added some important truths to the many truths that my fellow Christians have preserved and kept over the centuries, in spite of some tragic loss.

  11. Jeff, I'll try to summarize. I grew up in a very non- to anti-religious family, and at about age 23, started developing an interest in the spiritual. A friend of mine was also developing that interest, and both of us had had some prior exposure to the more fundamentalist end of Protestant Christianity, so started there. Among other reading I was doing was some anti-Mormon stuff a pastor recommended. I realized that the claims being made there did not mesh well with LDS people I'd known, and around that time met an LDS couple who were quite patient with my questions about the claims I'd been exposed to. It dawned on me that if you really want to understand what someone believes, ask them, not people who trumpet their opposition to that belief because they have their own axes to grind. So, I read various LDS materials I borrowed, did a lot of thinking and praying (interesting side note: any evangelical will deny that God will answer prayer regarding the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, apparently not believing Him powerful enough to override alleged Satanic input on that question, and will frantically discourage the seeker from talking to God about it), and found out what was true and what wasn't.

    I was baptized LDS in April 1994. 🙂

    I've also noted that particularly in theological discussions, you can get a good sense of what Spirit is prompting a participant by their behavior. Let's just say it's rare in my experience to see an LDS participant display the level of rage, fear of differing views, and outright fury I so commonly see from evangelicals.

  12. Put it another way, Jeff. How much of what Joseph Smith do you depend upon to be a Christian? Do you even need to have Joseph Smith? At all?

  13. I called a local religious radio station once and asked, "If a person lives in a muslim country and attends muslim prayer services at a mosque, but secretly accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, is that person saved?" The guy on the radio answered in the affirmative and told me "It's what's in one's heart that matters, not what building they go to for worship." I wonder if he would have given me the same answer if the example I used was a person attending a Mormon church rather than a Muslim mosque?

  14. Jesus Christ referred to what was in ones heart over and over. According to Jesus, one can even commit adultery in the heart, however, according to main-stream Christians, if you attend a Mormon church, WHAM! straight to hell you go!

  15. Well done! The Jesus I know will save that minister in his ignorance just as he will for all through his INFINITE atonement…And lucky for him and all of us it's not the end the story!

  16. @NM

    We do not need Joseph Smith, we need what Christ restored through him including what we call Priesthood, or the Authority to act in God's name. This again is simply a difference in our view not a sign that we worship a different Jesus Christ than that of The Bible.

  17. FelixAndAva,

    The last sentence of your post hit the nail on the head for me. I was an evangelical, "born again" Christian for 15 years. I left it because of the fear and hatred I saw every day. They preach of Jesus' love but attack everyone who is different. Now I refer to evangelicalism as "Christinaity Lite".

    As a Catholic living in Utah, I believe beyond any doubt that Mormons are my Christian brothers and sisters. If the fruit of the spirit is any indictation, my Mormon neighbors are the most Christian people I have ever known. Every Christian church in the world could learn a lot from the way Mormons show God's love with actions, not just words.

  18. As one of the new online missionaries answering the live chat on Mormon.org, I get to interact with a lot of people who are investigating whether we believe in a different Jesus. Thank you for the idea for something else to show them, that addresses their concern and doesn't raise contention much as many of the other responses I've seen.

    One Lord, one faith, one baptism, -Eph 4:5

  19. The response I've been given is that they were never really saved in the first place. Especially when that person became an atheist instead of a Mormon. That seems like the safe way out and it never mattered that they could have been a minister for years. Still never really saved.

  20. The Easter Pageant at the local Mormon temple presents the story of a loving Jesus who heals the sick, calls the children to him and sinners to repentance, is betrayed by Judas, tried, and crucified. It ends with the resurrected Christ rising heavenward in a brilliant display of glory. So far the Christian Jesus. As the LDS posters to this blog well know, that risen Christian Jesus soon becomes the Mormon Jesus. In the meridian — not the end – of times, he descends on the Americas to destroy city after city (16 all told) by fire and flood and earthquake. He doesn't walk among the people healing the sick, calling the children to him and preaching repentance to sinners, he creates thousands more sick and kills children and sinners alike. That is the Mormon Jesus. The historical parallels are not a Gandhi, a St. Francis or a Martin Luther King, but a Pol Pot, a Lenin, or a Mao Zedong, tyrants for whom power is truth, a truth to be taught not by word or example but at the point of a gun, by terror.