Do Latter-day Saints and evangelicals love the same Jesus? ‘The Chosen’ creator addresses questions about ‘LDS issue’ (2023)

Does the evangelical creator of “The Chosen” believe that Latter-day Saints are Christians or that they love the same Jesus as evangelicals?

Dallas Jenkins, the show’s mastermind, director and executive producer, gave his definitive comments on what he termed the “LDS issue” in a YouTube video statement Thursday.

“There has been an increased amount of attention given not only to the show itself lately, but to a comment that I made several years ago that I probably need to add a little clarification to and this is what we kind of call the ‘LDS issue’ or the ‘LDS question’ when it comes to ‘The Chosen,’” Jenkins said in the video.

What happened?

According to the video, Jenkins said false statements have been attributed to him in which he states that “Mormons and evangelicals love the same Jesus” or “LDS are Christians.”

“Is it true that I said that?” Jenkins said. “The answer is no. I did not. Did it appear like I said that? Could it be easily interpreted as me saying that? I think that’s true. ... I probably could have given more context and clarity then that I’m giving now.”

Why are those statements a problem?

“Not because there aren’t LDS folks who are Christians and not because there aren’t LDS and evangelicals who love the same Jesus, but because it would be wrong of me to ever say that any one group believes any one thing altogether. That is just a level of arrogance that I don’t have.”

He continued: “It would be just as dumb for me to say that all LDS are Christians, as it would be to say that all evangelicals are Christians, or that all Catholics are Christians or any other faith tradition. It would also be dumb for me to say that none are.”

Jenkins acknowledged working with and developing deep friendships with several members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in recent years with the show.

“I stand by the statement that those friends of mine that I’m referring to absolutely love the same Jesus that I do,” he said. “Now, you may still go, ‘Well, that can’t be true,’ and that’s your right to think that. But it’s not fair to say, ‘Oh, then you are now speaking about everybody.’ I know plenty of evangelicals who I would say don’t know the same Jesus that I do and don’t love the same Jesus that I do.”

Taking down ‘religious walls’

Speaking at Utah State University in March, Jenkins said he has witnessed ‘The Chosen’ bring people of different faiths and religions together in remarkable ways.

“To me, one of the joys of this project is seeing the religious walls that come down when we’re focused on Jesus himself,” he said. “It’s just been so beautiful to watch.”

Rumors involving Latter-day Saints and ‘The Chosen’

Jenkins and his team recently denied rumors on social media that ‘The Chosen’ is produced by the church. There are some Latter-day Saint connections.

  • “The Chosen” is distributed by partnerAngel Studios, a streaming video company that was co-founded by brothers Neal andJeffrey Harmon, who are Latter-day Saints.
  • Angel Studios raised millions through crowdfunding to fund the multiseason series about the life of Jesus Christ.
  • Latter-day Saint leaders also authorized the filming of scenes for Season 2 of “The Chosen” at the church’sJerusalem set near Goshen, Utah.

‘Statement of faith’ by ‘The Chosen’

Jenkins provided a “statement of faith” for the faith-based show that portrays the life of Jesus in a 2021 YouTube video.

“‘The Chosen’ is a narrative show, which means it’s not a documentary. It’s also not a church. It’s not a nonprofit ministry. It’s not formally connected to a denomination or faith tradition. And it’s absolutely not a replacement for scripture. It’s a show,” he said in the video. “However, that’s not to diminish the importance of getting things right. We have an obligation to take this seriously. We are talking about the son of God here.”

He also outlined four guiding principles — “the bedrock foundations” — of ‘The Chosen’s approach to the show.

  • People of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs work on the show. Counting the cast, crew, marketing and distribution teams, there are more than 200 people involved with “The Chosen.” “As long as the content itself is faithful, we’re less demanding with those who help deliver it,” Jenkins said.
  • The primary source for the show’s content is the New Testament gospels. “There is a lot of prayer involved,” Jenkins said. Once written, the script is reviewed by cultural consultants to ensure Biblical, historical and cultural accuracy.
  • The show isn’t based on any religious tradition or particular faith perspective, it’s based on the stories in the gospels and history.
  • There is no effort to please or seek the approval of one person, group or critics. “The only one I’m seeking the approval of is God,” Jenkins said. “You don’t have to agree with some of my decisions or some of the decisions of our team, but as a viewer, you should at least know that these decisions were taken very seriously.”

Jenkins concluded by saying the show needs to speak for itself.

Jenkins also recommended watching this YouTube video, “The controversial making of ‘The Chosen’ with Dallas Jenkins,” for additional context.

“The Chosen” has been filming its third season in Texas and will likely release new episodes later this year.


How does Mormonism differ from Evangelical Christianity? ›

With respect to scripture, Mormons differ from traditional Christian groups in that they accept extra books in their canon. In addition to the King James Version of the Bible, they add the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

What denomination is the creator of The Chosen? ›

Jenkins, the creator, writer, director and executive producer of “The Chosen” series, which features the life of Jesus, is an evangelical Christian.

Does the LDS Church endorse The Chosen? ›

Pastors' note: We are not endorsing or promoting The Chosen, but we aren't discouraging it either. Since many of you are watching it and enjoying it, we are encouraging you to do that with discernment.

Why are so many people leaving the LDS Church? ›

Reasons for leaving

Most ex-Mormons leave Mormonism and the LDS Church because specific intellectual or spiritual reasons have led them to a conviction that the religion is false. The foremost reasons are disbelief both in Joseph Smith as a prophet and in the Book of Mormon as a religious and historical document.

What religion is most similar to Mormonism? ›

Islam and Mormonism have been compared to one another since the earliest origins of the latter in the nineteenth century, sometimes by detractors of one or both religions, but also at least once by Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, himself.

Do Mormons believe that Jesus and God are the same person? ›

Like most Christians, Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Creator of the World. However, Mormons hold the unique belief that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two distinct beings.

Is The Chosen biblically based? ›

Although The Chosen draws directly from the New Testament, it's become a global phenomenon largely because it doesn't treat the Gospels as, uh, gospel.

Why did The Chosen leave Utah? ›

“We had pretty much decided on Malta, Bulgaria, or Utah, and we found out Utah was a no, and that was because of COVID,” Eves said. At that point, Dallas Jenkins, the writer and director, went back to the farm where he'd filmed the short that inspired The Chosen and prayed they'd be able to keep going.

How biblically accurate is The Chosen? ›

The Chosen stays true to the details that are in the text of the New Testament. Each episode takes artistic license to fill in the many blanks where the text does not go into detail, but this artistic license is all feasible considering the details that are provided.

Why are so many Millenials leaving the LDS Church? ›

They have complicated relationships with the church, and in some cases, they're believing without belonging.” Ogletree said millennials leaving the LDS Church is part of the broader generational trend away from religion and toward a more secular culture — the trend that sparked Riess' study.

What is the difference between being called and chosen LDS? ›

The Lord said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” 7 We are called when hands are laid upon our heads and we are given the priesthood, but we are not chosen until we have demonstrated to God our righteousness, our faithfulness, and our commitment. Brethren, this work is true.

Can LDS prophet lead the church astray? ›

The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray. President Wilford Woodruff (1807–98) declared that we can have full confidence in the direction the prophet is leading the Church: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.

Is the LDS Church growing or declining? ›

In recent years, the global faith of 16.8 million has grown by less than 1% annually and, in fact, is shrinking in a number of regions. In the United States over the past two years, for instance, 21 states saw Latter-day Saint membership decline.

What is the divorce rate in the LDS Church? ›

According to research cited in a 2000 article in the Los Angeles Times, “in an era of divorce, Latter-day Saint temple weddings are built to last,” with only a 6 percent divorce rate.

What are the problems with the LDS Church? ›

Academic critics have questioned the legitimacy of Smith as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. Criticism has expanded to include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexist policies.

Do Mormons think they are Christians? ›

Mormon Beliefs

Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians don't recognize Mormonism as an official denomination. Mormons believe in the crucifixion, resurrection and divinity of Jesus Christ. Followers claim that God sent more prophets after Jesus's death.

Do Mormons have a different Bible than Christians? ›

How Are They Different? The significant difference between the Bible and the Book of Mormon is the period and place of writing. The Bible is the works of the prophets and historians based in the Middle East, and it covers ancient years of history starting from God's creation of the world until about AD100.

What percentage of Utah is Mormon? ›

Utah has the highest concentration of Mormon adherents, with 66% of the population identifying as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

How are evangelical Christians different? ›

The term evangelical comes from the word "evangel" which is a word form in Greek from the New Testament that refers to the good news of Jesus Christ -- that Jesus came to save humanity -- and evangelicals have a particular take on the good news. That makes them distinctive from other Christians.

What part of the Bible do Mormons not believe? ›

Nevertheless, most Mormons do not accept the doctrine of the Trinity as codified in the Nicene Creed of 325 and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381. Although Mormons consider the Protestant Bible to be holy scripture, they do not believe in biblical inerrancy.

Are Pentecostals and evangelicals the same? ›

Pentecostalism refers to Christian denominations who prioritize the spirit and whose worship services may include speaking in tongues, faith healings, and other charismatic expressions. Evangelicalism today is a protean movement that includes Christians on both the left and right of the political spectrum.

Do evangelicals believe the Bible literally? ›

The vast majority of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians regard the Biblical text as clear, and believe that the average person may understand the basic meaning and teachings of the Bible. Such Christians often refer to the teachings of the Bible rather than to the process of interpretation itself.

What branch of Christianity is evangelical? ›

Evangelical church, any of the classical Protestant churches or their offshoots but especially, since the late 20th century, churches that stress the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, personal conversion experiences, Scripture as the sole basis for faith, and active evangelism (the winning of personal ...


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