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Hello Saints: Pastor Learns Everything He Can About The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Hello Saints: Pastor Learns Everything He Can About The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

If you spend any amount of time on YouTube watching religious content about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there’s a good chance the algorithm has tried to feed you videos from the channel Hello Saints. 

Hello Saints was started by Christian pastor, Jeff McCullough, in his attempt to learn everything he can about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The description of his YouTube channel states:

This channel is devoted to fighting criticism with curiosity as I invite dialogue between Christians and Mormons. Are Mormons Christians? What do Christians and Latter Day-saints agree and disagree about? Join me as I compare and contrast the lifestyle, culture and beliefs of Mormons and other the rest of the Christian community. 

The YouTube channel was created in early 2022, and in his first published video on his channel, McCullough is standing on the roof of a building in his town pointing out the various churches that can be seen from the rooftop. In a visit he made to Utah before releasing the video, he noticed a great number of churches and was told that they were all Latter-day Saint chapels.

Hello Saints Thoughts on Joseph Smith

McCullough dedicated one of his early videos to the topic of Joseph Smith and discusses five takeaways after he spent time reading Richard Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith called Rough Stone Rolling. 

His first takeaway dealt with the fact that Joseph Smith was a man of his time. A lot of the criticism cast upon Joseph Smith deals with his treasure seeking, and also failed business ventures, but McCullough extends some grace and explains that treasure seeking was fairly common in that culture and leaders at this time were very innovative in attempting to set up these communities.

Interestingly enough, McCullough acknowledges that one of his concerns regarding Joseph Smith has to do with the multiple accounts of the First Vision and perceived inconsistencies there. If anyone reading this is in the same boat, you would do well to listen to the six-episode podcast series entitled The First Vision: A Joseph Smith Papers Podcast by Spencer McBride.

Each episode features insights from Church historians and scholars and is designed to help people see this theophany in a new way. (The multiple accounts of the First Vision is actually one of the things I love most about that event and cements in my mind the veracity of the experience.)

Hello Saints Goes to General Conference

Every YouTube channel that makes a mark always has one video that catapults them into relevance. For Hello Saints that video was titled Pastor’s raw REACTION at Latter-day Saint Conference. As of the date this article was written, the video has over 617,000 views and over 5,500 comments. 

In this video, McCullough traveled to the October 2022 General Conference in Salt Lake City and was able to attend a session thanks to a friend who was able to hook him up with some tickets. In an email that I sent to McCullough, I congratulated him on the success of that video and he remarked that a lot of individuals in his audience ask about General Conference. Making a video about that topic just made sense.

pastor attends general conference

The success of this video is also due, in large part, to the fact that because McCullough is informative and fair, he can appeal to multiple audiences. He even noted to me, “I also get the sense that Latter-day Saints are super intrigued by interfaith conversations with someone who is inquiring rather than attacking.  I think that plays pretty big in the grand scheme of things.”

As you read the comments on this video, and his other videos as well, you can see that many of his viewers are Latter-day Saints who appreciate the way that he is speaking about their faith. It is always in a fair manner.

Tackling the Book of Mormon

McCullough has multiple videos on his channel about the Book of Mormon, the first one being a reaction video where he watches a church-produced YouTube video on what the Book of Mormon is. He watches and then pauses every now to share his thoughts and commentary. 

pastor reacts to video about the bible and the book of mormon

At one point in the video, it references the scripture from John 10:16 when talking about Christ’s resurrection:

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

McCullough objects to the usage of the scripture in this context, explaining that according to his tradition this wouldn’t be speaking about a visit to Christ in the Americas. Later on, he then states that, while interesting, the idea that Christ would appear in the Americas and other scripture be made available isn’t something that is spoken of in the Bible. (Even though he rejected one of the scriptures from the Bible that does speak of these events according to Latter-day Saint interpretation)

Many facets of the Book of Mormon McCullough does find interesting, but he does point out another hesitancy he has – that there is “proof” of the historicity of the Book of Mormon, meaning identification of peoples, places, and archaeological evidence that would corroborate with the book of scripture.

Keep in mind, that up to this point in his truth-seeking journey, he has not read the Book of Mormon for himself and hasn’t spent any time digging into Book of Mormon evidences that would prove it’s validity to an extent.

In his other videos that feature the Book of Mormon, McCullough spends time summarizing the things that he is reading and providing his commentary on what he has read. As of the release of this article, he has read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and in another video he shares his thoughts on 1 Nephi. 

Hello Saints Discovers Doctrines and Destinations

In his 25+ videos that are on the Hello Saints YouTube channel, McCullough also delves into some doctrines and practices that are unique to Latter-day Saints, like the ordinances of baptism for the dead and eternal marriage.

hello saints youtube channel video thumbnails

He also has traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois, Independence, Missouri, and Palmyra, New York to learn some of the early history of the Church.

Supporting Jeff McCullough on Patreon

Patreon is a crowd-funding site that allows people to make donations to creators who are seeking to fund their creative projects. McCullough has a Patreon link where you can help him to fund future videos if you wish, and on that site he has some words that I want to share from him in closing.

My name is Jeff McCullough. I’m a pastor in the Midwest and I’m on a quest to learn about all things Mormon / LDS / Latter-day Saint. I’m not looking for a debate. I’m looking to explore and learn and to fight criticism with curiosity. I hope LDS church members have fun watching me learn while learning a little something from a Christian pastor’s perspective. I also hope non-LDS Christians come with an open mind to learn with me. Even if we disagree, I want to disagree with dignity and respect.

My Closing Thoughts

Having spent a great chunk of the last 13 years online with Called to Share dealing with attacks on my faith and calls to “leave that cult or burn in hell”, I agree with McCullough that it is very refreshing to have someone who is earnestly looking to seek the truth in a respectful manner, because that’s all we ask of people. 

I love what Jeff McCullough is doing. He is informing himself, he is informing his audience, and he is also building bridges with many Latter-day Saints who are quick to embrace those who will at least have an earnest desire to hear our side of the story. We spend so much time online defending our beliefs, our history, and our scripture from some pretty disgusting attacks so to hear from someone that they are “willing to dig into it” is very refreshing. 

At the same time, I know there are some that have concerns with what McCullough is doing, perhaps feeling that his version of “real intent” is misguided. One reader opined that “he seems to want to fold his intellectual background into the mix far too much and it is clouding what real intent actually is. I sense an underlining effort to set up his following, which he knows are mostly members of the church, for an encounter with doubts about their beliefs rather than his greater understanding of those beliefs.”

Pinterest pin for Hello Saints

Obviously this is something that we need to be aware of, but at the same time, understanding someone’s intent is difficult. I’m hoping that McCullough’s search for truth is sincere and that he is open to receive whatever the Lord feels fit to reveal to him.

What are your thoughts about Hello Saints? Have you watched any of Pastor Jeff’s videos? Tell me what you think about his project in the comment section below.

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Bryan Hansen

Friday 3rd of February 2023

If he has concerns about Christ visiting the Americas, he should read "He walked the Americas" by L. Taylor Hansen. I don't know of any relation. He discusses traditions of a man with nail marks in both hands visiting peoples al over both American continents. Hansen also found such traditions among Island nations. While not saying it was Jesus, he does suggest that it was may have been on His apostles.

Michele

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

As an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have watched and re-watched all of Pastor Jeff's videos on Hello Saints. I believe he is solid in his evangelical beliefs and likely started the channel to share his beliefs with an LDS audience in a reciprocal effort for us to learn his perspective while he is learning about ours. Whether or not he ends up eventually joining the LDS Church, I do feel that Pastor Jeff is serving as an instrument in God's hands. He is willing to visit an LDS church, visit Carthage, Nauvoo, Palmyra, and Independence, dig into Church history, watch Church-produced videos, spend time and $$ to fly across the country to attend General Conference, and make an effort to read the Book of Mormon---all of which most evangelicals and those in other religions would never do themselves, but are willing to watch Pastor Jeff and learn more about the LDS Church through Hello Saints. His videos and his questions have also strengthened my desire to study more about the Church and scriptures myself to find answers to some of his questions, and to re-affirm my testimony and not take it for granted. Seeing him diligently learning about LDS doctrine and culture from scratch has been enlightening for me to share in his journey.

Kris

Monday 16th of January 2023

Pastor Jeff is always comparing what he knows to the LDS faith. He said in one of his videos that he is looking for truth, so to me that means that he is looking for a different church than his own. But he has gone about it all wrong. All he does is take tours and scenic views of the LDS faith, which really will get him nowhere. What he should of done in the beginning is meet with the missionaries and they could show him step by step what he needs to do if he wants to convert. And lastly after reading the Book of Mormon he needs to pray about it to find out if it is true. I don't think he has done that so I don't really know what his real intention is in all this. Maybe someone needs to tell him this . The missionaries are his best source for finding out everything and answering his questions. But then maybe he really doesn't want to convert even though he was saying he was looking for truth. Well anyway he is an interesting person, and I believe he really and sincer ly wants to find out what we believe for whatever reason. He also needs to attend a church meeting rather than just tour a mormon church by himself, how stupid is that.

Mark Hansen

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Although I applaud McCullough for wanting to "learn everything he can" about the Church, the article says, "he has not read the Book of Mormon for himself". That would seem like a huge missing piece in how to learn about the Church, since it is the cornerstone of our faith. I would be willing to watch his YouTube videos about the Church AFTER he reads it.

Ben Arkell

Tuesday 17th of January 2023

In his latest videos he is starting to read the Book of Mormon and share his thoughts.

Kathy Marker

Sunday 15th of January 2023

I think it sounds like a great project, and I'm thankful that you shared this with us. He is checking out different types of our sources, which is nice to hear. Thanks for sharing about how we can help his efforts by sending in some support money.