I am of the belief that the real church involves born-again Christians led to Christ by only Christ and that no one ” true church” including Catholics, Protestants etc. has a doctrine or practice of complete truth that has any potential to lead people to Christ. You made a comment that Mormons were heretical (one with salvation issues). I have a friend who is Mormon who I am almost convinced is a born-again christian though she may not go to a church with a “true” practice. Out of concern for her salvation, I have studied some of the foundations of Mormonism and it seems even the original three witnesses recanted their belief in Joseph Smith’s teachings and witness of the “golden plates” including Oliver Crowdery and David Whitmer. However, it seems Oliver Crowdery went back to the church shortly before he died at 43. The last remaining and the most curious one, David whitmer, initially went back to the methodist church and denied the church of Later Day saints based on his conviction and our own bible. However, towards the end of his life he wrote a proclamation citing the infallibility of the christian bible, the heresy of Joseph Smith but also the validity to his witness of the golden plates and the Book of Mormom! The more I research David Whitmer, the more I am convinced of his devotion to our cannonical bible but also to what he witnessed: The first source was what he believed according to our bible: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Proclamation_by_David_Whitmer The last source, addresed to ALL christians, is the most convincing that he held everything to our cannon and denounced Joseph Smith. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/An_Address_to_All_Believers_in_Christ/Part_First/Chapter_I I am sure that even churches who have heretical teachings may have born again Christians such as he and I hope my friend. What is your take on this?
I am currently writing a book on Mormonism. I can confirm that what you have found about David Whitmer is more or less accurate. I believe that this man was unstable and a VERY unreliable witness to anything. He was a very unfortunate choice by Joseph Smith as a witness, as he seemed to change his mind often throughout his life. Such an unstable person should not be used as a witness to anything.
About Mormons being true Christians, I am not the judge, but it is beyond my comprehension that a person who accepts the liar, fraud and blashphemer Joseph Smith as their prophet can possibly be saved. Joseph had such outrageously blasphemous teachings that anyone who wants to worship Jesus HAS to reject Smith as a false prophet. You cannot have it both ways. Smith believed that we are all gods, that we can all be gods like the god of the Old Testament. His Book of Mormon is a blatant fraud. The teachings in Doctrine and Covenants include perpetual plural marriage, that God has sex with Mary and many other heretical beliefs. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but I believe that a Mormon cannot possibly be saved through belief in Joseph Smith as the prophet of God. Call me judgmental if you like, but I believe that there is no such thing as a true, biblical Christian who is a Mormon.
You make the point that there is no perfect church with a complete lock on truth. I will agree with that. Then you go to imply that it really does not matter what church one goes to. People can be saved in any church. I believe that this is too optimistic a view. I believe that you may be a victim of sentimentality. Churches which do not teach about the real Jesus cannot help people come to Jesus. Churches which do not teach repentance or discipleship or baptism for forgiveness of sins cannot help people to become Christians. I am prepared to accept that there may be Christians in some of the groups you list. Some of them are not so blatantly heretical as the Mormons, but, realisticall, it IS VERY IMPORTANT that a follower of Jesus choose carefully what group they fellowship with. Just because not group is perfect does not mean that all groups are equally good. This is not a logical conclusion. A person who wants to follow Jesus should study the scriptures carefully and search for a group which (is not perfect, but) follows as faithfully as possible to the biblical pattern of life and doctrine. Like Paul admonished Timothy, we should “watch our life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” According to Paul, the life and doctrine we live and preach and the life and doctrine taught and shown in the church we are part of is essential to salvation.