Andrew L. Sandoval
I recently visited a site on the Internet which listed "Major Cults" and "Minor Cults". The "Major Cults" list contained only the following entries: Christadelphianism, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism. The "Minor Cults" list contained a much more obscure but still very limited group: Boston Church, Christian Identity, Eckankar, Moonies, Swedenborgianism, The Farm, The Way, Theosophy, Unity. On review of this list I had only one question: What happened to all of the rest of the cults? What abyss had swallowed all of the Catholics and Protestants. Had all Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists been vanquished from the Earth in that moment? What of my friends of other faiths, what of the Evangelical Christians, the Born Agains? Where were they all?
"What?" you say! "Catholicism is not a cult! Baptists are not a member of a cult! Surely you are not calling them a cult!" Let us examine the definition of the word "cult", and consider its all too common use by anti-Mormons and the like.
Follow this link for definitions from www.dictionary.com: Cult
And for Merriam-Webster's definition click here: Cult
As you can see the most prevalent definition is "a system of religious beliefs and ritual". Cult then becomes the most succinct word to describe any form of religion, including Protestants and Catholics, Mormons and Jews, etc.
Even if you were to take the Merriam-Webster's definition number 3 "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious" you could hardly offend a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We openly recognize that our religion is NOT ORTHODOX! In particular Latter-Day Saints proclaim that the Gospel of Christ has been restored precisely because classical theism and "orthodox" Christianity today have more to do with Greek Philosophy than they have to do with the doctrines and teachings of Jesus Christ. Just as the Jews fell into apostasy by pride and the corruption of foreign religion and philosophy, so also did the early Christian Church in the age of the Apologists. As long as "orthodoxy" means a marriage of Hellenism and Greek Philosophy to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles it can only be half correct, and therefore undesirable to the Latter-Day Christian because it then becomes spurious in nature. True religion, pure religion, the religion of Christ has always been a REVEALED religion. (Matthew 16:17) One can only consider "Mormonism" as "spurious" by disregarding truth, the testimony of the Prophets and Apostles as recorded in the Bible, and by denying the witness of the Holy Spirit, or in short by suggesting that the doctrines created from the 2nd century on are the true source of "Christianity" rather than the teachings of Christ Himself.
So if "cult" is an ideal word to describe any particular religion why would anti-Mormons use it to describe groups they disagree with? Why not place their own religion on the list of cults?
The answer is simple. Calling something "a cult" sounds an awful lot like you are associating it with "the occult" (see the noun definition). That leads us to another word: DECEPTION. While it may not be false to call "Mormonism" a "cult" it is obvious that the word is chosen specifically to intimidate. There can be no question but that the masses fear the occult and anything associated with it, as well we should. Is it ethical to intentionally deceive by fear? More to the point, would a true Christian intentionally deceive another for any reason? Are these they who the Apostle Paul warned of in these words: "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" (Ephesians 4:14 italics added) Are these the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that the Savior warned of?
The truth: Mormonism as they call it, or the doctrines of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, are the pure principles of
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a perfect RESTORATION of Christ's
Church, His Priesthood authority, and the saving ordinances and principles
which have been enjoyed by the faithful in all previous dispensations of
time. He is at the head of the Church, and He leads and directs it