This week at a prominent political event, an evangelical pastor was introducing a candidate for president and mentioned that Mormonism was a cult and not Christian. The media picked up on this and reported it extensively. Most of the candidates shied away from the statement, either flatly denying that Mormonism is a cult, or refusing to comment on the issue at all.
I’m sure most of the candidates are indeed ill-informed on the theological differences between various religious groups. But the key term that made the headlines was the word cult, and its implications. The current American cultural climate is one of extensive pluralism, to the extent that almost everyone’s religious views are considered to be correct, no matter how contradictory they may be.
For many years people have been more concerned with the term ‘cult’ than they are about the theological meanings behind the word. People get very emotional and concerned about the term, asking why one group is called a cult and another is not, and some have filed lawsuits over the term.
While we should not shy away from truth due to the threat of lawsuits, we should be concerned with communication. Therefore I typically do not use the term cult, saying instead that a group’s teaching contradicts the essentials of Christianity, and are therefore non-Christian.
As to Mormonism, the following is a comparison of Mormon teachings with that of the Bible:
|1.God has always had a remnant; believes in historic confessions & creeds.(Rom. 11:1-6)||1. Christianity was totally lost in all the earth and did not exist anywhere until Joseph Smith restored it in 1830; all historic confessions & creeds are an abomination. (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph, 2:18)|
|2. God is eternal, outside of time, always existing. (1 Chron. 16:36; Ps. 103:17; 2 Tim.1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7; Titus 1:2)||2. God had a father and a grandfather, etc. God was begotten, became a man, then became God.
(Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p.10,12)
|3. God is eternal and spirit.(Gen. 1:1; Hosea 11:9; Jn. 4:24; Luke 24:39)||3. God is resurrected, and has flesh and bone.(Articles of Faith, p.48,473; D&C 130:22)|
|4. God is one, unique. (Duet. 4:4; Is. 40:25;.43:10, 11; 44:6,8; 45:5, 21, 22; 46:9)||4. There are many like God, but we only worship one of them.|
|5. Jesus eternally exists as the one and only God. (John 1:1, 3; 8:58; etc.)||5. Jesus is not eternally God. Rather, he pre-existed, became a regular human, then became one of the Gods.(King Follet Discourse; Discourses of Brigham, 22)|
|6. Holy Spirit, who does not have a body, overshadowed Mary. (Luke 1:35)||6. The Father and Mary physically procreated. (Articles of Faith, p.48, 473; Mormon Doctrine, p.546,742)|
|7. Salvation by grace through faith; a one-time event. (1 John 1:7; Eph. 2:8-10)||7. Salvation requires faith, baptism, receiving Holy Ghost, obeying the commandments (living a righteous life) (What Mormons Think, p.27-33)|
|8. We are always human, but our bodies will be glorified.(1 Cor. 15)||8. Humans will continue to progress until we become Gods, equal to how our God is now. (Ensign, 11/75, p.80; Gospel Through The Ages, 104-106)|
The references above are from Mormon materials compared the Bible; they are not one person’s opinion. Taken at face value, we conclude that Mormonism does not meet the requirements of the historic Christian faith. Nos. 2 and 8 alone qualify the teachings of the LDS church as being outside of Christianity. For more comparisons, see the works of Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Walter Martin, Ron Rhodes, and John Ankerberg.