Skip to comments.Opinion: Is Mormonism a cult?
Posted on 10/31/2011 8:54:35 PM PDT by delacoert
Robert Jeffress made national headlines recently with his assertion that Mormonism is a "cult" and a "false religion." Peter Wehner, a political commentator whose blog I read regularly, immediately criticized what he termed "the theological and political errors of Pastor Jeffress."
What are the facts behind the firestorm? Is Mormonism a "cult? The answer depends on your definition of the term.
If by "cult" you mean the popular caricature of a manipulative group that practices mind control and exploits its members, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clearly does not qualify.
However, scholars use the word differently. According to Walter Martin's definitive The Rise of the Cults, a "cult" is "a group of people polarized around someone's interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Christ Jesus." They claim a founder other than Jesus, follow a book other than the Bible, accept beliefs outside traditional Christianity, and seek salvation in ways other than by grace through faith.
There is no question that Mormons claim to be Christians. Responding to Jeffress, the church released a statement claiming that "Christ is at the center of our worship, study, service and faith." But what do they believe about God?
Their movement was founded 1,800 years after Christ by Joseph Smith (1805-44). He taught that "God was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens" (King Follett Discourses). According to Smith, "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). The church teaches that God the Father in his glorified physical body had sexual intercourse with the virgin Mary, resulting in the conception of the physical Christ (Journal of Discourses 1:51; 4:218).
Do they follow a book other than the Bible? In addition to Scripture, they consider the Book of Mormon to be "another testament of Jesus Christ" revealed by Jesus to descendants of Israel living in early America. They also follow Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, compendiums of theology and prescribed practices.
Do they accept beliefs outside traditional Christianity? Smith taught plural marriage as a "new and everlasting covenant" (Doctrine and Covenants 132:1,4). Though the church repudiated polygamy in 1890, some splinter groups still follow the practice. They baptize for the dead, believing that this action can speed the progress of the deceased in the afterlife.
Do they seek salvation in ways other than by grace through faith? Mormons believe that baptism purges their Gentile blood and replaces it with the blood of Abraham through the Holy Spirit. In this way they become the actual offspring of Abraham (History of the Church 3:380). They believe in three levels of glory: The telestial kingdom (for those who have no testimony of Christ); the terrestial kingdom (for those who fail the requirements of exaltation); and the celestial kingdom (reserved for members of the Mormon church who will become gods; Doctrine and Covenants 132:20)
Are Mormons Christians? That depends on the degree to which they accept the non-biblical teachings of their faith regarding God and salvation. I have met Mormons who assure me that they have asked the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and become their personal Savior and Lord. Many do not know as much about their church's doctrines as I do. However, I have also met Mormons who believe that their progress toward the celestial kingdom depends not on Jesus' sacrifice but on their missionary work and other church activities.
One final issue: Should the Mormon beliefs of Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman influence Christians as they decide which candidate to support for president? Our decision should be informed by our answers to two prior questions. First, to what extent do Romney and Huntsman accept the non-Christian elements of their faith? Second, to what degree would decisions made by the president be impacted by uniquely Mormon beliefs?
I’ve studied Mormonism, along with many other cults (including Christianity). Mormons believe that one’s punishment or grace follows the degree of good or bad of the soul. If you’re good, you get good rewards. If you’re terribly bad, you get terrible punishment. If you’re the ultimate in bad, you get ultimately bad punishment. If you’re god-like, you will get god-like rewards.
So, this brings up questions.
a. Should a person’s punishment or rewards be directly related to their performance? (notice the liberal/conservative angle?)
b. What is the likelihood that somebody can be god-like?
c. While you’re dishing out judgments of others, what are your odds of receiving god-like rewards?
Interesting isn’t it? I have thought a lot about this stuff as I’ve aged. I personally believe it is not wise to attach our egos to our metaphysical beliefs-it hinders the learning process in the most important matters of life.
You hit a homerun with that one. It's not a loving attitude to accept false teachings which lead to the destruction of the soul.
A law unto itself
In the final analysis, Mormonism is an original, invented religion, born of the mind of Joseph Smith, who is responsible for the spiritual seduction of millions of people. To the world, Mormonism sells itself as the friendly Christian church down the street, but in reality it is no closer to biblical Christianity than Hinduism or Islam.
The goals of Mormonism, however, remain unchanged. It desires to turn Protestants and Catholics, Evangelicals and Pentecostals, into Mormons. It seeks to introduce them to what the Bible calls another gospel, another spirit, and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4).
After so many years, I find the easy way. Thanks!
All of them were instituted by Christ and can be found in Scripture.
the exaltation of Mary to Jesus-equivalent status
Not Catholic doctrine.
the idea that Salvation through works is possible
Not Catholic doctrine.
the idea that the Pope is the infallible Word of God
Not Catholic doctrine.
the idea that one needs an intermediary (Priest) to talk to God
Not Catholic doctrine.
You've been lied to, friend. Our Lord Jesus Christ says that the Devil is the father of lies. Think about it.
My question is a simple one, do you believe I am a Christian, based on my statement that I “I prayed for forgiveness of my sins and called on the name of the Lord for Salvation?”
Why then does the slc lds so vehimently deny the FLDS the right to call themselves 'mormon'? They follow D&C 132, which iirc, is still offically lds canon.
Yet your missionaries go door to door telling who ever will listen that their church has fallen into apostasy and no longer follows Jesus. Sounds like a double standard from mormonism unseelie.
One of your own prophets stated that the Jesus of mormonism was not the same Jesus of Christianity. Once again, a double standard?
Being saved by grace is actually a tenet of the Church, although in no way a dismissal of personal responsibility.
You forgot to add the rest of it - "after all you can do". The Apostle Paul said that such grace as claimed by mormons is not grace since it is dependant upon works.
but nothing aside from Jesus Christ and his sacrifice in Gethsemane and on the cross can close the spiritual gap between us and God and provide for life after death.
Paul also said one should 'glory in the cross' and nothing is ever taught about taking up one's 'garden' and following Jesus. But the real point here (buried under mormon jargon) is that Jesus' sacrifice only provided for a general resurrection for all - regardless of one's spiritual state. Nice that you did refer to 'progress' which is the hidden use of salvation - that of eternal progression/exaltation to godhood, to join the plethra of gods and goddesses ruling their own worlds. The bible doesn't teach this - and neither does the bom btw.
The tag of "Christian" is not so easily obtained by a group that denies every key doctrine of Christianity. Trusting in and following a fictitious Christ will result in a fictitious salvation, no matter how sincere we may be.
There are many LDS Scouting units that have non-LDS members. However, LDS Scouting is a different program than traditional Boy Scouts of America Scouting. The LDS Church was the first institutional sponsor of Boy Scouting. Under the terms of its 1913 agreement with the Boy Scouts of America and subsequent agreements, the LDS Church is permitted to make changes to the traditional Scouting program.
Here's a copy of the LDS "Green Book" (although not the current version, because I don't have a current link) on LDS Scouting. You'll see that the purpose of Scouting is to supplement the purposes of Aaronic Priesthood quorums and LDS Primary classes. Youth leaders are selected by the bishopric, not the youth. The responsibility for training adult Scouters falls upon the bishopric, not the BSA. Traditional Boy Scouting is designed to exist only until the youth are fourteen (not eighteen), and at fifteen, the youth move into Varsity Scouting (a national program, but it exists almost exclusively for the purposes of LDS Scouting). There is significantly less camping experience in LDS Scouting
I'm a former Council Commissioner of one of the nation's largest BSA Councils, and I work in national and regional roles.
It's simply a different program. Although there are special relationships for some groups, such as Catholic Scouting, nothing comes close to the fact that the BSA maintains a separate LDS-BSA relationship.
I could discuss the issue at length. There are excellent LDS Scout units. There are excellent LDS Scout leaders. LDS Scouting is simply a different program than traditional BSA Scouting.
Mormon scouting is used to train their younger boys as they enter the Aaronic priesthood. If they would have allowed your son in, he probably wouldn't be allowed to be a leader since only those in the priesthood were allowed. This is particuarly evident before 1978 when lds troops refused to allow black boys leadership positions because the mormon church policy was that blacks couldn't be appointed into any priesthood.
Hope you found a better troop. If not, look up the nearest Royal Ranger Outpost - very similar in organization and activities and they will have no problem accepting your son into the outpost.
You know, with the differences that mormonism has overlaid onto the traditional scouting program, it seems to ask the question - why do they still call it boy scouting?
Friend, I'm NOT LDS. I am a strong "born again Christian who is attempting to find out of LDS members or other, who tell me that they "are Christians too" believe that we are brothers and sisters in Christ?
I know that we both use the same words and terms but different dictionaries (definitions) of biblical words and terms. Their definition of biblical words to describe God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, salvation, forgiveness, repent and baptism are at opposition to that most all Christians understand.
By using the same words and terms are the reasons many nominal Christians accept LDS faith as similar if not exactly the same as their own but don't understand that the LDS definition of salvation is not by "faith alone" but by faith and obedience, their definition of God is not the same as Christian definition but one that is an "exhaulted man with a wife and a god over this world," their definition of Jesus Christ is not God incarnate but a "spirit child of Heavenly Father and Mother and as such, brother to us and also Lucifer who was physically created by God having sex with Mary, God's spiritual daughter." For these reasons, LDS reject all other forms of Christianity except their own. Certainly no Protestant will purport to have a corner on Christianity and a hear after, at least none that I've heard of.
I have had conversations with members in my own family (LDS members) who will tell me that they also believe in Jesus, in fact, His name is foremost in their church name, but they do NOT believe that I am a Christian but still tell me that "we're Christians too."
Didn’t mean to confuse you but pinged you because unseelie’s post was directed to you out of habit. I agree with you completely :)
Because much of the program is still present, even if some parts are absent or watered-down, or if some elements are added.
This is a topic that's too complex to address here.
Show me in the Bible where INFANT Baptism and the Reading of Last Rites are? Also, please tell me where Pennance involves going to a Priest instead of God himself, which the Jesus actually addressed (Mathew 23:9). Also, the Bible makes no mention at all of a place called Purgatory.
Catholic Doctrine teaches that Mary was born without sin. It is clear that ALL men/women are born sinful and fall short of the Glory of God. Just because she gave birth to Jesus doesn’t make Mary “perfect”. She was a sinner just like everyone else and needed a Savior. The Church gives her the Title of “Mother of God”, “Queen of Heaven”, and officially exalts her status above all the Angels. There is NOTHING in the Bible to support this.
Paul is CLEAR with the truth of Salvation in Ephesians 2:8-9. The Catholic Church, however, teaches that one has to fulfill the sacrements, live a “good” life, and hopefully not die with sins on the soul in order to go to heaven. No one can be certain of going to Heaven, according to the Church. The Bible is clear though in Romans that there is no one good enough on Earth to ever be able to earn there way to Heaven. If there was, then Christ’s death on the Cross was unnecessary.
The Catholic Church does teach Papal Infaliability http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility
The Church Doctrine also specifies the Need for an intermediary between Man and God via a Priest. If this wasn’t what the Church taught, they’ld not be a neccesity to go to confession since one could ask Jesus directly for forgiveness, or to receive Last Rites and be afraid that one would die “with sin on their souls”.
I haven’t been lied to Campion, YOU have. The Truth of the Gospel is clearly written for all to see. I don’t need man-made dogmas or anything else to understand what the Bible CLEARLY says, because I’ve read it for myself.
Many countries have multiple Scouting organizations, that usually fit under a larger umbrella.
Germany has over 150 Scouting groups, some split by religious groups, some for labor unions, some for certain regions, some for . . . well, you name it. Norway has two primary groups. Having dozens and dozens of Scouting groups is common in Europe. In most of Central and South America, Catholic and Protestant Scouts never belong to the same Scouting organization.
Scouting is a worldwide movement, and the situation in the U.S. is somewhat rare. Countries with only one Scouting organization are usually either very small . . . or the group is run by the government.
If LDS Scouting left the B.S.A., I'm certain that the World Organization of the Scout Movement would recognize LDS Scouting as a separate Scout organization.
Baden-Powell Scouts try to take Scouting back to the days of Robert Baden-Powell and the "Scouting is a game with a purpose" part of the movement; certainly anything added to Scouting in the U.S. after 1960 is unlikely to exist in Baden-Powell Scouting.
All of the Baden-Powell Scouting leaders I've met from other countries take Scouting seriously. It's more back to the book "Scouting for Boys," and less about merit badges.
Everytime I hear that cult garbage about the Catholic Church on FR, it doesn’t come from LDS, but some other sort of nonCatholic Christian, and usually only from a small number of them. The funniest thing about it is that they are basically agreeing with Joseph Smith on the subject. So they have that going for them.
I once had freeper on one of these threads try to tell me the Pope and the LDS were in league to rule the world or some garbage. The conspiracy was only found out because they had photos of the secret handshakes.
Here are the characteristics of a cult:
Small? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) has 14 million members in 132 countries. In America, there are more ;ormons than there are Presbyterians or Jews.
Excessive devotion? Mormons are devoted to the Savior, but in appropriate measure He would approve of.
Unethical techniques? Ask the pie-throwers to name one.
Control by isolation? Even if Mormons wanted to, this would be impossible with 14 million members in 28,000 congregations throughout the world.
Control by threats? Again, evidence? Mormon missionaries may be exuberant, but do not threaten.
Dependency on the group? The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is just the opposite. Mormons want members to be self-reliant and independent so they in turn can help others.
Powerful group pressure? Only if thats the way the critics prefer to define love.
Strange? Guilty as charged. Mormons plead guilty to all the strange things that were done by Christians in New Testament times that were lost during the great falling away in the aptly named Dark Ages, among them temple worship, vicarious baptism for the dead, definition of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate but united in purpose, salvation requiring both grace and obedience to commandments, prophets and apostles, unpaid clergy, and continual revelation to guide His Church