The secular media usually defines a cult as a group whose followers are denied basic freedoms by their leadership. Mormonism is not a cult according to this definition.
But evangelical Christians have long defined a cult as a group that does not believe the essential Biblical doctrines.
When compared with Biblical teaching, Cults believe:
or something else.”
During the 2008 Presidential election when Romney was a candidate, some Christians backed away from calling the LDS Church a "cult," not wanting to create a divide between Mormonism and Biblical Christianity. Ironically, the LDS Church is founded on that divide:
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, claimed God told him that all churches were "of the devil," “their creeds were an abomination” and those who professed faith in these churches were “corrupt.”(1)
I recently came across a popular Mormon blog written by a female LDS theologian (and former LDS seminary professor). Her blog encouraged Mormon mothers to teach their children that the view of the Trinity accepted by all Catholic and Protestant denominations is in error.
She confirmed Smith's teaching that "after the Apostles had all been killed, the Church as an organization remained, but the Gospel of Christ – including the Priesthood Authority – was no longer part of that Church."(2)
She explained that when Christians accepted the "wrong" view of God, it was "a good day for the Devil and his associates." And she claimed that only Mormons can understand what it means to be made in the image of God and call God their Father.
In my original writing of this post, I said we cannot consider Mormons our brothers and sisters in Christ, and I was criticized for the phrase. I don't wish to be offensive, but I believe my statement was accurate unless we broaden the meaning of "brothers and sisters in Christ" to mean anyone of any faith that includes Christ, no matter how differently He is presented.
A kind Mormon friend has explained to me that Mormons no longer use such harsh words as those Smith used, and they wish to focus on our similarities, not our differences.
I would like to have open and polite discussions with Mormon bloggers, but that doesn't change the great contrasts that exist between Mormonism and the teaching of the Bible.
We should treat Mormons with kindness, but we shouldn't mislead ourselves or others by ignoring our important doctrinal differences. May we be faithful to pray for the salvation of our Mormon friends and share the true Gospel with them.
(1)This is from official LDS Documents: Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 5-6 and Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 270. And a member of the LDS church has validated these facts.
(2) I will be glad to give the source of this information if you write me at my email address, but I would rather not link it to this post in case readers confuse it for something I teach or approve.
What is a Religious Cult by Hank Hanegraaff
Which Candidates Have the Most Christian Beliefs by Randy Alcorn
Quick Comparison of Mormonism and Christianity by Matt Slick