“Is Mormonism a cult?” That’s a question I’m often asked. And it’s a question I don’t answer with a simple yes.
That’s because there are different definitions of the word cult. The classic Christian definition of a cult being a religious group that has deviated from Christianity to such an extent that it is no longer Christian fits Mormonism. The problem is that that is not how many people define the word “cult” today.
Mormons surely don’t. To them a cult is a group of people living together in communal settings where total control is practiced and where children often are forcibly separated from their families. Mormons are understandably shocked then when somebody says that the Mormon Church is a cult. Telling Mormons that they are members of a cult quickly and effectively burns any bridges you might have built to witness to them.
But I also don’t think it’s that helpful, even among Christians, to talk about Mormonism as a cult. I prefer adding three letters to the word cult and think of it as a culture. Mormonism is a culture. It has traditions all of its own. It has its own language. It has unique taboos. It’s a culture. The more we see that, the more loving and effective our witness to Mormons will be. Friends, present Christ to Mormons in a culturally-sensitive way. Especially tell them about Jesus with words that they understand.