Cult – Culture


     “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.

3 Responses to “Cult – Culture”

  1. July 30, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Is Mormonism a Cult? Yes, for it is Christian and Christianity is (at least in it start) a Cult. The Charismatic Leader: Jesus Christ.

    Glad I could shine a little light on this for you,

  2. July 30, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    By the way, my prior post was not attempting to strike out at anyone but as the Question of Cults keep arising I would be the first to break through the timid glass and beg people to define their meaning of such words they use before they lay out a bomb like: “This is a Cult.” or ” That is a Myth” both of these terms carry conatations that are not part of the words when discussing in academic terms.

    Thank you for seeing the “ure” in culture.

    God Bless,

  3. July 31, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    It’s not just Mormons who define “cult” that way Mark.

    Just about any adult in America who is not steeped in ministry lingo defines “cult” as crazy brainwashed people. That’s the normal definition. Your “deviation from historical Christianity” definition is, in reality used by NO ONE except for those in counter-cult ministries.

    The Mormon definition is the normal one. If you wish to use the standard counter-cult ministry version, you must make it perfectly clear that is what you are doing.

    We are not brainwashed scary people. Yet that is what the word “cult” means in America. To avoid misleading people, I suggest that Christians adopt a different definition.

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July 2008

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