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With Mormonism getting so much attention these days, that is a particularly good and important question.  First of all, let’s look at the definition of a cult.  A cult is a system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.

When we think of a cult, we sometimes think of weird or radical groups like Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple or David Koresh’s Branch Davidians from Waco, Texas.  Some cult groups are very radical, but some are not.  Some cult groups are well established with members being very social and active in their communities.  Some groups that are often times thought of as cults are the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Unification Church.

So, are the Mormons, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sometimes referred to as the LDS really a cult?  Let’s look at their history and some of their teachings and practices to see if they would be considered a cult.

The Mormons began in the 1800’s by a man named Joseph Smith.  According to his own account, on April 21, 1823, Joseph Smith was told by the angel, Moroni, that he was to dig up from the ground a book that was written on golden plates.  It was a few years before Smith actually dug up the plates, which contained the Book of Mormon.  No one besides Smith ever saw these plates.  He supposedly translated them from the Hebrew language they were written in.  After he had translated the plates, they disappeared, never to be seen again.  Joseph Smith is considered to be a prophet.  Because the Mormons base their beliefs on the story and teachings of Joseph Smith and the golden plates, that automatically qualifies them to be considered a cult…they are directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.

The Mormons typically use four books as their sources of authority:  They use King James Bible, although they are selective about what they believe from the Bible, believing that because of faulty translations the Bible is full of mistakes.  They also use the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, believing that these three have the same authority as the Bible.

Let’s look at just a few of their beliefs to see if they are in line with what Christians are taught from the Word of God.

Joseph Smith wrote in his book, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith that, “God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man”.  To add to that heresy, Brigham Young, Smith’s successor, wrote that, “Intelligent beings are organized to become Gods, even the Sons of God, to dwell in the presence of the Gods”.   So, the Mormons teach that God was once a man that was exalted to being God, and that men will also become Gods.  Although the Mormons declare that their writings do not contradict the Bible, these teachings are in direct opposition to the Word of God.  The Lord said in Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I change not…”  God has always been God.  He was not a man that changed into God.  If we even consider for a moment that incredibly irrational thought, then we also have to wonder: where did the man who became God come from?  To say that we will be Gods is also contrary to the Bible.  The Lord tells us in Isaiah 45:5 that, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me.”  How wretched are these teachings that say that God was once man and that men will be Gods.

While the Mormons use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and refer to him as savior, they really have no idea who the Lord Jesus is.  They believe and teach that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers.  Spencer W. Kimball, one of the LDS prophets wrote, “There is another power in this world forceful and vicious. In the wilderness of Judaea, on the temple’s pinnacles and on the high mountain, a momentous contest took place between two brothers, Jehovah and Lucifer, sons of Elohim.” ‘Elohim’ is the Hebrew word for God.  What heresy!  What blasphemy!  Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Neal A. Maxwell, and many more of the so-called prophets also taught that the Lord Jesus and Lucifer were brothers.  This is in opposition to John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

There are so many more teachings of the Mormons that we could look at, but I think we have seen that what they believe and teach is so contrary to the Word of God.  Although some of the practices of the Mormons are similar to what Christians practice, their teachings separate them from the true Christian faith.  They are normally very conservative in their morals, believing that homosexuality and abortion are sins.  However, regarding salvation, in the book, Religions Of America, Richard L. Evans, a member of the Council of Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints wrote this concerning salvation, “The Latter-Day Saint believes in universal salvation.  There are different degrees of glory.  While salvation is universal, ‘exaltation’, with the highest eternal opportunities, must be earned by obedience to laws, ordinances, and commandments of the Kingdom.”  In other words, everyone will be saved, but to those that work hard, they will be exalted with eternal opportunities.  This would mean that those who have worked the hardest will someday be gods themselves.  Since the Mormons teach that all will be saved, they do not believe in a literal Hell.

What does the Bible teach about universal salvation?  It teaches that there is no such thing!  John 3:36 says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”  2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 says, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  It is a sad truth that all will not be saved.  Those who have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior will spend their eternity in a literal Hell.  Revelation 20:15 tells us, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”  I hope that you know the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God as your savior.  If not, listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”