In the midst of the lively and sometimes heated discussion about Mormonism in recent days (Is it a cult? Is it not a cult but still heretical? Is it part of mainstream Christianity?), there is one question that no one seems to be asking: Do Mormons believe that Christianity is a cult?
Let’s remember that Mormonism did not begin as a reformation movement within the 19th century Church but rather as a repudiation of the Church of the day. According to the Book of Mormon itself (1 Nephi 14:10), there are only two churches, “the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
For the first Mormons, the devoted followers of Joseph Smith, there was no mistake about what this meant: Those who adhered to their faith, who were part of the Church of Latter Day Saints, belonged to “the Church of the Lamb of God”; everyone else belonged to “that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.”
As explained by early Mormon leader George Q. Cannon (1827-1901), “After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom [sic], though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They belong to Babylon.” (See his Gospel Truth, p. 324.)
To this day, if you are a baptized Christian and you join the Mormon Church, you are told that you need to be baptized again as a Mormon, even if you were already baptized as an adult believer in Jesus. Obviously, your first baptism doesn’t count in the eyes of the LDS Church. What does this imply? And if Mormons accept the validity of another Christian’s faith, why are they proselytizing that person?
According to the Documentary History of the [LDS] Church, “Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Introduction, xl) Precisely.
Why else did Joseph Smith allegedly receive his revelations? It was because all the other churches had departed from the faith. As stated in Joseph Smith History 1:19, in response to Smith’s question to the angelic beings about joining a church, “I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt . . . .”
That’s why Mormons have additional books they call scripture, grouped together in the Book of Mormon, which claims to be “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” In contrast, other reformation groups that arose within the Church have simply argued for a reinterpretation of the Bible itself as opposed to claiming to have new, additional books of revelation, equal to the Bible.
According to Brigham Young, “The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness.” (JD 5:73)
These were clearly the views of the first generations of Mormons. As expressed by Mormon apostle Orson Pratt (1811-1881), “The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon. . .” (Orson Pratt, Writings of an Apostle, “Divine Authenticity,” no.6, p. 84). Yes, “Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the ‘whore of Babylon’ whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness.” (Pratt, The Seer, p. 255)
In recent decades, LDS missionaries have presented themselves as fellow-believers as they reach out to Christians, and in some ways, Mormons seem to be moderating their views. But the question they must answer is this: Do they believe that mainstream, historic Christianity is a cult (or, at the least, a departure from the biblical faith)? If so, let them declare it. If not, why does anyone need to leave their church to join the Mormons?
(My appreciation to Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries for directing me to the quotes cited here.)
Dr. Michael Brown is the author of A Queer Thing Happened to America and the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network.
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