A cult or not a cult?

This past October the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed an article from its website that claimed Mormonism is a cult.  In the article Mormons were listed along with several other groups as meeting the definition of a cult.  Jehovah Witnesses, the Unification Church, and Scientology were some of the other religious organizations purportedly mentioned in the article.

The article was removed from the BGEA website shortly after its founder Billy Graham had met with, at that time, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.  Graham was said to have been impressed with Romney’s “strong moral convictions” and promised to do what he could to help Romney in his bid for the presidency.

The BGEA has come under fire from some Christian leaders for removing the article from its website, and some parties who advocate a strong separation of church and state have filed complaints that the organization has violated federal law in its supposed support of Romney.  The BGEA claims it was advocating for Christian values in its advertisements and they were candidate neutral, but the removal of the article from their website lends credence to the complaints.

In the wake of the controversy Franklin Graham who now heads his father’s ministry issued a statement this past Wednesday hoping to clarify the BGEA’s position.  He claimed to be “shocked” when he discovered the article was on the ministry’s website and said the use of the term “cult” was tantamount to name-calling.  “If I want to win a person to Christ, how can I call that person a name?  That’s what shocked me, that we were calling people names” said Graham.

It is never a joy to disagree with someone I respect as being my brother in Christ and is an effective advocate for Christianity.  To do so for me is heart-rending.  But to me Franklin Graham’s comments amount to nothing more than damage control, because the issue is not about name-calling.  The issue is whether or not Mormonism is a cult, and whether the ministry acted irresponsibly in posting the article on its website or in removing it.  The issue at its essence is what is the truth about Mormonism?

If winning the lost at all costs is the goal and name-calling hinders reaching the goal, then Franklin has denounced the very Lord he serves.  No one cares more about the lost than the Lord Jesus Christ and yet in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew Jesus repeatedly called the Pharisees hypocrites.  Jesus accuses them of being hypocrites seven times.

Was Jesus just being mean-spirited?  No, his stark denunciation of the self-righteous teachings and practices of the Pharisees was to prevent others from being deceived and ending up in hell.  “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shout off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).”  To miss the kingdom of heaven means to end up in the default destination,  an unacceptable alternate.  When the issue is where we will spend eternity, Jesus needed to be clear.  So does Franklin Graham.

In an article I wrote entitled “The Lost Maps of Mormonism” back in October of 2011, I detailed how the lack of maps in the book of Mormon compromise its historicity and relegate it to a book of fables.  There is not a single shred of archeological evidence of a Jewish civilization having ever been established on the North American continent as the book of Mormon claims.  The book of Mormon is not “the most correct of any book on earth” as Joseph Smith said.

The book of Mormon’s lack of historicity makes it an unreliable guide to the hereafter and the doctrinal beliefs that flow from it stand in direct contradiction of all that the Bible and orthodox Christian beliefs say about eternity.  We need to be clear about these differences because the way to heaven and where one spends eternity hangs in the balance.  If we are to be adamant about what the Scriptures say is the way to heaven, we need to be equally adamant about those paths that lead to hell.

I voted for Mitt Romney not because I was beguiled into believing Mormonism was a variant way to heaven, but because Mitt Romney stood for the biblical principles I wanted to see propagated by our government.  I voted on the issues, not the man’s beliefs.  The issue is not about name-calling, it is about where we will spend eternity and whether Mormonism is a cult or not.

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