June 6th 2004, 06:36 PM
Mormons object to the application of "cult" to Mormonism, but it fits many of the basic elements. There are two ways to look at the word cult, in the social/psychology sense or in the Christian/religious sense.
A social scientist would list marks of a cult as:
The Doctrine is Reality
There is no room in a mind control environment for regarding the group's beliefs as mere theory, or as a way to interpret reality or to seek reality. The doctrine IS reality. ...cult doctrine always requires that a person distrust his own self. The doctrine becomes the 'master program' for all thoughts, feelings, and actions....
I really don't see how LDS doctrine IS reality. It is no more so than mainstream christian doctrine. In fact, most of this definintion, if generalized enough to include mormons, would include most mainstream, and certainly almost all conservative churches.
Reality is Black and White, Good Versus Evil
Even the most complex cult doctrines ultimately reduce reality into two basic poles black versus white' good versus evil;...us verses them.... The 'huge conspiracies' working to thwart the group are, of course, proof of its tremendous importance....
And this is different from mainstream christianity how? Moral absolutism is a basic component of christianity, and thats really all this criterion is. As for the huge conspiracies, where does that apply to us? Since when is that part of mormonism?
Members are made to feel part of an elite corps of mankind. This feeling of being special, of participating in the most important acts in human history with a vanguard of committed believers, is strong emotional glue to keep people sacrificing and working hard. ...As a community, they feel they have been chosen (by God, history, or some other supernatural force) to lead mankind out of darkness into a new age of enlightenment...
Every religion on the face of the planet believes it is better than all the rest. If they didn't, if they believed that some other religion is better, why wouldn't they go join that better religion? Again, this is far to general to apply solely to us.
Group Will over Individual Will
In all destructive cults the self must submit to the group. The 'whole purpose' must be the focus; the 'self purpose' must be subordinated....Absolute obedience to superiors is one of the most universal themes in cults. Individuality is bad. Conformity is good. ...
So, a denial of selfishness makes a church a cult? Then every christian religion on the planet is cultic, because every one, AFAIK, teaches that selfishness is wrong, and that charity is a high virtue, if not the highest virtue. As for individuality being bad, when it comes to moral values, if you embrace moral absolutism, then yes, it is bad. Something is right, or it isn't. That doesn't leave a lot of room for idividuality. And if you aren't talking about moral values, but rather social norms, than mormonism is no more so than any other social group. At any school, you will find that the vast majority of people dress and act in a certain way, dictated by MTV or whatever is popular nowadays. Does that make MTV a cult?
Strict Obedience Modeling the Leader
A new member is often induced to abandon his former behavior patterns and become 'dedicated' by being paired with an older cult member who serves as a model for him to imitate. ...One reason why a group of cultists may strike even a naive outsider as spooky or weird is that everyone has similar odd mannerisms, clothing styles, and modes of speech. ...
Gee, so, if a sinner joins a mainstream christian church, he ISN'T told to abandon his former "behavior patterns" (i.e. sins) and become dedicated to following Christ? If so, then maybe we are a cult, and I'd rather be in one than outside of one. As for similar clothing styles, mannerisms, etc., mormonism is no more so than any other close-knit social group. Orthodox Jews, for example, are much more so than mormons. The beards, the skull caps (yamalchas? I don't know what they're called), the ringlets, the prayer shawls. They all look and act a lot alike. Is Orthodox Judaism a cult? Or how about the amish? They all dress and act a lot alike. Are they a cult?
Happiness through Good Performance
...The cult member learns that love is not unconditional but depends on good performance....Competitions are used to inspire and shame members into being more productive....Relationships are usually superficial within these groups because sharing deep personal feelings, especially negative ones, is highly discouraged....
Now this is simply not true. I have comitted several sins myself (of course), some of them serious enough to require the intervention of a bishop. I was treated with nothing if not love and compassion. And deep sharing of feelings is most definately encouraged - have you ever been to a fast and testimony meeting?
Manipulation through Fear and Guilt
The cult member comes to live within a narrow corridor of fear, guilt, and shame. Problems are always the fault of the member and are due to HIS weak faith, HIS lack of understanding, ... He perpetually feels guilty for not meeting standards....
Again, simply not true. I have been a church member my entire life, and I have never lived in a "narrow corridor of fear, guilt, and shame." True, I have felt both guilt and shame at sins, but any christian would call them sins, and would hopefully feel guilt and shame enough to move him (or her) to repentance (as it has moved me). And we certainly do not remain guilty and shameful. That's the miracle of Christ's atonement.
No Way Out
In a destructive cult, there is never a legitimate reason for leaving. Unlike non-cult organizations that recognize a person's inherent right to choose to move on, mind control groups make it very clear that there is no legitimate way to leave. Members are told that the only reasons why people leave are weakness, insanity, temptation, brainwashing (by deprogrammers), pride, sin, and so on. ... Although cult members will often say 'Show me a way that is better than mine and I will quit,' they are not allowed the time or mental tools to prove that statement to themselves. They are locked in a psychological prison." (from the book Combatting Cult Mind Control, by Steven Hassan, Park Street Press, pp. 78-84)
Many people coming out of the LDS Church report just such things in their experience as a Mormon, especially the returned LDS missionary.
The very fact that these people giving these reports have left the church speaks to the fact that it does not fall under this requirement as much as the Tanners would have us believe. Certainly, in the eyes of a faithful member, there is no good reason to leave the church, as in the eyes of a faithful member, the church is true, and who would want to leave the truth? But this is true of most mainstream christians too. For example, many people who join the church from mainstream christian families (especially evangelical christian families) are continually confronted with anti-mormon literature, harrassed, and sometimes even disowned. The reactions of faithful members to someone leaving the church are certainly no worse (though I suspect that no truly faithful person would go that far - remember the parable of the prodigal son), although we have no anti-christian literature with which to confront a person leaving the church (or anti- any other religion for that matter).
Briefly, a Christian perspective on marks of a cult would be:
They add to the Bible.
They may have additional books of scripture or their leaders are the only spokesmen for God. These are considered more reliable than the Bible.
Ah, yes, the old "They have new scripture so they aren't christian" argument. I will simply quote Jeff Lindsay:
In addition to the Bible, Latter-day Saints also accept The Book of Mormon: Another Witness of Jesus Christ as a sacred scripture, along with canonized volumes of revelations to Joseph Smith, the Doctrine and Covenants and also the Pearl of Great Price. The issue at hand, however, is whether new scripture by itself is sufficient cause to condemn an organization or a person as a cult in the negative sense of the word. Clearly, almost every prophet has ADDED scripture. God spoke to Moses, and Moses wrote several new books. God spoke to Isaiah, and Isaiah's new writings were eventually added as scripture. God inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to write, and the ultimate result was that NEW SCRIPTURE was added. Indeed, the very name "NEW TESTAMENT" indicates that a new volume of scripture was added to the previously accepted canon of scripture. If adding scripture makes one a cultist, then Christ and His apostles must likewise be condemned. But there is nothing in the Bible to support this kind of condemnation. Much has been said about the evil of adding to or subtracting from the word of God. Obviously, no man has authority on his own to add or subtract from the word of God, as Moses taught in Deuteronomy 4:2:
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it...." In spite of these strong words, Moses continued writing, and many other prophets continued writing, adding to the word of God. They could do so because they wrote more as God inspired them, not altering previously written texts, but revealing more as God commanded. With this in mind, we can better understand what John meant when he used words similar to those of Moses as he concluded the Book of Revelation (Rev. 22:18,19):
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
In those verses, John, who is in exile on the Isle of Patmos, is obviously referring to the text before him - the Book of Revelation and its prophecies, its descriptions of plagues, its discussion of the holy city, etc. - and urges no one to change what he has written. The Bible as a collection of canonized books did not exist when he wrote those lines. In fact, several non-LDS authorities believe that Revelation was not the last book of the Bible to be written, but may have preceded other writings of John himself by a couple of years. Nevertheless, what John wrote is true: no man should change what God has spoken. However, God has the authority to speak what and when He wants. God spoke to other prophets after Moses (the injunction against men adding to the word in Deut. 4:2 not being applicable to the case of God adding to His words), and many of their divinely commissioned writings have been preserved in the Bible. Some people cite 2 Timothy 3:16 to argue that there can be no more scripture:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness . . . We fully agree that all genuine scripture is inspired and profitable, but this statement on the value of scripture cannot possibly mean that all scripture had already been given, as some of our critics wish to imply. If so, why did Paul keep on writing? Why is there a verse 17 if all scripture had been given by verse 16? Why did other apostles keep writing after 2 Timothy 3 had been concluded? All scripture is inspired, whether it is past, modern, or still waiting to be revealed in the future. 2 Timothy 3:16 applies perfectly to the Book of Mormon and all other genuine scripture: it's inspired. Given that the true Church of Jesus Christ was characterized by prophets and apostles who were guided by revelation and wrote revelations which became scripture, one of the hallmarks of the true Church - if such a church exists - must be that it has a growing volume of scripture. If God is active and leading a church, that Church will have prophets and revelations, some of which will become canonized. May I mention a candidate? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, restored upon the earth as part of God's prophesied "restitution of all things" (Acts 3:19) is once again lead by revelation to apostles and prophets, and is characterized by new volumes of scripture, just like in the original Church of Jesus Christ before the era of apostasy. If the restored Church of Jesus Christ must be condemned for new volumes of scripture, then so must the early Church of Jesus Christ. If Christ and all the prophets and apostles were cultists, then we're happy to be in their company.
They subtract from the person and work of Jesus.
Mormons claim to be the same species as Jesus, with the same potential. He is literally their older brother, all born in a pre-mortal life to Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. Jesus is "a" god, but not "the" God of the Bible. They subtract from the atonement by adding temple work as a necessity for eternal life.
How in any way does this subtract from Christ? And Christ is "the" God, in the sense of a member of the Godhead. While we reject the trinity (we do not say that Christ and God the Father are the same being), this is not a requirement of Christianity by any definition thereof given in any dictionary (excepting, of course, dictionaries written by those few who do view it as a requirement, which is not many). Furthermore, I again quote Jeff Lindsay:
Latter-day Saints are said to believe that they may eventually become "gods," thus making the Church a non-Christian cult. It is true that we believe that man has divine potential as sons and daughters of God, and that we can mature through the Gospel of Christ and His Atonement and become in some way more like Christ, as "joint heirs" with Christ in heaven. If that makes us a cult, so be it. Yet there is one major problem with defining "cult" to include any organization teaching such doctrines: it would make Christ and the early Christians into the worst of cultists. I refer to much more than just the controversial quote from Christ in John 10:34, "Ye are gods." I refer to a major paradigm of early Christianity, also common to LDS theology, about the relationship between God and man. Christ is the Son of God, having both a spirit and a body begotten by God. The rest of us have something in common with Him, for our spirits are also begotten of God, making us spirit sons and daughters of God (Heb. 12:9; Acts 17:28,29; Roms 8:14-18). As a result, Christ is - in a sense - our Brother, and calls His followers His brethren (John 7:3,5,10). This common relationship was reflected in what He said to Mary as He was about to ascend unto His Father after the Resurrection: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). The Father is not only the Father of Christ, but also of us (of our spirits). Further, Christ calls the Father His God, who is also our God. There is something in common between Christ's relationship to the Father and our relationship to the Father. Should we be surprised that He uses the word "brethren" to describe those who worship the Father? In describing the mission of Christ, Paul says Christ brought many sons unto glory, and that those who are so sanctified "are all of one" with Christ "for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2: 10-12).
If we are brethren, then we should not be surprised that the grace and power of Christ gives us the ability to become more like Him and to share in that which He has received from the Father. Paul teaches this in Romans 8:14-18, where he explains that we are children of God and because of that, we can become heirs of God and "joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together." Indeed, those whom God knew would accept Christ were foreordained "to conform to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). The goal is to become more like Christ and the Father, which we are commanded to do, as Christ taught in Matt 5:48 ("be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect").
Our acceptance of these Biblical teachings leads many to condemn us as a cult, saying that we think we will become gods and be worshipped instead of the Father. We will always worship the Father and Christ, who give us life, forgiveness, and all things pertaining to godliness, as Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:4-10. But it was Christ Himself who said "Ye are gods" in John 10:34, referring to the divine potential of sons and daughters of God. As to what He meant, consider the words of C.S. Lewis, a non-LDS writer who few would condemn as a cultist. Here is a quote from his book, Mere Christianity (Collier Books, MacMillan Publ. Co., New York, 1943; paperback edition, 1960; p. 160 - the last paragraph of Chapter 9, "Counting the Cost," in Book IV):
"The command Be ye perfect [Matt. 5:48] is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were "gods" and he is going to make good His words. If we let Him - for we can prevent Him, if we choose - He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what he said." Likewise, in The Grand Miracle (Ballantine Books, New York, 1970, p. 85 - the last page of the essay, "Man or Rabbit?" in Chapter 11), C.S. Lewis wrote:
The people who keep on asking if they can't lead a good life without Christ, don't know what life is about; if they did they would know that "a decent life" is mere machinery compared with the thing we men are really made for. Morality is indispensable: but the Divine Life, which gives itself to us and which calls us to be gods, intends for us something in which morality will be swallowed up. We are to be remade. All the rabbit in us will be swallowed up - the worried, conscientious, ethical rabbit as well as the cowardly and sensual rabbit. We shall bleed and squeal as the handfuls of fur come out; and then surprisingly, we shall find underneath it all a thing we have never yet imagined: a real man, an ageless god, a son of God, strong, radiant, wise, beautiful, and drenched in joy. [emphasis mine] And from the same book, p. 65 (the last page of Chapter 8), is another C.S. Lewis gem:
Christ has risen, and so we shall rise. St. Peter for a few seconds walked on the water, and the day will come when there will be a remade universe, infinitely obedient to the will of glorified and obedient men, when we can do all things, when we shall be those gods that we are described as being in Scripture. Where did the highly respected C.S. Lewis get such doctrine? From the Bible, which teaches us that we can indeed put on the divine nature and mature as sons and daughters of God, becoming like Him. Critics misrepresent our beliefs by saying that we think we will become God, or that we hope to usurp the glory that belongs to the Father. In spite of what our critics says, we believe we will always worship and give glory to God the Father, and that we will always be subject to Him, subordinate to Him, as sons and daughters. The modern Apostle Boyd K. Packer has clarified this issue:
The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Eloheim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him. There is only one Christ, one Redeemer. We accept the divinity of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. We accept the promise that we may become joint heirs with Him.
(Boyd K. Packer, "The Pattern of Our Parentage," Ensign, Nov. 1984, p. 69.)
We accept the Biblical teaching that we can become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17; see also Galatians 4:7). Heirs of what? Revelation 21:7 teaches that he who overcomes all things (through the Atonement of Christ, of course) will inherit "all things" - but in that relationship, though the exalted Christian will be joint heirs with Christ, Christ will still say "I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (See also 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.) That's straight LDS doctrine. In that state, we will help rule over all things (Luke 12:43-44; Revelation 3:21), will be one with God and Christ (John 17:20-23); will have a glorious body like God's (Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:49) and will receive glory from God (Romans 8:18; ; 2 Corinthians 3:18). But isn't this concept of "deification" counter to Christianity? Are Mormons just wresting the scriptures to provide support for a blasphemous, non-Christian doctrine? We can gain insight into these issues by asking a related question: How did mainstream, early Christians understand Bible passages that appear to suggest the doctrine of deification? Did early Christians actually believe things? The answer is going to shock and disturb many fellow Christians who are used to hearing that Mormons are a cult for believing that they can become "gods." It is very important to understand that at least some significant, mainstream, early Christian leaders also understood and accepted this doctrine. As I show on my page, "The Divine Potential of Mankind (http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_theosis.shtml)," the list of people sharing similar views on deification includes Saint Athanasius, Saint Augustine, Saint Irenaeus, Saint Cyril, Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Clement of Alexandria, and Saint Justin Martyr. Modern Christian writers, like C.S. Lewis, have also taught this doctrine in various forms. The fact this doctrine is not found in most modern Christian churches is not because it is a non-Christian doctrine, but because many things once understood and practiced in the original Church of Jesus Christ were lost through apostasy and errant, uninspired human leadership. Without continuing revelation to chosen apostles and prophets, much of what the Church once had has been lost or corrupted. But the Restoration of the Gospel restored not only sacred authority and revelation to divinely chosen apostles and prophets, but also restored correct understanding of many sacred doctrines, including an understanding of the divine potential of man.
Our critics object that if there were other godlike beings, then God would not be the only God. Again, this sidesteps the teachings of the scriptures. As Paul explained, though there be many "gods," there is only one Whom we worship (1 Cor. 8:5,6), only One Creator of the Universe, a Being whom the scriptures call the "God of gods" (Joshua 22:22, Deut. 10:17) - a title that only makes sense if we accept the existence of other genuine beings called "gods" over whom God reigns.
For more information on this early Christian doctrine known as theosis (deification of human through Christ), see my LDSFAQ page, "The Divine Potential of Mankind (http://www.jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/FQ_theosis.shtml)." If our views on this Biblical topic make us cultists and exclude us from Christianity, some early Christians are likewise condemned, including several New Testament writers and even Christ Himself.
They multiply the requirements for salvation.
Jesus' atonement on the cross is not enough, a person must add all sorts of works for the organization to merit eternal life, such as temple marriage.
This is just plain wrong. It is only through the Grace of Christ that we are saved, although I would agree that this facet of our doctrine is perhaps underemphasized. However, we do reject Martin Luther's doctrine of justification through faith alone (as do, I think, the Catholics and the Orthodox church. No one's calling them a cult.) I again quote Jeff Lindsay:
Latter-day Saints do not agree with Martin Luther's doctrine of justification by faith alone, but believe that we access the grace of Christ in a covenant relationship with Him. He offers us salvation and eternal life if we accept Him and follow Him, having faith in Him and striving to repent of our sins and keep His commandments. The concept of following Christ to gain access to His grace is taught in many places in the Bible. For example, Revelation 22:12-14 reflects this relationship. This passage briefly describes the judgment and the conditions for entering into the heavenly city of God:
And behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.... Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Our critics say that we deny the grace of Christ by thinking that we must keep the commandments of Christ, appalled at the thought that anything we could possibly do would have any bearing on our eternal status. They say that we are a cult because we allegedly do not accept the grace of Christ. What they really mean, I fear, is that we are a "cult" because we don't accept their particular view of what must be done to be saved. If we must be condemned as a cult for not accepting Luther's views, what about Christ and the early Christians? The words of Christ are focused almost exclusively on our behavior, dealing with what we do. Read the Sermon on the Mount, which says that we'll be judged by our fruits and our deeds. Read the parables and stories about judgment, which emphasize our actions as determining factors. Read His answer to direct questions about what must be done to gain eternal life. Did He say faith without works was sufficient? On the contrary, in Matthew 19:16-21, He urged us to keep the commandments, saying "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
Luke 10:25-37 provides another example of Christ's answer to the question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life." We again learn that we must serve God with all our heart and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. We are told to follow the example of the good Samaritan in response to this lawyer's questioning about eternal life. Some have argued that such passages from Christ were meant to be ironic parodies of the futility of trying to keep the commandments, but to argue such is to wrestle violently with the scriptures. Certainly it is impossible for man to be saved alone, without the grace of God, but Christ definitely and unmistakably taught that we must follow him and keep his commandments. He didn't say we would do that automatically if we believed him. He said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Likewise in John 15:14, He said, "ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
In Mark 12:28-34, a sincere scribe approaches Christ and asks which is the first commandment. Christ does not criticize the question or impugn the whole concept of keeping commandments. Hear his words:
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.
What was Christ teaching? That there are crucial commandments for us to keep - primarily to love and serve God, and to love our neighbors. His words speak of much more than belief alone. To the scribe who understood the importance of these commandments, Christ said he was not far from the kingdom of God. As Christ said in Luke 11:28, "blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Using our free will to choose to follow Christ and to keep his commandments is not contrary to the Gospel - it's at the heart of the what Christ taught. If we hear and DO what Christ commands us, we our built on a sure foundation (Matt. 7:24-28), for it is not just those who profess Christ that are saved, but those who DO the will of His Father in heaven (Matt. 7:21-23). Does that teaching deny the status of Christ as our Redeemer and Savior? Absolutely not. It brings us to Christ, that we might gain access to his grace. The point, though, is not whether our interpretation of the Bible is superior to Martin Luther's or John Calvin's or "Dr." Walter Martin's, but whether Latter-day Saints belong to a cult because they don't accept the standard modern Protestant view. The problem is, if those views make us a cult, then the words of Christ would seem to make Him a cultist as well. As for the doctrine of salvation by faith alone apart from works, it is difficult to find even a trace of that in early Christian writings before Augustine, and it was still poorly developed before Luther (note that even Paul made many references to the need to obey, to repent, to follow Christ, and to endure to the end, as can be seen by study of a list of scriptures on faith and works (http://www.jefflindsay.com/faith_works_list.html)).
The modern Protestant view of salvation does not seem to have been well established in Christianity before Luther's time. Did all Christians before that time belong to cults? Again, using doctrinal differences to brand others as cultists in this manner is unfair name-calling. We don't call others cultists for not believing just the way we do, even when we think they're plainly incorrect. We don't exclude them from Christianity for having doctrines that we feel are unbiblical, though we are adamant that the Lord's true Church has been restored. Those who sincerely believe in Christ are Christians in our book, though they may have some things wrong or incomplete. Naturally, we stand ready to be of assistance to remedy any such problems!
They divide between themselves and Christianity.
Mormons say they are "the only true church" and the only ones who represent God on earth. They thus divide themselves from the Christian community. They do not recognize any Christian baptism as valid, only those performed by the LDS priesthood.
Certainly, we do believe that we are the restoration of Christ's original church, and that thus it is the most true and correct church on earth. That is not to say that we deny that other churches have some portion of the truth, or that they do good, but rather that they are not as correct. As I stated before, every member of every religion ever believes that their religion is the most correct of any they have come into contact with, else why would they be in it, as opposed to whichever religion they thought was more correct? And we do not recognize any christian baptism because we believe that they must be preformed with the priesthood authority, and that no other church has that. And in any case, this would be an argument that we are not christian, not that we are a cult. Islam "divides itself from christianity", is it a cult? Likewise all other non-christian religions divide themselves from christianity. That doesn't make them cults, it just makes them non-christian.
In fact, I object to the entire second half, the "religious" half. These arguments argue not that we are a cult, but that we are non-christian. The above criteria are true for every non-christian religion on the planet, but that doesn't make them cults. It makes them non-christian. And, as I have shown, that doesn't apply to us, either.
As I have usually found, the Tanners have provided little more than inflamatory rhetoric, without substance or merit.
God be with you,
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