Cults, Language, Terms, Definitions

If you’ve ever talked to a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, you probably noticed they used Christian terms quite openly.   For example, Mormons will generally say that Jesus is their savior.  They’ll say you have to have faith in Jesus to be saved and they’ll speak very highly of the Bible.  Jehovah’s Witnesses will also mention faith in Jesus and talk about how the Bible is God’s inspired Scripture where we  learn his will.  And the list goes on.  Not only do these groups use Christian terms, they also call themselves Christians.

However, if you dig a little bit it becomes clear that though the words and terms are the same, the meanings and definitions are not.  Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the historic Christian teaching that Jesus is the eternal Son of God.  Mormons say that Jesus was Lucifer’s older spirit-brother before the world was created; they also deny that Jesus was conceived by a divine miracle of the Holy Spirit.  Both cults very strongly deny the doctrine of the Trinity.  The list goes on (and on!).  Here’s how Walter Martin explains the use of terms among the cults:

“Cultism plays a type of hypnotic music upon a semantic harp of terminological deception.  Language and the precise definition of terminology is what we might call the key to understanding cultism.”

“The average cult owes its very existence to the fact that it has utilized the terminology of Christianity, has borrowed liberally from the Bible, almost always out of context, and sprinkled its format with evangelical clichés and terms whenever possible or advantageous.  Up to now this has been a highly successful attempt to represent their respective systems of thought as ‘Christian.’”

Martin also notes how cultists use many Scripture texts in their presentations – almost so many that those listening feel overwhelmed or intimidated.

“The solution to this perplexing problem is far from simple.  The Christian must realize that for every Biblical or doctrinal term he mentions, a redefinition light flashes on in the mind of the cultist, and a lightning-fast redefinition is accomplished.  Realizing that the cultist will apparently agree with the doctrine under discussion, while firmly disagreeing in reality with the historical and biblical concept, the Christian is on his way to dealing effectively with cult terminology.”

Next time you a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness comes to your door, remember when he or she says “Jesus” or “God” or “the Bible” or “faith” or any other Christian term, these terms do not mean what we Christians mean by them.  It’s almost like when the salesman comes to the door and says he’s offering a “free” home security system.  We can see right through the sales pitch: free does not really mean free!  Similarly, we shouldn’t be tricked by the language and jargon of the cults; remember that Satan has been tricking people with words ever since he slithered into the garden to speak to Adam and Eve.  He’s a liar and deceiver, and he still uses those word tricks on us today.

The above (edited) quote is found on pages 20-21 of Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults.

shane lems

3 Replies to “Cults, Language, Terms, Definitions”

  1. Thanks. I have noticed this among the Mormon’s I invite into my home. Christians must not shy away from these conversations. As Michael Horton has said, we have to know what we believe [including the definitions of the terminology] and why we believe it.


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