There are three important questions to consider
when determining whether or not a church is
actually a cult, according to the Rev. Billy Graham.
Recently a person asked the famed evangelist his
opinion on the possibility that a given house of
worship that they were invited to by a friend was,
in fact, a cult.
“My neighbor keeps inviting me to her church
(although they don’t call it that), but someone told
me it’s a cult. How can I know?” inquired the person.
In response, Graham laid out three things to
consider, first one being “what do they believe
about the Bible? Is it alone the Word of God (as
Christians affirm) — or do they add to it, or claim
they alone have translated it correctly?”
“Second, what do they believe about Jesus? Is He
alone the divine Son of God, sent from Heaven to
save us from our sins? Or do they deny this, or claim
we must work to save ourselves?” continued Graham.
“Third, what do they believe about other
Christians? Do they claim that they, and they alone,
have the truth — or do they rejoice that God is also
at work elsewhere?”
Graham also commended the person for being
careful about whether or not to attend the church
and become involved in its congregation.
“I’m thankful you are cautious and don’t want to
become part of a group that will lead you away
from what the Bible teaches,” he said.
“While some cults openly deny the Christian faith,
others mimic Christian practices and actually claim
to believe the Bible — although they deny some of
its most important teachings.”
The word cult is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and
more accepted religion and that has beliefs
regarded by many people as extreme or
The term is frequently used to describe various
religious sects in a negative light and is almost
always a pejorative descriptor for a group.
The debate over what constitutes a cult became a
political one for the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association in 2012 when the organization removed an article from its website calling Mormonism a cult following a meeting Graham had
with then Republican presidential nominee Mitt
The article described The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as
Mormonism, as a group that “teaches doctrines or
beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the
BGEA Chief of Staff Ken Barun said in an emailed
statement to The Christian Post in October 2012 that the article was removed because of the politics
surrounding Romney’s faith.
“Our primary focus at the Billy Graham Evangelistic
Association has always been promoting the Gospel
of Jesus Christ. We removed the information from
the website because we do not wish to participate
in a theological debate about something that has
become politicized during this campaign,” said Barun.