Published on November 16, 2023 by Eugene Ho

Bethany House Publishers, 2003 | 704 pages

A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance

by Steve West


About the Author

Walter Martin was the founder of the Christian Research Institute, an organization which specialized in apologetics. His book Kingdom of the Cults has been used for over fifty years as the definitive introduction to cults.

Note: This book summary summarizes key chapters in this classic work. It includes Martin’s first three foundational chapters, his chapters concerning the three major cults in America, and his chapter that provides principles for evangelizing individuals who belong to cults.


Table of Contents

1 The Kingdom of the Cults
2 Scaling the Language Barrier
3 The Psychological Structure of Cultism
4 Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
5 Christian Science
6 Mormonism—The Latter-Day Saints
7 Spiritism—The Cult of Antiquity
8 The Theosophical Society
9 Zen Buddhism
10 The Baha’i Faith
11 The Unity School of Christianity
12 Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God—Anglo-Israelism
13 Unification Church
14 L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology
15 Eastern Religions
16 Islam: The Message of Muhammed
17 The Cults on the World Mission Fields
18 The Jesus of the Cults
19 Cult-Evangelism—Mission Field on the Doorstep
20 Road to Recovery
     A) The Puzzle of Seventh-Day Adventism
     B) Unitarianism
     C) The Rosicrucian Fellowship
     D) The Church of the New Jerusalem—Swedenborgianism




Chapter 1: The Kingdom of the Cults

America is a melting-pot, and our nation is filled with different cultures and religions. It is important to remember that the word cult is not derogatory, but rather refers to religious organizations that depart significantly from the primary doctrines of Christian orthodoxy. Often, cults center around personalities and authority figures. When studying cults, it is necessary to know their history, their doctrines, and how to respond biblically. Christians must accept the final authority of Scripture and must use the Bible to measure every teaching. People want to work for salvation and earn religious merits, and the cults depend on such plans of salvation. The fact that a cult or -ism grows is not proof of the blessing of God.

Christ came into a world that was filled with pantheons of gods and religious pluralism, but he maintained that there was only one truth and one way to God. He also warned that there would be false teachers who would lead people away from the truth. Paul told us to both love the truth and reject false doctrine. We do not love people if we leave them snared in error. The church needs to be better equipped for evangelism and missions in our own backyard, and we need to hold out the claims of Christ and labor for the salvation of souls. One of the reasons that cults have been so successful in their recruiting is that the church has failed to evangelize and teach the truth of Christ.


Chapter 2: Scaling the Language Barrier

Liberal theology and cults rely on using orthodox theological terms but redefine their meaning. This creates incredible confusion and is one of the ways that cults can avoid the charge of heresy. Cult members will say that they agree with certain doctrines, but they do not define the doctrines the same way that Christians have in church history. When we talk with members of cults, we need to insist on a careful definition of terms. Cults will try to show verbal agreement, but there is no agreement in substance. Talk of God, Christ, the Trinity, grace, salvation, sin, Adam, etc. tends to mean very different things in the different cults. It can grow wearying—and also at first be embarrassing—for a Christian to try to evangelize a cult member by quoting Scripture, only to have the cult member always reply, “We believe that too.” What is happening, however, is they are redefining the meaning of the verses and doctrines, or they are warping the interpretation to fit in with what their cult-system teaches. If pushed, they will normally say that everyone has their own interpretation, and then they will rest on the idea that their organization has the full truth. When talking with cult members, Christians need to clarify terms and sources of authority, and then ensure that the definitions line up with orthodoxy. Bible passages will be misused and lifted out of context, so a basic knowledge of hermeneutics and proper biblical interpretation is needed. . . .

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Bethany House Publishers, 2003 | 704 pages

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