About the Author
Since the first edition was published in 1965, Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults has been the leading reference work on the major contemporary cult systems. With an emphasis on the currently active, proselytizing cults, The Kingdom of the Cults continues to be a crucial tool in countercult ministry and evangelism.
While remaining true to Walter Martin's original tone and text, this updated edition includes substantial new information. Relevant and accurate materials have been reintroduced from the original editions, preserving Dr. Martin's unique voice and defense of the faith.
Scholarly yet readable and engaging, The Kingdom of the Cults evaluates each cult's history and beliefs, contrasting individual teachings with true biblical theology. Readers will find apologetics help in dealing with cults not only at home but also overseas.
Anyone engaged in something more than a casual interest in apologetics will discover an incredible value in Walter Martin's classic "The Kingdom of the Cults." This updated edition is similar in structure as earlier editions, but fairly acknowledges major changes in theology and activity in various religious groups. Intended for the thinking Christian and the open-minded nonChristian, Martin's book has continually challenged people to rely on Scripture for their theology.
This is an unusual book in that it is neither an evangelical or fundamentalism critique of those who disagree, but a deeper look at the histories, documents, arguments at groups in opposition to orthodoxy. I first read this skeptically, but was impressed by the immense research by Martin and his team of editors.
There is a dual functionality to "The Kingdom of the Cults." Not only does it explain the distinctives of groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses and the Church of the Latter Day Saints, but in doing so, it teaches Scriptural fundamentals of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and provides direction for testing our own faith with the Bible. Martin's exposure of what the groups themselves are claiming will disturb many within the group as they discover the truth. He is quick to grant the strengths of a group, but points them to Scripture to make their own comparisons (as opposed to relying on Martin's views). He prefers the reader to think for himself, not content to depend on his book, or any other book but the Bible. This balance is rare in Christian literature, and a value in reading "The Kingdom of the Cults."
Martin provides a meaty analysis of all the major groups, as well as primary lines of thought within Protestant perspectives, and Roman Catholicism. Beyond specific groups, there is plenty of coverage of the general critical analysis on topics like mind control, apocalyptic cults, the impact of cults on the mission field, Eastern religions, and language and psychological issues.
He is sure to point out a group's popularity (like the fast growing LDS and Islam sects) doesn't make it truth, truth is not democratic.
Martin is bold to use the groups' own literature rather than hearsay, to prove his points. This has stirred controversy among those such as Muslim students, LDS laity and JW leadership who have not known of the difficult history of their church. He leaves room for the vagaries often existing when dependent on secondary sources.
This edition includes substantial portions of the refutations and other dialogues, providing the reader an idea of the response from the cult's leadership. Sadly, it shows that though the book is quickly disputed, none take Martin to task. In many cases, they agree, but are uncomfortable at the label 'cult.'
The bibliography is 27 pp strong, organized by topic and group. This is in addition to the 12-page Scripture Index.
"The Kingdom of the Cults" includes an appendix of several groups. For example, the Worldwide Church of God's full acceptance of the Trinity is explained, as well as the foundation for this significant move in their theology.
"The Kingdom of the Cults" also criticizes the Word of Faith movement. It is careful to show what this movement believes, and how it is not simply Pentecostalism under another name. "The Kingdom of the Cults" emphasizes "there are many sincere, born again believers within the movement" (Hank Hanagraaff).
I recommend "The Kingdom of the Cults" enthusiastically. Buy it, and read it contemplatively and compassionately as you discover what your neighbor might believe.