The Kingdom of the Cults

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The Kingdom of the Cults
The Kingdom of the Cults.jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorWalter Ralston Martin
CountryUnited States
SubjectNew religious movements
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages703 (2003 revised edition)

The Kingdom of the Cults, first published in 1965, is a reference book of the Christian countercult movement in the United States, written by Baptist minister and counter-cultist Walter Ralston Martin.[1]


Martin examines a large number of new religious movements; included are major groups such as Christian Science, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Armstrongism, Theosophy, the Bahá'í Faith, Unitarian Universalism, Scientology, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as minor groups including various New Age and groups based on Eastern religions. The beliefs of other world religions such as Islam and Buddhism are also discussed.

He covers each group's history and teachings, and contrasts them with those of mainstream Christianity, from a decidedly critical, evangelical perspective.[1][2]

Martin defines "a cult" as "a group of people gathered about a specific person—or person's misinterpretation of the Bible", while admitting that in spite of "distorting Scripture" such groups' teachings may contain "considerable truths" which have Biblical support but have become de-emphasized by mainstream Christianity, such as divine healing and prophecy.[1]

Influence and reception[edit]

By 1989, The Kingdom of the Cults had sold over 500,000 copies and was one of the ten best-selling American spiritual books. The book has been described as being regarded by evangelicals as "the authoritative reference work on major cult systems for nearly 40 years."[3] However, it has been criticized by members of some of the groups it discusses, particularly Mormons, upset that their faith should be labeled a "cult."[3][4][5]

There have been several editions over the years with some changes. In the 1985 edition the Nation of Islam was not mentioned, and in the 2003 edition it was put back in a chapter on Islam itself.[6] After Martin's death, a revised and expanded edition was issued which listed Ravi K. Zacharias as co-author.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Michael J. McManus, "Eulogy for the godfather of the anti-cult movement", obituary in The Free Lance-Star, Fredricksburg, VA, 26 August 1989, p. 8.
  2. ^ "unapologetically hostile to young and developing spiritual trends" Dackson, Wendy (Summer 2004). "New Religious Movements in the 21st Century: Legal, Political, and Social Challenges in Global Perspective". Journal of Church and State. 46 (3): 663. doi:10.1093/jcs/46.3.663.
  3. ^ a b Moore, Carrie A. (6 Nov 2004). "Evangelist to speak in Tabernacle". Deseret Morning News. p. E01.
  4. ^ Williams, Lane (25 July 2011). "Time for journalists to look more deeply at the "countercult" movement". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah.
  5. ^ Dart, John (July 29, 1972). "Minister Attacks 'Evils' of U.S. Religious Sects". Los Angeles Times. p. A25.
  6. ^ Kidd, Thomas S., American Christians and Islam: evangelical culture and Muslims from the colonial period to the age of terrorism, Princeton University Press, 2009 ISBN 0-691-13349-2 pages 108-109
  7. ^ entry
  • Ashcraft, W Michael (Feb 2010). "Review: Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult". Nova Religio. 13 (3): 128–131. doi:10.1525/nr.2010.13.3.128..