While I have spent the better part of the last ten days recovering from Bronchitis and Pneumonia, I have watched occasional references to the King James Only position being called a cult. Being called a cult is a cheap lazy shot that usually indicates a complete lack of intellectual ammunition. It is a parallel to the dominant media calling anyone a racist who disagrees with them. It places their adversary in a box deemed unworthy of further discussion. I recently saw a cartoon in which a young man mentioned to his date that the economy looked strong and that employment was robust, which caused his date to weep into her hands that she was dating a racist. "Cult" like "racist" appears to be a Pavlov's dog training term that insures that the inculcated person will never take a serious look at the issue. It is beneath them.
That is not to say that cults don't exist. They do. The Oxford English Dictionary has a few definitions for the word but only one fits the bill for what is being said. "A relatively small group of people having (esp. religious) beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister, or as exercising excessive control over members." By this definition King James Bible believers are a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded as strange or sinister to some.
Since the word "relative" forces us to compare our numbers with the overall population of people who would tell a census taker that their religion was Christian, we can only acquiesce to being relegated to relatively small group. There are an estimate 2.2 billion people on earth who identify as Christian. Those of us who adhere to the King James Bible position which is clearly strange and sinister to many make up a pretty small percentage of that. That however is where the comparisons end. In reality, we only have one core common belief among ourselves. All of us, to varying degrees believe, that the King James Bible is correct and that recent translations are an error. If anyone can find any other distinctive among us to which we could get any harmony of opinion, I defy them to post it online and see how quickly some other King James Bible believer shoots it down.
I am often amazed at the diversity of doctrine that exists within the King James Only camp. My favorite forum for King James Bible Debate is a Facebook group bearing that very name, The King James Bible Debate. The monitors have to ride shotgun over every discussion to keep the focus on the bible issue and not get into our doctrinal differences. As a former boss once told me. "I have my opinions and you have your stupid ideas, but let's keep them out of the workplace." Within that forum we have Australian Pentecostals (some of the most learned members who have contributed impeccable research), Calvinists, Arminians, Baptists, Non-denominationalism and just about every other "ism" within the realm of mainstream Christianity as practiced over the last 100 years. There is simply no other belief or practice common among us.
The third distinctive, "or as exercising excessive control over members" is a joke. I remember preaching to an early group forming the Michigan Militia in the early 1990s before the Media slandered them. After showing me the glories of their group and the earnestness of their cause, my host asked me, "Do you think it will work?". I told him "no". He was dismayed and wondered why. "Because", I told him, "There are no two of you who would ever take orders from another". Having similar beliefs about patriotism and constitutional government was not a sufficient bond regardless of how sacred those beliefs appeared to their adherents. Likewise, if there is anyone so gullible as to think that the common trust of the King James Bible has united its adherents to a common set of doctrines, form of worship or adherence to any particular leader, they are sadly misinformed and utterly ignorant.
In Walter Martin's 1965 book, The Kingdom of the Cults, he warned the Christian world that one of the great distinctives of a cult was their warping of definitions and terms. What Joseph Smith meant by Jesus is the Son of God, or what Jehovah Witnesses meant by Jesus is the Son of God were distinctly different things than what the general body of Christian believers meant when they used the term. I couldn't agree more. What Walter Martin went on further to do was to tear down the King James Bible in order to prove Joseph Smith wrong. What a dunderheaded thing to do! I could justify Joseph Smith writings a lot easier with an NIV or an ESV than I ever could with a King James Bible. Taken verse by verse, and kept in context, it is impossible to justify any Mormon doctrine or any other cult doctrine from within the pages of a King James Bible. There is no other bible that can claim that. Though other bibles have passages that refute Mormon doctrine, they also have slip ups that support it.
If you approach a Mormon from the standpoint that a King James Bible has errors, he will get defensive and claim that it does not. If you approach him from the standpoint that the King James Bible is perfect and demonstrate that a key belief of his is wrong, he will blatt like a goat tangled in a barbed wire fence. In the private sanctums of their schools, advanced Mormons are introduced to the marvels of scripture magic just like most bible colleges today, and they are taught that it can be corrected. If you don't believe that, confront an experienced Mormon with the premise that your perfect King James Bible contradicts his beliefs. If you have the wit and bible experience to trap him in a corner, he will wiggle out by questioning the text itself.
What then is a cult? A cult is a group of people who hold beliefs that require a particular verse or set of verses to be interpreted in such a manner that the rest of the bible becomes a fractured incoherent junkyard of verses from which they pick and choose at random. I have used the example of Jehovah Witnesses before. They take a verse like Ecclesiastes 9:5, but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten, and place it in a position whereby any verse that demonstrates that the dead have feelings, can think and communicate in heaven or in hell and simply explain them away. With that verse in the wrong place, the rest of the bible becomes warped and out of focus.
Such groups make light of the deity of Jesus Christ, but they don't need to do so to become a cult. Certainly those accusing King James Bible Onlyists as being a cult are not insinuating that we don't believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. No, what distinguishes a cult is when a group wrestles a verse or group of verses so violently out of context, that the general gist of the bible becomes incoherent and they are only able to see it from within a preformatted platform. This almost always imperils their very ability to trust Jesus Christ, but not always. I have been accused of being a cult from within the ranks of King James Bible defenders, and the person doing so did not mean to imply I was unsaved. He merely believed that my position had so disordered the divine order of doctrine in the scripture that it became harmful.
Yet Walter Martin's 1965 admonition that cults use the same terms that we use, but they have altered the meanings; remains relevant today. What about the word "scripture"? I have never yet heard a bible corrector give a coherent definition of the word that would stand up to every place that it is used in the sacred text. When cornered like our Mormon friend with the actual use of the term in every context, he has his own blatting to do which sounds something like "the originals, the originals, or only the autographs". He has no verse to back that up. He has to squint just right and explain away every verse that contradicts him and after he has smugly done so, he will call you a cult. The idea that you do not need to alter one iota of scripture to make your case, and that he must range well outside of the bible itself to make his case just doesn't faze him.
When asked to find any scriptural justification that a word rendered in more than one language cannot be inspired, he cannot. When asked for a scriptural justification for God abandoning a perfect inspired bible and having only intended one for a very short time in church history, he cannot. When asked what harm has ever been done by any King James Bible passage in its correct context, he demurs, or offers weak easily refuted points. When shown obvious errors and contradictions in any other English Bible, he chalks it up to the fog of translation and the uncertainty of the text. A non-King James Bible believer does not believe every translation. He doesn't believe any translation. He does not consider himself subject to any verse that has not gained his intellectual assent, and he cannot believe that you are so stupid as to do so. Therefore he calls you a cult.