Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Trust In Man (Part 4)

Author's note: The following post is part of a series dealing with my experiences in the Jeffrey Lundgren cult and what I learned from those experiences. My hope is that my story will teach others the importance of listening to the voice of God within for their answers. Peace. cse

From Liberal To Literal

It's difficult for most people to understand how a 180 degree shift in thinking can take place. The irony here is that it happened so gradually, I didn't even feel it taking place. I knew I was changing, but the way it occurred seemed so natural at the time it was imperceptable to me. However, to those on the outside it was obvious. I went from a very liberal, loose interpretation of the scriptures to a very literal one in very short order.

Even though I had intuitive qualms about Jeff Lundgren, one thing was sure: there was something very charasmatic about him. He was articulate, intelligent and knowledgeable on the scriptures. He was also very well-versed in making himself pleasing. Jeff knew exactly the right thing to say to make people let down their guard, and I wasn't the only one who felt it. He had quite a following among the conservative members of the local congregation. I also began to notice leaders of the local Mormon church were also somehow drawn to him. I say this because I saw quite a number of occasions where certain LDS leaders would ask specifically for Jeff when they brought people through for tours.

My transformation from liberal to literal progressed easily enough. You begin with the truth (or your version of the truth)--in this case that the Kirtland Temple was meant to be the starting place for the transformation of the world. It made sense to me as I was a firm believer in the concept of Zion, God's kingdom on earth. Once you have accepted this new understanding as "truth", Jeff would add more pieces of information. This new information is similar to the information you have already accepted as fact with a slightly added twist. Once this slightly twisted information is accepted as fact, Jeff would present you with more information, twisted just a little more. This twisting process continued for quite some time until I eventually stopped listening to the voice of God within altogether in favor of the teachings of this man I now thought to be incredibly inspired. I even began to take on his literal interpretation of the Bible where it claimed that women should not rule in the churches.

My Aunt Sharon, who lived in Kirtland and was very active in the local congregation, was extremely concerned. Like me, she had gotten bad vibes from Jeff from the first time she met him, although unlike me she was not as naive and trusting. My parents were also concerned. When they visited later that summer and I began sharing all my new "understandings" with them--including my change of mind on the issue of women in the priesthood, they were shocked that my views could have changed so drastically in a relatively short amount of time.

My mom chose to do something about it. She began to contact church leaders in Independence and elsewhere to make it known exactly what Jeff was teaching (which was very different from what the church taught). From that point on, my mother was a definite thorn in Jeff's side.

The story is continued at:

*(For more information on this incident, one of the best books written is Prophet of Death. the Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Earley. It's very detailed and uncomfortably graphic, but he did his research well. Earley gets to the heart of why Jeff and his followers acted as they did, without bias. Also, A&E did a segment of their show American Justice on this topic: American Justice: The Cult Murders.)

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