Lundgren's Historical Roots? Cleansing Sacrifice and Blood Atonement
As America welcomed 1990, it was shocked to its very core by the discovery of the brutal murder of the Avery family in Kirtland, Ohio, by a self-proclaimed prophet, turned madman.
Jeffrey Lundgren, the leader of The Family, an RLDS offshoot, was eventually arrested and charged with "five counts of aggravated murder" (The Kansas City Times, January 6, 1990, p. A-1).
According to Kirtland, Ohio Police Chief, Dennis Yarborough, "The (Avery) family members, including a 7-year-old girl, were shot in the belief the cult would be cleansed by the sacrifice and go on to find a golden sword in the wilderness of West Virginia..." (Ibid; emphasis mine).
The idea of a cleansing sacrifice can be traced back to the early history of Mormonism. Brigham Young, the successor to Joseph Smith, taught a very similar doctrine called Blood Atonement.
Young explained, "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground....
"I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them.
"I will say further; I have had men come to me and offer their lives to atone for their sins. It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit," (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, pp. 53-54; emphasis mine).
In an earlier sermon, Brigham Young had stated, "There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it;..." (Ibid, Vol. 3, p. 247).
What are these "sins" that men commit which require their own blood to be shed? One of these, according to Brigham Young, was Apostasy.
In 1853, Young described in detail to his audience, a dream, in which he cut the throats of two men and threatened to behead them. He then proceeded to expound his Blood Atonement doctrine with, "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here (in Utah), I will unsheathe my bowie knife, and conquer or die," (Ibid, Vol. 1, p. 83; parenthesis added).
His listeners joined in the vote to do so, with "All hands up." Young then concluded by saying, "Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work," (Ibid; emphasis mine).
Four years later, Young was still teaching his unscriptural brand of Blood Atonement salvation. "This is loving our neighbors as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.
"Any of you who understand the principle of eternity, if you have sinned a sin requiring the shedding of blood... would not be satisfied nor rest until your blood should be spilled, that you might gain that salvation you desire. That is the way to love mankind," (Ibid, Vol. 4, p. 220).
It may be correctly observed that Lundgren was never a member of the LDS Church, and thus, never a follower of Brigham Young. Rather, being an offshoot of the RLDS cult, Lundgren would trace his roots back to Joseph Smith III, Joseph Smith Jr.'s son, and the second prophet of the RLDS group.
Though not a direct follower of Young, Lundgren's ideas on apostasy had many similarities.
According to Law Enforcement authorities, Lundgren's cleansing list originally contain¬ed ten names marked for death, rather than just the five Averys.
"The Averys were chosen because they did not live in a commune with the other members and were not believed to be as devout....
"According to a police press release, the Patricks were designated as expendable because they lacked faith in Lundgren," (The Kansas City Times, Jan. 6, 1990, p. A-14).
Regardless of whether or not Lundgren took his doctrine of a cleansing sacrifice from Brig¬ham Young's Blood Atonement teaching, it is an interesting parallel.
One final note, the LDS, RLDS and Lundgren all trace their heritage back to Joseph Smith Jr., who began his church on April 6, 1830. It was a cousin of Joseph's wife Emma, who made a very revealing observation about Joseph's practice of sacrifice.
In speaking of the translation of the ?Book of Mormono, Emma Smith's cousin "...reported that Smith `translated the book of Mormon by means of the same peep stone, and under the same inspiration that directed his enchantments and dog sacrifices; it was all by the same spirit,'" (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Dr. D. Michael Quinn, p. 144; emphasis mine).