I have Met some Interesting People Over the Years
When I had my epiphany that all was not well in Zion Babylon and started on my quest to find out the truth about God, and Mormonism, I met many very interesting people as I started making the rounds, visiting different splinter groups and fringe study groups. As I mentioned in a previous post, years ago, I was playing “button, button, whose got the button“, looking for who really had the truth and the elusive “fulness of the priesthood” that the ancient prophets like Enoch, Elijah and Melchizedek had.
I eventually began doing thousands of keyword searches and formulating my own views about what had happened to bring the church into the latter day apostasy, and I gave a few presentations to various study groups about various gospel topics. My quest enabled me to meet many of the movers and shakers of the Mormon fringe, if you will.
I have previously mentioned my encounter with Jim Harmston, who taught gospel doctrine in his local ward in Ogden Utah, and then began getting into fanatical gospel interests and beliefs, ultimately moving to Manti Utah where he eventually started his own church, and claimed that he was the reincarnation of Joseph Smith and appears to have been extremely successful in creating lots of chaos and destroying peoples lives. He began taking polygamous wives, and claimed he had the true priesthood and church. As I recall, he finally announced that he was God the Father in the flesh, or something ridiculous like that.
I have encountered many people like this over the years.
Another interesting personality that I met back in those days was a fellow by the name of Sterling Allen.
At the time I became aware of Sterling, he had started the “America Study Group” which was a study group that met to study the constitution and gospel topics, etc. There were lots of LDS patriots that formed local chapters of the American Study group across the Wasatch Front, that would meet and discuss various things.
Jay Benson and Chris Nemelka
One of the leaders of a local American Study Group in Layton Utah is a fellow named Jay Benson (no relation to President Benson). He was another very interesting person who is now an avid follower of Chris Nemelka, the false prophet who claims to have translated the sealed portion of the Gold plates. I have also previously mentioned Nemelka. You can read Benson’s testimony of Chris Nemelka here.
Getting back to Sterling Allen. Sterling Allen has a brilliant mind and he became obsessed with doctrine and innovative ways of searching for truth. He created the website called greater things. One of the things that Sterling become known for is “alphabetics“, which is a method of study involving the use of the Strong’s concordance and matching up the numbers relating to Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible as well as page numbers in the Bible and virtually anything else you want to throw into the mix.
The idea behind Sterling’s concept of alphabetics, as I understand it, is that “all things testify of Christ” and therefore, just about everything in the world around us, including numbers and mathematics points to truth about Christ and virtually everything else.
|These two words come one after the other in the Old Testament Hebrew
4545 ;,./ macceketh: “web”
4546 %-./ mecillah: “highway“
I frankly think there is something to the concept, however, it is so incredibly subjective, that a person can find validation to justify just about any heretical idea, concept or doctrine that they want to. Since becoming obsessed with numbers, Sterling kind of reminds me of “John Nash,” played by Russell Crowe in the movie, “It’s a beautiful Mind“. Its about a genius that became obsessed with numbers and basically lost touch with all reality, and lost his mind, kind of like the chess player I once referred to that lost his mind while in deep contemplation, during a chess game.
Anyway, I had very little personal contact with Sterling back in those days and never got to know him very well. Nevertheless, I have kept track of him from time to time because he is such an interesting and colorful and entertaining fellow. Like most brilliant people with magnetic personalities, he has attracted somewhat of a following from time to time, over the years.
Setting the Church in Order
Shortly after I met Sterling, He showed up at an LDS general conference and attempted to walk up to the podium to address the church. The rumor going around at the time was that he intended to announce that we was the “one mighty and strong‘ who was going to release all of the general authorities and then set the church in order. His version of the story on the Internet is that he was simply going to give a talk. He has since posted the talk he was going to give on the Internet.
Needless to say, he never made it to the podium.
Church Security intercepted him and promptly removed him from the premises.
He was excommunicated and eventually took a long break from religious activity, reinventing himself as a “free energy” guru. He established a few organizations that reviewed nontraditional technologies for harvesting energy from Mother Nature. The hope is to free mankind from the financial bondage of the power grid. Over the last decade, Sterling has become a high profile player in the alternative energy industry. Sterling has traveled the world interviewing inventors that claim to have invented new technologies for creating or harvesting electricity, etc.
Why am I telling you all of this?
A Random though Came into my Mind
I am telling you this because yesterday the thought came into my head that I should check up on Sterling and see how he was doing. It was really really weird. The thought just came into my mind. I had not given Sterling a thought in years but all of a sudden, I was curious to see what he was up to. (in the back of my mind I may have been wondering if Sterling’s organization had covered the supposed generator that runs on water that I had seen promoted a website)
When I punched Sterling’s name name into the Internet I was blown away with what I discovered.
The Church Bans Sterling Allen From all Church Properties
On one site, Sterling was telling about how he had just received a letter from Kirton and McConkie, the legal firm that represents the Mormon Church, informing him that he was banned from any properties own or operated by the Mormon Church because he had been disruptive in their meetings and because members of the church felt threatened by him. (even though Sterling has not been rebaptised, he had been attending the local LDS church for several months and had permission from his bishop to participate in Sunday School class)
He claimed that when he confronted his Bishop and Stake President about the legal notice, neither of them knew what he was talking about and neither of them felt he had been disruptive or threatening to members, etc., yet when he pressed the issue by the church, his Bishop and Stake President caved in to the pressure put upon them by their superiors and provided the necessary acknowledgments, that Sterling was disruptive and was a threat.
His version of the story can be seen on the youtube below and it has some interesting details about how local leaders are often railroaded into making accusations against their wills:
He covers much more information in the above youtube.
“I have a Lust Addiction”
The next bombshell I came across, is that on Sterling’s energy website that attracts thousands of people from all over the world, Sterling has recently made a public confession about being involved with pedophilia which has resulted in his divorce, the loss of his family, his resignation from the alternative energy companies he has founded, and the fact that he may well be going to prison in the near future. He refers to his affliction as a “lust addiction”
Learning Lessons from Current Events
Normally I would not publish this kind of information out of concern for the privacy and feelings of the individual who is obviously suffering at many different levels, but in this case, Sterling has made the decision to go public and he wants everyone to know about his situation. My feeling is that although I want to be sensitive and compassionate and as non-judgment as reasonably and rationally possible, there are lessons to be learned from this heart-breaking event.
The youtube below was posted on his energy website where lots of non-Mormons visit. It is interesting to see some of the comments his former friends and associates in the alternative energy industry have made about his pedophelia and his “confession”.
“I am God the Father in the Flesh”
The confession he makes is an interesting one because in it, he matter of factly informs his audience that he is literally God the Father in the flesh, ( where have we heard that before?) but wait, there is more. He claims he agreed to accept this lust addiction in the pre-existence.
He seems to believe that all of the Davidic Servant passages in the scriptures are referring to the return of God the Father, not a servant of God. A version of this general belief is passionately taught by other bloggers out there. Sterling opines that the first messianic event had to do with the Son of God who had a sinless ministry, but the second messianic event (featuring himself) has to do with God the Father who is first muddled down in sin and judged harshly by the world, and then eventually he emerges in power to fulfill his calling, etc.
He points out that he has largely been a victim of a lustful society that flaunts seducing graphics all over the media, etc., and he ends his confession with a stern warning to the world about the impending 3 1/2 year judgment they are going experience if they don’t repent.
As I was reading and listening to some of Sterlings remarks about his addiction I really did feel compassion. I confess that I struggle with a food addiction that has been out of control. I LOVE sugar, chocolate, and just about any kind of junk food. If you put it in front of me and it is edible, or looks edible, I will eat it! I am always eating when I am not hungry and I am never hungry because I am always eating. My ideal body weight based on height and frame, is about 158 LB, I currently weigh 217. AAAAAAAAAGGGGGG!
Mrs Watcher is a health food and alternative medicine guru that stuffs lots of good stuff down me, and that is what has kept me alive all these years, but I still have the ability to purchase, hide, and stuff my face with it, faster than she can find it and flush it.
Naturally, I started a new years resolution yesterday and I am proud to report that I have only eaten a bowl of bean soup, some herb tea and a few hand fulls of fritos corn chips in that amount of time and I have already lost 2 LB! LOL
BTW a friend of mine is related to a Guru on overcoming addiction. I just reviewed a short snippet that the guru did and I am really quite impressed.
Anyway, my point is that since I struggle with addiction, I felt more compassion, than judgment for Sterling as I heard his plight.
One of the things I could not help but think about as I sat spell bound at the astonishing claims and deductions that Sterling makes, with a straight face, is that fanaticism can lead to insanity, demon possession, or both. Frankly, I don’t think religious fanaticism is categorically bad. I believe I am somewhat of a religious fanatic in some respects. However I believe Christ was considered a fanatic during his earthly ministry and most of his prophets and patriarchs were fanatics.
So where does one cross the line between being passionate and attempting to be pious, vs being overcome with seducing spirits that are so prevalent in our day in age? How does possession by demons take place?
Followers of Cult Leaders
In this post I am not just pondering what makes people into crazy cult leaders, I am also pondering what makes their followers so mesmerized by them. We could simply assume that cult leaders that lead people astray were ordained to that calling in the pre-existence and we could say that all of the seemingly mindless followers that they accumulate were also ordained in the pre-existence to be deceived, but that is not for us to judge.
It is interesting to me how different Harmston, Nemelka and Allen are in personality traits and demeanor. Allen comes of to me as highly intellectual. Nemelka is kind of a red-neck, country bumpkin hick that catches you off guard because of his unsophisticated delivery and looks and manner of speaking. Harmston was more of a stately, elderly fatherly image that could make you feel personally loved in a one on one conversation. They are all very different personalities and yet there is a magnetic, low-key yet powerful charisma that they all have with certain types of people that desperately need a leader to follow.
Our responsibility is not to judge and mock these types of people, although I think it is ok to mock the stupid things they are saying and doing. Our responsibility is to feel concern for all of these people. this brings up another one of my many sins and evil personality traits. I have a tendency to be really critical of people instead of being able to separate the sin from the sinner. It is difficult for me to not get incredibly anxious and angry when I see cults and cult leaders forming and accumulating a followership. I can also get so passionate that it appears as if I am critical of those that differ with my doctrinal views. I suspect that admission doesn’t take any of my readers by surprise. LOL
I have decided to fast and pray this Sunday for all of the contemporary cult leaders and their followers. (Harmston has passed on) There are more than the three that I have mentioned in this post BTW.
Although I do not have lots of faith that my prayers will change them, I am doing this exercise for myself as much as for them, because I am hoping it will help me to become more charitable and to re-frame things contextually, focusing on judging the sin instead of the sinner. We all sin and we all fall short of the glory of God.. We are to love all men and leave judgment to God
The Desired Take Away of this Post
As I am sharing what I am pondering about on this post , relative to Sterling Allen’s situation specifically and the issue of false prophets generally, there are two points I want to make about this post.
The first point is that the gospel requires us to judge the doctrine and the actions, of people so that we are not deceived by their folly that can adversely affect us, but we are to not condemn or judge the people themselves, in the eternal scheme of things because judgment is the Lord’s domain and people can repent after making serious mistakes.
We should mourn for them and pray for them. We should be concerned for their souls. I am inviting the readers of this blog to unite with me this next Sunday in praying for all cult leaders and their followers.
The emergence of these cults is a sign of the times and there is a spiritual battle taking place right now for dominion over the souls of men.
The other point I want to make is that even though we should be having charity and compassion upon the souls of those who appear to be possessed or insane, we still have an obligation to judge their doctrine and their actions and to be vigilant about not being seduced by lying spirits that are abroad in the land.
It may be instructive to analyse the lives of people like Chris Nemelka, Jim Harmston and Sterling Allen. I believe there are some trends and commonalities that they all share. They are all very intelligent, passionate, creative people with charismatic and magnetic personalities. They all began making interesting observations about the gospel just like many other gospel scholars do. Eventually they made small claims and taught doctrinal inconsistencies, and finally they ended up making outrageous claims, taking themselves way to seriously. Eventually their focus is not as much about the gospel and doctrine as it is about themselves.
What is interesting is that there are people in this world that are so mesmerized by these kinds of personalities that all logic and reason, as well as the spirit of discernment are totally deactivated in them once they are entranced by such a magnetic personality. It doesn’t matter how illogical some of the declarations from these magnetic personalities are, their followers are so emotionally drawn to them and so invested in their desire for the magnetic person to be the long awaited Davidic servant or Savior of mankind, that they are willing to drink any flavor of cool aid that is offered to them.
“This is not about Me!!! Well, Maybe Just a Little Bit”
One of the narratives that often accompany magnetic people who rise to power and start cults is that they start out appearing to be very humble and self depreciating, always focusing on the doctrine and not lifting themselves up as a light unto the world. They often begin testifying of the truthfulness of the church prior to becoming more bold in their declaration about the latter day apostasy…. I know, I know, some of this kind of sounds a little like me, doesn’t it. After all, I do believe that there are been a global apostasy and I am often critical of the brethren…
To my credit, I don’t have a following of mindless groupies that hang on my every word. My readers all tend to be amazingly independent thinkers who feel very free to challenge and criticize me. I love that and wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t want the burden of being responsible for someone else’s salvation.
Another key is that initially these cult leaders assure their following that “This is not about me!” But as time passes, they become increasingly self-important.
Eventually, they are the central player in their own narrative in the salvation of their followers. Before you know it. They are claiming to have messages from God to pass on to the people and they even make outrageous claims of having the only authority to administer the ordinances of salvation, how they have now wrested the true authority away from the evil leaders of the mother church, or they are dictating to their followers how the ordinances are to be done differently, etc.
Those who are not emotionally invested in these magnetic personalities can see this amazing transformation to power and the dramatic change in the content and tone of their message from meekness to authoritarianism. The mesmerized followers cannot discern this or they blissfully dismiss it because they are so excited about the new movement and they want the new message and messenger to be true.
Can the Brethren Have the Priesthood Wrested away from them if they Didn’t Have it?
One of the amazing things about the followers of cult leaders is that their followers are unable to parse out the contradictions that are consistently being presented. Suppose, for instance, hypothetically, that a magnetic personality was to state in their talks and blog posts that the Mormon Church was devoid of truth and priesthood authority and that they are only a pantomime of truth and priesthood authority. Indeed the pantomime used by the church is only the “pretense” of priesthood authority and priesthood “keys” and had been devoid of true authority for decades. Suppose then that a few months later the same magnetic personality were to contradict himself and declare that he had just wrested the true priesthood away from these same men that he had previously declared were void of true priesthood? At face value, the contradiction might be obvious and laughable to someone not emotionally invested or possessed of the same seducing spirit as the cult leader, but to the ardent followers, it cannot be seen or it can easily be rationalized.
Changing the Revealed Order of the Priesthood
Again, Suppose, for instance, hypothetically that the new cult leader began changing the long established, scripturally documented method by which God calls men to the priesthood through his properly ordained servants, by prophecy. Suppose he was to declare that because of his miraculous petitions before the Throne of Glory, that the Lord had agreed to put women in charge of deciding which men could hold and exercise priesthood? Again, the rational, non-emotionally invested bystander would look upon this claim by the cult leader to be absurd. Nevertheless, those who are emotionally invested and perhaps even possessed by a lying spirit would feel perfectly comfortable with changing the laws and ordained protocols of God.
“I will Never Start a Church!”
Again, suppose, for instance, hypothetically that initially a cult leader made a bold categorical statement that they would never start a new church, yet, if the casual observer visits the scene a few years later, presto! The guy is encouraging people to organize into groups to worship together, pay their tithing directly to the poor as individuals or as a group, and mandate that everyone needs to be re-baptized in the new ordinance and priesthood protocol designated by the leader, in order to be saved. Yet the cult leader is assuring his followers the whole time that he hasn’t started a church and that the power in the new church he has started is not centralized, even though he is dictating that the groups must be set up, and that the tithing funds must be redirected, and the ordinances must be done how he dictates, etc., etc.
Keep in mind, of course that all of these scenarios are completely hypothetically. I am simply providing hypotheticals to demonstrate how differently non-emotionally invested people can see the obvious contradictions, while those who are emotionally invested cannot.
Countless other hypothetical inconsistencies and false doctrines could also be provided to illustrate how cults evolve and flourish despite the countless falsehoods and doctrinal inconsistencies that they are founded upon.
Anyway, we live in perilous times. My heart breaks for Sterling Allen. May God have mercy upon his soul.