RE: What Can We Learn From The Jim Jones Cult?
Jim Jones went down in history as a cultist who led a 1000+ people into the jungle and gave them cyanide laced "kool-aid" causing the deaths of almost 1000 followers.
Here is a look at his beginnings. As you can see, his influence began as what may appear to be "sound" to many people. My observation is that what drew people to Jim Jones, still draws people into false religious movements. Is death by poisoned kool-aid any worse than the spiritual death being promoted today as Biblical truth?
Quote:Jones became a student pastor at a Methodist
church in 1952. He started preaching racial equality and soon Blacks were coming into the church.
Jones was convinced that the Pentecostal church would be more open to his message because for
some reason of their interracial heritage. So he went to meet some Pentecostalist officials from
Kentucky and Tennessee, but the idea of racial equality was not officially accepted by these officials
and this created a confrontation that the Methodist church did not like and so, Jones and his church
were kicked out. Searching for some denomination to accept him and his group, he went to a
Seventh Day Baptist Church and it was there he started honing his "healing powers".
But with Jone's tenacious attitude, the Pentecostal church accepted his congregation. With this,
Jones transformed the Pentecostal theology in 2 ways so he could use it to his advantage. The first
was to use the millenial expectations of the second coming of Christ to proclaim some divinity in
himself and possibly in his members also. He would say that a person filled with the spirit would
answer to the law of God and was not subject to the laws of morality. His second use of the
Pentecostal theology was to use it to explain, prove and promote his famous communalist
conclusions. Jones saw himself as an outcast just like the poor and the Blacks in the United States
and therefore he would bring the subject of class struggle into his evangelical religion.
In the Pentecostal religion, there's a list of nine signs to prove you have the gift of the spirit: the word
of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning
spirits, diverse tongues and the interpretation of tongues. Jones claimed all nine but he never wanted
to prove his power of speaking in tongues; he concentrated on discerning, healing and prophesying.
Quote:Selections from an interview with Marceline Jones [Jim’s wife]:
[Marceline] recounted how Jones’ services had begun to include elmemts of evangelical and deliverance traditions such as speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands for healings, and how he had begun to use discernment and prophecy to reveal people’s inner impulses and to predict future events.”
We had been married about two years when he decided to become a minister of the gospel. He was eager to awaken people to the humanity of Jesus and to let them know that what Jesus was they could be also. Jesus was the first born of many brethren. Although Jim knew the Bible from beginning to end, he emphasized the human service ministry of Jesus Christ and said there must be no creed but the helping ministry of Christ and no law but love.
Jim was twenty when he became a minister. After Jim had been ministering for about one year, he went to a church convention in Columbus, Indiana, where a fellow minister prophesied that he would have a deliverance ministry. That night Jim was the speaker and he was introduced as one who had a ministry of healing and discernment. My reaction to the introduction was one of concern for Jim because I didn’t know how he could live up to it.
Imagine my amazement when he got up and he called people out by name and by their social security number and by their disease and their illness and marvelous healings took place. My reaction was one of amazement. It was one of feelings of deep concern and one of being aware of the responsibility of such a ministry.
He drew crowds and crowds. There were meetings in Cincinnati, where people would come at two o’clock in the afternoon to get a seat at seven-thirty at night and then crawl in the windows. They’d want his shadow to fall on them. They were begging him to evangelize around the world. He could’ve taken that Oral Roberts trip but he wouldn’t do it. But he would say, “No I’ve got to stay put and live the life in front of the people. It’s easy to hop from one place to the next and collect their offerings and not have to set an example.”
I am convinced that if he had been content to just be a healer, there would have been no evangelist in this world that could have compared to him in drawing crowds, but Jim was too much of a man of principle not to also teach people the truth about living the life of Godliness, the life of love. And when he started telling these people that wanted to be healed, and these people were healed, that living a life of God required something of them, that is when the crowds began to fall off. They didn’t want to hear that Jesus meant it when he said: You must feed the hungry, and you must take care of the sick, and from each according to his ability and to each according to his need and that God is no respecter of persons, and that we must live together in peace and harmony with racial and economic equality. When he began to tell them, as Jesus told the rich young ruler, that in order to enter the kingdom, you must sell all and give it to the poor – they were not interested in hearing this.
However; at the time that the numbers began to drop, people that did stay were people that wanted to go on to perfection. They wanted to be more Godlike. They wanted to live a life of sharing and a life of selflessness. And so where numbers were sacrificed, quality was gained and we began to develop a church family with ties that were much stronger than any blood tie should be, because we began to know what living for the truth, what living for justice, what true living was about.