When your opinion of the Bible resembles that of Jim Jones you might be going down the wrong path…
In 1978 I was 18 years old and serving in the US Army. In early December of that year I boarded a US Air Force C-141 at Andrews AFB near Washington, DC bound for Travis AFB in Northern California, near San Francisco, on my way to my new duty station: Fort Ord, near Monterey, California.
I had in my hand the recent special edition of Newsweek magazine dedicated to the Jonestown tragedy, which had occurred a few weeks earlier on November 18, 1978.
When I boarded the aircraft it became immediately evident to me that I was going to be the only living passenger on this particular flight. The C-141 was a four engine jet cargo plane, which could be used for passengers when fabric bench seats were installed, and there were a few rows of these on this particular aircraft, which faced the rear of the plane.
The remaining cargo area of the aircraft was filled with pallets of aluminum containers, which are used by the US military for the transportation of dead bodies and, in this instance, a hundred or so dead bodies that were being transported from Mortuary Affairs located at Dover AFB in Delaware, having been flown there from Guyana. The bodies were now being returned to their home, most victims of Jonestown having been from the greater San Francisco area. Why the flight had stopped over at Andrews AFB I do not know, but it allowed me to board the long five hour flight to California.
As we flew west, I read the Newsweek special edition about Jonestown, occasionally glancing up to see the aluminum coffins, which were covered with cargo nets, gently rocking, with each coffin having a victim ID number written on it with magic marker. Having seen the photos of the dead, bloated, rotting victims in the magazine, I imagined what those pallets of coffins looked like without the aluminum containers: stacks of dead, rotting bodies… the bodies of those who had been followers of Jim Jones.
This experience has made the danger of false teaching very real to me. Although most false teachers don’t lead their followers to physical death, as Jones did, they always lead their followers to spiritual death, which Jones also did. And as horrible as the physical deaths of Jones’ followers was, the spiritual deaths of his followers, although invisible to us, was much worse.
There is great danger in following a teacher who has walked away from the Bible, and there are many such false teachers in the world today. These false teachers may not seem to be as bad as Jim Jones was, but they have the same opinions of the Bible. And they, like Jones, are leading their followers toward the same spiritual death as Jones’ followers.
Jim Jones’ beliefs about the Bible…
The Bible is inconsistent and erroneous.
The Bible is a document of propaganda that kept a certain political ideology in power and validated the repression of minority groups.
The Bible provides a defense of slavery and arguments in favor of the oppression of women.
“The Bible was retained in Jones’ preaching because, within its apparent husk of inconsistencies and interpretive abuses, it retained a kernel of usefulness in his message of economic and racial equality…” Continue reading: Excavating Usefulness and Truth: Jim Jones’ Treatment of the Bible and the News http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=34280
“The Letter Killeth, but the Spirit Giveth LIFE” by Jim Jones (.pdf) http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/02-LetterKilleth.pdf
“The Letter Killeth, but the Spirit Giveth LIFE” by Jim Jones (html) http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=14110