UA-40673842-1

#30 / Jonestown Theology: Lenten Explorations in the Valley of Death

0 Flares Filament.io 0 Flares ×
Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

Wikimedia / Nancy Wong

God is never lost. In the midst of great evil, God is there. I have long wondered how Jonestown fits into such ideas. In the 1970s, Rev. Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple founded the settlement in the jungles of Guyana. After a few years of communal living, Jones led his followers to commit a mass suicide/murder that left over 900 people dead. The last words the community ever heard were recorded. Jones’ words are beyond disturbing. Evil resonates with every syllable. Even in the midst of such, I refuse to believe that God was absent during such terror. Lent is a time to look for God in death. To honor the victims of Jonestown, I’ve decided to seek God in the last words they heard in the order that they would have heard them.  In those evil words of death, may there also be something for us. These devotions should never be mistaken for an apologetic for Jim Jones or anything he stood for. This is a search for God. 

“I haven’t seen anybody yet that didn’t die. And I’d like to choose my own kind of death for a change.” -Jim Jones

On his first point, Jim Jones was right. Death is coming. There is great benefit in acknowledging the inevitably of death. Those who expect death are often the ones who live life most fully. I believe that Jesus lived his entire life knowing that death was coming and that was where his life came from. On the second point, Jones fails to mention a few things. Questions of the morality or immorality of suicide are vast and lead to a wide variety of conclusions. I don’t claim to know the answers. I do believe that life has value even in the most extreme circumstances. Regardless, Jones’ point is not about choosing death. Jones’ oratory is about murder. In manipulating the people to take their own lives, Jones used loyalty as his weapon. There is nothing moral about such a situation. In those final moments, evil reigned. To work for death is to deny the image of God. Life was the answer and Jones chose death. With every statement or action, Jones was sprinting away from God. Thankfully, God never gives up on us. God never stopped sprinting after Jones or anyone else in Jonestown.

Amen.

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 Google+ 0 Email -- StumbleUpon 0 Pin It Share 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×
0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 Google+ 0 Email -- StumbleUpon 0 Pin It Share 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×
UA-40673842-1