Was Jim Jones A Prophet


Was Jim Jones A Prophet Essay, Research Paper

Was Jim Jones a Prophet?

RELI 320

February 12, 2001

November 18, 1978 it all ended. Jim Jones and his

followers committed mass suicide in Guyana, South

America. The history of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple

is still studied a great deal today. Why did all those

people follow Jones? Were they forced, were they brain

washed, or was Jones just that charismatic. In

this paper we will probe deep into Jonestown and answer

some of these questions. We will be using Max Webber’s

article “The Prophet” find out if Jones was a prophet, if

so what kind of prophet was he. We will also compare and

contrast Webber’s theories of charismatic leadership at

an attempt to understand Jim’s activities, successes, and


Jones started off in Indiana a branch of the

Methodist Church. Jones separated from the church

because the Methodist church did not want to allow

integration of blacks and whites. When Jones finally

separated from the church and started his own church

called the peoples temple. Here everyone was welcome.

Jones believed that it was his ethical duty to integrate

the church they way that God wanted it. He demanded

obedience as his ethical duty. Because of these things

Jones was an ethical prophet when he resided in Indiana.

When Jones discovered that his church had more

growth potential in California where the black population

was much larger. They packed up the church and headed to

California. Here is where Jones took more of an

aggressive approach to recruitment of people. He also

developed a stronger power fixation and would do anything

for a larger congregation. Jones had fixed healings to

make him look god-like and to have ultimate power. Jones

also convinced his wife that it was acceptable for him to

have multiple sexual partners while others were not. In

California Jones appeared to be out primarily for his own

self interest not the church. Because of this Jones

shifts from an ethical prophet to an exemplary prophet.

After the subversive tactics of the Peoples Temple,

they started to feel the pressure from the society around

them. So again Jones moved the Church and anyone able to

the perfect utopian society, Guyana South America. Here

they named their society Jonestown. The Church made

everything they needed and were essentially isolated from

the rest of the world. In Guyana, Jim was becoming less

and less important every day. Everyone built the society

so everyone had somewhat of stock invested, making Jim

less important. When Jim saw his importance fading, he

faked numerous injuries to gain attention. Jim claimed to

have cancer although an autopsy showed no cancer was

present in his body. Even though Jones forbid the use of

drugs, he became dependent on barbiturates and

painkillers. His excuse was that he needed them for the

pain of his non-existent injuries. Then as quickly as it

grew it ended. The People Temple killed a congressman

coming to observe their life style. Knowing the

repercussions of this Jones organized a revolutionary

suicide that proved to everyone that they would not

loose. In Guyana, Jones became a selfish nut where all

he wanted was more power that he could no longer obtain

as he did in California. You cannot classify Jim as any

type of prophet in Guyana. Jones was way too selfish,

lazy, and unimportant to be considered anything but a


Max Webber has many theories about prophets and

their classification. Some of which describe Jones and

some that do not. First, Jones had an incredible amount

of charisma. He convinced his wife it was OK for him to

have mistresses. He told everyone that they could not

take drugs yet he was an addict himself. Finally, He

convinced everyone in Jonestown to commit suicide. Any

man that can do these things is a charismatic

masterpiece. Having this charisma really helped Jones

persuade others to do his bidding. Second, a typical

prophet propagates ideas for his own sake not fees or any

regulated form. Jones really never demanded any money.

He was out for the power and the glory. This I think

also helped Jones. People trusted him and never asked

for much in return only to follow him. Third, a

prophet’s core should be commandment or doctrine, not

magic. This is where Jones does not fit in. Jones in

Indiana may have had a core of commandment and doctrine,

but when he moved to California it turned to power and

deceit. I mentioned earlier that he set up faked

healings to make him look powerful when he was not. Even

though Jones did not Fit into this category performing

fake healings really gained him a lot of power and new

recruits for the Peoples Temple.

Do I believe that Max Webber’s theories and

categories explain Jones and his actions? Not really,

even though Jones met most of the criteria to be a

prophet, he was all of them and none of them. His

behavior was completely erratic most of the time and I

believe he was corrupted by his own power. Because of

this it is very difficult for the theories to work.

Jim Jones was a man that started something good but

was eventually corrupted by his power and control. In

this paper I talked about Jones and how he transformed

from an ethical prophet in Indiana to an exemplary

prophet in California to Neither in Guyana. I described

how some of Webber’s theories fit Jones and how others

did not fit Jones. I discussed the activities, successes

and failures because of Jim’s Charisma. I don’t know if

we will ever really know all the details of Jonestown,

but nevertheless they should be a strong reminder and

teaching tool on how there is a thin line between right

and wrong when it comes to using power and abusing it.

Max Webber “The Prophet” In Class Reading

M.M Maaga “Hearing the Voices of Jonestown” In Class Reading

Додати в блог або на сайт

Цей текст може містити помилки.

A Free essays | Essay
9.5кб. | download | скачати

Related works:
Amos The Prophet
Prophet Muhammad
Prophet Muhammed
Obadiah The Prophet
Prophet Of Rage
AmosThe Prophet Of The North
Roy Jones Jr
© Усі права захищені
написати до нас