The danger in Kool-Aid
First, take a few lonely individuals who have no strong direction or purpose in life and whose successes so far have been scarce. They may feel invisible to the churches, forgotten by the government and disconnected from family. Theyâ€™re drifting along.
Next, a charming talker comes into their lives whose interpretation of things makes sense. Best of all, this charismatic person seems to care genuinely for them. They have found a wise man, an all-knowing guru who can explain things. The more they sit at his feet, the more truth they absorb and the more they quote him. Before they know it, their learning has turned into adoration and discipleship.
Many have studied these movements started by people like Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Koresh. Critics use terms like mind control, brainwashing, herd mentality and cult of personality to describe the phenomenon.
In the case of Jim Jones, 900 disciples followed him from Indianapolis to San Francisco to Guyana, South America, to establish a utopian community. The dream ultimately ended, on orders from Jones, with a command to drink cyanide-laced punch and die. Today, we call blind obedience to an authority figure â€śdrinking the Kool-Aid.â€ť
What can we learn from these movements?
1. Beware of any leader who is accountable to nothing and no one but his own ego.
2. Beware of any teacher who is always right and whose tolerance for questioning is short.
3. Beware of anyone who promises that he alone can get you to the Promised Land.
4. Beware of anyone who warns that you canâ€™t make it â€śout there,â€ť outside his flock.
5. Beware of anyone who doesnâ€™t ponder questions, who doesnâ€™t say, â€śI donâ€™t know.â€ť
6. Beware of anyone who wants to be your exclusive source of truth.
Donâ€™t drink their Kool-Aid.