How should Christians respond to conspiracy theories?

Those who follow my blogs may have noted that ever since Covid-19 lockdown, I have gone quietish, particularly in making points that many of my contempories, notably among Christians, might take exception to. There are reasons for this, so here are two for starters. There is a lot to be said for biding one’s time and there may be something in saying less so when one does speak, especially if armed with “killer data”, it might make more impact (although don’t bank on it). The second reason is I am concentrating on writing a book that requires intensive study of the Bible and trying to relate it to what we are seeing now. I am hopeful when the book comes out (hopefully next month) it will do the talking.

Given the title of this article and one of the points some Christians make (including those I am on the same page with, theologically speaking) who get on their high horses when other Christians inappropriately and foolishly (in their view) propagate one or other “unsubstantiated” conspiracy theory (who do so understandably, I should add – out of frustration at the sanctimonious pontifications of them who are deemed part of the establishment and not part of the long line of much needed radical dissent that did turn the world upside down), whereas they should be more focused on what the Bible says rather than what it doesn’t say, that point is pertinent.

My first port of call is an article titled: QAnon: The Alternative Religion That’s Coming to Your Church. The article begins: “It’s a rough time to be a pastor. An election year, national racial unrest and a global pandemic each challenged the usual methods of ministry. Taken together, many church leaders are facing the traditional post-vacation ingathering season with a serious case of burnout. But there’s another challenge that pastors I spoke with say is on the rise in their flocks. It is taking on the power of a new religion that’s dividing churches and hurting Christian witness. Mark Fugitt, senior pastor of Round Grove Baptist Church in Miller, Missouri, recently sat down to count the conspiracy theories that people in his church are sharing on Facebook. The list was long. It included claims that 5G radio waves are used for mind control; that George Floyd’s murder is a hoax; that Bill Gates is related to the devil; that masks can kill you; that the germ theory isn’t real; and that there might be something to Pizzagate after all”.

The conspiracy theories this article focuses on is those put out by QAnon, which people are becoming more aware of: “Named after “Q,” who posts anonymously on the online bulletin board 4chan, QAnon alleges that President Donald Trump and military officials are working to expose a “deep state” pedophile ring with links to Hollywood, the media and the Democratic Party. Since its first mention some three years ago, the theory has drawn adherents looking for a clear way to explain recent disorienting global events”. The article is disapproving in its condemnation, for example “In a fraught political moment, the pastors I spoke with worried that taking on QAnon, by addressing politics directly, would divide the church. But QAnon is more than a political ideology. It’s a spiritual worldview that co-opts many Christian-sounding ideas to promote verifiably false claims about actual human beings”.

So before talking about how Christians should approach conspiracy theories generally, I need to lay my cards on the table. I follow Q, although I have not seen it as a spiritual worldview but rather as one of people waking up to the reality the world is not as it seems and is controlled by psychopaths. I don’t necessary accept all what Q says but a lot of what it does say makes sense, ties in with what I am seeing, including a cover-up by mainstream media, and supports an understanding of the world that is part of my own awakening. Depending on where one stands the response to the last remark could be either “Amen brother” or “you are falling into the trap of believing what you want to believe”, especially noting the assertion that people turn to conspiracy theories who have significant disquiet over what is happening in the world and need some crutch.

I should add that I follow Alex Jones and David Icke, two of the foremost conspiracy theorists operating today, believe the JFK assassination was orchestrated by the Deep State, the official narrative behind 9/11 is false and, bringing us right up to date, the story behind Covid-19 and what needs to happen next is not what the powers that be or mainstream media are telling us. I am also nervous about 5G and suspicious of certain vaccines. But then what do I know? The reason I speak up is (unlike some) I have nothing to lose and believe there is a lot to be said for adopting the mantra: “question everything” and also to counsel with all new information – “test and weigh”. I notice that those who do oppose the official narrative are too often not given space in mainstream media and, while one might think they may be better off doing so through alternative media, it is rather niche and when it spills over into social media, such as Facebook, censorship is rampant.

But there is another good reason and that is to do with the question that has triggered this article and it seems few Christian leaders want to critically address. It is not enough to simply obey those in authority, which indeed we must as long as it doesn’t mean we disobey God. It is not enough to present pious platitudes about the Bible. In my experience, many who do entertain conspiracy theories love and understand the Bible more than those who don’t. Our mantra has to be righteousness, justice and truth and often conspiracy theories touch on those issues. Of course, we need to reject what isn’t true and put in a pending pile those we can’t be sure of. It may also be about avoiding a potentially bruising stand off among leaders and followers, allowing respectful dissent and seeking common ground between them who accept the status quo and them who don’t, with the view to confront the real enemy rather than carry on internal squabbles, silent and not so silent. As for the church, it is a big mistake to go with the (societal) flow in order to maintain credibility. The church is beholden to Christ its head and historically known blessing when scorned by society.

If “leaders” do take up the challenge, it is more likely they will side with the 2700 Christian leaders (and the number I believe is rapidly increasing) mentioned in the article titled: 2,700 Christian leaders sign statement backing scientific research amid coronavirus politicization. The article begins: “2,700 Christian leaders have signed a document supporting the scientific conclusions about coronavirus and the subsequent need for a workable vaccine … “We, the undersigned, join together as Christians who uphold the authority of God’s Word and see science as a tool to understand God’s world. We call on all Christians to follow the advice of public health experts and support scientists doing crucial biomedical research on COVID-19,” the statement reads”.  When it comes to support for God’s Word and science as a tool statements, I fully concur, but have many qualms over vaccines NOT to follow the advice of the so “called public health experts”, noting other “experts” who more often than not are shut down or vilified, and a multi-billion pharmaceutical industry intent to keep it that way. Seeing statements like this and Christian ministers who I know and respect being sucked in, means I won’t be quiet, especially in the light of the partonising twaddle that seeks to suppress those with the temerity to question the official line.

Back to the question … I have no doubt there are conspiracies – in fact the Bible tells us so. For example: “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1John 5:19), “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2Corinthians 4:4) and “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). The problem we face is distinguishing conspiracy theory from conspiracy fact and even if we do – so what? There is also the matter of zealously pushing untruths that ought not to be.

My point is that understanding what is going on in the world does matter in deciding what to do for the best. But we need to be careful NOT to be carried away by something that gives us a measure of comfort that somehow we are right (especially when we don’t have all the facts we need to come to intelligent conclusions, or things we can do little about, or it may be better to bide our time). But we should question. Sadly, those who try to influence our thinking have often foregone the right to do so. Our response needs to be respectful but not hoodwinked. I fully endorse the proposition though that we should spend time studying God’s word and also that despite villains and fools running the world, God wins in the end (go and check out in Revelation) and we should trust in Him.

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2 thoughts on “How should Christians respond to conspiracy theories?

  1. John Hymus says:

    Thanks for your reasoned, thoughtful and respectful treatment of a burning issue, John. I back your view wholly. Your approach is badly needed and it is a very wise one. I tend to be like my father who didn’t talk much but got stuck into any melee with fists first and scrapped without arguing any longer. That is my way and that was also my wayduring the Cold War, the last major ideological conflict we all faced. So your cool and calculated treatment, both scientifically and Biblically based and one with clear and well thought-through views, is much appreciated in this present and even more sinister and satanic ideological conflict, WWIII. You are giving much-needed theological cover and succour to those of us who are of the hothead reprobate variety who are tired of and impatient with the ongoing toxic pious-sounding, holier-than-thou, pompously-trumpeted moralistic bullying and bleating coming from the onlooking high towers claiming to speak on behalf of evangelicalism. We give the vulgar middle-finger ‘up-yours’ to this patronising verbal diarrhoea of evangelical censure. We have decided to openly take sides and scrap on the canvas and face the relished chortling of clerical opprobrium nannygoating forth in sonorous swathes from cloistered and learned scoffers, arrogating to themselves that claim to be speaking on behalf of all biblically sound evangelicals. As they pontificate from their inviolable high fences of irreproachable respectability they actually toll the death knell to the battle for all Biblical truth and morality.

  2. Well done John for beating me to blogging on this issue. Someone objected to a most respected guest author on my site suggesting some conspiracy theorist may be correct. I didn’t have time to address the person’s opinion that believers should avoid such things because the Bible is sufficient (not to mention it’s got plenty of conspiracies!) and why worry about vaccines?
    I’d already responded to another’s remark by saying that we need to be aware of the facts on what the adversary’s plotting and putting into action.

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