Christian unity is an important matter because Jesus said so (ref. His prayer in John 17) and down the millennia all sorts of issues have divided Christians. We now have something new or do we?
I add the do we because the Book of Ecclesiastes (1v9) tells us “the thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun”. So it is with conspiracy theories. A Bible text I sometimes quote, in the interest of coming to a balanced view concerning conspiracy theories, is Isaiah 8:12,13: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread”. Christians (sadly) do NOT always sing from the same hymn sheet. We have noted this ever since the first Christian, in matters of doctrine, and it has led many to irreparable fall out. More recently, it is to do with what is going on in the world and the right response. It is where “conspiracy theory” comes in. According to Wikipedia: “a conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable. The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence”. For the purpose of what follows, we will go with this definition.
On one hand, there are Christians who accept the status quo and more or less go along with what they are told, either because they are ok with this and not ok with the alternatives or because they consider their remit is to concentrate on the outworking of the Christian message (whatever that is) and should not concern themselves with umpteen questionable goings on in the world right now. On the other hand, there are Christians that take almost the opposite view. They do not accept the status quo and are not happy to let matters ride and feel duty bound to challenge the official narrative and do what they can to put matters right. Because they do not trust the politicians, the “experts” and mainstream media, they turn to conspiracy theories (or facts depending on one’s view) as sources of information. The first group often pour scorn or indulge in patronising tut tuting, as evidenced by a number of articles in the Christian press by pastor type people, concerning the “gullible” folk who succumb to such nonsense. The second group get on their spiritual high horses and also pour scorn on their detractors who sadly do not get it and are grieving the Holy Spirit. One imagines frustration on both sides if expected to happily co-exist.
If it was not so sad, given the disunity which allows divide and rule for the Devil and his minions, it would be laughable. Putting aside what in my view is the most significant story going around at this time, which has spawned several conspiracy theories / facts, and I refer to claims of USA voter election fraud, another divisive issue (and there are others, e.g. climate change and racial injustice spring to recent mind) concerns the Coronavirus and the roll out of a vaccine. As I noted in a recent blog article, some of my Christian friends are already queuing up to take it. Others have gone on record as blatantly refusing to take the vaccine even if it will mean sacrificing their civil liberties (which is already being threatened). One video doing the rounds features well qualified medical professionals in many countries giving reasons why the vaccine is a bad thing and, unsurprisingly, if you do get to see it (see here), you will find Facebook have added their “false information” warning that you need to first negotiate. Depending on which of the two camps you are in, it is quite possible you will regard what is being said in the video as either conspiracy theory or conspiracy fact.
I don’t see an early resolution to this impasse, something I have too often sadly experienced. While agreeing that unity concerning the many things we do agree on should be the watchword, I suspect entrenched positions will continue. While I most certainly align more with Group 2 rather than Group 1 Christians, I would encourage both groups to follow the example of Jesus who we are told was full of grace and truth. As for conspiracy theories, many turn out to be facts and many turn out to be false. Because of our limited knowledge and brain capacity, it is often difficult to decide at the time. The best we can do is to follow my advice: test and weigh everything. We owe it to ourselves and humanity to search out truth, for it is the truth that sets us free, and take the advice of the prophet not to call conspiracy but rather live in the fear of the Lord.