Is Conspiracy theory a virus that is infecting the church?
Some think it is; some think it isn’t; many don’t care – yet, as noted in recent years, where one stands on the matter can be divisive when true Church should be about unity based on love and truth.
Around 13 weeks ago, someone posted in a Facebook group I belong to an article, whose author describes him(her)self as “a Baptist church member”, titled “Conspiracy theory is a virus that is infecting the church”, from the website of the Baptist Union (the biggest group of Baptist churches in the UK). As I can make out those in the group are mainly mature, doctrinally sound Christians. To be fair to the Baptist Union, members hold a range of views although, given the pejorative way the term “conspiracy theorist” is often understood, I suspect the higher echelons of leadership are more likely to resonate with the author of this article than with me.
For a reason I don’t know, the article popped up in my Facebook feed today, and because it ties in with some of the stuff I recently posted in my blog, I re-read it. Reading through the 176 comments, it is clear that opinions were divided as to whether those commented agreed or disagreed with the points made in the article. I noted among the comments what this Baptist church member (me) had to say: “sadly, most Baptist ministers I know have gone woke and I see more truth in the likes of Alex Jones, David Icke etc to explain what is going on in the wider world that the writer of this article, who is anything other than balanced, conveniently overlooks” with a link to a blog I wrote the day before: “Weaponizing truth”.
The author makes it clear from the outset what some of his/her concerns are: “The Church needs to be much clearer that it is facing an insidious problem: we need to be much more vocal in challenging the originators of these things but also to recognise that belief in them is an illness” and makes a number of good points which should concern us all, while those “that belief in them” (i.e. conspiracy theories) might take exception at being told they have an illness, especially when many conspiracy theories later turn out to be conspiracy facts and those that aren’t fully proven at the time often provide a more credible explanation of some of the perplexing goings on in the world than the unholy trinity I wrote about in my last blog: “The Unholy Trinity: Media, Politicians, Elites”.
To quote at length from the article: “The wolf is already inside the sheep pen. We know several practicing Christians, mostly not in our own church, who believe amongst other things that the Queen is part of an international paedophile ring, that she and the Duke of Edinburgh are lizards, that there is a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, that Covid was created by drugs companies, that Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos wants your soul and that the Earth is in fact flat. Yes, flat. What we are facing is a new form of addiction as people are fed more and more of the same type of stuff, except a little more extreme every time. You can escalate from growing your own vegetables, to ‘survivalism’, to fighting against the ‘New World Order’ in a few clicks on YouTube. Most often this is characterised as ‘going down the rabbit hole’ – and once people have gone down it, it becomes very difficult to get them out again. We know people who spend hours every day on this material, believing that they are ‘researching’ hidden truths that ‘they’ want to hide from ‘us.’ You don’t need much insight to see that this sort of ‘induction’ to ‘secret knowledge’ is very much the same thing as Kabbalistic and New Age religions. It is not just an addiction – it is an unhealthy spiritual addiction. Those who belong, to ‘QAnon’ or whatever, find ‘salvation’ or special status through ‘being in the know’; this is Gnosticism under another name”. Some of which points that were made I agree with, for conspiracy theories can become an unhealthy obsession and unhelpful distraction, with those who entertain them substituting the lies of mainstream media with that of unfounded conspiracy theories …
But a lot of the points made I disagree with. Rather than give a blow-by-blow rebuttal, I refer readers to some recent articles of mine that have a bearing on the subject, offering an alternative perspective:
- Gnosticism, Syncretism and New Agism examined
- Truth and Truthers
- The British Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
- Facing the Great Deception and handling Satan’s devices
- Great Reset, Great Awakening and Great Deception
- Conspiracy theorists; how I became one and tips to pass on
What I found particularly disturbing was the final sentence: “Don’t allow any sharing of conspiracy links within church WhatsApp groups and, as I was advised, don’t allow anyone subscribing to these things into a position where they have care or leadership over others”. As it happens, I don’t share my “conspiracy links” on my church WhatsApp group (as for the articles cited above, I have only shared the first one), not that I don’t believe they are all relevant but my church is not ready and besides “discretion is (often) the better part of valour”. I have been a Christian for over fifty years and have done the work of an elder, preacher, teacher, evangelist, youth leader and general helper etc. While it is not my call as an “unprofitable servant” to take exception, I would be disappointed if the advice “don’t allow anyone subscribing to these things into a position where they have care or leadership over others” is adopted, when their insights should be valued, e.g. in the light of how many Christians who have taken the Covid-19 jab when so called conspiracy theorists have given good reason why this is a bad call. Understanding the times and knowing what to do and doing what is needed is part of the prophetic calling of the Church.
I offer the above text from Isaiah because, as with many contentious subjects, balance is needed, including recovering the fear of the Lord and not being obsessed with conspiracy theories. I hope too that these thoughts may serve as an olive branch to my detractors. Besides looking to the children of Issachar as my role model, I would stress the need for watchmen (who test and weigh what they watch) and the prophetic voice, I like to end by sharing the last paragraph from my previous blog … “The biggest hope for this runaway in the wrong way world is for a revived Church (comprising real Christians) but, as things stand, I feel alienation from too many of my brethren on such matters, and that is a shame. I should add though, I would far rather that people reading this get right with God and be faithful to Him, beholden to the truth, preaching the gospel, praying, loving our neighbors etc., than they agree with the way I look upon the Unholy Trinity and the way the World, I fear they control or influence, is going. I hope too that these thoughts may serve as an olive branch to my detractors.”