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The Sinfulness and Destructiveness of Conspiracy Theories

Real spiritual progress demands the humility to know we are all sinners.

Real spiritual progress demands the humility to know we are all sinners. Our political views are marred by our sinful limitations in discerning which news stories and sources are most accurate.

In many mono-political churches in the United States, conspiracy theories of one sort or another are believed by practically everyone in the congregation. This makes a critical evaluation of conspiracy theories not only difficult, but grounds for being disfellowshipped. For instance, Anglo congregations in the Bible Belt accept right-wing conspiracy theories such as the one surrounding Jade Helm with little attempt at logical or factual analysis. Similarly, churches that have a predominantly left-wing congregation will be captivated by left-wing conspiracy theories, such as the CIA invention of AIDS. The end result is that these churches will have less empathy for Christians of opposite political leanings and conflicting conspiracy theories. This leads to less communication and cooperation in areas where the church should be united. In short, conspiracy theories function as one more tool for Satan to use in further dividing an already divided church.

What Can Christians Do to Resist Falling into Conspiracy Theories?

The first thing to do when hearing about what might be a conspiracy is to ask if it is probable.

First, as a negative story about an opposing person or group begins to circulate, ask the question, is this probable? Asking if it is possible is not helpful, since practically anything is possible. Also ask which factors would diminish the possibility of this being true. Invite the Holy Spirit to assist in this discernment.

Second, beware of explanatory theories of history or the present world situation that explain too much or are too simple. I once had a member of my congregation try to convince me that World War I began because cars and trucks had just been invented, and Britain, Germany and France all wanted to dominate the new market. This is, of course, nonsense.[32] But he felt good about being able to understand a major world event in terms of this fantasy Marxist explanation.

Another way not to avoid falling for conspiracy theories: expose yourself to some good history.

Third, understand that divine providence does not move in ways we expect. The chaos and destructiveness of groups such as ISIS and drug cartels will continue until the Lord comes. Certainly, good policies and good government can make way for positive change. But even if it were possible to disable or eliminate every enemy, it will not lead to a Christian utopia or socialist paradise. We are stuck with an imperfect world until the Lord returns.

Fourth, become historically literate to the extent that your state in life allows. For instance, read a good history book periodically, or watch a fine TV history series, like Ken Burns “The Civil War.” Such things bring into focus the complexity and difficulty of history. Real conspiracies are rarely the engine of history.

Fifth, take seriously the Bible’s admonition to respect and honor the governing powers. This is especially lacking among right-wing Christians who often have a fog of hatred for the Democratic party and everything they do. Paul wrote to the Romans who often lived under the rule of less than nice emperors:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor (Romans 13:1-7).

Now Paul’s admonitions here have been misinterpreted and abused. For instance, many sincere Christians in Nazi Germany believed they could not oppose Hitler because he was established by God. But in reality, Paul is saying we need to give legitimate governments the benefit of the doubt and be respectful of those that govern over us. In another epistle (1 Tim 2:1-3), we are commanded to pray for them. For us in a blessed country such as America, all this can mean respectful but passionate opposition to the government’s policies.

If you as reader are a person who lives in a fog of anger or hatred for those who lead our nation and spread every negative story about them you can find, you need to repent of that attitude. Your biblical duty is to pray for them that the Holy Spirit move on them every day and give them guidance. Only revival will solve the ungodly state of our nation. Let us pray that it comes.

 

PR

 

A sermon version of this article was given by the author at Light of Christ Anglican Church on May 17, 2015. A video of it is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN5QhKEaQZ8

 

Notes

[1]Coverage of this brief conspiracy theory episode is found in the blog posting by Paul Matzko, “Jade Helm, Operation Water Moccasin, and Conservative Conspiracy Theories,” which includes a photo-copy of Utt’s letter. Posted May 6, 2015. http://paulmatzko.com/jade-helm-operation-water-moccasin-and-conservative-conspiracy-theories/

[2] See this on video: http://www.occupydemocrats.com/watch-paranoid-texas-lunatics-harass-an-army-colonel-with-texas-takeover-conspiracies-2/

[3] Ibid.

[4] Robert Wilonsky, “Chuck Norris, Greg Abbott still sweating U.S. military’s Texas takeover (and Wal-Mart’s secret tunnels?)” Dallas Morning News, May 5, 2015. http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/05/chuck-norris-and-greg-abbott-continue-to-fret-over-military-takeover-of-texas-and-wal-marts-secret-tunnels.html/

[5] The Wikipedia article “Moon landing conspiracy theories” gives a splendid summary of the theory and how it has been debunked by independent third parties. Verification of the moon landings include pictures from new, high-resolution telescopes which can identify the various lunar landers which are still on the moon.

[6] For instance, Jews only returned to England in 1656 at the invitation of Oliver Cromwell, as he believed that the Jews had an important role to play in the end times.

[7] Nathanial Gronewold, “What Caused the Massive Flooding in Pakistan?” Scientific American. Posted October 12, 2010. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-caused-the-massive-flooding-in-pakistan/

[8] Jill McGivering, “Pakistani flood victims’ anger at US.” BBC World News. Posted August 21 2010. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11040904

[9] Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB (New York: Basic Books: 1999) 319.

[10] P. M. Sharp. et al, “The origins of acquired immune deficiency syndrome viruses: Where and when?” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 356 No.1410 (2001) 867–76.

[11] I am of the opinion that suicides, especially when combined with multiple murders, are a mark of demonic obsession/possession. See my controversial blog posting on this, “The Demonic Factor in Mass Shootings,” The Anglican Pentecostal. Posted, April 25, 2013.

[12] On the Jones cult see: David Chidester, Salvation and Suicide: Jim Jones, the People’s Temple and Jonestown (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004).

[13] William F. Buckley, Jr. God and Man at Yale: The Superstition of “Academic Freedom” (New York: Henry Regency, 1951).

[14] The conspiracy is described by Buckley himself, who calls it the “Palm Beach Conspiracy.” See his article, “Goldwater, the John Birch Society, and Me,” Commentary. Posted March 1, 2008. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/goldwater-the-john-birch-society-and-me/

[15] For a book length study of the Society see, D. T. Mulloy, The World of the John Birch Society: Conspiracy, Conservatism, and the Cold War (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).

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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2015

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook AnglicalPentecostal.blogspot.com

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