Conspiracy Theories & The Gospel:
Here’s The Difference
Warren E. Berkley
You will discover in this piece, I’m not a fan of common conspiracy theories. I don’t deny that there are conspiracies and plans that are real which are concealed. The devil is the chief conspirator. It would go against my belief in Biblical warnings to deny his schemes and his use of people and circumstances to perpetuate evil. I’m talking about the commonly circulated ideological rumors that are imaginative, impossible to substantiate and yet enjoy wide circulation.
I once took some notes on this subject.
Conspiracy theories are …
(1) Fueled by attention. If the crowd turns their collective attention to the advocate, the advocate is emboldened to speak with more certainty. The advocate receives a false sense of security from crowd endorsement. Potential followers step over to his soap box (“…look at all the people; there must be something to this.”). Even if listeners do not buy into the whole theory, attention promotes the theory.
(2) Conspiracy theories give followers a sense of empowerment. Followers believe they know something the majority has missed. There is an element of pride here. “I know what others don’t know.” The problem here is, a superiority complex is no guarantee that you are right. It may be a massive indication you are wrong.
(3) Conspiracy theories are edited and revised so often, you cannot track or verify the evolution or agenda of the promoters. Who discovered the theory? Who revised it? What are their credentials? It’s impossible to keep up with the early and late editors. If you could interview every contributor, you would be enlightened by the fact, most were just guessing.
(4) Conspiracy theories seem to gain weight through circulation. As editors and revisionists pile on, the mere circulation of the theory seems to some people to be evidence. (A conspiracy manufacturer is like someone putting the pieces of a puzzle together for you – forcing some of the pieces awkwardly into the picture. They want to hand it to you for immediate consumption. Seldom do they call upon potential followers to check the facts and arrive at their own conclusion).
(5) Conspiracy theories usually produce some fear or answer some question. We want answers. Sometimes we believe the answer will really be bad. That attitude sets us up to purchase the theory. Impulse buying.
(6) Conspiracy theories foster a groupthink mentality. This is the perilous habit of thinking and making decisions that keep you in a group you like. The peril is, individual responsibility toward truth is sacrificed.
(7) Conspiracy theories thrive with those who don’t take the time to check the sources. Intellectual laziness makes it easy to internalize lies. The lie may satisfy an existing presumption or belief, making it easier to swallow.
So we are fed these theories especially through our modern technology and social media. A crisis seems to be an opportune climate for its distribution.
“Perhaps you recall the several times in recent years when someone has claimed to know the exact date and time of Christ’s return. This is a perfect example of a conspiracy theory that sounds appealing, but incites more idle curiosity and false expectations than anything. Instead of wasting our time on this theory or that theory, whether it is political, spiritual or otherwise, let’s rest on more solid truth and devote our time to cultivating a genuine love for Christ and for others.” https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/how-believing-conspiracy-theories-could-be-harming-your-faith.html
Compare the conspiracy theory model with what is affirmed in the gospel documents, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. John, for instance, begins with the affirmations of the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God. Those affirmations (Jno. 1:1-14) are followed with witnesses, evidence, historical facts and quotations from Jesus Christ. John takes this to one place: These are written that you may believe (Jno. 20:30,31). John wants his readers to consider the evidence that leads to belief in Jesus Christ.
Add to this the narratives and teaching reports in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Then Paul’s affirmation about the resurrection of Christ, witnessed by over 500 (1 Cor. 15:6). The gospel is no conspiracy theory that strings together rumor or quotations without context. And it not only doesn’t generate fear, it offers hope!
One more thing. If you embrace one of the modern unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, how will that change your life? If you are a Christian, won’t you continue to be a Christian? Will you continue to prepare yourself for the second coming of Christ, not knowing when it will occur? Will you enlist in some rebellion against the government, based on the claims of some theory? (I hope not).
The gospel message is life-changing. It is a substantiated message of God’s gracious provisions for our salvation in Christ, offering forgiveness and hope. So here’s my point: Test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21). And, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).