I receive every week the ‘Weekly Word’ from Jeff Fountain (YWAM and The Schumann centre for European Studies). They are always informative and today he tackles head on ‘What is it that makes ‘evangelicals’ so susceptible to conspiracy theories?‘.

He has felt compelled to write as the silence of ignoring it he now considers is to be complicit. Are there decisions taken behind closed doors that if we found out about them would cause deep concern? Without doubt. Yet when we propagate conspiracy theories that cannot be substantiated are we really promoting the hope that entered the world when the proclamation that Jesus’ body is not in the tomb but that he is risen? Or are we feeding distrust (leads to suspicion, hatred and violence) and fear?

I have had many shocking experiences in a Christian context. One that sits up there quite highly was in 2008 prior to the USA presidential elections when I heard from a pulpit a youth pastor proclaim that no-one should vote for Obama because he ‘was a Muslim’. I challenged him afterwards saying that there is no evidence for that claim. He replied, acknowledging what I had said, and then added, ‘I know, but it helps our cause to say so.’

We might not like a candidate or their policies but we also need to realise that the world we live in is messy. Charles Strohmer interviewed a Christian pastor (Joel Hunter), way more conservative than I am, who was one of Obama’s spiritual advisers. It is worth a read, not to endorse Obama, but maybe to slow us down a little in our assessments:

It is as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said that when we draw the line of good / bad between ourselves and someone else we will inevitably live it out with great error. The line does not run between us but runs through us and through them. Let’s assume the line comes through me and I am 55% ‘good’ (go on be generous to me and it is only a hypothetical example) but the part that is not on the ‘good’ side is pretty significant also. (How do we measure the ‘good’ part? I think the level of love in difficult situations I show, and to what extent I am able to see, as that is a measure of ‘those who are in Christ’.) That good / bad dualism stems from the garden and came to an end in the Garden, so that the future ‘garden’ might be where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow…

Paul seemed to expect that the touch of Jesus would be transformative. He exhorted us not to speak a falsehood. That is challenging. Not to lie is not too difficult, for we can bend the truth and still not tell a lie. But not to speak a falsehood… not to leave someone else with a wrong impression.

Time to stop, otherwise I will be reviewing the generous 55% ‘good’ level.

2 thoughts on “Conspiracies

  1. It’s not just evangelicals though….

    If one holds with the statement that Jesus is Lord, “and Caesar isn’t”

    then surely it follows that the state will be considered malign

    then surely it follows that you will expect the worst from it.

    While nominal Christianity allows the friendly coexistence of all schools of thought, serious adherence to Christianity can not be other than an exercise in exceptionalism and otherness.

    (Not sure I believe any of this, just thinking out loud.)

    blessings all

    1. I hear your thinking… must have been reasonably ‘loud’!! (Not serious…) Caesar is not lord, perhaps though does not mean the state is evil. There is the fallen category, and whereas no ‘state’ is Christian, they can be present to serve (I think). I think we have to use the ‘good’ (God, Jesus, Trinity, heaven), the ‘way bad’ (devil, demons etc.) and the ‘fallen’ categories. It is the over-the-top Caesar claims to divinity (each Caesar being ‘son of the divine’) demanding an obedience that is only due to God that makes the clash in the extreme. And how do we live within the totalitarianism of Rome (well not ‘we’ but ‘they’)… with wisdom. Although tongue-in-cheek Paul advised some measure of submission – pay your taxes written in the very years when there was huge uproar about the taxes being required. Maybe a ‘choose what hill you die on’ approach?

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