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.