On Conspiracy Theories

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Last week,  Dr. Ed Stetzer who previously was the Executive Director for Lifeway Research (SBC) and who is now the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College wrote an article for “Christianity Today” called “On Christians Spreading Corona Conspiracies: Gullibility is not a Spiritual Gift.”  He accuses Christian Republicans of being “the most likely people to believe the [corona]virus was created in a lab.”  He calls this group of “conspiracy spreading” Christians to repent of these lies or at least take “Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment.”  He encourages Christians to believe “trusted sources” like the [Main Stream] media and the government.   By the way, Dr. Stetzer is also one of our Baptist leaders who accused Christians of being Un-Christian if we voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election. While never fully endorsing Hillary Clinton, he never told us who he was voting for or who he recommended that we should vote for.

While I agree with Dr. Stetzer that “Gullibility is not a Spiritual Gift”, I also agree with the Bible (in 1 Corinthians 12:10) when it says that Spiritual Discernment IS a Spiritual Gift. Christians who are led by the Spirit ought to be able to tell when we are being deceived. We ought to be able to understand when the narrative that is being given to us by the media or the government does not sound true.

Let me give a few examples of messages that we have received in the last few months that cause people to question whether our leaders are telling the truth.

-Our leaders tell us one week that the epidemic in China poses no threat to us and then a couple of weeks   later call it a global pandemic ?   (Dr. Fauci – see snopes.com)

-The leaders in certain states told people that it was safe to go to parades and celebrations of the Chinese New Year and then a couple weeks later they were ordering people to “shelter in place” and begging the  federal government to declare a State of Emergency and send thousands of respirators?

-The US Surgeon General told us not to wear masks unless we are sick and then a couple weeks later he tells us that everyone should wear a mask?

-According to the CDC, back in 2009 there were nearly 1 million US cases of  H1N1 Flu with more than 55,000 deaths and we went on with business as usual. But now with COVID-19, we are around 900,000 US cases and 52,000 deaths – and we are in our 6th week of Social Distancing,  Economic Lockdown, 26 million Americans unemployed and our government is spending trillions of dollars that we do not have ?

-On the CDC webpage for COVID-19 where they report cases and deaths – they have an explanation that for  purposes of counting, they are using both “confirmed” and  “probable” cases and deaths. What does “probable” mean?   Are they guessing in order to increase COVID-19 numbers?

These are just a few examples of the mixed messages and confusing information that we have received in the last few weeks which should cause any “discerning” person to wonder if the narrative that we are receiving from our media and government is correct.  I believe, as patriotic Americans, we all want to believe in our government and what we read/hear on the “News.”   But many things that our government has told the public in the past turned out to be deceptive and the people who questioned it were called “conspiracy theorists.”  One such example was the Gulf of Tonkin incident in  1964 when President Lyndon Johnson reported to the nation that North Vietnam had fired on one of our ships. This Gulf of Tonkin incident led to the escalation of bombing in North Vietnam and sending US troops to war.  Forty years  and 58,000 US troop deaths later (when the incident was declassified), it was discovered that our leaders misled the nation concerning the Gulf of Tonkin incident in order to escalate the war in Vietnam.  

In 1Cor 14:8  the Bible says ” if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?.” Uncertain sounds and confusing information from our media and our government IS the source of many conspiracy theories.  Yes, I know that some conspiracy theories have no basis in reality.  I recently tried to have a conversation with a person who believes the earth is flat!   But one of the reasons for conspiracy theories is the fact that many of the messages that we get from the media and the government do not make sense.

Another ironic example of media misinformation is the article by Dr Stetzer himself.  When he wrote the article, he was still believing the media narrative that a naturally occurring coronavirus evolved from bats in the Wuhan “wet market”  and crossed over to humans.   A few days later he had to write a correction that “FOX News – a mainstream and legitimate news division… reported: ‘sources believe the initial transmission of the virus… was bat to human and that ‘patient zero’ worked at the [Wuhan] laboratory, then went into the population in Wuhan.”  So as it turns out, the mainstream media narrative about the “wet market” was a “conspiracy theory” that Dr. Stetzer was repeating. So does he also need to repent?  I’m sure there is a true story about COVID-19 —  and it will probably be declassified in about 40 years !

Conclusion – I encourage you (as I try to do myself) to carefully analyze the stories that we hear. Research your facts through multiple “trusted sources.”  And PRAY – asking the Holy Spirit to give you the Spirit of Discernment to help us sort out good and evil – truth and deception. For as I preached in a recent sermon “the Mystery of Lawlessness (or the Anti-Christ) is already at work.”  As the Bible says in Proverbs 22:3 and 27:12 “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.”