Wrapping up this 2 part series on Conspiracy Theories, we will begin by looking at how we can find a peace of mind and respond with faith.
Responding with Faith
Proverbs 21:28-31 (ESV): A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure. A wicked man puts on a bold face, but the upright gives thought to his ways. No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel can avail against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
When we are posed with conspiracy theories that get to us - and as in we ponder them perhaps more than we should - the best medicine is always faith and going to the Lord, looking for answers in the Word.
When examining conspiracies such as what we discussed in article 1, relying on expertise might sound elitist, but it is a biblical principle that we all have different gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:14-26 reminds us that all parts of the “body”, from the most prominent to the most overlooked, serve an essential role as part of the greater whole. For example, there is no room in Christianity for hatred towards the humble and often thankless work of sanitation workers, food producers, oil field/off shore workers and truck drivers, and there’s likewise no room for dismissing the essential role of scientists, doctors, and public health experts. We all have a role to play:
1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (NIV): The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Matthew 10:16 also gives us a command on how we should act as Christians in the face of things such as this:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
As we champion our influence through every social media post, we should ask ourselves if we are following Jesus’ command to be “wise as serpents” if we are swayed by the emotional manipulation of a conspiracy theory or a slickly-produced video that we come across, whether it is for or against our views. Likewise, we must ask ourselves if we are being “harmless as doves” if we are the ones who spread misinformation or sow confusion, such as right now in the midst of a global emergency.
The world has come a long way from medieval scribes to the modern printing press and now to our current world of tweets, blogs, hashtags, and YouTube videos. The front-lines of our knowledge and ability to learn and find it have grown dramatically with technological improvements, yet often it seems that the truth gets diluted in misinformation. Take, for example, advertising - the algorithms on social media platforms are specifically designed for engagement, and therefore ad revenue, by displaying emotionally-charged content inches away from your face daily.
Ironically, as conspiracy theorists begin to cry foul when their ideas are “censored,” the reality is that endless contradictory voices are what contribute to a “censorship through noise”. Unfortunately, this drowns out real information and real warnings as well, and is a double edged sword of sorts for good people. “Q” definitely has their heart in the right place by standing against things such as abortion and wanting to purge Washington D.C of evil and corruption - but going about it in such an extremely radical fashion with largely false and baseless theories that garner mass attention actually discredits what you stand for and makes others who desire this goal to appear untruthful as well.
For example, I love Jesus. I'm addicted to spreading His great name and the Word through writing about this modern world viewed through a Biblical lens. But I would be a slanderer of His great name if I wrote baseless articles and lies with no Scriptual facts backing it up.
How to Make a Change Today
So, what do we do as Christians? What do we do as people who just want to see the name of Jesus on top of all things again in the natural (that is, have others see Him as we do now). How do we take a stand against radical practices in our world today that go against His Word when it feels like we can’t fully trust any “elite” group in the world? It begins with dropping our faith in man and having it all in the Lord:
Jeremiah 17:5 (ESV): Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
For Christians today battling conflicting conspiracy theories, finding a common ground can be challenging. Chastising someone for their beliefs rarely changes their mind and usually results in furthering their belief. A better strategy would be to affirm an individual’s curiosity and concern and attempting to redirect that curiosity and concern toward the simplest solution, not the most complex and outrageous.
Encouraging individuals to read non-sensational news sourcesis also a healthy tactic.
But, even the best strategies depend upon proper timing for when an individual is willing to listen and learn.
The ability to recognize that the beliefs of narratives such as good and evil cosmic forces battling against one another correlate and fuel conspiratorial thinking may change how you communicate with others. Focusing more on the humanistic components of the Christian faith, like Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself, may help defuse a theological mindset susceptible to sensational conspiracy theories.
While it may be exciting to think about what lurks in the shadows and beyond our sight, remembering the physicality of our flesh is important. For example, take Gnosticism - for all its emphasis on the spirit over flesh and a "hidden knowledge" - it was found to be a heresy.
Seek to help people understand their place in the wider world, particularly in a time when there is so much uncertainty, completely grounded in the Word. Take heed, also, that you cannot change everyone's opinion, nor am I promoting that you try to. People are entitled to their own opinion, even though ultimately there is only one truth in all of it.
While QAnon supporters warn of a coming “storm” between Trump and a cabal of pedo-elites, Joe Biden and the Democrats warn of the battle for the “soul” of America. Such rhetoric is compelling, but in reality, we are describing an election. It is a historical election, but the country has no metaphysical soul. The human mind has the capacity to create intoxicating and raging stories that emerge from our experience, but we have to remember to ground ourselves in reality, and that starts with the Word and trusting in the Lord for all things - not looking to fringe news writers for the next best move.