I have never seen the phrase “conspiracy theory” as much as I have the last couple of months in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
All I need to do is hop on social media for five minutes and I will find videos, articles, and long comment threads that go back and forth, calling people out for spreading conspiracy theories. Even in the Christian community, there are many articles on the topic of “Christians who believe conspiracy theories.”
Christianity Today recently released an article warning Christians that “gullibility is not a spiritual gift.” The Gospel Coalition also released an article saying that “all slanderous conspiracy theories originate from Satan.”
So, what is a conspiracy theory?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines conspiracy theory as “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.”
According to that definition, I don’t know if everything I see debated fits the category of conspiracy theories. I know friends who are wary and suspicious of government overreach. I know friends who are fearful of strict government regulations overriding constitutional freedoms.
But I also see many Christians slandering others and calling their opinions on the current situation “conspiracy theories” because they disagree with others’ views on government solutions or medical interventions.
While I don’t believe Christians should be spreading fear-filled information (2 Timothy 1:7) or setting their minds on useless things on this earth (Psalm 119:37), I do believe we should be cautious and discerning. I’m not qualified to sniff out conspiracies, but I am wise enough to know that the church has a history of division.
Where is your hope?
What can divide the body of Christ? Anything and everything.
We should be reminded that we have a silent enemy. An enemy of deception who will use whatever form works to keep us confused, angry, and in disunity. Can outlandish conspiracy theories be used to do those things? Yes.
But my concern is not in the minority. I have a pretty diverse friend group, but I don’t know anyone personally who really believes all the theories out there. My concern is with the half-truths, the seeds of deception being planted in plain sight, when we blindly trust everything we are told to achieve the ultimate goal of security and safety.
I often hear phrases of blind faith in earthly authorities like “the government wouldn’t do that,” which sits contrary to what I read all throughout Scripture about the nature of those in leadership, from the time of the first kings to the psalms to Jesus’ words to the letters of Paul.
As believers, why would we be surprised to hear of a potential power scandal? Why would we be surprised that there might be evil people with ulterior motives in charge? Why are we quick to defend anyone in power here on earth? As Ephesians 6:12 tells us, our struggles are not against flesh and blood.
My concern goes beyond a concern of disunity. When we set our hope in anything on this earth other than Jesus, we fall into idolatry.
That goes for those who obsess over and spread conspiracy theories, but it also goes for those who forego discernment and seek saving from an earthly government.
The ultimate conspiracy theory
For my fellow Christians, it isn’t a battle of us versus them. It isn’t about who is right or wrong, what is black or white, and what is the murky gray of the middle.
It is about Jesus.
It is about God being the greatest hero of the story. When we lose sight of that, we lose. Period.
In fact, my entire belief system is based on the ultimate conspiracy theory.
If we are going to believe in a conspiracy, let’s trust the Conspirator-in-Chief who pulled off a resurrection event through a set of circumstances few people saw coming.
Our God uses corrupt government to bring himself glory. We’ve seen it in the Bible. We’ve seen it all throughout history. Our God uses “conspiracy theories” to bring himself glory as well. (Look at the Tower of Babel, the captivity of his people, and the empty tomb.)
As Isaiah 8:12–13 reminds us, “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.”
The only cure for a sensational conspiracy theory is a better conspiracy: the conspiracy of God’s people to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the fear of the Lord.
I pray that we as a people can keep our eyes open, on alert for all forms of deception, but also trusting that the only true thing—the Lord himself—is always in control.
He is the ultimate Savior.
Let’s conspire together to show this truth to the world.
Erin Kerry is a preacher’s kid, preacher’s wife, and a former educator turned homeschool mom. She is wife to Richard and mom to Isabel (15), Roman (6), and Rhett (3). As a survivor of mental illness and a certified integrative nutrition health coach, Erin is passionate about advocating for mental health through her website, www.sparkingwholeness.com, and her podcast, Sparking Wholeness, which reaches hundreds of thousands of listeners each month.