2 Corinthians 10:5 – Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Conspiracy Theory is more than just the belief in an occasional conspiracy. Simply put, it is a belief system that asserts that world events are being controlled in secret by a group of ultra-powerful puppeteers behind the scenes. While nothing much can be done about this overall conspiracy, at least we can have the satisfaction of being smart enough to have figured it all out.
If viewed as fiction, Conspiracy Theory is compelling and fascinating. If it were just a nightmarish novel meant to be unnerving and just a bit beyond plausible, like Asimov’s Foundation, that would be one thing. But Conspiracy Theory projects its fiction onto real-life people, families, groups, and organizations. It purports to actually be true… and this is the problem.
If The Root Is Unholy…
Conspiracy Theories are as old as politics. Hitler was a master at weaving conspiracy tales. Nero concocted one to shift the blame to Christians for the burning of Rome. Those who rejected the resurrection of Messiah came up with a Conspiracy Theory to explain the empty tomb and His many appearances. And so on.
The modern day mythology of conspiracy was brought into popular view by the self-styled candidate Lyndon LaRouche and his followers in the late 1970s. (You may remember the guys in the airports, right next to the Moonies.) The LaRouchites would pass out “Executive Intelligence Reports” (EIRs) that purported to inform us plebeians what was “really going on” and why we should thus support Lyndon.
Ironically, the hobbyhorse has now made the shift from airport “kook” fund-raising to mainstream commentators and talk show hosts, both conservative and Christian.
Regurgitated Propaganda, Or Wisdom?
The basic plot-lines of Conspiracy Theory have a striking resemblance to anti-Semitic propaganda manufactured in Germany pre-WW2, with only the slight obfuscation of substituting “international bankers” for “Jews.” Indeed, many in the Militia and Patriot movements have no illusions about this and have an open anti-Semitic message.
Lyndon LaRouche, and later a few Christian prophecy teachers, brought these ideas into widespread exposure by omitting the original–and more obvious–anti-Semitic ravings and by weaving them together into a compelling whole. Before this, John Birch Society members often promoted them.
Somehow, these tales inflame the fears and paranoia of people to the extent that a residue remains in the human imagination that is happy to attach itself to a more vague target. For it must be admitted that some people get a perverse enjoyment from wallowing in such “snits” of paranoia, bogus “insight,” fear, discontentment, etc. that propaganda like this evokes.
With the common bond of being “upset” and discontent in general, the modern co-belligerents of Conspiracy Theory are an odd group indeed.
The sources of Conspiracy Theory notions are suspicious–to be generous. But regardless of a dubious historical pedigree, is Conspiracy Theory true or merely a paranoid delusion coupled with an active imagination? Or is it just the human tradition of “ghost stories” taken to a new level of story-telling believability?
These questions must be asked by modern-day Christians since Conspiracy Theory concepts and assumptions are intertwined with modern pop-eschatology “end times” teaching. This (unfortunately) being the case–and Conspiracy Theory assertions are clearly extra-biblical–we must “test all things” (1Thessalonians 5:21) by doing a thorough “fruit inspection” of these ideas. For we are told to judge a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:16-20).
Unless we are ready to suggest that fear, paranoia, delusion, slander, and hatred are new “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23), we need to go into this with the instinctive spiritual premonition that Conspiracy Theory is likely to fail the test and with the view to let the Holy Spirit lead us to repentance.
Working in the Dark
The problem of testing the “theory” at the level of information is stark. Conspiracy Theory is by its very nature impossible to disprove. The revisionist history of Conspiracy Theory is based on “special knowledge” that plays by different rules than normal history, since it is dealing with “secret” history.
It is easy to spin these tales, but how can they be tested for being true? If you attempt to do this and find the notions bogus, are you one of “them?” As the joke goes, “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean the world isn’t really out to get me!”
So the “theorists” spin yarns, and nary a soul will contest them. After all, who is well-connected enough politically and economically to say for sure that no international conspiracy exists? Get it? The deck is loaded.
The Conspiratist can go on and on without the need for any real research, except to imagine how it might be in a dark fantasy that will appeal to the paranoia and disenchantment of the intended audience and, in general, fit in with the overall Theory.
But those who do not “buy it” have to try to prove that a nonexistent group didn’t have a supposed meeting at such-and-such a place, etc.; or worse still that this or that real group or person has been wholly misunderstood and misquoted.
This second case is especially nasty, as many of the real groups and people, whom we would be defending and quoting correctly, have open (i.e., not conspiratorial) agendas we disagree with! It is a perfect trap: to counter the Conspirators’ misrepresentation, exaggeration, and fantasy we will end up defending, giving time, attention, emphasis, clarification, press, etc., to ideas we loath!
It is not work to cheer the soul, so few have tried.
So the “theory” evolves and grows and goes on–largely unchecked. It is not possible to comprehensively disprove ALL cases, and only an impossibly long-suffering soul would spend time clarifying the SPECIFIC bad ideas that have been made worse by overstatement, exaggeration, alarmism, and fantasy.
The crowning beauty–or horror–of Conspiracy Theory is that conspiracy is by its very nature secret and thus cannot be proven or disproved.
Of course, the conspiracy buffs claim special “insider” knowledge. Should they be believed?
The Theory Meets Reality
To start with, let us acknowledge straight off that there are people and groups of people out there who have plots, plans, and ideas that are secret, bad, even dangerous. The nature of these real conspiracies will be addressed briefly in counterpoint to Conspiracy THEORIES.
That people in power and wealth tend to promote people who agree with them or have some other common bond is no conspiracy, but simple human nature. A president, for example, is EXPECTED to appoint judges who are like-minded to him. Leaders in general form a liking for particular schools, sources of talent, consultants, etc. based on past history of success.
If you are building a house, would you not favor a church member or good friend as a contractor, all else being equal, especially if you had received good service from them in the past? This may look like collusion to outsiders, but is simple pragmatic management to those involved. For Conspiracy Theory adherents to suggest that such normal activities prove a “conspiracy” is not good evidence that they are thinking clearly.
We all know what a real conspiracy is, do we not?
Real conspiracies work best when small and short lived. They take significant energy and planning and are vulnerable to the light of scrutiny. Every person brought in and every day that passes adds to the risk of an ongoing conspiracy.
Occasionally people really do conspire. For example, our American founding fathers declared independence from England some 200 years ago. But the “conspiracy” in that case was just the means used, not the cause. It was needed momentarily, then dropped as a technique. The real and lasting causes were well known, even by the British. The American Revolution could have been reasonably predicted by traditional sociology and political science. The conspiracy aspect was a temporary sideshow.
Those who aspire to do anything (good or bad) often collude in secret before launching out. Consensus building in private, forming alliances away from public view, and strategic meetings in secret are certainly a “way of the world.”
But this is mere conventional thinking, not Conspiracy Theory. Conspiratists believe not merely that an occasional conspiracy exists, but that this is the dominant theme of history, that an “unseen hand” is guiding the world inexorably to the whim of certain supra-rich and/or powerful individuals.
The Clouded Crystal Ball
Conspiracy Theory assertions have a nasty habit of colliding head-on with reality. Its predictive power is poor, dismally so, since it rarely deals with real motives and forces in the world. Real people, including leaders, most often do things out of greed, altruism, self interest, passion, fear, ideals, racial or religious hatred, and the like.
To point out all the failed predictions of Conspiracy Theory would surely fill the internet, since every Conspiratist has his own unique spin.
As a challenge to the reader–from what you know of it–has Conspiracy Theory ever been right? I’ve heard many failed predictions of elections, that US Christians are soon to be placed into concentration camps, and that armies are massing at the Mexican border…
Let’s face it, Conspiratists are much better at fanciful reinterpretations of history than predicting what will happen next. But this does not stop them from trying. For the Conspiratist takes great pride in being “in the know.”
Of course, when Conspiracy Theory fails to accurately predict world events, this often increases the inability to persuade those who believe in it. “Ah,” they say, “It is all a grand plot to lull us further into to thinking THEY aren’t really planning the opposite…” and so on. Conspiracy Theory is perversely flexible.
Should Christians be involved in the promulgation of esoteric theories as likely wrong as not and with such a dismal history of accuracy?
With wild claims of inside information on international clandestine dealings, the conspiracy buffs end up in an ironic hypocrisy. They believe in an ongoing “Illuminati.” The Illuminati were (are?) a group that claimed special knowledge, secret knowledge that set them above the common man. Does such a group exist in today’s world? Are there those among us who see themselves as possessing secret knowledge not available to the common man? Ironically, the Conspiracy Theorists themselves are the best candidates to be found. They have “figured it out,” and if you do not “see it,” then you are just one of the dupes manipulated by the ghost Conspiracy that only the “enlightened ones” know about.
Have you noticed that the most vocal promoters of Conspiracy Theory seem to be uniquely unqualified?
But there they are on the airwaves or publishing a book as an expert on insider business and political dealings at an international level! This is not to denigrate but merely to point out that there seems to be a common thread among the most enthusiastic supporters and proponents of Conspiracy Theories–they lack experience and access to the international political and business world, and seem to have careers that allow lots of time to fantasize about how things “really are.”
To those involved in world affairs, these fanciful causal claims seem especially divorced from reality. They simply do not fit the facts. Of course, anyone making such a statement is likely to be accused of being a conspirator as well, so for most it seems more prudent to avoid the issue as a human embarrassment too shameful to directly address. The general silence and/or stares of unbelief are taken as further circumstantial “evidence.”
While we may not often like the way things are, the factors rarely include a conspiracy.
Are not the real problems we face usually all too open and obvious: workaday problems like greed, self-interest, fear, bigotry, laziness, etc., flagrantly displayed or perhaps thinly veiled at best?
The Symbiosis and Risks of Alarmism
There are people and groups in this world who promote “everything under the sun.” There is probably even a group out there somewhere who think humans ought to dress up like kangaroos.
The question in analyzing any of these groups or ideas should be: is the group in question worth paying attention to? The motives and passions of a vocal minority of goofballs who do not count as “players” in the real world should not alarm or derail us. This is to be expected. But these kooks on the globalization lunatic fringe are the basic fodder for the conspiracy alarmists. The two groups need each other to exist, it appears, as no one else is listening.
Are we to believe that a few “visionaries” who are a little soft in the head about the benefits of a “one world government” are really winning the day? Is not the problematic drift in the world today towards nationalism, isolationalism, balkanization, sectarianism, and fragmentation?
Is this not the obvious reason for several wars and conflicts going on in the world right now?
Serious Threat Or Political “Hollywood Squares?”
Imagine this scenario: A smarmy academic gets up at a “New Age” UN seminar and offers a bromide on the unity of man and “spaceship earth.” Now, as a result of this froof-rah, are the various ethnic, religious, and cultural wars being fought around the world going to skid to a sudden stop? Are Islamic militants going to smile and put away their suicide bombs?
What do you think? At an economic level, is the Japanese government going to give up protecting their farming industry, abandon their political power base, and join a global government? Is anyone who matters in these conflicts even listening to this prattle? Besides the conspiracy alarmists (who are taking vigorous notes and paying over careful attention), the audience appears to be only those on a nice paid boondoggle as “ambassadors” to New York. Or perhaps this giddy speech is being loftily set forth at a roundtable “conference” in some other nice vacation city to an attendance roster of political has-beens, wash-ups, wanna-bes–and the paparazzi who clamor after them–with a few serious “kangaroo suit” types thrown in for good measure?
While this is all great fun to watch, let us be sober-minded here.
The coming one-world government is not likely to be created by the pathetic attempts of the likes of the UN utopians, or imaginary rich people who long to cut off the trade advantages that are the very branch they are sitting on; but rather in reaction to a global crisis of God’s judgment on a world that will be groping in response. In the meantime, the way of the world is much more easily understood without the kaleidoscopic thrills of Conspiracy Theory.
The bottom line is that while it may be great fun and fantasy for those of a paranoid bent, Conspiracy Theory is NOT taken seriously by people who run this world, it is useless for predicting or explaining what is going on and why. Only those who do not need to be correct can hold this view for long.
The media has undeniable biases. But let us keep in mind that while leaders of our media are responsible for their actions, we are responsible for ours as well. As slanted and distorted as our news is, should WE then resort to rumors and hearsay? Is this not jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? If the issue is truth, then the failure of our media is no excuse for us doing even worse!
And consider that in our world today there are cultures where Christianity is totally censured and/or believers are imprisoned, even put to death for their faith.
Our Kingdom is not of this world, and we will never have the “perfect situation” till Messiah comes again, even though we should not cease making every effort to improve all we can while we can.
But let us get a sense of perspective here.
Are we not being crybabies compared to what our brethren in other parts of the world are having to endure for His Name’s sake? No one is forcing us to “buy” the media “pitch,” nor even incline our ears or eyes to it. We can just turn it off or engage it with discernment.
The Credibility Factor
We have fallen into the “chicken little syndrome”: because of our scandalous excesses of alarmism and intoxication with Conspiracy THEORIES and lack of regard for what is true, if a real and truly dangerous conspiracy were detected would anyone take Christians seriously at that point? Have we not spent our credibility and voice on mere ghosts?
Colossians 4:5 – Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
This point will be expanded in the last section concerning a message even more important than sounding the alarm of a real conspiracy.