Tin-Foil Hat Theology [1]

How conspiracy theories are detrimental to a Christian’s spiritual health

Do not say, “a conspiracy,” concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, nor be afraid of their threats or be troubled. (Isaiah 8:12)

As I have traveled over the internet super-highway, I will occasionally drive by websites dedicated to the promotion of some elaborate conspiracy theory. Just like the attractions along the side of the road promising to show anyone willing to stop such glorious curiosities as the world’s largest gum ball or genuine baby Bigfoot skeletons, those conspiracy websites promise that if you are willing to open your eyes, read all the facts, and connect all the dots, you too will be awakened to the truth of reality.

Now, before I go on, it may be helpful to define what I mean by a conspiracy theory.

A “conspiracy” is simply defined as a “planning together to do something.” Additionally, the conspirators – the group of individual conspiring together – do so in secret, and no one outside the group knows what is really going on.

Generally, the word “conspiracy” has a stigma attached to it because it is assumed that the conspirators are attempting to perpetrate something illegal or harmful, but a conspiracy and those conspiring together need not be thought of as being harmful or acting illegally in the majority of instances.

The Manhattan Project, for example, was a massive conspiracy designed to develop the atomic bomb. It was necessary for the entire project to remain a conspiracy – top secret – for the purposes of national security.  Even the Normandy Invasion of June 6, 1944 was a large scale conspiracy which also necessitated absolute secrecy. I myself once participated in a “conspiracy” when I was invited to attend a private get together with a well-known pastor that was limited to the number of folks who could attend. I was told the gathering was impromptu and I was to keep it secret because there was no way to accommodate a large group of people.

Those type of conspiracies are not bad.

However, the conspiracies that occupy the minds of conspiracy theorists are of the harmful, illegal type and they cover a broad spectrum of subjects and scenarios. For instance:

– Zionists and Jews attempting to take over the world.

– International bankers trying to take over the world.

– The Illuminati, or other clandestine groups, attempting to take over the world.

– NASA and the government covering over the truth about UFOs.

– NASA and the government covering over the truth about cities on Mars and the moon.

– NASA and the government covering over the truth that the Apollo missions were hoaxed.

– The government covering over the assassination of high profile government officials like JFK or Ron Brown.

– And the most recent: the government covering over their involvement orchestrating the events of September, 11th with remote control planes, cruise missiles, and controlled demolitions.

Now, it is one thing to have a disturbed individual who lives in a one-room apartment with 3 cats named after the characters from Dune and lectures on a part-time basis at the local community college, claim that the government, in conjunction with the Reptilian Guard from the planet Zinar, staged 9-11 so Bush could steal all the oil in the Middle East. I, as a Bible believing Christian, expect these kind of conclusions from men whose minds are darkened in sin and are thus easily susceptible to be snared by these fantasies.

However, it is quite another thing to find men and women who name Christ as their Lord and Savior advocating conspiracy theories. Those folks go beyond being disturbing to grieving my heart.

Before the Internet, there were individuals that people genuinely thought were “pastors” and Bible teachers who preached about massive conspiracy theories that were going to usher in the anti-Christ, or establish the new age, or force people to get a barcode burned onto their head, or the U.N. rounding up Christians and locking them in concentration camps.

For some reason, the cranks who promoted these theories were fundamentalists, King James onlyists types. I am not sure what that means exactly, but suffice it to say, their publications were contained to a small, marginalized fan base and didn’t get much air time in the real world.

But now, with the advent of the world wide web, those same “Christian” conspiracy hunters have the ability to spread their paranoid delusions to the four corners of the earth. Additionally, they can build elaborate websites that document the particular conspiracy of choice with detailed charts and compelling video presentations.  Social media also adds fuel, because conspiracy believers can find other like-minded, committed conspiracy “truthers.” Eventually, an enormous community of “truthers” is formed that feed of each other.

A conspiracy-driven mindset, or what I call “tin-foil hat theology,” can have a deleterious impact on the Christian church. Not only does such thinking display an appalling lack of discernment among Christians, but those conspiracy theorists can quickly disrupt the fellowship of at a local church creating all sorts of odd-ball shepherding issues with a pastor.

Now, with that in mind, I’d like to biblically think through the error of tin-foil hat theology by outling what I believe are at least six key ways conspiracy theory theology can be detrimental to a Christian’s spiritual health. I will begin with the first three:

1) Produces an Inordinate Fear that Should Never be a Mark of a Christian

paranoidAn unhealthy interest in conspiracy theories can produce fear in the heart of the person entertaining them. It’s like a low-grade paranoia that drives the way the person evaluates people and events he or she may come in contact with and experience.

Just like the by-line from the X-files, “No one is to be trusted.”  Everyone in any position of authority could be lying or covering something up to conceal the truth. The person becomes suspicious of every person and everything. Some folks may think I am exaggerating the paranoia of these people, but I have known individuals recently and from my past who so allowed conspiracy theory scenarios to govern their hearts they became overwhelmed with fear. I can recall one gal who claimed she would never use a computer, because the Antichrist would use computers and the internet to form the one world government in the end-times.

The Bible tells us that Christians are not to be marked with fearfulness of heart. Paul wrote, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Note how the idea of a “sound mind” means the person who is thinking straight about reality will not be full of fear. A sound mind is a person who has been saved, whose mind is no longer darkened by sin but is now sober-minded; not given over to being victimized by the prince of this world who delights in holding men in bondage to their fears.

Moreover, the Apostle John writes that, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We should no longer be afraid of God, for the wrath against our sin has been appeased by Christ, but also, because Christians live in perfect love, any fear about our life and world will be cast out. It is unnatural for a believer to live in fear of conspiracies ruling the world.

2) Generates an Obsessive Fixation on the Uncertain

dollarAll the folks I have encountered who name Christ, yet involve themselves in pursuing conspiracy theories, are more fixated on the promotion of the pet conspiracy than they are on the promotion of Christ. They don’t live the Christian life at all in some instances, but anytime there is opportunity to preach the “truth” about the conspiracy, they will do so from the house tops, often with the aid of slick DVD productions.

The reality, however, is that the conspiracy is based upon things that are subjective and totally uncertain to the conspiracy theory aficionado even though he will insist that his conspiracy is based on clear “fact” and claim to “know the truth.” It is sad when some issue becomes so obsessive to a Christian that people know the person for their conspiratorial views rather than the fact he or she is a Christian.

I have encountered a number of Christians (Christians!) who insist with passion that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone when assassinating President Kennedy. If you even attempt to challenge that assertion, they react as if you are denying the Deity of Jesus Christ.   I’ve experienced the same with a few believers who seriously believe the moon landings were hoaxed.  But why is the JFK assassination important to the Christian’s spirituality? How does believing the moon landings were hoaxed help my walk in Christ? Yet, anyone who denies these conspiracy theories is dismissed as being out of touch and not desiring to know the truth.

That leads me to a third key area where conspiracy theories are spiritually unhealthy,

3) Promotes Gnostic Tendencies

By “Gnostic tendencies” I mean the aspect of old, pagan Gnosticism that relegated knowledge of the truth to a handful of people who then dish out the “special” secret knowledge to those willing to learn the truth from them.

I encounter this mentality all the time from tin-foil hat theologians who sneer at me as someone not “willing to hear the truth” of the matter. I live in a fantasy world, according to these folks, and I am foolishly allowing myself to be duped into believing a lie about such and such a conspiracy. But I would think that because Christians have the spirit of discernment to know truth, that any obvious conspiracy would be evident, yet, I am required to go and learn from the one alleged “expert” on the particular conspiracy. Why should I have to do that?

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21 thoughts on “Tin-Foil Hat Theology [1]

  1. The Word of God gives us our proper world view and proper view of ourselves and others. It is our proper view of the past, present and future. It is a vast and rich resource that is exponentially multiplied by the Holy Spirit. We need nothing more than to compare our everyday existence to the Word of God to arrive at the truth. Do I believe in conspiracies? Of course. Satan is a liar. His children are busy lying, cheating, killing, extorting, etc. Will it culminate in end times events? Of course. The Word of God makes that clear. The unredeemed will perish with that world, but the children of God, thanks be to Christ Jesus, will live on for eternity.

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  3. One main reason I reject conspiracy theories is because man is too stupid to pull stuff off that is cool and remain silent about it. It is ironic, that we who supposedly believe in total depravity, often think way too highly of human ability.

  4. “Fred, are you a Roman Catholic? And if so, are you a Jesuit?”

    *STILL* the best comment I’ve ever seen on this site!

  5. Oh sure now how am I suppose to get rid of 37 copies of “None dare call it conspiracy”? Good post Fred.

  6. Pingback: Articles on Apologetics and Evangelism | hipandthigh

  7. A good article with some good points. A good counterpoint balance is struck in the first comment: “Do I believe in conspiracies? Of course. Satan is a liar. His children are busy lying, cheating, killing, extorting, etc.” and, I might add, plotting and scheming with others to do so.

    I am reminded of these words of Jesus’ recorded in Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” The main article is correct in that we should not live in debilitating fear, nor should we be distracted from glorifying God, doing His will, and telling others of His gracious gospel. That is the “harmless as doves” part. However, the “wise as serpents” part constrains us from assuming that human beings are incapable of scheming together to do evil things. Adolf Hitler was not alone in his wicked schemes. Neither were Stalin, Mao or Idi Amin Dada. Each was just the leader of a group which conspired and then implemented great wickedness. We have examples even in our own country. The Ku Klux Klan was not raised without scheming among people. Margaret Sanger did not singlehandedly plot the destruction of black people in America; however, she and her inner circle, through diabolical plots, have given us enough death, of the most innocent among us, to rival Chairman Mao. The English word we use to describe group collaboration for evil is conspiracy, and it DOES happen, even today.

    The author of the article writes “It is unnatural for a believer to live in fear of conspiracies ruling the world.” I concur that the dread that someone might overpower God and thwarting His plan is unbiblical, and God’s people should NOT live in that angst. But it seems a far reach to call “unnatural” the great concerns a believer might have as he is about to be thrown to lions, or watch his loved ones be devoured by the sword, or when he considers that groups of fallen mortals have already—and still do—seek to do harm, even GREAT harm for their own evil purposes.

    Let us not be paralyzed with fear or haunted with suspicions of every shadow and rumor. At the same time let us not suppose that human collaboration and demonic wickedness play no part in the injustices we see around us. In other words—wise words, “be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

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  10. Interesting how you mentioned the KJV. I’m wondering in your companions in the ALEXANDRIAN CULT can ever speak about anything without showing your HATRED for the PRESERVED WORD OF GOD.

    (Insert 14 paragraphs of rambling about the federal mint, Costco, Oprah and fraudulent government claims about fluoride and tooth decay, and how all those forces led to the inevitable formation of the NIV. I’m too exhausted to write that all, so use your imagination…)

  11. Reblogged this on DiscernIt and commented:
    In the past, I remember being warned that certain events were about to happen, a nuclear event, bank holidays, 2012, attacks on the US, etc. These things simply did not happen. They did create a fear in me. Researching the sources led me to discredit these men and their $$$ ministries. Many are survivalists stirring up a perceived need for their products, DVD’s, food storage, knives, seeds, etc. Many spread their false visions and others love their fame by creating misinformation. While I have no illusions about this groaning world and its increase of SIN as it is laid out in scripture…..I do not listen to the false prophets. If they are wrong only ONCE… we are not to listen or fear them,

  12. I’m sorry, but you missed the one where rabbits and O.J. Simpson’s dog unite to take over the world. Really… if you look at the facts… you will become a true believer.

    Seriously, thanks for posting this. I’m sharing.

  13. Pingback: Tin-Foil Hat Theology [2] | hipandthigh

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  15. “it is sad when some issue becomes so obsessive to a Christian that people know the person for their conspiratorial views rather than the fact he or she is a Christian.” Wow, Fred this whole series is PACKED!!! And, this quote is particularly poignant, it’s like you know my friend by name the way you describe this type of Christian!!! I’m sending this link to him and my pastor I’m sure my pastor will enjoy this. Blessings friend.

  16. And yet we are warned of an end times conspiracy.

    “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” — Psalm 2:2-3

    Hope that doesn’t dampen the mood here any.

  17. This from Psalm 2 came to mind.

    “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.”

  18. Yes. We were warned about them. So…. Now what? Oppose the rise of the Antichrist? Try to thwart the hand of God in the affairs of men? Hand wring and write ridiculous posts saying how out of touch I am and that I am just writing these articles to smear a drunk crackpot?

  19. Pingback: Friday in the Wild: June 27, 2014 | The Crustier Curmudgeon

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