Highlands Blog

The Problem with Conspiracy Theories

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The Problem with Conspiracy TheoriesConspiracy Theories & Gossip

When nations gossip we often call it a conspiracy. Sometimes the conspiracy sounds plausible but others are so absurd that you just have to wonder how any rational person could believe such nonsense. Often, the plot is so complex and the number of people involved so large that you have to throw out everything we know about human nature to believe the story we are told. After all, the Scriptures do assert that we are prone to gossip. It is a sin God warns us about more than once, presumably because we needed that warning. And yet our minds wonder — but couldn’t that really be true? After all, there is evidence, just look!

The Bible on Conspiracy Theories

Looking up the word conspiracy in my Bible was a nifty little study. I found that small, close conspiracies sometimes worked for the conspirators; like when the servants of King Joash conspired to kill him and pulled it off (2 Kings 12:20-21) or when Shallum killed King Zechariah (2 Kings 15:10). So, I do not want to deny that conspiracies happen or that the conspirators sometimes succeed. On the other hand, they often fail. The dramatic example of a failed conspiracy was when Absolom conspired to take the kingdom from his father King David. Scripture tells us Absolom gathered 200 men to his side. That was the start of a real rebellion. But, human nature being what it is, somebody gossiped. This one talks to that one, and that one to this one. It really is difficult to keep a big secret. David was warned and Absolom first was speared through thrice and was then killed (hewn to pieces so it sounds) by Joab’s 10 armor bearers. Big conspiracies are nearly impossible to keep secret. That is just the nature of man.

We Love Rumors & Gossip

We love to tell a story. I know I do and I bet we all do this. You hear something about somebody or somebodies. We are less interested in passing on truth than we are in being respected or thought of in certain terms. We want to be recognized as the person who has the inside track. We want to know important people and we want to have others know we know important people. We have to demonstrate that we are on the inside and nothing proves it like a bit of good inside gossip. Yup, that’s me. Is that you?

We are just so bone brained. People do not respect us for gossiping. They may think we are self important, or maybe a sorry loser who has to make his aura inflate by rubbing that of a better man, or maybe we just sound like people who have no life of our own. All of this has something to do with coveting. We covet another, more famous man’s fame. We grasp for a better man’s brilliance, or courage, or other admirable qualities, all so that we can carry around egos as huge as a semi-trailer truck in our very average sized heads.

Conspiracy Theories are Gossip on a Grand Scale

Conspiracies expand on all of this sin using our worst tendencies to churn up fear and confusion on a grand, nation-wide scale. The most absurd conspiracy I have heard asserted that the 9/11 hijackers were hired by the American government to do their dirty work. Has anyone calculated how marvelously complex it would be to hire those foreign nationals while keeping it all quiet, and how many people it would have involved to pull that off? The real, actual conspiracy was complex enough. The one suggested by conspiracy buffoons makes it doubly or triply complicated. That conspiracy did not happen. It was ordinary wickedness that convinced those men to fly to their deaths. Maybe it was extraordinary wickedness, and sure, there was by definition a conspiracy, but let’s not make the whole thing even more crazy than it actually was.

We Underestimate Our Own Sin

We look for conspiracies partly because we underestimate the power of sin in our members. The power of sin is enough to destroy us for eternity. It is enough to shred nations and it does. These are causes to preach against it.

Isaiah (chapter 8) has some important things to say about conspiracies. He writes to the people of Israel (that would be us) “you are not to say, it is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy, you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread.”

Consequences of Conspiracy Theories

One of the problems with conspiracy theories is that they have real consequences, bad consequences, in life. Somebody dreams up a conspiracy theory and that theory gets talked all around as if it were a prophecy from heaven. People hear that theory and begin to fear and dread as Isaiah warns against. When that happens the theory has gone from theory, to gossip, to hearing, to fear and dread which are forms of unbelief. Isaiah is warning us to remember that it is the Lord of hosts we are to fear and to dread. We are to fear and dread God. We are not to allow the latest gossip about world or national events to control our hearts. The God of hosts does not reign only in heaven. He reigns on earth as well and He promises to work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (once again, that would be us).

Does this mean we should do nothing to protect our families in light of current events? Well, no. If we see a tornado roaring toward our house we still run for the basement. However, along with all of the present problems we can see coming at us we also have to deal with a boat load of gossip and conspiracy talk that is sure to make us panic if we take our eyes off the Lord of hosts. So, do what you can to protect your family but do not eat the fruit of gossip.

This article was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine, 2009.

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