Why Evangelicals are Partial to Conspiracy Theories

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life when I have been more embarrassed for my Evangelical brothers and sisters. I’m referring specifically to those who refuse to get vaccinated or wear masks, believe conspiracy theories about the CDC, Anthony Fauci, and Bill Gates, and that the last presidential election was stolen. I’ve addressed some of these incredulous beliefs in other posts.

I’m no stranger to Evangelical naïveté and gullibility. I was an elder in a church where many in the congregation had been convinced the key to their health could be found in an examination of their excrement by a naturopath, who was a member of the church. People were securing their scat in ziplocks for him to examine…seriously. I remember asking the pastor, “So tell me this again. They did what?” 

Then there was Y2K. Five years before 1-1-2000, there was some credibility in the alarm. Fortunately, by the time the problem became public, companies had already begun the necessary remediation. However, people in my church became convinced Y2K would be the end of society as we knew it. They bought generators and stock piles of food and water. Recognizing there was indeed a problem, but rejecting the incredible and conspiratorial, I bought stock in Cisco, a leader in Y2K remediation. My doomsday brothers and sisters who believed the crazy prognosticators, got stuck with generators they never used and food they never ate. My wife and I got stuck with a nice profit from the sale of our stock.

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The Sovereignty of God in the Christmas Story

“Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth…And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.” Luke 1:1,3.

Caesar Augustus was the most powerful man in the world at the time of the events we will celebrate tomorrow. He ruled the known world, was beholden to no man, and was a pagan who would later be deified by his people upon his death in 14 A.D. I’m confident he was not a man who spent time in prayer seeking the will of the God of Israel.

Yet, by the sovereignty of God, Augustus issued a decree that a census be taken that required Joseph and Mary return to their home town, ensuring Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, in accordance with the prophecy in Micah 5:2 (“. . . Bethlehem . . . though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…”).

That Luke notes Caesar August issued this decree has special significance for us this Christmas, a Christmas in which many are unable or, not unreasonably, unwilling to travel to be with loved ones because of the rapid spread of the COVID variant, Omicron, at a time when it seems to many there is no end in sight of the pandemic that has killed over 800,000 in the U.S. and many millions more around the world.

But God’s sovereignty is not diminished by our circumstances; to the contrary, it is difficult circumstances that give rise to the need for His sovereignty. So, this Christmas, rather than looking eagerly for the end of the pandemic, let’s look expectantly for the exercise of His sovereignty, which is in keeping with the best tradition of the Christmas spirit. GS

Faith in the Pandemic

I’ve wearied of hearing believers complain about the pandemic, spin conspiracy theories to pretend it doesn’t exist, embrace flaky click-bait inspired ideas about the CDC, Fauci, and COVID-19, and then wrap themselves in the flag of faith to justify it all.

It’s worrisome because Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the butt of jokes. We are to lead people to life, not destruction. The sources of Christians’ current confusion are ignorance, fear, an unbiblical view of faith, and pride.

Ignorance: Historical context for the pandemic. We are ignorant of history. There is nothing historically unusual about plagues and pandemics, and the serious ones typically last longer than two years. The plague of Cyprian lasted from 249 A.D. to 262 A.D, the plague of Justinian from 541 A.D. to 549 A.D., and the Black Death in Europe from 1346 to 1353. Yet, Christians complain because this pandemic has dragged on for nearly two years, and we still have to wear masks to church. We should set a better example.

Fear: On conspiracy theories. It is well-settled that people embrace conspiracy theories when they are unable or unwilling to accept the scary, unpleasant truths of reality. If Christians are going to be the light of the world, they need to lead in facing ugly realities and showing the world the path to Jesus, not pimping crazy-town theories about Bill Gates trying to implant chips in our arms through COVID vaccines. Such beliefs are motivated by fear, not faith. 

Unbiblical faith and real faith. The idea that getting vaccinated or wearing a mask shows a lack of faith is both naive and unbiblical. It’s like crossing a busy street and refusing to look both ways because you are “trusting God.” That is testing God, not trusting Him, and it brings God’s judgment, not His approval. It’s forcing God to act on your behalf. It’s what Satan asked Jesus to do when he suggested Jesus parachute off the top of the temple without a parachute. See Matthew 4:5-7. God will not be manipulated by our misguided view of faith.

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Rating the Evangelical Church’s Pandemic Performance

Over the last 18 months, I have become a student of plagues, partly out of curiosity and partly out of necessity because of my job as an employment lawyer.

I had previously read John Kelly’s The Great Mortality, about the Bubonic plague of 1347-1351, which ravaged Europe, killing as many as 30% of the population. It was a book I could not put down. Then, when the pandemic really began in full force in March 2020, I read John Barry’s, The Great Influenza, a book about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic in the United States, probably the pandemic most similar to the one we are currently experiencing.

In addition, since the pandemic began, I have studied the Plague of Cyprian and the Plague of Justinian. My interest in studying plagues was not just to put the current pandemic in perspective but to determine how the Church has responded in the past for guidance on how it should respond in the present. I hold up the Church’s response to the Plague of Cyprian as the standard.

The Plague of Cyprian lasted nearly twenty years but was most deadly 249 A.D. – 262 A.D. It is so named because of a famous letter written by Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, describing the plague and the Church’s response to it. Cyprian noted that the plague was so contagious many believed it was passed by “corrupted air.” The symptoms of those infected were grizzly, and I wont repeat them here.

Cyprian noted that Christians’ mortality was no different than the pagans, but what was different was that while many pagans fled the cities, Christians stayed and cared for the sick at risk to their own lives. As a result of their selflessness, the church experienced great growth when the pandemic ended because the pagans wanted to know about the God who could inspire people to such selflessness.

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10 Things American Evangelicals are Wrong About

Let me get some things out on the table right from the start. I am an Evangelical. I am conservative. I believe in small government, low taxes, and liberty. I am a one-exception (life of the mother) pro-lifer.

I think Ronald Reagan was one of greatest presidents we have ever had, and I supported Pat Robertson in the 1988 presidential primary. Except Nos. 7 and 8, I previously held all the views I criticize below.

What changed my mind was (1) deciding I was no longer going to get my political opinions from a political party or television network and (2) attempting to carry out Biblical and kingdom presuppositions to their logical conclusions. So, you can call me wrong, but don’t call me a liberal. What I hope I am is a Christian whose politics are rooted not in Fox News or MSNBC, the Republicans or the Democrats, but the Bible.

With that in mind, here are 10 things American Evangelicals are wrong about:

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