A timely word from Ed Stetzer in a recent Christianity Today piece. Stetzer is Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. These times call for discernment, not spreading unproven theories.
The current global pandemic has created a bumper crop of conspiracy theories.
Sadly, Christians seem to be disproportionately fooled by conspiracy theories. I’ve also said before that when Christians spread lies, they need to repent of those lies. Sharing fake news makes us look foolish and harms our witness.
We saw this in the last election when some of the troll factories focused on conservative, evangelical Christians. Here we go again. . . .
. . . .Back in 2017, I wrote an article entitled “Christians Repent (Yes, Repent) of Spreading Conspiracy Theories and Fake News— It’s Bearing False Witness.” While at that time I spoke of another in the centuries-old habit of spreading unproven conspiracies, the point I made then needs to be made again now.
Too many Christians believe “all is fair” in some wars and, in that article, I warned against breaking the eighth commandment in Exodus 20:16 about bearing false witness. We aren’t to be driven by fear or anger, but by a desire for “speaking the truth in love” as Paul said in Ephesians 4:15.
Spreading unproven speculation is bearing false witness and I still believe we need to repent when we have borne such witness. We need to spend more time in God’s Word and less time being influenced by social media trolls and clickbait.
It is not a mistake that the some of the same people who spread Pizzagate and Seth Rich conspiracies, long since discredited, are back to spread Coronavirus conspiracies.
Let not Christians be among the fooled nor among those spreading foolishness.
Our Witness Is Affected
Think about it.
Unless you believe President Trump, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the media, and the scientific community are all in league together (a real leap of faith), you are just embarrassing yourself when you spread Coronavirus conspiracies. These vast conspiracies would mean that President Trump, himself, knew this was a bioweapon, is part of the plan to end religious liberty, plans to use a potential vaccine as some mark of the beast, and somehow 5G is part of it all. (Yes, that’s all out there, one web search away— and in far too many Christian social media feeds.)
It just does not make sense—except to the easily fooled.
If you still insist on spreading such misinformation, would you please consider taking Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment?
Long story short, you’re ultimately bringing harm to yourself and your community. You may make yourself feel like you’re making a difference when you are not.
Most importantly, we damage our witness and that of your church when you focus on unproven theories and speculation more than the good news we’ve been commanded by our Lord to proclaim.
As Austin Jones tweeted, “Last week my Facebook feed was full of people posting crazy Covid conspiracy theories, followed by posts about evidence for the resurrection. I don’t think they realize the message they are actually sending.”
Jesus last earthly words in Acts 1:8 promised us that we would receive the Spirit’s power and we would bear witness to Jesus. You don’t need the power of the Holy Spirit to be undiscerning, and you aren’t bearing witness to the saving work of our Lord by spreading conspiracies.
I’m grateful that many, many pastors and church leaders and their churches have used this unusual time not to spread conspiracy theories but to proclaim Christ, not to feed their fears but to serve their community.
Let’s continue to provoke one another to good works, hold to what is true, and refuse that which is false.
Yes, please. Unfortunately, as someone else put it this week, you can’t just tell a gullible person to stop being gullible. The last thing they think they are is gullible! They believe they’re enlightened, informed — with the inside scoop others need to hear! And if one questions the validity of the conspiracy, they are quickly dismissed as still among the masses of the deceived.
Lord, help us.