First published on Christian Converser
Everyone knows that there are lots of conspiracy theories circulating in the world. While those specifically relating to Covid-19 are prominent at present, conspiracy theory is an ongoing issue for Christians rather than just a current set of events. This post attempts to explain this blog’s views on why Christians should not engage with these viewpoints.
Firstly there is the key question of how to define a conspiracy theory. The term is made up of two words. Conspiracy refers in general to a plan carried out in secret. The assumption, then, is that people are secretly planning to carry out certain actions. Theory means that these conspiracies are theoretical, that is, that they can’t be proven. So a conspiracy theory is more or less a situation of someone having an opinion that certain persons have secret plans to carry out some particular course of action.
The particular application of conspiracy, in general, is that these secret plans are targeted at some type of evil or reprehensible activity. Theory is a generic word that can apply to many things found in our everyday lives. For example, many scientific concepts in society are essentially theories, e.g. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity covers scientific ideas about the laws of gravity. Theology, which is the main theme of this blog, is essentially a set of theories about who God is and how we are supposed to relate to him as people of faith. Even if we have a set of supposedly absolute beliefs or dogmas that are generally understood to be essential core concepts that are the basis of Christian faith, such as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our actual understanding of the constituent components of such beliefs is largely theoretical. This is the key aspect leading to the knowledge of theologians, which is that there are generally multiple interpretations or understandings (i.e. theories) of particular beliefs in the Christian Church.
So theories are a part of everyday life for Christians, and in fact everyone in the world. The question to be answered then is whether some theories should be considered differently from others. In this blog, the viewpoint formed is that the blog mainly focuses on describing theologies or beliefs that are harmful to believers. A list of three core theologies has been previously given, i.e. dispensationalism, complementarianism and nationalism. Of these, dispensationalism in particular is strongly linked to conspiracy theory, which is one of the harmful components. The other components of dispensationalism whilst not linked to conspiracy theory, have their harm rooted in the same general life issues (personal discipline / self awareness) as conspiracy theories themselves raise. This post series is written at a time when significant numbers of Christians are engaging with certain conspiracy theories that have their roots in dispensationalist teachings, although these are not the only source. As there are many other Christians in the world who do not engage with dispensationalism and who also, not coincidentally, have rejected the current leading conspiracy theories relating to Covid-19, it is relevant and timely for this blog to address both of these key issues together, which will be expanded upon in the next part of this series.