Conspiracy Theories - photo by iStockPhotoBy Steve Allred – At one time in my life I was a big believer in conspiracy theories. I believed that churches had been infiltrated by a secret order from another denomination and that some of the members of this order were masquerading as leaders in my church. As a teenager, I devoured comic books published by Chick Publications that fed my conspiracy theory. I spent a lot of time and mental energy imagining how evil these people were and how I would go about "outing" them and exposing their evil machinations before all the world.

I've learned a few things since my teenage days of obsession with conspiracy theories. First, I've learned that some of what I believed back then could be true. But secondly, I've come to the conclusion that it probably makes very little practical difference in my life or in the life of anyone else whether these conspiracy theories are actually true.

Most grand conspiracy theories are based on a great deal of speculation.

A lot of the information that these theories are based on is conjecture and only circumstantial evidence. One thing is certain, these theories are not based on the Bible, for the Bible says nothing about the Jesuits or the Illuminati and nothing about them controlling the world.

In fact, the Bible specifically tells us to avoid myths and questions that engender strife (i.e., questions about speculative issues). Paul writes, "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain." (Titus 3:9, emphasis mine). "Nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith." (1 Timothy 1:4). Almost every grand-scale conspiracy theory fits what these verses are talking about.

But let's say that we could prove without a doubt that the world is controlled by the Illuminati. As a Christian, what practical difference would that make in my life or your life? Would we go into hiding? Try to assassinate those evil leaders? Do our best to expose their evil plans?

Or would we keep doing what we're supposed to be doing anyway – loving our enemies like Jesus tells us to do, praying for evil doers and spreading the gospel?

Ultimately, grand conspiracy theories lead to an unhealthy fascination with things that are less than certain and direct our attention away from loving our enemies as Jesus told us to do.

Conspiracy theories give evil people too much credit and attribute too much power to them.

Think about it: conspiracy theories give a lot of credit to evil men, teaching that evil men – most of them 33rd degree Freemasons or members of the Illuminati – are controlling the world. Really? Is that what the Bible teaches? Not exactly.

In fact, the Bible teaches that God is the one who controls the affairs of the governments of this world; He is the one who determines who will rule the world – not a bunch of evil men.

Notice what the Bible says:

"And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding" Daniel 2:21.

"For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." Psalm 75:6-7.

So the Bible says that God, not any group of evil men, is responsible for who comes to power in our world. To give evil men the credit goes directly against what the Bible teaches.

Additionally, focusing on the supposed power of a bunch of 33rd degree Masons somewhere ultimately leads us to exalt these evil men to a demigod status with power akin to that of God himself.

Conspiracy theories about the government and church leadership cause us to distrust God-appointed authorities.

Granted, some leaders are unquestionably evil. A good example is the Emperor Nero who lived during Paul's time. Yet, do we see Paul railing on Nero's evilness? Hardly. In fact, we hear nothing from Paul that could be construed as disrespect toward Nero. Paul had bigger fish to fry, namely the salvation of people's souls. What Nero did was largely irrelevant to the grander scheme of things and Paul knew that.

In Romans 13 the Bible calls the civil authorities "ministers of God" appointed by Him to keep the peace. Paul also commands that Christians should respect and "honor" the authorities to the extent that we can do so without disobeying God (see Romans 13:1-7 and Acts 5:29).

Conspiracy theories teach the opposite. Instead of respecting civil authorities, conspiracy theories teach that these men should be, at the least, distrusted and that they are not the "ministers of God" but are rather the ministers of Satan. Those embracing these theories would do well to heed the example of David when his men encouraged him to take the life of King Saul in the cave (see 1 Samuel 24:10). There, instead of taking the life of the evil king who was pursuing him, David refused to lay a hand upon the "Lord's anointed" and instead showed respect to this evil man and spared his life.

By embracing conspiracy theories Christians are led to engage in slander and bear false witness against their neighbor.

As noted above, some leaders are undeniably evil and others are open and avowed enemies of God and his people. To state these objective facts about such an individual is not slanderous. However, to speculate and say that a certain government leader is a member of the Illuminati when there is less than certain proof that such is the case is to bear false witness against that person and to slander them.

Bearing false witness against our neighbor is sin (Exodus 20:16). Furthermore, the Bible tells us to speak about things that will build each other up ("edify") and stop speaking about the things that tear others down. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph. 4:29-32.

Notice how serious of a sin in God's sight is the sin of evil speaking – Paul tells us that we can grieve the Holy Spirit by engaging in it!

Focusing on conspiracy theories takes our eyes off of Jesus and will cause us to be deceived at the end of time.

The Bible teaches a principle of natural law: by beholding we become changed (see 2 Cor. 3:18). If we look at something long enough, if we think about an idea intently enough, that thing, person or idea begins to have an effect on us. (Think about those stories of cops tasked with infiltrating a criminal organization only to become "dirty" themselves. That which was surrounding them began to affect them). If we feast long enough on conspiracy theories and the evils they encompass there is a danger that we will become enamored with evil and take our focus off of Jesus.

Instead, we ought to be focusing on Jesus. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us" (1 John 3:1). "Behold" (focus on; think about) the love of God, John says, not the bad actions of evil people in this world.

Notice what Ellen White had to say about focusing on what she calls the seductive arts of Satan:

"Give the people present truth. Talk the truth. Fill their minds with truth. Build up the strongholds of truth. And do not bring Satan's theories to minds that should not hear in regard to them. What the people need is not a representation of the seductive arts of Satan, but a presentation of the truth as it is in Jesus. Remember that the devil can be served by a repetition of his lies. The less we handle these objectionable subjects, the purer, cleaner, and less tainted will be our minds and our principles." Evangelism, p. 624, emphasis mine.

Finally, Ellen White notes, "Resolve never, never to repeat error, but always to teach the truth. Fill hearts and minds with the solemn, sacred truth for this time." Evangelism, p. 623.

The end-time movement to enforce worship is a democratic movement, not top secret behind-the-scenes maneuvering by a few politicians.

Ultimately, there is one grand conspiracy theory that is true. That conspiracy theory is that Satan, the master deceiver and enemy of all that is good, is conspiring with and using sinful men to overthrow God and His people. The last book of the Bible details Satan's titanic struggle with Christ to overthrow God's government in the universe. That struggle will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon – the last battle between Christ and Satan. Satan will ultimately lose the war.

The Bible gives us some clues as to who Satan will use and conspire with at the end of time. First, there is the Antichrist power, a human organization, also referred to as the "Beast" in Revelation 13. Then there is a second "Beast" in Revelation 13 – referring to a nation that the devil works through to control the world at the end of time. Through both of these powers Satan will seek to defeat God and His end-time people.

Surprisingly to some, the end time movements to enact and enforce laws leading to the biblical "Mark of the Beast" will not be stealth movements based on secret conspiracies. In fact, they will be very public and enacted by a democratic society and due to the popular demand of the citizens of that society. Notice that the second beast of Revelation 13 says "to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live." Revelation 13:14, emphasis mine. As Ellen White notes, this action denotes a grassroots-based, democratic movement that eventually leads to the enacting of laws that result in the Mark of the Beast. ("Rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance." The Great Controversy, p. 592.). According to Revelation, it's the people who are pulling the strings at the end of time – not a few evil members of the Illuminati in a smoke-filled room somewhere.

Quite contrary to this, most conspiracy theories about the end of time teach that a few evil men are plotting to spring laws on the United States or the world and that one day we will suddenly wake up to a dictatorship that has been going on all along behind the scenes without our knowledge (kind of like the Matrix?).

The Bible tells us what we need to know and do to stand through the end of time. One thing we should not be doing is closely studying into conspiracy theories that are speculative and based on theories of men. Instead, we should put on the full spiritual armor of God so that we can stand against the ultimate conspirator – the devil himself.

Notice what Paul says we should be doing so that we can "stand" in the evil day: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph. 6:10-17.

(I am indebted to a paper written by Pastor Lary Brown, president of the Sri Lanka Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, which inspired some of the thoughts expressed here).

(This article was originally published on Steve Allred's blog in July 2011 at http://sacredconscience.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-problem-i-have-with-conspiracy-theories/)

Steve Allred is an associate pastor at the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church and is finishing his law degree. He writes about liberty of conscience and social justice at www.sacredconscience.com

 

 

 
 

14 Comments

  1. Bnparkin says:

    Very well expressed.

  2. Nicsamojluk says:

    Do you think that Pastor Walter Veith's conspiracy theories negate the sincerity of his conversion experience from Catholicism to Adventistm?

  3. Aldobbin2002 says:

    An old mentor use to teach us  " I don't discredit anyone but I am the master of creating doubt". The lawyer that is repersenting adventist Religious Liberty, in my opinion is doing just that.
    "All is Comic book stuff and his opinion."
    Anyone that ever listened to Walter Veights lectures AND study their Bibles & the Spirit of Prophecy will know full well that Walter Veight is dead on.
    He never once said anything that was a conspiricy theory.  On the contrary he allowed the People or leaders of Churches & Free Masons etc. to speak for themselves.  With you and I as the ones forming our own conclusions.

  4. Aldobbin2002 says:

    As for the Apostle Paul " He warned that the Anti Christ power was already at work in his time."
    Any sincere  Christian will know that Satan and his forces are out in full force.  The Bible says Satan knows his time is short and is going around like a roaring Lion to see whom he can destroy.

    The Bible also says " In the last days such a deception will come upon the World that even the very Elect would be deceived if it were possiable."

    When sincere people like Walter Veith, starts exposing the deception, you know very well Satan will attack, in any and every manner.

  5. Kjames says:

    This article is spot on and refreshing to read.  Conspiracy theories divert the heart and attention from what is really  important.  Nothing in Scripture teaches that we should be studying into these dark secrets.

    I am not sure why Walter Veith's name has come up in this discussion.  I can't recall seeing his name in the above article.  But since it has been shared I can safely and confidently say that Veith is on the wrong track in regards to conspiracy theories (he seems to see a Jesuit behind every movement) and much of the material he uses to "prove" or back up his points are questionable and nearly unverifiable.  He uses circular reasoning to make his points.

    But I am not writing this to ridicule those who enthusiastically support Veith,  nor trying to change their minds on that point, but I can say my spirit resonates perfectly with this article with the way I have been seeing this issue for years.  Thanks so much for publishing it.

    • Andrew says:

      You are correct. Sometimes I feel very alone on this matter. These theories are very attractive to many people.

  6. Andrew says:

    Thank you for this timely column. This thing is sweeping our church in the person of a few very popular speakers. It is directly opposed to our prophetic understanding–as its Genesis is often dispensationalist–yet many members conflate these theories with the Spirit of Prophecy.
    You have to hear it to believe it. If you tell people not to believe conspiracies about the "illuminati", many SDAs will remark along the lines of: "But this is spoken of by EGW."

  7. Sarah says:

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE… I WILLLLLL send it to my SDA friends who are so fixed on the "consiparcy theories" 🙂
    GOD BLESS YOU

  8. Sharibsly says:

    "Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. AS the time comes for it to be given with the greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service…. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power — all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred.  Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these……As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet their awakened concsience. …like th Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it." — The Great Controversy, p.606.     And I have to say here, that  it is not evil men alone we are dealing with here — it is evil men who channel the fallen spirits who are controlling everything. Fallen angels, over 6000 years old. And the Bible does tell us that in the book of Revelation.

  9. Mitchell James42 says:

    You said it yourself at the bottom of your article — "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:12 — If this is not a Satanic conspiracy, what is ??!! Then we have Eph. 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."  How can we do that unless we expose them?? And if you look that Scripture up in any decent Bible Commentary, it will tell you that to keep silent about such works is to support them by default. And men who write articles like this forget one thing — that it is one third of the fallen host of heaven (the fallen angels, i.e. demons) that are controlling these movements through human beings who interact with them, such as through  channelling. While they say human beings don't have this kind of power, they ignore what Scripture clearly says about the fallen ones.

  10. Ian says:

    To his credit, Allred makes some very true and salient points in his article and I don't doubt his sincerity. However, I'd encourage him to use his logical legal mind to carefully examine the quotation shared by Sharibsly in The Great Controversy, p.606. It exposes the fallacy of imagining that Satan's grand conspiracy to bring the world into an attitude of worship to his satanic highness is not truly being carried out by human agencies that are in the service of the Beast power of Revelation.

    One of these human agencies serving the Beast is the organization known as the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits. It is through this organization as well as through the lay organization Opus Dei and others that the papal power is making "stealthy but rapid progress" to subtly direct the minds of men and women in such a way that they will indeed democratically request the very things that the Beast power has always wanted.

    Mr. Allred needs to study his Bible a bit more carefully, because these things are alluded to in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in type and symbol as well as through occasional plain statements. Some of us actually believe that Jeremiah was not a conspiracy theorist when he said, "For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, [compare Rev 18:2 to see where these wicked men are coming from] so are their houses full of deceit." Jeremiah 5:26-27. Sadly, as Jeremiah goes on to say, some of our own sincere "prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Jer 5:31.

    May God open the eyes of the sleeping virgins and may we all seek oil to anoint the eyes of our understanding before it is too late.

  11. Dave in Spokane says:

    Greatly appreciated the quote from Evangelism, p. 624. I used to be into Walter Veith, but always had to face the reality that I wanted him to be right despite knew in my heart that I was so addicted to the sensationalism he peddles that I had little desire for the plain, but nourishing simplicity of the gospel.

    One thing I noticed in trying to verify his statements that many of his sources cite each other. In other words, what appeared well referenced was in some instances a useless ring of circular citation.

  12. Aliagins says:

    The Bible is full of conspiracies.  Right up there at the top is the one that Lucifer conducted in heaven when he went around to the angels making his claims about God.  He was very successful in his plans since he took a third of the angels with him when he was thrown out.

    We see conspiracy written all over the plan that Jacob went along with that his mother cooked up. Over and over again there have been major and minor conspiracies through out the history of the Bible times and of world history.

    Personally I see some of the CTs (Conspiracy Theories) that Adventists come up with as pure nuts and not in a jar and for me there is one mind behind all of it. Satan's mind!  Get Adventists to focus on silly stuff so they are not aware of what the true conspiracies are all about.

    Jesuits in the GC!  Now that's a doozy. Or as mentioned the ones about the "illuminati".  And lately I've heard a lot about Muslim taking over of the government.

    All the while there really truly is a plan that has been hatched and is being carried out that is going to truly be a big surprise to Adventists world wide.  And it is not a secret plan.  It is right out in the open.  The plotters have for many years written a lot of books and have been heard on radio and TV and in mega churches. 

    The Great Controversy tells us how it is going to happen and sure enough plans are in place and churches and those in government are doing their part.  It is no accident that there is a clamor about abortion, gays, guns, prayer in public school, charter schools and school vouchers.  If one takes the time to notice they will see that sure enough there are great institutions and churches that have come together on points that they have in common.  Doctrine be hanged….they can all agree about their pet moral issues.  And they all agree that those that are unbelievers or are secularists or humanists, progressives/liberals are the enemy and must be taken down.  And a war has started in print and in the media.  The ones attacked are attacking back and it is all becoming very nasty. 

    Dear Adventist friends… it will not be us they go after first.  It will not be  a Sunday closing law that is brought about first.  It will be a straight out hunt them down and destroy them waged against the evil secularists.  And I ask what will Adventist do during that time.  Will we stand by as it happens because it won't be us – yet.  At the very end of the hunt and destroy they will go after the one group of Christians that do not follow their agenda…that's us.  And when that happens Jesus is very close to coming.  EGW says that the whole world will convert to their agenda.  The whole world!  There will be a lot of the whole world missing by that time.  The secularists, the unbelievers, the "others" will have to go so the world can be turned into a Christian world so that Jesus can come.  This is not the Rapture!  This is the doctrine that is taking over the Christian world. Dominionism!

    Every Adventist should make it a top priority to learn about Dominionism/Reconstructionism.  The change from a Republic to a Theocracy and it is already well on it's way to happening.

  13. phil o'Doherty says:

    Imagine trying to explain a conspiracy when you yourself are part of a huge conspiracy–Christianity. Watch the movie "Zeitgeist" and tell me Christianity is not a plagiarized conspiracy. The Bible is just a collection from dozens of texts that have preceded it. Get the facts.

 
 
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