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  • Writer's pictureRoss Moughtin

When conspiracy theorists are let loose

So 4th March came and went – and Joe Biden is still POTUS. The chances are you don’t know what I am talking about but I am referring to the prediction made by QAnon a crazed conspiracy cult, that Donald Trump would be reinstalled as President on this day. (He wasn’t.) I will spare you the details but QAnon claims (and here I paste from Wikipedia) a secret cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic paedophiles is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotted against former U.S. president Donald Trump while he was in office. This is conspiracy theory gone wild, altogether detached from reality, even though it claims to understand the true narrative of history. And all kinds of facts are dissected and rearranged to support an otherwise implausible argument, to be turbo-charged by the internet. What is truly frightening is that so many people believed this to be true, leading to the storming of the Capitol on 6 January. We seem prey to conspiracy theories, however implausible – the assassination of President Kennedy by the CIA, faked moon landings and that Paul McCartney is dead. Contemporary to Abbey Road the conspiracy grew that Paul had died on 9 November 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike. What was truly worrying was that nothing that Paul could do to convince some people otherwise. Truly weird. You hopefully have never come across the British Israelism movement, that the residents of our island Kingdom are direct descendants of the ten lost tribes of ancient Israel. One of their arguments is to be gleaned from the word “British” – which (and you have to keep a straight face here) a combination of two Hebrew words Berit (which means covenant) and Ish (which means man). However, it starts to get really dangerous when conspiracy theorists target the Bible. I well remember 5 September, 1975. This was the day the world was going to end – according to the Jehovah Witnesses. (For the record the JW’s have a track record of predicting the EotW in 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918 and 1925). A few JWs I knew actually prepared for this date when Jesus would come again, although I'm not sure how to prepare for the End of the World. Strangely, at this same time our vicar also taught that the second coming of Jesus was imminent, using material from the Bible and especially from the book of Revelation, which he failed to understand in its uniquely Jewish genre of apocalyptic. His key argument was that as the UK along with three other countries prepared to join the Common Market, this would make a grouping of ten. Obviously, he asserted, this represents the ten horns which feature so prominently in Revelation 17. But then the people of Norway voted not to join the Common Market – and the Ten became Nine. Oops. Looking back over the years I can see our vicar squandered a key opportunity to teach discipleship and to build our church . It closed last year. I recently read the biography of F B Meyer, who had a truly remarkable ministry of over 50 years, beginning in Liverpool in the 1870’s and culminating in London. However, you feel he was side-tracked when in 1918, along with seven other clergymen, he issued the London Manifesto asserting that the second coming of Jesus was imminent. We all need to be cautious. After all Jesus warned his disciples against empty speculation: “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father.” (Mark 13:32) While the apostle Paul cautioned his colleague Timothy against “controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work.” (I Timothy 1:4) Only last week I was talking to someone, very much open to the Gospel, who is being bombarded to no effect with End of the World stuff by an enthusiastic Christian, clearly counter-productively. As we heard on this morning’s #LiveLent, we are share our faith “with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15) However, there is something in human nature which longs for the Big Picture, an overarching theory to explain our puzzling existence and give meaning to our disordered lives. Which leaves us with the daunting question: Is the Christian Gospel one huge conspiracy theory centred on one implausible event, the resurrection of Jesus? This was the very question which haunted C S Lewis as he considered the claims of Jesus. But then he realised that every conspiracy theory, every myth is but a pale reflection of our longing for the Gospel story. For God has planted in each of us this a homing instinct for the true Big Picture, the one centred on Calvary – and we are not to fobbed off by pale imitations. And because this is God at work, we can test it out or in my own terminology, "to shake the roof rack". Albert Ross for one, aimed to disprove the resurrection of Jesus and finished up arguing for its historical veracity under the pseudonym Frank Morison, “Who moved the stone?” Apologist Josh McDowell came to faith in the risen Christ through reading this book: he reflected; “Few people seem to realize that the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life.” #Gospel #resurrection #conspiracy

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