A Strange Conspiracy Theory

By Dale Holloway
October 22, 2020

When our family returned from Honduras in 1984, I accepted the pastorate of a church in Michigan. Over the next six years, I received a couple of anonymous letters, which were sent to thousands of pastors across America. The letter stated that Madalyn Murry O’Hair, founder and president of American Atheists, had been granted a hearing before the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., about Petition RM-2493, which would pave the way to stop the reading of the Bible on the air waves of America. She had 287,000 signatures to back her stand. If successful, this would cause all Sunday services which were broadcast on radio or TV to cease.

There was one problem with these letters: the information was completely FALSE! Nevertheless, it took on a life of its own as Christians and others spread the misinformation in churches everywhere. It didn’t matter that many pastors and leading evangelical broadcasters such as Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) debunked it. The FCC continued to receive thousands of letters in opposition.

Those were the pre-Internet days. Once the Internet began, the same misinformation started spreading like wildfire. As recently as a year before I retired in 2013, I had a parishioner say they had received an email about RM-2493 and wanted to know what we could do as a church to stop O’Hair. FYI: She had been dead for eighteen years.

Many such so-called conspiracy theories have been perpetuated through the years. The latest one is coming from QAnon, which is a kind of virtual cult with which a great number of pro-Trump evangelical Christians have fallen in love. Donald Trump is their heroic savior in a battle against what is called the “deep state.” This “deep state” is supposedly composed of sinister Democratic politicians and celebrities who abuse children. The theory’s “good news” is that there is an anonymous insider called “Q” in the cabal who shares secret information about the “deep state” to the outside world through cryptic posts online.

I’m not sure why some people seem so easily drawn to conspiracy theories. I’ll leave that to psychologists to explain, but my suspicion is that people tend to believe theories (no matter how bizarre) that support their current beliefs (for example: that Democrats are all liberal socialists; or that Republicans are all right-wing wackos).

Many years ago, I bought into a really strange conspiracy theory, which originated hundreds of years earlier. People keep perpetuating it and it never seems to go away. The theory is that there was a man called Jesus who claimed to be one with God the Father. Supposedly, when he was born, his mother was still a virgin. Hmm. Not only that, he said crazy things like, “You must be born again” if we were to have eternal life. On one occasion, he told one of his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Huge numbers of people actually believed him. He also taught people that they were to love one another, even those with whom they disagreed. Crazy stuff!

Then, the story goes, a group of Jewish religious leaders (Jesus himself was Jewish) conspired against Jesus because of his radical teachings and turned him over to the Roman authorities, who promptly allowed for his excruciatingly painful crucifixion. His followers claimed that by dying, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, which allows us to have eternal life through faith in Jesus. How crazy is that? Because of those beliefs, His followers literally changed the world forever.

I have a confession to make. I’ve never stopped believing in that old, but amazing “conspiracy theory.” My life has not been the same since I bought into the idea that Jesus is God incarnate, and that He paid the penalty for my sins so that I might have eternal life through faith in Him.

But what should my life look like since my faith is in Christ? In the New Testament, we’re given the answer in very simple terms: . . let us love one another, for love comes from God” (John 4:7). John continues, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (v. 8).

So, to answer the above question, our lives as followers of Jesus should be defined by love. What does that love look like? John answers that in verse 10: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and send his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” So, our love must have a sacrificial and forgiving dimension to it.

What follows, though, is the tough part where, to borrow an old expression, the rubber meets the road. John writes, “. . . since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).

Ponder that thought for a moment . . . .

The year 2020 has been one of the most divisive and tumultuous years our nation has experienced since the1960s. No one has escaped the pain or inconvenience of Covid-19 or our political, social, and racial unrest. And this being a presidential election year has only exacerbated the nation’s divisiveness and polarization. Seemingly, every issue is blamed on either the Democrat or Republican parties or their presidential candidates. Many people get upset if you express a political view different from theirs.

All of this can be discouraging and we can be tempted to think our nation will never heal from this. But we can and will if the true followers of Jesus will heed the admonition of the Apostle John, who propagated the idea from a strange "conspiracy theory" that we should love one another as God loves us. He doesn’t say to love like-minded Republicans or like-minded Democrats or even other Christians. We are to love an all-inclusive one another. May it ever be so.

© 2020 Dale Holloway  ۰  All Rights Reserved