About Conspiracy Theories
For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant (83:5).
“Conspiracy theorist” is a term thrown about much these days, usually to belittle those who believe that sometimes people engage in, well, conspiracies. Call someone a conspiracy theorist and you write him or her off—it is the ad hominem “argument” of the day (“fearmonger” is a close second).
Let’s at least get our terms straight. A conspiracy is when a group of people jointly work—conspire—to do something evil. A conspiracy theorist, then, is one who believes that sometimes people intentionally gather together to do evil.
The writer of Psalm 83 is clearly a conspiracy theorist. The enemies of God, he charges, including the nations surrounding Israel, “conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant.” This is no haphazard throng of people who don’t like Israel. It is a coordinated effort, made in covenant, to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. A conspiracy.
Should the church today expect anything less? If the world hates Jesus, it will hate his people. And it will do what it can, often in coordinated ways, to wipe the church—and her teaching—off the face of the earth. “Let the name of Christ be remembered no more!” (83:4, my paraphrase). To deny this is to live in denial of Jesus’ words—and common sense.
Of course, this does not mean there is a conspiracy brewing under every rock, or that every conspiracy theorist is worthy of attention. That would be as ridiculous as denying that conspiracies even exist. As always, discretion and judgment are crucial as we seek to read our day and interpret the signs of our time. So, what do we do?
We attend to the Scriptures, and the teachings of the church that come from them. As the question of whom to trust becomes more pressing, knowing the Scriptures, and the wisdom we glean therein, gives the church the ability to discern truth from lies.
We pray. The psalmist turns to the Lord, who is, as He has always been, the strength of his people and the hope of the nations. If we fail to turn to God and rely upon the arm of man, we will be deceived.
And we remember God reigns. Regardless of the movements and conspiracies of earthly authorities, the Most High rules over the kingdoms of men and continues to build his church. Forgetting this opens us to ungodly fear, which can lead us to dark, and foolish, places.