Monday, October 6, 2008

Conspiracy Theories

I've been thinking a lot lately about conspiracy theories. I don't know if the Adventist church attracts such thinking - and those who are doing the thinking on this subject - more than other denominations, but we seem to have a lot of conspiracy theories going on.

I'm sure you get the e-mails. The president is going to cancel the elections; we are going to get picked up by little red trucks, and flown off to concentration camps in black helicopters. And on and on it goes. I recently had a sincere church member of mine share an article with me that was quite sensational. The funny thing is, it was true.

But whether these things are true or not is not the point. Too many people spend too much time trying to rally the troops into heralding these conspiracy theories, and instead of preaching "Christ and Him crucified" we are scouring the Internet, newspapers, and televisions for the latest sign of the apocalypse. Don't get me wrong; we should be firmly grounded in our traditional understanding of prophecy. But I think God was smart enough to clue us in on the basic outline of end-time events, without setting us up to get so get caught up in the little details that are of far less importance.

I read with interest an article written by my Philadelphia Eagles-loving friend, Dr. Jon Paulien. He was writing for the Week of Prayer issue of the Adventist Review, and the title of the article was "When the Signs Grow Old." I thought it was very relevant and, in particular, a quote he shared from Ellen White was extremely apropos:
The shortness of time is urged as an incentive for us to seek righteousness and to make Christ our friend. This is not the great motive. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus is attractive. . . . He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life. . . . Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, proposes to elevate to companionship with himself those who come to him with their burdens, their weaknesses, and their cares (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 2, 1881).
What a telling statement! In talking with a few individuals who have a burden for trumpeting these conspiracy theories, it seems as though one of their primary reasons for doing such is to try to motivate people to "care." In other words, they want to wake people up to the idea that Jesus is coming soon and that they better start "caring" and getting their life in order.

No, Ellen White says. That is not a good motivation! In fact, it is very harmful. Only the "attractiveness" of Jesus can give a person a genuine motivation.


zestos said...

Thanks for the post, Shawn. The conspiracy theories have been flying thing and heavy lately, it seems. Check out my friend's blog for some debunking of some of the claims:

Shawn Brace said...

Hey Zestos,

Thanks for the comment! I will check out your friend's blog. Blessings to you!

Kyle Baldwin said...


I really like the quote of Ellen White's that you used. I am concerned however that faithful Adventists tend to fall into two camps when it comes to prophecy. Either they embrace every news headline and recast end of the world scenarios faster than the recent drop of stocks on Wall Street or they continuously caution that "no man knows the day or the hour" or "the message will never again be based upon time."I agree that both of these are true. However during the Millerite movement when William Miller preached that Jesus was coming in 1844 and the time was even further specified as October 22 there were people that quoted the aforementioned scripture saying the bible tells us we can't know the day or the hour. Yet we know that the movement was initiated and led by God. I think we need to be careful to say that as Adventists we understand the basics of prophecy so we don't have to ponder the details. I realize Christ should be extolled for his virtues, but prophecy just like the rest of the bible will shine brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. We cannot rest on our laurels and say that since we know that the Jesus will not touch the ground at his second coming we can stop watching, waiting and earnestly seeking signs of his coming.

Sherman Haywood Cox II said...

Thanks for blogging on this, I have blogged on this lately as well. I think there is a segment of Adventism that would have nothing to say if they didn't speculate on the Sunday law alegedly sitting on a presidents desk or the work of the illuminati or Jesuits.

My great problem is that when these false predictions never come to pass, they simply go on and make more predictions rather than coming face to face with their failed prophecy...

Charles said...

Hey Shawn, I wrote a big ol' blather the other day in response to this and pressed "Publish Comments" and blogger promptly went into a seizure and lost all my musings. Oh well! :-) I have finally built up enough energy to respond again.

In short - AMEN. A little longer and with some pentecostal flair, "HALLELUJAH and PRAISE JESUS!" I couldn't agree more, and the quote by EGW and the linked article from Pauline was just what I needed. So, thanks!

I have some family who are so concerned about being ready about the end time, they only study prophecy. They are in love with prophecy and not Jesus. I am also aware of a family somewhere in the contiguous 48 who last month at the beginning of the stock market crash took both of their kids out of SDA church school as they were sure Jesus would come by the end of September. I just pray they are all OK...

In the midst of all our speculations and dreams of a hopefully soon Second Coming, are we lost in conjecture and not found to be in love with Jesus? My favorite two chapters in the entire Bible are Ephesians 1 and 2 (at least for the moment).

We are chosen, adopted, desired, blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing, in Christ, with Christ, beloved. He takes great pleasure in us. We are without fault in His eyes. Perhaps if we were to all focus on these truths, the prophecy stuff, as important as it is, would take its rightful place - Hope and patient anticipation.

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure........But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead."

Shawn Brace said...


Thanks for your thoughts. I do think we need to maintain a balance.

And thank you also, Sherman, for your thoughts. I am quite familiar with the writings of Jones & Waggoner and believe strongly that we need to ground ourselves in what they emphasized.

Thank you Charles, as well, for your affirmation. I'm glad the post resonated with you. I'm afraid that too many people are missing the forest for the trees! When we take our eyes off Christ, we get into dangerous territory. The devil wants nothing more than to trick us into focusing on things of minor importance, all the while causing us to miss that which is most important: Christ and Him crucified.