Evangelicals and conspiracy theories

Daniel Wallace—The Conspiracy behind the New Bible Translations:

. . . [C]onspiracy theories are increasing among evangelicals nowadays [see comments], and this is a troubling sign. By their nature, conspiracy theories ask the reader to be completely skeptical toward one view while adopting the other, without an examination of the evidence. (One recent book that pushes a conspiracy theory actually has thousands of factual errors and misrepresentations in it, all of which go unchallenged by those sucked in by its aura.) I am reminded of the many popular books I have seen sold in Christian book stores that have a jacket blurb on the back cover: “The Devil doesn’t want you to read this!” More often than not, this line is used by an author who has nothing of substance to say and simply wants to get his book sold. Further, it is a haughty claim. The devil doesn’t want us to read the Bible; but to elevate any merely human production to Satan’s hit list of forbidden books is both disingenuous and pompous.

Once the cry of conspiracy is raised, a cloud of suspicion is cast over one side of the issue. It never examines the flimsy basis of its own position, but throws acidic one-liners and ad hominem arguments at the opposition. Often, in this particular issue, those who hold the opposing viewpoint are simply labeled as “servants of Satan,” and their translations are called “bastard bibles”!

Mark Noll has recently written a masterful book entitled, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. In it he speaks about how American evangelicals have decided to chuck their brains for the sake of the party line, or for experience, or for emotionalism, etc. But the history of Christianity up through last century was of a different ilk. The Church felt that at least some of its number should be scholars–men and women who dedicated their minds to God, who cultivated the life of the mind. The fact that conspiracy theories about Bible translations are getting readily accepted in several circles indicts evangelicalism. To be blunt, this trend is symptomatic of the dumbing down of Christians in this country. Evangelicals are increasingly holding down the anti-intellectual fort, without engaging in serious debate with others. . . Keep reading.

HT: David Ker

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3 thoughts on “Evangelicals and conspiracy theories

  1. brad wright says:

    I’ve never heard of Bible conspiracies before… interesting.

    Statements like: “[C]onspiracy theories are increasing among evangelicals nowadays” drive me bonkers. Is there any evidence for this? I would guess not, rather someone becomes aware of something bad and therefore concludes that it’s getting worse over time.

  2. Scott F says:

    Would a conspiracy theory concerning increased conspiracy theories be a meta-conspiracy?

  3. Ben says:

    Aaah Brad, I’m patting myself on the back for helping drive you bonkers. ;-).

    You mean to tell me you haven’t been given a pamphlet lately saying, “The Devil wants you to read this!”?” Maybe you are just too sheltered from all the increasing conspiracy theories . . . you know . . . ivory tower and all. You need to hang around a few more of the hoi poloi. ;-).

    Very good point. I’m guessing that evangelical conspiracy theories actually had their heyday during the days Hal Lindsey.

    I think I’ll edit out the first line as my contribution to Scott’s metaconspiracy.

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