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When ever I choose to confront gross, spiritual error head-on, I always take a bit of a risk. Like squirting a water hose up at a big wasp nest hanging on the side of the house. That is just one of the hazards of blogging with any amount of substance and then inviting readers to leave feed back: the conspiracy trolls become agitated.
My most recent troll encounter involves a post from last week where I linked to an article I wrote addressing the spiritual danger Christians face if they embrace a belief in conspiracy theories. Believe me, there are folks out there in many churches whose lives are fully consumed by conspiracy theories. In a way it is a grievous spiritual bondage that only serves to keep the person ensnared to fear or off balance concerning the things of Christ.
Of course, the conspiracy believer thinks he knows truth and is standing up for truth and warning the people of God about the "truth." Sadly, however, his perception of reality is warped and all the time he spends documenting his chosen conspiracy for those who may listen is really of no spiritual value in the long run. It is merely comprised of wood, hay, and stubble, and it will only be burned up in the end (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
Along with my link to an article I wrote about Christians and conspiracy theories, I linked to a web article written by one of our more unusual John MacArthur/Grace Church critics from over the years named Bob Johnson. Bob is of the opinion - an opinion he formed after one visit - that Grace has succumb to Purpose Driven Life philosophy, Marxist-Hegelian beliefs, and other nefarious church growth ideas.
If you were to force yourself to stumble your way through his deranged document, you will discover he despises small fellowship groups. The leaders of the small groups "brainwashes" all the participants to think like the larger group - think like the "One World Government." Moreover, he is critical of teams of Christians going out on a Saturday to serve a single mother with two kids by helping her around the house and baby-sitting her children so she can have a free day to go shop. Why this is bad is something of a mystery. At any rate, according to Bob, coming together in one accord so as to have unity in Christ, and groups of believers serving those in need within the Body of Christ, are really satanic "change agents" looking to undermine the Church.
Amazing, I know.
Well, Bob has some sycophants who feel it is their sworn duty to defend Bob's charges. So with in just a matter of hours I receive comments from at least two, possibly three, Bob supporters (I think one of them was the Bob in question), adding supplemental material to Bob's article and accusing me of being a "damage controller."
Most of their comments I deleted because they were naming people at my church as being "change agents" of the devil in this grand conspiracy and I refused to allow them to slander their character. However, to give you a bit a flavor of how these folks think, allow me to interact with a comment left by "Charles."
After naming one of our elders at Grace, he accuses him of, "[sitting] on the board of Leadership Resources International, a church growth org. THIS IS A FACT!" Hmmm...? And what exactly is sinful about church growth exactly? Particularly if it is biblically based church growth? If you check out the website of the group in question, it is pretty clear to me they have a desire to train leaders to be biblical and to impact their communities for the gospel. Why this is a bad thing is never explained. I guess it is because the group may employ some secular ideas of management to help with the practical implications of some of their goals.
Commenters aside, what strikes me as most predictable about a conspiracy troll like "Charles" is the anonymity. As soon as I read a wacky conspiracy comment I know, with almost absolute certainty, that when I click the blogger profile it will be "Not Found" or "Not Available." No personal information on the person exists. If there is a profile, the person has created some user name like 'truthseeker" or "benotdeceived." Never is there any information about who the person really is, what he or she does, perhaps where they attend church.
When pressed for this basic information, the usual excuse is "I don't put personal information on the web." That is a bogus response, because no one is asking for anything personal like a house address. An even lamer excuse is, "It doesn't matter who I am, you need to deal with my arguments." Come on, we just want to know a bit about who you are so as to gain some insight as to why you have chosen to fixate on the conspiracy under discussion. If the person claims to be a Christian, well then certainly he attends a church somewhere. I would like to know what church it is and whether or not the pastor knows one of his congregants adheres to such bizarre views of the world. If he is married, does his wife care that he has wrapped himself in these alternative histories of the world?
Honestly, I personally think the cloak of anonymity is cowardly, if not also lazy. If the troll is genuinely concerned about exposing the transformation of Grace, they will come out and put a face on their profile. At least Bob has the guts to come and protest at our Shepherd's Conference.