My intention in writing this blog is to point out something that I hope will be helpful to us all in recognising potential unhealthy behaviour and adjusting our lives accordingly. Also, that we would all would continue moving in grace and compassion with those we encounter.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that when someone begins communicating in an edgy, argumentative way, there is ALWAYS something going wrong in their life. It could be a loss of a job, health, a marriage, or a ministry.

I always reach out privately to such people. Sometimes I get a response. Rarely does it change anything. So, I’ll repeat, every time someone is edgy, argumentative, or aggressive in the way they speak or interact on social media, something is going on in their own life that is causing frustration.

So, What’s Really Going On?

A helpful article published by the University of Montreal on conspiracy theories sheds some valuable insights into this phenomenon.

In summary, the authors address “significance loss” and how a person behaves to satisfy this need. The article speaks to why people embrace conspiracy theories to recover significance. The dopamine hit they used to get from their importance as a preacher, a husband, or their job is replaced by the audience they gain on social media. They “feel good” again because they have an audience, a platform, a voice, influence and allies. Significance has returned. Sadly, they lead others down a poisonous rabbit hole into a dark world of imaginary schemes where others are simply gullible sheep.

In all of the examples, I am aware of; the person has experienced loss: loss of ministry, relationship, job, house, or health. We all have lost something this year, especially freedom, but most people can rationalise this and not allow their behaviour to become toxic. But some, for whatever reason, do not possess this capacity. So, they attempt to recover from their loss of significance.

Something Else

In psychology, projection is an understandable self-defensive mechanism. When we don’t like what is going on in life, we are tempted to project our frustrations on others. Invariably this will be somebody we love or a person in authority who we perceive should do something to help us.

While projection is understandable, it is not healthy or godly. Projecting your frustrations on others only causes angst in friendships and relationships. I have held onto some friendships “by the skin of my teeth” over the past couple of years.

Rather Than Ranting, Try Talking

Firstly, if you are a person of faith, talk to God. Allow God to be a circuit breaker for your frustrations. Confess what is vexing you to him and invite the Holy Spirit to refresh and heal your wounded soul. Make a covenant with the Lord that you will not say or write anything in the public space when you feel irritable or anxious.

I have found it very therapeutic to write an email when I’m feeling frustrated and then put it in the drafts folder for a day or two. Note: DO NOT put the person’s email address in the “To:” line just in case you send it by mistake! After a day or two, I either delete the email entirely or rewrite it in a much gentler tone. But the action of writing the email can be a tonic.

And talk to someone you know and trust. It could be a professional such as a pastor, counsellor, or psychologist, or maybe a faithful friend. Tell them what you’re going through and how you are feeling, and ask them if you can chat regularly and for them to hold you accountable.

A Final Example

I did this recently when I had watched a guy I had known for years being extremely edgy on my Facebook page. Here’s my message to him, “You and I have known each other for a long-time. I have always respected you greatly. I am concerned about the way you’re engaging online. Of course, you are totally free to post what you like on your own page, but when you’re commenting on mine, could you please keep it respectful? I’m asking, kindly, could you please use some self-control when commenting on my page? Thanks so much.”

He wrote back, “I’m sorry Rob I should not have replied to that comment, although they were laughing at my opinions, I just should not have bitten back anyway. I’m needing to change my social media approach 100%…as hard as it is to bite my tongue I simply must now. I’m sharing that with you so you can hold me accountable if you feel like I’m stepping over the mark please feel free to poke me. Bless you heaps.

That was a good outcome. But it’s rare. I encourage us all to be like that and, if we are feeling frustrated because life is tough, we need to find a healthy outlet by chatting with God and a friend. Let’s tell them what’s REALLY going on.

Fake news is nothing new; it’s been around for centuries.

Consider Jesus’ resurrection. A story was fabricated by the chief priests and the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb, saying that “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.” The writer continues, “And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” See that? “Widely circulated!”

The story of the stolen body was fake news. It wasn’t an alternative fact. It was just plain wrong.

With the advent of the internet and social media, false facts have taken on a life of their own. Reliable news and misinformation live together side by side, and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s enough to make you cynical like Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. At his trial, Jesus told Pilate, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate mockingly replied, “What is truth?”

As a Christian, I want to be a person of truth. I don’t want to be responsible for sharing anything misleading. I imagine you feel the same way, so here are a few things I do before I post or share so I don’t end up being a jerk online:

Take a deep breath

If a headline or post grabs your emotions, you’re more likely to share it. And yet, the more a post provokes you, the more likely it is to be misleading. Do you know that feeling of outrage? You can’t believe that it’s true, and you’re incensed, and you have to share it so others can be furious too. That’s when you need to take a deep breath. Decide never to post anything when you’re in that frame of mind ~ or when you’re tired, stressed, or anxious.

Check the facts

Genuine news will include sources for all information presented. Who’s quoted, and what are their qualifications? If statistics are cited, from which study are they taken? Was the research professionally conducted and peer-reviewed? If sources aren’t quoted, odds are it’s not authentic.

Don’t believe everything you read or watch. It could be a hoax, a wild conspiracy theory, or misinformation. Do an internet search to see if it’s been quoted by reliable news sources (Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, for example). Has it already been identified as false? If there’s a photo, is it genuine or fake? If it’s a video, who is presenting? Check out who created the video. What organisation(s) do they represent? What is their motivation?

The internet is teeming with fake news sites and other outlets with very low ethics of truthful reporting. Check out their media bias and level of factual coverage. Avoid far-right and extreme-left sites and especially those that perpetuate baseless conspiracies. Some fact-check sites give a tin-foil hat rating!

Regularly I receive links to articles and videos. Rarely do these come with a message like, “Hi Rob, would you please look at this and let me know your thoughts?” I know the motivation behind this. “They” want to convert me to “their” way of thinking on the topic of the day. I usually take the time to check it out and get back to them with a fact check. Predictably there’s no response, no “thank you so much for taking the time.” There’s just silence until the next article or video arrives. I eventually ask people like this to stop sending me unwanted commentary. That rarely works either. Choose not to be a jerk like that!

Sadly, false information gets blindly shared hundreds of thousands of times. Some people refuse vaccination because they’ve watched or read something and are now more fearful of the vaccine than of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. People are getting very sick and dying because they’ve listened to this sort of fake story. As Australia moves into the next pandemic phase and learns to live with the virus, we will see many more people getting sick. Many will recover, some will develop long-COVID, others will die. Most of this is highly preventable simply by being vaccinated. I strongly encourage you to chat with your GP and get a second opinion if you’re not satisfied.

See through the hype

Fake news will invariably play on people’s hopes and fears, anger, empathy, or sense of justice. And, have you noticed, it’s ALWAYS someone else’s fault? Blame the government, blame the health experts (think Dr Fauci, America’s Chief Medical Advisor to the President, and the heat he’s copped from people who don’t know the first thing about viral pandemics and immunology).

Harmful propaganda will always play on our fears and blame others for our problems. The 1918 flu pandemic was blamed on the Germans’ Submarines. In the 14th Century, the Bubonic plague was blamed on Jews, acting on behalf of the Muslim prince of Grenada, who had bribed the lepers to contaminate public fountains and wells to kill the Christians.

Casting blame legitimises our despising of the “other” who is viewed as the cause of our problems. If you’re a Christian, behaviour such as this lies far below the Royal Law of Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself” (James 2:8). Your behaviour online must be in line with the faith you profess!

Be Honest

I do all of the above BEFORE I post or share anything on social media. If you are a person of truth, you must do due diligence BEFORE you say or publish anything. But we all get it wrong sometimes. And when we do, let’s own it and apologise.

If I notice something false on someone else’s page, I invariably send them a private message. Sometimes I leave a comment on the thread. Mostly, my message is ignored, and the post remains.

Several months ago, a friend posted this on Facebook, “After hearing Mark Zuckerberg saying that posting the Lord’s Prayer goes against their policies….” He then posted the Lord’s Prayer and encouraged other people to share his comments that anything of the Gospel is considered HATE speech by Facebook. He continued, “So, I posted this because the Lord’s Prayer is against their company policy.” I let him know that this is a hoax that has been circulating on Facebook since 2014. He didn’t reply. No comments. No, “thanks for letting me know, Rob.” I’ve come to expect this kind of ghosting on social media. But what a sad day it is when we can’t be grateful, humble, and truthful. By the way, this false information was shared 257 times by his Facebook friends. People carelessly passed on the fake news and commented, “Amen,” dozens of times as if this was gospel truth. Which it isn’t. God help us!

If you post something fake or inaccurate, don’t be embarrassed but please be responsible. Apologise for the post and make sure others realise that your original statement was wrong.

Wise Up

Some of the bogus information circulating online is spread by bad actors. For example, a German-based conspiracy group (Worldwide Demonstration) has helped to coordinate protests across the globe, including in various Australian cities. “The group’s various Facebook and Telegram pages are awash with anti-vaccine and Covid-19 conspiracy theories, as well as other conspiratorial content such as QAnon and Islamophobia.”  (See reference)

Sadly, Christian people are being captivated by this dangerous rhetoric that leads them to behave in a less than Christian way. We must be better than this!



It’s a trend I’ve observed over the past year or more, basically since the pandemic began. I’ll tell you what this trend is in a moment.

Sadly, conspiracy theories are one of the symptoms of global pandemics. I am particularly saddened by the number of Christians that have bought into these conspiracies. It appears that those who hold to a futurist view of Revelation and Bible prophecy are most vulnerable. After all, they are looking for an antichrist, a one-world government, and the mark of the beast. They then read current events in light of this, and hey presto, the global “plandemic” is the insidious work of the world’s elite forcing their agenda on unsuspecting peoples. History is littered with such claims, and they’ve ALL been wrong!

An Ongoing Trend

But back to the trend, I’ve observed. Very quickly, in a discussion about lockdown restrictions, the second or third comment will often reference Hitler’s Germany. They literally go from zero to Hitler in 8 seconds. It’s like bringing out the big guns first. “I’m going to blow this argument out of the water.” “I’ve got you now, Buckingham.” “Just think of Hitler’s Germany; what if Christians had failed to speak out then, huh?” And I wonder if they know anything about history!

Comparing government action to protect its citizens during a global pandemic to the atrocities committed by the Nazis is appalling. But let’s visit a little bit of history here and consider what really happened almost a century ago.

In the 1930s, Germany was a Christian nation. Two-thirds were protestant and one-third Catholic. Jews accounted for less than 1% of the population. And yet, the Christian community was by and large complicit with Hitler. Most church leaders were persuaded by the Nazi Party’s statement on “positive Christianity:” “We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race.” ***

In July 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, a German pastor, Joachim Hossenfelder, preached a sermon in Berlin’s most important church – the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Speaking on Romans 13:1-7, he reminded the congregation of the importance of obedience to authorities because “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This appeal to the Bible led much of the Christian church to either support Hitler or not resist him. This same appeal to Romans 13 was used to back the slave trade and apartheid. It is still used to support capital punishment and was quoted by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to justify the Trump Administration’s immigration policy of separating children from their families.

A few verses later in Romans chapter 13, Paul wrote, “The commandments…are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10). Love does not condone torture and murder, it doesn’t imprison and starve, and it doesn’t separate children from their parents. True Christian love does no harm to anyone.

Understanding Romans 13

So, what is Romans 13 all about? The apostle was speaking directly into the political climate of his day. Emperor Claudius ordered all Jews to leave Rome around 51 CE. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, Claudius expelled the Jews because they were rioting on account of Chrestus (Christ) – apparently referring to disputes between Christian and non-Christian Jews. Luke mentions this historical fact in Acts 18:2, “Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.” The Jews returned around January 53, and four years later, Paul wrote his letter to the Roman church while he was spending three months in Corinth.

With this historical backdrop, we can understand what Paul meant in Romans 13. Nero was now in power, and Paul encouraged the church not to unnerve the political authorities with any more disputes with non-Christian Jews in case they were all ousted once more from Rome. If this happened, it would have an adverse outcome for the church and the Gospel in the City of Rome, and so Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to do the right thing and not rebel. He also taught them to pay their taxes and live lives of respect and honour.

What Does This Mean Today?

So, let’s apply this to the current pandemic. In general, are the State and Federal governments of Australia trying to harm or kill people? Answer: No. The public health measures guiding Australia’s response to COVID-19 are attempting to protect as many people as possible from a virus that is at least 30 times deadlier than the seasonal flu and four times more infectious. COVID-19 is a new virus in the human population, so scientists are constantly discovering more about it.

While most people will recover from COVID within a few weeks, between 10% and 30% of people will still be suffering long-term effects three months later. This is called Long COVID. Symptoms include fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog (similar to Alzheimer’s), aching joints, depression, and damage to the heart, lungs, and brain.

Much has been made of the blood clots associated with the Astra Zeneca Vaccine (causing one death in a million). For those who get COVID-19, 165,000 in a million cases develop blood clots. I’m taking my chances with Astra Zeneca, and so far, so good. I’m due for my second dose in September.

The question remains, is our government trying to harm its citizens? No. Then is the Hitler argument valid when applied to the current pandemic? No. Hitler’s reign of terror included the well-known Holocaust of six million Jews. In addition, Hitler was directly responsible for the murder of more than five million non-Jews. Gypsies, homosexuals, blacks, the physically and mentally disabled, political opponents, dissenting clergy, and resistance fighters were slaughtered by Hitler’s regime.

Notice the reference to dissenting clergy. We’ve seen a small number in Australia ~ pastors who have opened their churches while lockdown orders are in place. Some have called on Christians to defy the government and join protests. The dissenting clergy of Hitler’s day lost their lives. These guys are just losing their credibility.

In Nazi Germany, most clergy, and Christians, did not dissent and were thus complicit in the slaughter of millions. Let us not be complicit today in spreading false information that leads to people getting seriously ill and losing their lives. And please, stop appealing to Hitler to support your unchristian actions!



*** The Nazi Party’s statement on “positive Christianity” Article 24 of the 1920 Nazi Party Platform: “We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good.”

This time last year, we heard more and more about this strange new virus, but we were still blissfully unaware of the impact it would have on the world.

Simultaneously, as this virus was infecting people, we also saw a rise in the number of conspiracy theories that were affecting people!

A little research led me to understand that conspiracies go hand in hand with crises; especially pandemics. For example, the 1918 flu pandemic was blamed on German Submarines that brought the disease into ports as a “terrible new weapon of war.” Someone else blamed the Germans, maintaining “that the germs were inserted into aspirin manufactured by the German pharmaceutical firm Bayer.” Modern technology like electric lights and telegraph poles were blamed. We look back and consider those conspiracy theories to be ridiculous. In 2121 people will think the same about the conspiracies people are spreading during the current Pandemic.

So, what is the psychology behind conspiracy theories? What type of people is more vulnerable to them? What are the perceived benefits of believing something that isn’t supported by the facts?

The Need for Certainty

Uncertain times are a breeding ground for misinformation. “When people feel threatened and out of control, it’s natural to want to feel more control and bring order to the randomness by resorting to conspiracy theories,” says John Cook, Ph.D., co-author of The Conspiracy Theory Handbook.

Last year COVID-19 was a new coronavirus, and little was known about it. It takes time and painstaking research over months and years to fully understand what we’re dealing with. Some people find it very difficult to live without knowing. And so, they assume it’s better to latch onto something, even if it’s the wrong thing than to know nothing. For these people believing a lie is better than facing reality.

The Need for Social Connection

Buying into conspiracies helps people find a social connection. Everyone wants to belong. Those who believe in conspiracies “belong” to a group of people, invariably online, who also believe. They become the “in-crowd,” our crowd, our tribe.

“It makes us feel safe… we feel like we aren’t alone and are part of something greater than ourselves where people understand us, and we understand them,” says Dr. Carla Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. “For some people, it’s a matter of pride. There are certain people who, until the bitter end, will hold onto something that is not true because they don’t want to believe they’re wrong.”

The Need to Know

A Facebook “friend” who posted on my page recently finished her comments with, “not many people know this.” I replied, “but YOU do, right?” It was a tongue-in-cheek response aimed at gently exposing her misplaced sense of importance. But it made no difference, and I didn’t really expect it to. Believing in conspiracy theories makes the believer feel unique being the bearer of scarce information. It’s the “I know something you don’t know” that we’d expect young children to whisper to each other, and it’s rooted in pride.

A 2016 study found, “People with high education are less likely than people with low education to believe in conspiracy theories.”

Those with low education tended to believe in simple solutions to complex problems. Those with higher education have been trained in critical thinking. That doesn’t mean that highly educated people are immune to conspiracies. In fact, those who have a higher education can be harder to convince that they are wrong.

The Need of Self

In our individualistic world, the need to look after number one (me) is invariably given high priority. People who focus on individual rights and freedoms as more important than concern for the broader community are more likely to be anti-mask, anti-lockdown, and anti-vaccine. They’ll view restrictions as attacks on their personal freedoms rather than common-sense measures to protect society. “I’m going to do what I want and no socialist politician/dictator/communist” is going to tell me what to do. Sound familiar?

How to respond

Many people have asked me how best to talk with someone who has embraced conspiracies. Firstly, ask yourself if it’s worth it. I think it’s best to go into a conversation without expecting to change the person’s mind. In other words, go into the discussion with low expectations. Try and talk about various topics too. Ask questions like, what has led you to believe that? Where did you get your information from?

If they are relentless in pursuing discussion of conspiracies, you are entirely within your rights to let them know when you’ve had enough. Refuse to argue. If they send you links to articles say, “That’s interesting, but I beg to differ.”

To guard my own mental health, I have chosen to unfollow certain people on social media. This is kinder than unfriending, but it means I don’t see their posts. And they post A LOT!

Anyway, that’s enough of all this. I need to devote some time to work out how they staged the moon landing in a TV studio ~ and renew my subscription to the Flat Earth Society!

Throughout the craziness of 2020, you may have seen or heard multiple mentions of something called “The Great Reset.”

Some believe that this “Reset” is a plan developed secretly in an underground concrete bunker in Switzerland that is now being rolled out to enslave most of the world’s population. A viral French YouTube documentary warns that The Great Reset will bankrupt people.

Media commentators and politicians from Canada, Europe, the UK, and the USA have been warning about it in a campaign called “Stop the Reset“. I have also seen blog posts, articles, emails, and Facebook posts all warning Christians that the Great Reset is ushering in the mark of the beast, a cashless society, and The Great Tribulation. I have even heard a sermon where the speaker suggested that we choose between God or The Great Reset.

What is The Great Reset?

The Great Reset IS real but it’s far from being a secret plot. It is a movement that has been entirely out in the open. The name comes from the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) convened by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, which people attended from business, government, and NGOs. The WEF was held in June 2020 in Switzerland.

The WEF focused on what the world will be like post COVID. Every human knows that the world has changed (and will further change) due to this pandemic. Lockdowns, masks, limited travel, widespread death, and illness have impacted individuals, churches, and communities. The WEF said, “The simultaneous disruption caused by the COVID-19 crisis in nearly every country around the world has forced societies into a moment of pause and reflection on what is truly of value. Rebuilding the post-pandemic economy in this spirit will require a more comprehensive definition of economic success to serve as a guide for the economic recovery.”

Klaus Schwab, WEF’s founder, and chairman suggested that “A better economy is possible but we need to reimagine Capitalism to do it” (see reference). International Monetary Fund director Kristalina Georgieva’s opening speech said, “COVID 19 needs growth that is greener, smarter, and fairer.”

Prince Charles called for a re-invigoration of science, technology, innovation, net-zero emissions, green investments, and green public infrastructure projects. The rest of the annual meeting and subsequent discussions contained various ideas that appeal to some of us and not others (see reference).

Carbon taxes, investment in education and health, changes to safety nets such as unemployment benefits, better support for charities, labour market flexibility, and a complete change in how we work were all discussed.

Conflicting Opinions

This WEF recovery plan has been interpreted as sinister by many groups reflecting the breakdown in societal trust we have seen for a few years (see reference). Interestingly, the diverse voices warning against this Great Reset are all making wildly opposite and contradictory claims. For example:

  • Prominent conservative commentators are warning that the Great Reset is a plot to destroy capitalism and impose socialism.
  • Left-wing activists are warning that The Great Reset is using the pandemic to introduce unfettered capitalism.
  • Libertarians are warning The Great Reset is nothing more than the beginning of complete and utter totalitarianism (see reference).
  • Others say it will usher in an era where all laws are removed, leading society to descend into lawless chaos.
  • Several commentators believe that the Great Reset is not a reaction to the pandemic at all. They say the Reset framers deliberately engineered the virus and released it as part of their overarching evil agenda.

In researching this blog, it became clear that few people commenting on The Great Reset had read any material in-depth, listened in full to any interviews about it, or taken the time to reflect on it. The one idea has spawned a plethora of contradictory concepts. Bluntly, they are all filtering the event through their own eyes and using suspicion of the new amid the anxiety caused by COVID19 to further their agenda.

The Great Reset has been hijacked. The usual collection of fears and worries repackaged to cast suspicion on it: a new world order under cover of a crisis led by secret elites, leading to a cashless society, poverty, and Microchips in vaccines. The posts were universal in whipping up fear, suspicion, mistrust and called for rebellion, anger, and (excuse my cynicism) financial donations.

My reactions:

The first is that the pandemic is a reminder that only God is in charge. Nothing is permanent, and the events of 2020 have shown this to be true. Whether it was the ability to give a hug at church or freely hop on a plane for a week on a Queensland or Thailand beach or go to school, these things have proven to be shockingly transitory. The Bible says that only God is trustworthy, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God has been faithful to billions of individuals for tens of thousands of years. He’s not about to change now!

Second, I believe that God has long had an intention for resets for humanity. Even a casual reading of history will show that the world has reset regularly. Crises usually speed up this process. The current pandemic has already caused many to reset relationships with families, communities, neighbours, and strangers seeking to live out a new order based on our relationship with God (Hebrews 9:10).

Thirdly, we need to understand that ‘Great Reset’ is a “brand” describing several options and possibilities for the future. Far from being secret, the Great Reset has an official website. Prince Charles, Justin Trudeau, and Boris Johnson are all openly talking about it. Time magazine has an entire section of its website focussed on it. The information is there. None of this has been “done in a corner” (Acts 26:26).

Further, we need to understand that every country cannot simply impose the various ideas suggested by the WEF. No global discussion operates that way. Look at the very different stages countries are at with climate change. Each country will have to debate and decide what aspects of the ideas they will adopt. Some have already implemented the concepts, and others never will. Everything in the world operates in this way!

Fourthly, as Christians, we need to be inserting ourselves into those ideas. We have a vital interest in building a world that is just, sustainable and fair. From Isaiah to Malachi, the Bible’s prophets cried out against injustice toward the poor again and again. We have seen incredible success worldwide, with severe poverty reduced from almost 50% of the world’s population to under 10% in fifty years. But now, COVID has reversed that trend for the first time in decades. How do we fix that? How do we continue to lift the poor out of poverty? We need to ensure that entrepreneurs and NGOs are supported to create sustainable paths for global business to continue to end poverty and build freedom. That is what The Great Reset is all about. When you consider that the Bible speaks over 2000 times of God’s people’s responsibility to aid the poor, The Great Reset is a very Christian concept!

Be kind to each other!

Finally, I appeal for us to talk in love as we debate our ideas. Respect seeks to listen before speaking. It seeks truth, not sensationalism. It seeks hope, not fear. There are so many frightened people around us. Jesus watched them, wept for them, and loved them. How do we, as Jesus’ followers, take actions to show love to our neighbours? So, the next time someone posts on Facebook saying there is a “Great Reset,” encourage them that there is indeed one and help them understand that it is highly Christian in its goals and not some evil plot!

I know this blog will disappoint some people, especially those who are strangely looking for signs of antichrist, cashless society, one-world government, and the Mark of the Beast. If that’s you, feel free to keep searching because The Great Reset has nothing to do with those things.

Have you noticed specific phrases appearing regularly on Social Media feeds? You may have heard or seen friends, relations, or church members posting or saying things like “research it,” “deep state,” #savethechildren, “Follow the White Rabbit,” “The Storm,” or “which pill are you taking?” You may even know people who have been putting a “Q” in their online profile name or directly talking about QAnon. You would have heard that Facebook and Twitter have been banning accounts linked to this QAnon.

Today, I want to consider the cult of QAnon and what it means for those of us who follow Jesus.

How it all began

In October 2017, an anonymous user called “Q” began placing a series of cryptic posts on the extreme internet message board known as 4chan. The user claimed to have a level of US security approval known as “Q clearance.” The identity of the original poster hasn’t been found. There has been tracking to a family living in The Philippines, however.

The messages from Q are known as “Q drops” or “breadcrumbs.” Since 2017, these Q Drops have been magnified by three individuals across multiple media platforms. This has built large profitable followings for them.

What QAnon believes

QAnon followers believe that the world is getting more corrupt, more dangerous, and more untrustworthy. They believe that Mr. Trump has been placed in power (some say by God) to tackle a secret “deep state” made up of Academics, Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Celebrities. QAnon followers call out enemies of the movement and the world in their posts and discussions. Material attacking the financier George Soros, the British Royal Family, Bill Gates, Bill and Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama; Jeffrey Epstein; Joe Biden; The Pope; Freemasons, and Jews have been accelerating from QAnon to mainstream spaces.

QAnon alleges that a cabal of Satan-worshiping paedophiles runs a global child sex-trafficking ring and is plotting against President Donald Trump. The cabal (deep state) exists to control the population, steal money from ordinary citizens, and facilitate the kidnapping and trafficking of children between the secret “elite.” They believe Democrats (and socialists) are behind international crime rings. They think that people can access knowledge to avoid the elite’s worst actions, including removing our power to vote and move freely and imposing a “mark of the beast” through microchips or 5G technology.

QAnon believes in the existence of tunnels under the world’s major cities. They say these tunnels are used by paedophile celebrities and politicians to traffic children and harvest organs and blood for the elites to drink.

Subterranean structures have long piqued people’s interest. Some of these were created in the wake of WW2. Air raid shelters, long abandoned, remain in the public memory as a myth. For example, the fabled “Northcote Tunnel” in Melbourne was the subject of decades of rumour. It was eventually found to be the result of a search for an underground stream, not the large-scale 1940s American construction it was said to be. Today, urban tunnels carry telecommunications, gas, electricity, water, and sewerage infrastructure.

QAnon also believes in reptilian personages. “They are among us. Blood-drinking, flesh-eating, shape-shifting extra-terrestrial reptilian humanoids with only one objective in their cold-blooded little heads: to enslave the human race. They are our leaders, our corporate executives, our beloved Oscar-winning actors, and Grammy-winning singers, and they’re responsible for the Holocaust, the Oklahoma City bombings, and the 9/11 attacks.”

The reptilians or “Annunaki” have controlled humankind since ancient times; they count among their number Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Bob Hope. The reptiles are behind secret societies like the Freemasons and the Illuminati.

The Storm is Coming!

QAnon asserts that Trump is planning a day of reckoning known as “The Storm” when thousands of cabal members will be arrested, overthrown, imprisoned, or more chillingly slaughtered in a mass uprising. On discussion boards, Q followers talk openly and comfortably about burning libraries, hanging Hollywood stars, and shutting down universities. The Storm will be followed by a Golden Age for the USA and the world. One of the beliefs held by some QAnon followers is that John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in 1999, will come back as a messianic figure and as Mr. Trump’s running mate. You can immediately see elements of the Christian Futurist apocalyptic movement here and understand why so many Christians have been deceived by this cult.

But QAnon also combines elements of the New Age movement. Monitoring suggests that people involved in QAnon are coming from a Christian or a New Age background. They regularly share memes and posts that incorporate messages from the Bible and the best-selling motivational book “The Secret.” Using the Internet, through YouTube videos, Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats, and Reddit feeds, Q has grown fast. Pew Research found that a considerable percentage of Americans support the movement. Support for QAnon is growing in Australia too.

Twenty-four politicians who support QAnon are running in the US 2020 congressional elections. This support is echoed across the post-Christian West, including Germany, NZ, UK, and Canada. While not taking hold as deeply, elements of the beliefs are emerging across Asia and Africa.

QAnon feels, for many, like a perfect movement for our time. It taps into the deep suspicion of institutions around the globe that appear to be failing. Parliaments seem deadlocked, divided, and ineffectual. Churches are perceived to have betrayed children; health systems have been unable to protect against COVID; conventional media outlets are seen as sources of “fake news,” academics are self-interested, and the rich are only in it themselves. In a time of uncertainty, having access to a secret knowledge connected to fixing a myriad of wrongs, particularly those done to kids, is very appealing.

The New Gnostics

The Bible says that “there is nothing new under the sun.” There are many parallels between QAnon and a religious and philosophical movement called the Gnostics. The Gnostics were active between 200 BCE and 400 CE. Gnosis means knowledge, and its followers believed they had access to secrets not known by the Church. They had very different views about the World, God, and the future to the Biblical writers. Like QAnon, they emerged in turbulent times and believed they were involved in a secret battle.

This is my first challenge. Just as Gnosticism was weighed and found incompatible with Christian faith, I argue that QAnon beliefs follow a similar pattern and are also not compatible, despite their use of Christian language.

We look to God and the Bible for guidance, not a secretive human (Q). When something happens that we don’t understand, we know that God has a more profound plan. We do not attempt to find a secret way forward. We know Jesus is our Messiah and not Q. Jesus revealed God by walking and talking amongst us and not hiding behind a secrecy shield. The Bible declares again and again that we need to be involved in openness with our message, patiently explaining the hope we have without resorting to cryptic hashtag hints.

QAnon also includes people who deny climate change, vaccination science, and the coronavirus pandemic. COVID19 is viewed as an excuse for these secretive world leaders to bring in a control mechanism, through 5G networks, and microchips hidden in the COVID19 vaccine.

In the US, 44% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats now believe Bill Gates is linked to a plot to use vaccinations as a pretext to implant microchips into people. 20% of young Australians believe that Bill Gates played a role in creating and spreading the coronavirus. Conspiracy theories about vaccines being the Mark of the Beast date back centuries. (When smallpox vaccines were introduced, they left a physical mark on the body).

Science, logic, & racism

As I have argued previously, science and logic are gifts from God that help us understand God’s creation. Science is not to be worshipped or feared or cast aside by Christians but used for good from eliminating disease and to increase food production. QAnon asks us to suspend belief in science and ignore Scientists as part of the evil elite.

Alongside the spiritual dangers is the reality that QAnon is recycling old racist myths. Some in QAnon have suggested that kidnapped children are being used in blood ceremonies ~ a false belief about Jews, which can be traced from the Middle Ages and was openly discussed under Nazism. There are numerous hints that the elite are heavily skewed to Jewish involvement echoing long-held anti-Semitic notions. To QAnon, the Black Lives Matters protests (racism) are financed by a Jewish/Freemason cabal to destroy Mr. Trump.

The mainstreaming of QAnon means that we see people we know and love held under a spell of misinformation. This is causing deep divisions across families, churches, communities, and political parties. We need to respond.

How to respond

We need to acknowledge that friends and loved ones are caught in a cultish mind-set. Many of us have been polite in the Church with how we think about QAnon and avoided labelling it for what it is.

  1. Pray: We need to surround those involved in QAnon with prayer across the Christian community. Instead of arguing with QAnon devotees, tell them you are praying for them. It is imperative we love people no matter how wacky they sound. It is tempting to laugh at people’s weird beliefs, but what these people are looking for are hope, love, and safety. Not giving them a safe space by mocking and debating them is actually unhelpful.
  2. Love: Engage with the person lovingly. Fact-checking is not a solution for them. Remember, they don’t trust the media. Fact-checkers are seen as the police of our online world in this New World Order! The fact-checking approach actually makes the QAnon followers more entrenched in their beliefs. QAnon followers are not operating according to logic or reason.
  3. Question: New conspiracies dramatically boost existing conspiratorial narratives across the community. Ask polite questions to challenge their beliefs. For example, “Can you share some more about how every government can introduce COVID into every country in the world? I struggle with seeing how any government could organise anything that big.”

As Christians, we need to give hope to people without hope, knowledge to people who hunger after new knowledge and point to Jesus and share an inspiring story of what God is doing in people’s lives. Churches need to pivot to a point where we are offering hope, not control. Followers of Jesus need to be humble and prayerful in this space.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve addressed some of the conspiracy fallacies being spread around even by Christians. In response to these blogs, I’ve had people comment, question, agree and disagree. And that’s all fine. After all, that’s what blogs are written for ~ to encourage discussion and debate.

What fascinates me though, is some people’s propensity to send a link to a YouTube clip, news article, or Facebook post as the final word. Little is done to check its source or accuracy: “I saw this, and it contradicts what you’re saying, so you’re wrong.” That’s their message over and over. And so, this week, I thought I’d address some of the current COVID myths:

The Depopulation Agenda

After last week’s blog defending Bill Gates I had many people give me information as to why this man is evil. One reason is that Bill Gates believes in depopulation. Misconceptions and misinformation have been spread by conspiracy “news” sites such as Your News Wire (Now Newspunch).

Depopulation is NOT killing or sterilising people by injecting them with vaccines. Depopulation is about creating an environment that reduces infant mortality. Due to high infant mortality rates in some countries, couples choose to have a larger number of children so that at least some will survive. Bill Gates is not interested in using vaccines to reduce the population by using them as an agent of death or a tool to sterilise unsuspecting masses. Instead, Gates is interested in keeping more children alive to reduce the need for parents to have more children, limiting the overall population growth rate.

And, think of this from a Christian perspective. Imagine the trauma that parents face by losing many children. Reducing child mortality enhances life, prosperity, and wellbeing. It brings some heaven to earth as The Lord’s Prayer says. And so, depopulation is not about reducing the world’s population but instead slowing the rate at which it grows.

Covid-19 is Just Flu

“We the body of Christ can’t gather because of the flu,” someone wrote in a blog comment this week. But COVID-19 is not the flu.

2019 was the second-worst flu season on record. Over 300,000 people were infected with the flu, and sadly 902 died in Australia. The death rate was not higher because most people in Australia have some immunity to the flu, either through previous illness or immunisation. This means if they catch the flu, they are likely to experience a milder illness.

We have highly effective vaccines available for the flu. Studies have shown that people who have the vaccine tend to avoid contracting the virus or, if they do, experience milder illness and are less likely to require hospitalisation. They are also less likely to pass on the virus, which reduces community transmission. For those who do contract the flu, there are effective treatments available. Antiviral medications are widely used and have been shown to reduce the symptoms and the risk of developing severe illness from the flu virus.

Now consider COVID-19. It is at least 30 times deadlier than the seasonal flu and four times more infectious. There is no vaccine and no proven treatment for COVID-19. 15% of people infected with COVID-19 have a severe infection, requiring oxygen, and 5% are acute infections, requiring ventilation. The length of stay in the hospital is much longer for COVID-19 compared to the flu. 25% of survivors have severe organ damage. Many will develop ongoing chronic health problems due to the virus, including heart and lung complications and post-viral fatigue. With no vaccine and no effective treatments, COVID-19 is far deadlier than the flu. This is why we have lockdowns.

Vaccines are Harmful

Sadly, the “Gates’ vaccines used to sterilise Kenyan women” conspiracy is once again doing the rounds. This has been debunked numerous times, but it surfaces from time to time. People blindly share it without doing sufficient fact-checking. The sterilisation claim is more than 20 years old. It has been repeatedly debunked by the World Health Organisation and others ever since.

For those who may be concerned about the impact of vaccines, there are significant safety measures. Australia has an incredibly robust and rigorous vaccine approval process. Besides, EVERY adverse reaction to a vaccine is monitored. Some people DO have adverse reactions – the number of adverse reactions is hundreds out of millions vaccinated. Usually, it has to do with pain at the injection site. Tiredness and irritability are also adverse reactions. Hospitalisation is very, very, very rare.

Vaccines Made From Aborted Babies

Others are concerned that the COVID-19 vaccine will be “ethically tainted” by aborted foetal cells. It is true that some vaccines, and some of the COVID-19 vaccines, are developed using cell lines from legally aborted foetuses (two from the 1960s). No foetus has been aborted to create a vaccine.

Vaccines are researched, developed, and produced through the use of laboratory-grown human cells. The vaccines themselves contain none of the original cells. The Catholic Church, which opposes abortion, has stated: “vaccination should not be refused on moral grounds in cases where the public health benefits of vaccination may outweigh the use of aborted foetal tissue to develop some vaccines when an alternative vaccine created from cell lines that are not morally problematic are not available.”

I understand some people’s concerns about this issue. But, if we are genuinely pro-life, our concern must be the protection of the living. As noted already, COVID-19 is an incredibly infectious virus that is extremely dangerous to many people and deadly to some.

Covid-19 Vaccine Microchip

Some have suggested that the eventual COVID-19 vaccine is a ploy by the cabal to inject us with a microchip. This is all part of the one-world government plot. It’s also an incorrect interpretation of Revelation chapter 13.

While it is true that Microsoft has a patent application with the numbers 060606 in it, this is for a system that rewards physical activity with cryptocurrency. It has nothing to do with injectable microchips. In any case, the technology to insert a trackable microchip does not exist at this time. If and when it does, the hypodermic needles would be considerable. For this to be possible, every doctor, nurse, and medical professional worldwide would have to be in on the conspiracy. This is beyond impossible.

Covid-19’s Inflated Numbers

A comment on my Facebook thread said, “NYT posted. Corona numbers in the US inflated by 90%.” No, the NYT did not report this. The New York Times responded to a claim made by Donald Trump suggesting the death count was inflated. The opposite is probably true. NYT reported, “the death toll is probably far higher than what is publicly known. People are dying at their houses and nursing homes without ever being tested, and deaths early this year were likely misidentified as influenza or described only as pneumonia.”

If anything, the Covid-19 numbers that are reported are lower than the real numbers.

It’s 5G’s Fault

“The 5G network apparently weakens the human immune system, and COVID-19 is just a symptom of this weakened immunity” ~ that’s one of the conspiracy myths currently doing the rounds. While 5G uses higher radio frequencies than previous generations (in the 30-300 gigahertz range), there’s not enough energy to break chemical bonds or remove electrons when in contact with human tissue.

5G is approved by the federal government’s Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency as not having more intense radiation’s adverse health effects. Even when you put your 5G mobile to your ear to make a call, radiation exposure is well below the recommended safety level. 5G radiation can’t penetrate skin or allow a virus to penetrate the skin. There is no evidence 5G radio frequencies cause or exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus. Radiation and viruses exist in different forms that do not interact. One is a biological phenomenon and the other lives on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Event 201

The Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201 in October 2019. Event 201 was a simulation on how to respond to a global coronavirus pandemic. Obviously, this has been viewed as too coincidental ~ or something more insidious!

Johns Hopkins has received a lot of questions about this and made a statement on their website.

In recent years, the world has seen a growing number of epidemic events, amounting to approximately 200 events annually. These events are increasing, and they are disruptive to health, economies, and society. It is only right that medical & benevolent institutions and governments should prepare for these. I see it as preparation for the inevitable.

I hope my comments help you sift through all the information, myths, lies, and conspiracies that are doing the rounds. I encourage you to place your faith firmly in The One who holds this world in his hands. Let’s confess with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Ps 16:8).

As I’ve noted a few times in recent blogs, conspiracy theories are sadly one of pandemics’ symptoms. But no one has copped more flack from conspiracy theorists during the COVID-19 Pandemic than Bill Gates. Consider these as just an example:

  • Bill Gates briefed the CIA about a “mind-altering vaccine.”
  • Italy has called for his arrest.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spending billions to ensure that all medical and dental injections and procedures include tracking microchips.
  • Gates said a coronavirus vaccine would “permanently alter your DNA.”
  • Mr Gates has admitted, “his COVID-19 vaccine might kill nearly 1 million people.”
  • He leads a class of global elites.
  • He is leading efforts to depopulate the world.
  • Bill Gates has been warning of a worldwide pandemic for years (true) and actually brought the virus into the world (untrue)
  • The Gates Foundation has tested vaccines on children in Africa and India, leading to thousands of deaths and irreversible injuries. One post even suggested he is facing trial in India.
  • He is accused of rolling out a tetanus vaccine in Kenya that includes abortion drugs.
  • He is linked with China’s communist party.

People share these conspiracies as fact on social media. Others share the posts with little or no fact-checking. And, off it goes—viral rubbish circulated as truth.

Why Bill Gates?

Rory Smith, from fact-checkers First Draft News writes, “[Bill Gates] is this kind of voodoo doll that all these communities are pricking with their own conspiracies. And it is unsurprising he has become the voodoo doll – because he has always been the face of public health.” 

Of course, Bill & Melinda Gates are easy targets. They are famous, powerful, and rich. Before the Gates, George Soros, the Koch brothers, the Rothschilds, and the Rockefellers were all the targets of conspiracies. As a young Christian, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers funded the Illuminati that would introduce the one-world government and the antichrist. How wrong I was.

In a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI and the Allensbach Institute, respondents in four countries were presented with the following statement: “Those who are very rich and want more and more power are to blame for many of the major problems in the world, such as financial or humanitarian issues.”

In Germany, 50% of interviewees agreed with this statement, roughly twice as many as in Great Britain and in the United States (25% and 21%, respectively).

Trying to Find a Scapegoat

Crises like the current pandemic are often complicated in nature. There are aspects of the virus, treatment, and ultimate cure that are difficult to understand. It’s so much easier to attribute the crisis to something sinister and straightforward.

It’s caused by these wealthy, influential people who have a malevolent agenda. Psychologist Peter Glick put it this way, “Scapegoat movements attract followers by offering simpler, culturally plausible explanations and solutions for shared negative events.”

What concerns me more than anything, though, is the number of Christians – you know, followers of Jesus, The Truth – who are propagating these lies.

Rather than undertaking diligent research through credible sources, these theorists blindly agree with and share their “truth”. Behaviour like this is inconsistent with people who uphold the Gospel of Jesus and are hopefully filled with the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13).

Don’t Walk Blindly

Christianity’s credibility is seriously eroded, especially by conservative, evangelical & Pentecostal Christians (my tribe). As mentioned in previous blogs, many people in these groups hold to a modern understanding of Bible prophecy, popularised by a cult leader.

Many Christians today are waiting for an antichrist, one-world government, cashless society, and great tribulation and often interpret crises as forerunners to these events. It’s no wonder then that these same people will fall hook, line, and sinker for conspiracy theories that back up their interpretation of Bible prophecy.

Beliefs such as these are powerful. I mean, they are based on the Bible, the Word of God, right? And so, rather than living life to bring heaven to earth (as Jesus taught his followers to pray), these Christians live with an expectation that hell on earth is just around the corner. A crisis is relished, as long as it doesn’t come too close. Governments are merely puppets controlled by a group rich, powerful, and famous people (a cabal or cartel) who have a hidden agenda of world domination.

Many of these conspiracies contradict each other. Suppose you consider all the theories and conspiracy trends. This is what you arrive at: Covid-19 doesn’t exist; it’s a hoax, a phantom virus made in a lab near Wuhan, or the USA, by the Chinese or the Americans. It’s harmless, and just an excuse to limit our freedom, and it’s deadly and is being used for population control. It’s being released so that we need to be given a vaccine to survive, so the microchip injected into us when we received the vaccine will also kill us to reduce the population to stop global warming, which isn’t even a thing. This is so the looney left can spread socialism and communism so they can control all the people. These people are already dead and already controllable because of the microchips. And all of that is actually just a hoax to distract us from the rollout of 5G, which is designed to kill us for one of the reasons already noted above!

An Apology to the Gates Family

I hope this minor rant will demonstrate how ridiculous all of this posturing really is. And I think we need to give a massive apology to Bill and Melinda Gates. I’ve never met them, but I’d like to one day. What I’ve seen and read about them has always impressed me. Melinda Gates’ Catholic faith appears to be the motivating force behind the Gates Foundation, which they created in 2000. Since then, they have given away more than $45 billion (approximately half of their wealth). Their priorities are fighting diseases, reducing extreme poverty, and improving maternal health – the foundation partners with many organisations. Faith-based groups – including Catholic organisations, World Vision, Lutheran groups, and the Salvation Army – are key recipients of more than 125 foundation grants.

I know that Bill Gates is aware of the conspiracy theories circulating about him. He’s addressed them publicly. What concerns me is that he is also probably aware that Christian people are amongst their biggest spreaders. And so, I apologise to Bill and Melinda Gates. Please don’t think all followers of Jesus are like this. Many of us appreciate the work you and Melinda are doing, and we don’t believe you have an insidious agenda. Like us, we assume you have the vision to make this world a better place, to create heaven on earth.

As for the conspiracy theorists, I know you will write to me and give me “proof” that I’m wrong. It’ll come in the form of a YouTube clip, or meme, or article from some dodgy website. So, let me save you the time. I’ve done the research, and you’re wrong. But one thing I need to let you know. The term “conspiracy theory” was invented by the CIA. Fact!


A few weeks ago, I received an email from a guy who calls himself an Evangelist. He wanted to challenge me about Bayside Church, and other churches, closing down services during the Global Pandemic. He wrote:

What about God’s word “do not forsake the gathering together of the saints and do so more as the day draws nearer”!! We have already obeyed man over God and now discovered it’s all a lie to take. [sic.] Freedom from the people and increase fear and the control of the government to usher in one world order. Please challenge people to fight injustice and choose God Over man including church. Pastors should not have closed their church’s. So many people look to you ??? Don’t be a coward brother !! Set example Expose injustice and ungodly anti christ agenda

I get quite a few kooky messages, most of which I ignore, but I thought I’d address this one as it contains so many fallacies that are being spread around at present. Fortunately, in Australia “there appears to be little or no appetite to go against the various Public Health Orders in each state. Our largest churches such as Hillsong are meeting online, and church leaders have committed their networks to understand and follow the rules, seeking advice from Health Authorities where something is unclear.” (Quoted from Eternity Newspaper).   I believe the Australian church has got it right.

Meanwhile, in the USA

In the USA, there’s been a slightly different approach. Even though most churches have abided by government guidelines, a small, vocal group of pastors has “begun to bristle at government-imposed restrictions on their worship.” (Quoted from The Atlantic). 

Some have reopened; others have sued for their right to gather, claiming the restrictions are unconstitutional and a threat to religious freedom. A few others refused to shut down at all.

History Repeats

Sadly, much of this is history repeating itself. During the 1918-19 Spanish Flu Pandemic, many of the same measures were put into place that we’ve seen during COVID-19. Face masks, social distancing, personal hygiene, and closing of places of public gathering. While most people complied, some saw this as some sort of insidious agenda of State control and bucked the system. It was the second wave of the Spanish Flu that killed the most people. One thing we learn from history is that we rarely learn from history!

Churches that sue for their rights and their religious freedom do nothing to advance the good news of Jesus. The Gospel calls Jesus’ followers to “not [look] to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of the others” (Phil 2:4).

The Spanish Flu wasn’t a threat to religious freedom, it was a threat to public health. COVID-19 is the same. After 1919, churches and other public gathering places were reopened once again, and the world moved into The Roaring Twenties. Closures, wearing masks, and social distancing were temporary measures aimed at bringing communities through a health crisis with as few casualties as possible. Same today!

Some churches bristle because they are not deemed “an essential service” like liquor stores! As a Christian and a pastor, I think the church is essential, but I know I stand with the minority. The closure of church gatherings is not about being essential. It’s about restricting the congregating of people and the spreading of a very contagious virus. Whatever you think of liquor stores, people don’t congregate there.

Church at Walmart

In the US, a church group recently decided to resist the trend and have a service at a Walmart pharmacy to protest that pharmacies were open but churches were closed:

The singing of my African American brothers and sisters is stunning, and I hope no one was infected with COVID-19. Only time will tell. It should be remembered, though, that when people sing (or talk loudly like preaching), they spray out a shower of secretions. According to fluid physics expert Professor Con Doolan, these aerosol particles remain suspended in the air, potentially spreading coronavirus. If you’re standing too close to an infected person when they cough or sing, you could breathe in the particles they have projected into the air (see article). 

And so, while I see so many people cheering on this church, if their actions cause sickness and death are they really singing God’s praises? Would God be pleased or saddened by the behaviour of his children?

Other churches who defied the US Government faced significant backlash from neighbours. One woman stood outside a church and held up a sign that read, “you killed my grandma.” Is this the testimony of the Gospel the church wants to communicate to a world that God loves and for whom Jesus died?

Listening to God not Man

The most well-known church to defy the government is John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California. 

Their statement is convincing on the first read with lots of scripture verses to enforce their argument.

Itt’s important to remember that the church is not being restricted by Government unnecessarily. For example, no one is telling churches and Christians not to preach the Gospel as the authorities did to Peter and John: “So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.”

If the Government ever banned us from speaking and teaching about Jesus, I would respond in the same way the apostles did: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God.”

This not the case today even though Grace Community Church says it is. All churches can preach about Jesus and teach God’s Word. There are no restrictions placed on us in this regard.

So, that’s what we’re doing at Bayside Church, and we’re seeing people come to Jesus and grow in their faith. We’re helping the underprivileged with groceries and cooked food. Church members are keeping in touch with one another and serving one another. The church is alive, healthy, and vibrant.

It’s my opinion that the “evangelist” who wrote to me recently is missing the point. It appears he’s bought into fear and conspiracies about a one-world government and an antichrist agenda. While these beliefs are widely held by many Christians today, they are based more on the Left Behind novels than on God’s Word. I’ll explore that in next week’s blog!

The Near Future

Once this current crisis is over, restrictions will be eased, and small gatherings will once again be safe. Before the resurgence of COVID-19 in Melbourne, Bayside Church was about to restart gatherings of up to 50 people. Many of our Connect Groups were already meeting in-person, and we were looking at doing some meetings outdoors with more significant numbers. If the current restrictions work, we should get back to that in a few weeks.

While church buildings are an incredible asset, we need to remember that the church is people, not buildings. I appreciate the excellent facility that Bayside Church works from and gathers in, but it’s important to remember that the church did very well for the first three centuries with no building at all.

During this pandemic, Christians are blessed with technology that helps us stay in touch with one another. While this ultimately is no substitute for in-person meetings, it’s better than nothing.

During the Spanish Flu pandemic, some pastors wrote letters and Bible studies for their congregations and posted them in letterboxes. Today we meet on Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. I’ve had Bayside Church people tell me they have never felt so connected with Christie and me and with their church.

The building may be closed, but the church is open!

Last year I wrote a blog entitled, “What kind of Christian are you?” In this blog, I outlined a number of things that tend to derail or highjack Christian people from our core purpose and focus; things like consumerism, crises and condemnation. These things pop up on a regular basis but one that seems to get the most attention is “conspiracy.”

Over the past twelve months the Christian world has become preoccupied with things like Blood Moons that would signal the end of the world – again! Nothing happened, except the authors of these books made a bucket load of money from gullible church people. Apparently this year REALLY IS going to be the beginning of the end, with a World War starting in June 2016 culminating in Armageddon in 2019. The Antichrist will also be revealed although this particular conspiracy Christian has already named him – Barrack Obama of course! We all knew that right? By the way, the latest right wing conspiracy is that Obama is planning to subvert the Constitution and run for a third term – at least that would spare us from The Donald!

Earlier this year I was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s response to a question regarding her Christian faith. I wrote a blog about it – Inspired by Hilary Clinton – only to be told that I’d got it wrong and that out of all the candidates in the US Primaries, when it came to being a Christian, Hilary Clinton is “not on the list.” Others were quick to inform me that Hilary is part of the illuminati and a whole bunch of other stuff. How naïve could I be? And how old is Mrs. Clinton? The Illuminati hasn’t been in existence for more than two centuries!

Last year a Facebook “friend” tagged me in a post about the US government having a stockpile of Guillotines and recently purchasing more – all authorised by Congress. The article said the Government purchased 30,000 guillotines, 15,000 of which are in Georgia and the other 15,000 in Montana. This claim first originated on a blog that specialises in anti-Muslim articles and familiar conspiracy rumors such as the alleged existence of “FEMA concentration camps“. It’s been in circulation since 2008 and has no proof or back up whatsoever.

These crazy conspiracies came very close to home for me last year when listening to a dear friend of mine speak about these things in public Christian meetings. Gone were the days of focusing on Jesus and the wonderful salvation He brings. In Jesus’ place was endless ranting about American politicians drinking blood, the Mark of the Beast, the revelation of the antichrist – you name it. At the end of the meeting you could feel the fear within the congregation.

In private conversation, my friend chatted for hours (completely oblivious to the fact that I was bored to tears) about the imminent collapse of the U.S. dollar and food supply to be followed by martial law. Apparently the Muslim Brotherhood already controls dozens of American ports and ISIS is infiltrating the U.S. He also told me the U.S. government is building concentration camps and gas chambers throughout the country (even though none show up on Google Earth – I know, they’re in on the conspiracy too). This is as a result of a United Nations Agenda 21 plot to pave the way for a one-world government and the rise of the Antichrist. By the way, Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It was adopted unanimously by 178 countries – including the U.S. represented by George H.W. Bush – at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. It has nothing to do with Bible prophecy!

In fact, a lot of things that are taught as valid interpretations of Bible prophecy these days show little historical understanding of the Book of Revelation and other prophetic Scriptures. As a result of this, much of the church is watching – and sometimes taking a rather gleeful longing – for an increase in war, natural disasters, Blood Moons and other conspiracies.

This fairly new approach to the interpretation of Bible prophecy is called dispensationalism. It was developed in 1827 by John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren and spread widely with the 1909 publication of the Scofield Reference Bible. Darby went on to be the founder of the Exclusive Brethren cult after George Mueller (and other Brethren) challenged him about some of his unbiblical doctrines. Charles Spurgeon also claimed these teachings were false.

These days much of the church has gained its understanding of Bible prophecy from novels and movies such as the Left Behind series. While these books make their authors a lot of money they do nothing to educate God’s people in a correct understanding of events before Jesus’ return. In the mean time it would be healthier and much more productive for Christians to stop fixating on the Illuminati and start focusing on Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Don’t let your faith be hijacked by conspiracies!

On 11 July 2015, musician Erica Campbell shared a post on Facebook inferring a conspiracy by Harper Collins regarding the New International Version of the Bible.  She claimed that 45 verses and 64,575 words had been removed from the New International Version Bible (NIV).

Harper Collins bought the NIV Bible’s original publishing house, Zondervan, in 1988.  They then bought Thomas Nelson Publishing in 2011 and combined it with Zondervan to form the Christian arm of its publishing empire.  Harper Collins publishes an enormous variety of books but their three main categories are Kids & Teens, Christian and Romance.

The Facebook post mentions that Harper Collins also publishes the Satanic Bible and The Joy of Gay Sex – and that’s completely true.  It’s the world’s largest publisher and distributes books of every kind of genre, even genres that people of faith may find offensive.

The other part of this Facebook post mentions, “The NIV has now removed 64,575 words from the Bible including Jehovah, Calvary, Holy Ghost and omnipotent to name a few …”  This is not true.  For example, the word Calvary in the King James Version (KJV) is translated “the place called the Skull” in the NIV.  Calvary means “the place called the Skull” so all the NIV does here is make the reading of this verse more understandable.  One of the names of God, Jehovah, is mentioned seven times in the KJV but is translated as ‘The Lord’ by the NIV.  It’s important to remember that the name Jehovah is a Latin version of YHWH – the unpronounceable name by which God revealed Himself to Moses – “I am who I am!”  It’s believed that in the 11th century a hybrid form of YHWH was made by combining the Latin letters JHVH with the vowels of Adonai (another of God’s names).  William Tyndale popularised “Jehovah” in the English-speaking world in the 14th Century, hence it was used in the original KJV. Today most modern translations interpret this word as ‘The Lord’ – which is quite appropriate.

“Holy Ghost” is found 89 times in the KJV New Testament, while the NIV translates this as Holy Spirit.  As for the word omnipotent (meaning all-powerful) found once in the KJV in Revelation 19:6, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  The NIV correctly translates this as, “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.”  Almighty is a synonym for omnipotent and is more easily understood in 21st century English.  So the suggestion that 64,575 words had been removed from the New International Version Bible is simply incorrect.

It’s vital to understand that the Bible has been translated and updated over the years as language has changed.  It was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  Any translation task is difficult – and even more so when it is from ancient texts. Sometimes there are words that have no accurate equivalent in English, so several English words may be required to reproduce the precise meaning.  The same challenge occurs with other languages.  For example, in Aleut (the language spoken by Eskimos) there is no word for “joy.”  Consider the countries where sheep are considered an unclean animal.  Describing Jesus as “The Lamb of God” would be detrimental to the teaching of the gospel.

Over the centuries the Bible was first translated into Latin (the Latin Vulgate was used by the Western church through the early and middle ages) and eventually into English and many other languages.  John Wycliffe produced the first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts in the 1380’s.  Wycliffe and his contemporaries believed “that people should be permitted to read the Bible in their own language.”

In the 1450s Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press and the first book to ever be printed was a Latin language Bible.  From that time on Bibles and other books were printed quickly and in large quantities.  Bible scholars started learning and studying Greek and soon realized the Latin version of the Bible had moved a long way from the original language.  The new English Bibles being translated and printed created an enormous hunger for the Word of God, the true Gospel and ultimately led to the Reformation.

In 1604 the Protestant clergy approached King James I to ask for a new translation of the Bible.  The King authorised this to be done and commissioned about 50 scholars for the task.  In 1611 the first King James Bible came off the printing press.

Over the centuries the KJV has been updated several times as the English language has changed.  For example, in the 1611 KJV John 3:16 read, “For God so loued þe world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life.”  Try reading the whole Bible like that!

Over the centuries Bible translators have done their best to keep up with changes in language.  When I first became a Christian I read the KJV exclusively as I was told that it was the best translation.  I now know that’s not completely true.  Back in 1611 the scholars did their best with the manuscripts that were available to them, but since that time many older manuscripts of the Scriptures have been discovered.  As they are older they are deemed to be more reliable than the later copies that were used for the KJV.  (These old manuscripts are housed in several museums and other places all over the world).  And so the newer translations such as the NIV are based on older, more reliable manuscripts.  For that reason 45 verses have been removed from the NIV that are not found in these documents. They are, however, found in the NIV footnotes or margins.

The verses in question are of minor significance and none of the key Christian doctrines are affected by these changes. For this reason I believe the NIV Bible is accurate, trustworthy and reliable.