Emulating the mind of Christ in an age of misinformation
Published: 14 November 2017 (GMT+10)
In today’s world, we are faced with an unprecedented amount of information. Sometimes, it feels like it is coming at us like water from a firehose. For the first time in history, an average person with no particular expertise on a subject has easy access to tools which allow him or her to look authoritative and to put sometimes spurious information out on the web. Add to this that the conspiracy theorists may have a lot more time on their hands than the ‘experts’, whose academic jobs often have heavy administrative loads, and you get a situation where the bad information sometimes out-multiplies the good.
In many ways, the Internet has given the ‘trolls’ a bully pulpit to promote strange views. Eventually, and we might not be far from it now, for every true proposition that exists there will be a YouTube video saying it is not true. This does not mean that all alternate views are wrong. It does not mean that people who believe in an alternate theory are ignorant, neither does it mean they are necessarily misinformed. What it means, however, is that there is so much bad information floating around in cyberspace that sorting the wheat from the chaff can be incredibly difficult sometimes.
It’s not always easy to tell good information from bad. Even the experts sometimes struggle, but this is especially true when one lacks training in the subject and in the methods used to approach that subject. There are many traps into which a newbie can fall. These include drawing conclusions while missing basic facts, misunderstanding subtle nuances, slipping into ‘confirmation bias’ after cherry picking statistics, and not understanding where the sources from which they are getting information lapse into rhetorical trickery, selected omission of relevant details, or outright lies. Thus, there is a lot of misinformation floating around, and it is rarely presented in a sober, neutral manner. Instead, there is very much an ‘us vs. them’ attitude displayed in a lot of modern conspiratorial writing. We see time and again that the people who disagree with the conspiracists’ theories are not just called out as being wrong, they’re presented as evil and deceptive. Friends, among fellow Christians this should not be true!
How should a Christian respond?
Scripture tells us “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). As Christians, “we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:16b). The idea is that as we mature as Christians, we become better at thinking as Christians. This means that we should become more and more conformed to Scripture over time. First and foremost, Christian thinking should be characterized by loyalty to Christ and His Gospel. This means that our loyalty cannot be to a particular conspiracy theory or alternate ideology.
There are some warning signs that may indicate that one’s ideology or theories may be overtaking one’s commitment to the Gospel and the truth of Scripture:
- Where do you get most of your information? Are you spending an inordinate amount of time in online groups that are insular and promote an antagonistic mentality, even against other Christians? Is your involvement in a particular ideology taking time away from your own church or your devotional time in Scripture?
- When you meet someone new, are they more likely to know first that you are a Christian, or that you don’t really believe we landed a man on the moon (to use just one possible example)? Is your passion to share the Gospel, or to share the ‘gospel’ of your alternative world?
- Does your ideology cause you to see people of other religions or ‘races’ as existential threats to your way of life, rather than part of a mission field? We are called to share the Gospel with all unbelievers, even those who may be hostile to us, yet some ideological views today promote the sort of division that would hinder evangelism.
These points also apply to those in the ‘biblical creationist’ community. Sometimes we find ourselves missing the point of studying creation. Discussing the creation-evolution issue with other people is a means to an end, not an end in itself. They should know you are a Christian, not just an iconoclast.
Polls show that a large majority of people in America, and to a lesser extent in most other Western nations, claim to be Christian, but no one can look at our media, our politics, and our culture, and conclude that this is actually the case. If Christians simply ‘kept the main thing the main thing’ and maintained a focus on Christ and the clear teachings of Scripture, it would transform the nature of our discourse.
A challenge to the creation community
It is easy to point fingers. We can easily condemn a nebulous ‘them’, “because we’re creationists!” If you think about it, the very nature of biblical creation means that we’re comfortable rejecting the ‘scientific consensus’. This often means we are also more open to other minority views. We especially have to be careful that we embrace creation in a way that is consistent with “being transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). This means we can’t promote an ‘us vs. them’ attitude when talking to believers who are not creationists—we should be working to persuade them. We can, and should, take a hard stance against those who teach errors about creation (see any of CMI’s articles about BioLogos, for instance), but if someone is a believer in Christ, they are our brother or sister in the faith, even though they may not be ‘there’ yet regarding creation.
This is the number-one reason why CMI focuses on the local church. Our main ministry is to send speakers to them, and we do 1000+ events of this type worldwide annually. Each church hears a ‘relevance’ message that explains the importance of biblical creation and how it relates to the Christian worldview and to evangelism, and we leave them equipped with resources like Creation magazine and The Creation Answers Book. Some people have even become believers as a result of CMI ministry, but the much more common effect is that those who are already believers become more passionate about their faith as they realize that the Bible can be trusted from the very first verse. This means they become more effective as they serve and evangelize in their own churches and communities.
And that, ultimately, is part of what being conformed to the mind of Christ looks like.
Wow, Eddie C., that is inspiring and very interesting, thank you for sharing! I'm so happy that CMI was able to help you out of that hole! My in-laws happen to be in this path, and it's a little scary what isolation can do to your mind, especially when you start using the internet as your gospel. I think this was a super important article. Thank you again, Lita and Dr Carter!
We were forewarned -
Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
About three years ago I really started to get depressed about the social and political climate and what appears to be an acceleration of decline in Western culture. Looking to make sense of things, I started to watch videos and read articles online. Now I never went so far as to believe the earth was flat, but I really started to believe the conspiracies that center around the belief that most of our leaders are part of a secret organization (Lucefarian/Illuminati). My personal thoughts were that these people are organized by a demonic spirit and that we know from the Bible that Satan is the prince and power of the air. This didn't lead me to want to be a witness for Christ, but rather it led me to want to retreat from the world and let judgement come. It made me see only darkness in the world.
But it was about that time that I also started reading creation websites, especially CMI. I want to say that CMI really provided a ballast for me. I also started to attend a church that really focused on the Bible (I was in a pretty dead church) and I realized that it was actually unbiblical for me to so upset about our ruling powers. We are commanded by God to give respect to our authorities and to realize they are there by the will of God. At the very least, whatever is going on in our world is not a surprise to God. Even if there is a secret organization bent on bringing about the anti-Christ and destroying Christianity, they are not operating outside of God's knowledge. So I'll just trust God with that. Thank you CMI for being a voice of reason, there are few resources that I know I can trust to balance everything against the Word of God and CMI is one of them.