What’s behind the need of some folks to run after conspiracy theories? This spans all denominations and political philosophies; the manipulators of history are also varied–for some it’s the Jews, for others the Freemasons, for others the Illuminati, for others the Jesuits (and some creative folks find ways to link these all together, though they differ on who is pulling the strings).
Conspiratorial Catholics got after me in 2002 because I posted an expose of the antisemitism of Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis.
Cornerstone felt the heat when it published an expose of Alberto Rivera.
All of which merely confirms the validity of the old adage that it is useless to try to convince a conspiracy buff that there is no conspiracy–he’ll just be convinced that you are part of it.
For what it’s worth, I was never all that enamored of the Jesuits–as a group they always struck me as way too liberal and New Agey. I took one class in grad school from a Jesuit; that was a seminar on the American Catholic Community and Slavery in Antebellum America, taught by R. Emmett Curran, SJ (who since left the Jesuit order). I had dinner with Mitch Pacwa, SJ, once (and appreciate his exposes of New Age practices). I met some New Orleans Jesuits at a campus ministry conference sponsored by the Legionaries of Christ. But that’s the extent of my contact with Jebbies. I had much more contact with Opus Dei, as I had an Opus Dei spiritual director for about eight years, went to evenings of reflection and retreats, and was a “Cooperator.” I also was much influenced by Franciscans, having taken a couple of classes from Franciscans while in seminary (including courses in the history of spirituality from Michael Blastic, OFM Conv., and Dominic Monti, OFM, at the Washington Theological Union), and having been a member of John Michael Talbot’s Brothers and Sisters of Charity for about a dozen years.
I do agree with the conspiracists that all error shares a common source: the Father of Lies. I believe that his key lies were spoken to Eve: “You shall not surely die;” “You shall be as gods.” These lies undergird the New Age movement, speculative masonry, paganism, and errors such as the immortality of the soul (and related teachings). There is truth, and we need to be wary of all those movements and ideologies that would tell us that truth doesn’t matter, or that truth and error, darkness and light, are just two sides of the same coin. We know from Scripture that history is moving towards a telos point–good and evil are polarizing, and the great controversy will build to a climax.
But I’m not called to preach conspiracies; I’m called to preach Christ. I’m not called to teach the doctrines of men, but the Word of God. That must be the basis of all our teachings.
We’re lazy, however. We want someone else to do our thinking for us, and we surrender too easily our own conscience to a church or a favorite theologian. Paul faced this in Corinth–one group claimed to follow him, another followed Apollos, another followed Peter (see 1 Cor. 3). All tied their own identity to some human being whose package they had bought into. Adventists faced it at the 1888 General Conference, with partisans of Jones and Waggoner on one side and of Butler and Smith on the other. Ellen White responded to these battles by emphasizing the need of all of us to search the Scripture with humility:
There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.
We are living in perilous times, and it does not become us to accept everything claimed to be truth without examining it thoroughly; neither can we afford to reject anything that bears the fruits of the Spirit of God; but we should be teachable, meek and lowly of heart. …
The Lord designs that our opinions shall be put to the test, that we may see the necessity of closely examining the living oracles to see whether or not we are in the faith. Many who claim to believe the truth have settled down at their ease, saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” [Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35]
This is in keeping with the teaching of Scripture: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1); “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:2); “they searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
If you do this, you’ll be commended by God. If you turn from this to hang on the words of any man, regardless of his pedigree or persuasiveness, or run after “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16), you risk much.