Hugo on Conspiracy Theories

Hugo Mendez comments on the hysteria about “the Vatican’s” call for a “World Bank” over at Spectrum.

I commented:

Adventists haven’t been alone in seeing something threatening in this latest document. This is how Drudge has been playing it–indeed, the whole mainstream media. But I share Hugo’s skepticism and weariness. Some Catholic commentators (and some who understand Catholicism) have pointed out that the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice isn’t that important. When I mentioned this in a Facebook discussion, one person responded by citing pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate,” saying he, too, called for a “world political authority.” I looked at the original and noticed that was in italics. I checked the footnotes, and saw it was a quote from John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris,” way back in 1964! So here’s my first problem. Adventists don’t understand how the bureaucracy works, which offices are important, or even how to read the documents in question.

There’s also the matter of Catholic teaching on church state relations and on the role of the clergy. Would the Catholic church see itself as this “world authority” to oversee banking? Not at all. To imagine that is to totally fail to grasp the Catholic distinction between the ministry of the clergy and the lay apostolate. In Catholic theology, the clergy teach and seek to form the conscience; in this case, they seek to give guidance according to Catholic social justice principles. Thus, in speaking of any world authority, these documents also emphasize respect that must be given to persons as created in the image of God, the rights individuals possess, and subsidiarity–the idea that things are best handled at lower levels. And the pope/bishops expect lay people will think about these things and then, if they see wisdom in them, work toward them. It is an attempt at persuasion, not dictation. This is something very Roman that Americans (including American Catholics) don’t get. Americans (so anyone who has worked in the Vatican tells me) think these pronouncements are to be obeyed in lockstep fashion. Thus the conservatives get legalistic and the liberals roll their eyes and get defensive and Protestants say, “I told you so.” And the Italians shake their heads and say, “Where did they get this idea from?”

Some Adventists will say, “Well, we have inspiration to tell us to look for these things, and the Catholic church hasn’t changed, and, well, you are siding with THEM!” Slow down. First, God’s people in the last days are supposed to be keepers of the commandments. One of those is, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

And another thing: there’s nothing in either Great Controversy or Matthew 24 or Mark 13 or Luke 21 or Revelation that says we should be looking for conspiracies or afraid of any economic policy. The issue in the last days is worship of Jesus. Let’s focus on preaching him, and speaking truthfully about him. Let’s be wary of those who would preach false Christs. Because know this–the final crisis will not be precipitated by a church getting control of the economy. It will be precipitated by an overwhelming delusion that would deceive, if possible, the elect. How could it do so? Well, I think part of it might be by getting them to worry about silly stuff like this.