Let’s stipulate up front: the two topics I will address here are not apples to apples.  Apples to oranges perhaps.  Or perhaps like what was pictured on the cover of the book Freakonomics: a Granny Smith apple with a slice cut out of it revealing an orange inside.  Whatever.  I don’t want anyone to conclude that I think the two topics in this blog are the same thing.  They aren’t.  Not quite.

But I have been thinking about conspiracy theories of late for all the obvious reasons.  And over the weekend as I wondered about such theories, a collision happened in my mind with something I know a lot more about: Calvinism.  And once the pieces of this particle accelerator collision settled out, I recognized at least one curious commonality between conspiracies and Calvinism.  Let me explain.

There are whole books dedicated to conspiracy theories.   It should be obvious that I am not fully conversant in this area of study.  One thing I know, though, is that behind most conspiracy theories is fear.  It does not usually come off as fear.  Those espousing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 currently often come across in public as angry, as hostile, as partisan, as paranoid, as . . . well, as most anything but fearful.

But it is nonetheless fear that inspires conspiracy theories and it is a very basic human fear: a fear of a world out of control and just possibly uncontrollable; a world where bad stuff can happen to most anybody, any time.   Rather than believe that, conspiracy theories posit a larger control or controlling mechanism.  Such larger actors are not usually good people or forces or organizations but they are in charge at least and can be used to explain why certain things happen.  And there is comfort to be found in the explanation.

It just could not be, for instance, that a lone man with a rifle could take out the dashing and vibrant President of the United States—the most powerful man in the world—as he rode in a car through Dallas.  That can’t happen.  It had to be a wider plot.  It had to involve more shooters in on the gig.  It had to be the mafia, Castro, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, Lyndon Johnson . . . anybody but that scrawny Lee Harvey Oswald.  Someone bigger is in charge when bad stuff like this goes down.

It could not be, for another instance, that a handful of guys could bring down the Twin Towers and ruin a part of no less a symbol of American might than the Pentagon.  No, no, it had to be a conspiracy of the Bush Administration.   Some larger organization was in cahoots with other powerful people.  They planted explosives in the Twin Towers to bring them down—an ordinary airplane highjacked by a few jerks could not do that.  Someone bigger was pulling the strings.

And now it cannot be that an invisible virus leapt from a rodent in a Chinese market to infect millions of people and kill hundreds of thousands.  No, no, it started in a Chinese lab.   Or it was invented by the people who stand to make gezillions of dollars on a vaccine.  Or it was orchestrated by the Democrats to hurt President Trump.  We cannot be brought to our knees by a random germ or virus.   Someone bigger is pulling the strings.

Again, there’s more to it than just that basic impulse of fear but it is in the mix pretty prominently.  Better to believe that malevolent forces are to blame for any given tragedy than have to countenance a far darker idea: we live in a world where random things can be pulled off by random individuals in ways that make all of us vulnerable.

I am not sure if anyone sees how Calvinism is coming into this blog but here it is: I have encountered the same thinking from Reformed Christians in response to tragedies in their own lives.  There is an aspect of Calvinism that takes John Calvin’s exceedingly strident views on divine sovereignty—as reflected in also The Heidelberg Catechism and The Belgic Confession—and uses them to posit that not only is there a reason for everything that happens—however sorrowful or cruel or tragic the event—but that reason is to be found somewhere within God’s active will.   In this case the One pulling the strings is not a malevolent force as in most conspiracy theories but rather a loving God.  But the point abides: Someone Bigger is behind everything.

Some years ago a variation on this idea blew up after Nicholas Wolterstorff published his book Lament for a Son.  In that book—and in a subsequent January Series address and in later conference lectures—Wolterstorff posited that sometimes terrible things happen—like his son’s falling off a mountain—that God likes no more than we do and that God laments along with us.  In a broken world, things happen that are most decidedly neither the will of God nor part of any active plan of God.  God and his plans are not thwarted by such tragedies but neither did God help them (or make them) happen.

There are theological and philosophical nuances involved in this that could fill six blogs here on The Twelve.  So for now I will say simply that the reaction of many in the Reformed community to Wolterstorff—including of a couple of my Seminary professors—was explosive.  God is sovereign and so although we may not like it that he is somehow behind even something as terrible as a drunk driver running over a three-year-old—and although we may never know why God planned this awful thing (and it is impious even to inquire)—the alternative is too terrifying to ponder: a world outside of even God’s active control.  Indeed, in the aftermath of Wolterstorff’s public lectures on this subject, I had conversations with deeply devout Christians who said as much to me: better to believe God all-but arranged this or that accident than face a world where bad stuff can happen that even God can but lament.

To return to where we started: this is not apples to apples.  Conspiracy theories can lead to violence, can impugn the reputations of innocent people, can upend lives and above all can slay the truth about many things.  Strident views on divine sovereignty are usually held by deeply pious and good people who love and serve their Lord as best they can. 

But I do worry about one thing: do such views damage God’s reputation in ways that could be both untrue to Scripture and off-putting to would-be believers who cannot embrace a God who has anything to do with childhood leukemia or other tragedies beyond hating them same as we do?

Yes, it’s harder to deal with God’s providence and almighty power if one believes things happen that are indeed neither the active nor permissive will of God.  It’s tidier to believe God plans everything that happens even if we cannot ever (or at least for now) know why.  But maybe we are not supposed to have a tidy theology on such wild and wooly matters.  Maybe for now we are supposed to live with the contradictions and the conundrums of all this. 

I’m not sure.  We are living in a confusing and frightening moment.   But that’s all the more reason to do our best to carefully speak as accurately about God as we can (and about all things for that matter).  After all, this is finally about the Truth.  And the Truth matters.  Even if it’s complicated.

Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.

26 Comments

  • Dana VanderLugt says:

    Thank you for tackling this. It is an odd, but really necessary comfort to sit in the mess than to try to tidy up and explain all the hurt away.

  • RLG says:

    Thanks, Scott, for an article that sounds like it could be taken from a publication called “The Reformed Journal.” Interesting and challenging! You present a conundrum that has puzzled Reformed theologians, as well as others, all the way back to Augustine. One alternative is that God cannot prevent and has not prevented bad things from happening, including the fall of the human race, incited by an anti-hero, called Satan. In the fact that God could not prevent the fall of humanity and creation, right up to the present time, indicates empirically that Satan is still in the war and has a good chance of winning the final battle. Talk of a final victory proves nothing.

    Another alternative is that your play book, like the play books of all other religions, is man made theory that has flaws on a variety of levels, this conundrum being only one of them. Perhaps the only revelation that is truly from God is his own revelation in creation and the natural order, which reveals a great God who doesn’t attempt to answer all the questions that man made religions attempt to ask. Perhaps Job and David, of the Old Testament can be seen pointing us to such a God. Maybe we should take a hint.

  • Daniel J Meeter says:

    This is very good, and very apt. The equation of Total Control with Total Sovereignty is an easy one for people to assume, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. This morning’s Daily Office reading from Leviticus 26 is where the Lord God promises micromanaging the weather and the fruit of trees and the neighboring Gentile armies to either bless or punish Israel as God’s covenant partner, so that suggests Sovereignty equals Control. But as of the New Testament, God’s Sovereignty has been invested in the Lord Jesus (which we will celebrate this Thursday), and God’s Control has been invested in the Gospel, and in the power and authority of the Word and the Spirit, which means that God has willed not to manipulate the controls of weather and human events either to prevent human freedom and responsibility or to punish and bless. Yes, God is providential, that “all things must work together for my salvation,” but that means that providence is for salvation, not for other impacts. That Karl Barth taught this focusing on Christ and the Word was one of the reasons the Dutch Calvinists so opposed him. But I think you are right on.

    • RLG says:

      Interesting, Daniel, that you suggest that the New Testament demonstrates that God’s sovereignty is invested in Jesus Christ and his control in the gospel, which you suggest means that God has not manipulated weather or human events to prevent human freedom or responsibility or to punish or to bless.

      As I understand the New Testament, God at the primary level of causation is completely sovereign and in control of who receives salvation or damnation. At the secondary level of causation, humans have freedom and responsibility to choose salvation. But such responsibility at the human level never violates God’s primary sovereignty or control. Human responsibility and freedom is always subject to God’s primary sovereignty. So to exercise his sovereignty and primary causation, God has given a fallen and sinful nature to all humans, which in such sinful state will always freely choose to reject Christ. That’s (fallen) human nature. In fact, it is humanly impossible to be righteous enough to gain God’s acceptance, according to the New Testament. Divine providence has stacked the cards against humanity. According to the New Testament (apostle Paul) it was always God’s purpose that the human race would be damned. And out of those chosen for damnation God would choose some for salvation, through the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

      As I understand the Bible, God has created a human race for damnation, and provided the means for such damnation (Adam’s sin and a sinful nature for all people). And out of that damned humanity, God has chosen some for salvation and eternal bliss. Human freedom and responsibility only work in cooperation with God’s primary sovereignty and control. That’s primary and secondary causation.

      As I see it, Daniel, the Bible or any other so called supernatural revelation of God is not prepared to answer the questions that most religions think they can answer, including Christianity. I think you are way over your head in trying to figure out God (and so is the Bible). Stick with creation and the created order as God’s own revelation of himself, and simply praise God, as the creator God along with David or Job of the Old Testament.

      • David Kaiser says:

        Thanks for making it plain that you are a heretic, RLG. There no need to clarify your previous statement.

  • What a wonderful and timely discussion. Thank you for all of your thought provoking blogs.

    God bless you. Stay well.

  • Tom says:

    God does not owe us an explanation.

  • mstair says:

    Grateful for thought stimulus today …

    “ … we live in a world where random things can be pulled off by random individuals in ways that make all of us vulnerable.”

    “Or what about those eighteen people who died when the tower at Shiloach fell on them? Do you think they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you. Rather, unless you turn from your sins, you will all die similarly.” (Luke 13:4-5)

    Even when The Son was on the planet, random stuff was happening. Jesus did not retreat in despair and explain it all to His Disciples through some interconnected theological conspiracy. He used it … to teach humanity about how reality was created – with – built-in randomness.

    He also taught how to live securely amidst the randomness … without faith in conspiracy theories …

    Luke covered that in the chapter before (12: 22>)

  • Pam Adams says:

    I recently read Lament for a Son and found it to be the only book that said the truth. My husband died at age 70 after 9 years of suffering from a brain injury sustained in a car accident. The books that I received to give me comfort did not do that. My husband was a faithful spouse, father, grandfather, Dordt University teacher and Dean of Natural Sciences. Everything he did in life was to please the Lord. I think the accident we both were involved in was not part of God’s preplanned design but just sin in the world that happens to catch some of us in dreadful ways.

  • Jane Porter says:

    Thank you Scott.

  • George Vink says:

    Thanks for a cogent, challenging consideration of thoughts that doesn’t answer it all, but points us in the right direction. You are doing the thinking world a service, Scott. Thank you.

  • Doug Vande Griend says:

    Great article Scott. At a minimum, it asked good questions that the church and Christians need to think about answering. Thanks…

  • Lynn Japinga says:

    Thank you for this vivid and articulate discussion! I’ve had several students who have had terrible things happen to them, and they were assured that it was God’s will. Now, some years later, they are understandably furious and want nothing to do with God. I wonder if the book of Job was actually an early example of your argument. The poetry in Job 3-41 came first, with all Job’s ranting and anger and unanswered questions. Then, some time later, someone felt compelled to add the prologue (1-2) and the epilogue (42) to try to make sense of the story and assure readers that God was in control. But why would anyone want to trust in the God portrayed in Job 1-2? (Which may be why Job’s wife was so skeptical!) Similarly, a merciful God who allowed the Holocaust or the virus or drunk driving accidents in order to teach people a lesson is incomprehensible to me. Then again … when I was in grad school discussing Calvin’s view of providence, and we had all skewered Calvin’s ideas about God’s total control, my professor, Christopher Morse, a Methodist, asked: “Would you rather be under the control of fate? Or a mysterious God?” Still, I find it more theologically and pastorally appropriate to talk about God walking with us in the midst of traumas God did not orchestrate.

  • Henry Baron says:

    I’m glad to note I’m not the only one who bristles when I hear good people say glibly, “God is in control” when caught in a pandemic or a devastating tornado or the looming threat of climate change or, yes, the loss of a beloved child or spouse in an accident or murder.
    There’s comfort in having a Father God weeping with us.
    Still, the question: did God weep with Job too?

  • Daniel Walcott says:

    Scott thanks so much for this, not only timely but important. The CRC has been unwilling to ask or answer the questions raised here, and as has been pointed out, that has been to the detriment of many. What does one do with confessions that tell us “nothing happens in this world without God’s orderly arrangement, …..YET…”? There are no exceptions to the word nothing. I taught many a high school student who was frustrated and confused by this teaching.
    On a lighter side, one should note even the person who is most adamant in defending God’s sovereignty in this way, denies it when they want to fire a coach. I always claim, as a strict Calvinist, the winning team in a Calvin – Hope basketball game is not determined by skill or coaching, but by decree, and one should never hold a coach accountable for what God predetermined. Or, do we only defend this doctrine when it is convenient?

  • Amelie says:

    Thanks for these thoughts about the will of God and the problem of evil, questions Christians have been asking for millenia! I was agreeing with you in this piece until you added the word “permissive” in there. If things that happen are neither within the active nor permissive will of God, what are you saying — that some things are simply out of his control? I haven’t read in this area for a long time, so I am genuinely curious about what Reformed theologians are saying these days about God’s sovereignty and his will. Are some saying that some evil that happens, such as this pandemic, are not only not part of God’s active will, but they are also not part of his permissive will, and therefore he has no control over them or perhaps he is simply letting nature go its way, and it’s out of his will in that way? Thanks for any explanation.

    • RLG says:

      Well, Amelie, I think you have come close, but it would never be considered part of Reformed theology, or probably any religion. You suggested an answer that might come closer than most on this blog would admit. Namely that some evil is out God’s control altogether because he has let nature go its own way and therefore is out of his will and control.

      The deist (not a religion, but a philosophy) believes in a God that is revealed in nature and in the natural order (God’s own revelation) but not revealed in manmade so called supernatural revelations (such as the Koran or the Bible). Nature and experience tells us experientially that good and evil happen to Christians and non Christians alike. Car accidents don’t happen to only sinners, but to all people the same. Endemics cripple Christians, Muslims, and non Christians alike. Prayer of itself has no power to change our human circumstances anymore than if prayer was eliminated altogether.

      The thing that objective reality reveals to everyone is that God is not personally involved with his created world or with people the way Christians may think. Because this world is less than perfect, good and bad things just happen without trying to fit God into the explanation. Yes, God is the creator God along with a created order by which this world and universe function effectively and meaningfully. But that doesn’t mean God is now involved personally in everything that happens here on earth or in our lives. So Amelie, you may have come close to the truth, as discerned by way of reason and common sense. This can be seen as one explanation of why bad things happen to good people, including Christians. Hope this helps.

    • Scott Hoezee says:

      Thanks, Amelie, for thoughtful questions. Some of what you ask about here would be in one of those 6 other full blogs I hinted at that this subject area could fill up with ease. What I am about to write is not a pastoral answer: it’s too philosophical and anyway still would not answer a hurting person’s deepest questions. Some do suggest God has a permissive will–he does not actively want certain bad things to happen but permits them. (BTW: John Calvin did not buy this–he once wrote something to the effect “Away with that vain figment of a permissive will in God!” Calvin needed God to be more active in everything, and that does lead to some serious problems.) The question is: does God actively vet every last thing and just “permit” certain things to happen? Alvin Plantinga has talked about “strong actualization” and “weak actualization.” If God strongly actualizes everything, then he plans it and executes it and can be seen to be behind even a tragedy not just ultimately but immediately. But suppose that is not so. Suppose that (in the theory of the best of all possible worlds) that God actualized a world in which love could be freely chosen. Alas, being unloving–and even falling into sin–could be freely chosen too but short of making us robots (such that even our love for God much less for one another would not be real but programmed), perhaps there was no other way to make the world. In this sense the things that then happen in a world where bad things can occur can be seen as weakly actualized by God in that he made a world where tragic events are possible BUT that is different than saying any given event is strongly chosen and actualized by God. Of course, God may indeed be able to prevent bad things and sometimes he does. Maybe many times he does–who can say how many times a day God heads off something bad because we cannot talk about that which does not happen. We get into deep waters with all this very quickly (as you can perhaps see) but if Alvin Plantinga’s classic defense (and it is a defense, not a proof) of this in his book “God, Freedom, and Evil” is onto something, then what some might call the permissive will of God is not lurking immediately behind accidents and illnesses but might be seen as only ultimately behind it because of how the world was set up in the beginning. But none of it means God–who alone can see all ends–is incapable of ultimately shaping and molding the whole thing according to God’s ultimate purposes. Indeed, Christians confess that is what God is doing and in the longest possible run that is what allows us to suggest that God will bring good out of the whole mess–ultimate, lasting, eternal, and glorious good.

      • David Kaiser says:

        I’m glad you offered this clarification, Scott. I’m not swallowing this whole, as I’d like to see more scriptural support, and, as I’ll eventual explain, it is not satisfying. Still, I can relate to it as a parent and is not wholly without merit. For I didn’t vet everything my children did even when they were younger and when I had the most say in their behavior. But there certainly were times I stepped in to protect them, to protect others from them, and to care for them.

        I didn’t want to be on top of my children all the time. I didn’t want to control them, as such. At times I had foreseen trouble for them resulting from their own unwise behavior or that of their friends, yet I chose to let events continue their course. My decision, when it wasn’t influenced by fatigue or exasperation on my part, rested on whether I thought that no one would be harmed too badly and that my intervention might either do more harm or prevent a greater good than were I not to intervene. Of course, there also were plenty of times when I couldn’t foresee events accurately or when I couldn’t intervene because I didn’t know what was happening, wasn’t present, or was prevented in some other way from preventing calamity.

        That could be where my analogy breaks down, as our omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Lord knows all things, sees all things, and is powerful over all things. Yet, he chooses to not intervene when real harm is about to occur–say, a murder or a child being struck and killed by her own mother backing the car out of the garage. If any of us knew such things were going to happen and if we could prevent them from happening, yet chose not to, it would be morally reprehensible. Might God know something we don’t?

        Knowing of God what he reveals of himself in scripture, either he has a morally sufficient, albeit mysterious, reason for not intervening–which is the position of orthodox Calvinism. Or he simply doesn’t vet even such consequential human actions–which is what I understand your view to be.

        Contrary to what you wrote, I don’t find the former explanation to be particularly tidy. It leaves plenty of conundrums and seeming contradictions. Yet, I intuit that it allows God to be God, in all his characteristics. Here is the God of a manly theology, the God whose response to Job forced the saint to shut his mouth, despite his heavy laments.

        The latter explanation, though–your own–is rather disturbing in that it snacks too much of my own parental shortcomings.

  • J Lanting says:

    Scott:

    “We believe that the same God, after he had created all things,,,rules and governs them according to His holy will, so that nothing happens in this world without his appointment…. *** For His power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that he orders and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner… And, as to what He does surpassing human understanding , we will not curiously inquire into…, but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God… This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father, who watches over us with a paternal care, keeping all creatures so under his power, that not a hair of our head …can fall to the ground, without the will of our Father , in whom we do entirely trust.” Belgic Confession of Faith, Art. XIII (Of Divine Providence)

  • Karl Westerhof says:

    When I read this, Scott, my throat closed up. it’s so close to the heart of my faith, and to my life experience in losing a beloved daughter to leukemia. How often have I asked, “God, where were you on that Sunday morning that Sarah died? Did you look away for just a minute?” Did God want Sarah to die? I do not believe it. Could God have kept Sarah alive? Yes, I believe God could. So why didn’t God act in power and love to keep Sarah alive? I don’t know. But I think Pam Adams whose comment above I found very helpful, is onto something key here. God created a world that was good, including creating humans who could choose to love God or rebel against God. Once the rebellion happened, things got totally screwed up. That was not God’s doing, but now God’s interventions needed to be totally different, because if God were to intervene to fix or prevent or undo every single thing that was going wrong, then the whole creation would become puppetry. God never wanted puppets. God wanted to be loved by beings who have the capacity to choose to love. So God does not intervene to make it all perfect again (at least not yet). But what God does is to assure us that every single thing can be and will be turned toward good for those who love God. Meanwhile there is absolutely nothing that can deter us from the outcome that God wills for us. As I understand it, this means there can be a world full of tragic mess and healing beauty, whose ultimate purpose is to celebrate who God is, a world which never gets out of God’s control, and which is the setting for the ongoing battle between God and evil, a battle which is ultimately won in Jesus Christ. I am neither theologian nor philosopher (Nick’s a great one!) nor the son of one, but I felt compelled to try to speak into this conversation. And I feel thankful to Scott and all the others of you who participate with beauty, wisdom, compassion, and faith.

    • Steve Van't Hof says:

      Thank you Scott for this article. And thank you Pam and Karl for fleshing it out even more.

    • Scott Hoezee says:

      Thanks, Karl, and for sharing your abiding pain about Sarah. I am so sorry. Please see my reply to Amelie above in this comment chain as most everything I wrote there I would write to also you–but I am not going to retype it all as it got kinda long for a comment reply (sorry!). But one other thought that I did not write to Amelie: A question the Reformed tradition has had a hard time grappling with is the idea of randomness. Can we believe God set up a world with a degree of randomness built in? Can we believe God set up the conditions for an evolving universe without God’s needing to be behind the creation of every single daisy (much less the development over time of many varieties of daises)? Did God give the universe potential–vast, wonderful, dizzying potential–but also the ability to realize that potential through myriads of random interactions? Does God need to be behind every toss of every pair of dice? When my wife shuffles the deck of our Quiddler cards for our Saturday morning word game, does God have to preordain every time how that decks of cards comes out and what letters I get as opposed to what my wife gets? If she wins because she got and was able to use the high-point cards of J, X, and Q whereas I got lots of vowels and low-point cards, was that providence ordaining me to lose? Of course, this can get absurd quickly but if we acknowledge that gezillions of things happen randomly every day, at what point do we cross the line between saying, “OK, everything from here on down is properly random” and enter the territory where we say, “OK, from this point forward there is no randomness and God preordains every last thing”? Where would that line be? How would we know? Or can’t we? Or is a degree of randomness endemic to creation even though we would also confess God can break through it when necessary and for sure can steer it all in a certain direction? Questions, questions. Process Theology posits God just travels with us in the randomness of life but really cannot steer the thing. God just bumps along with us. Well, I do believe God travels with us but because I also believe he has aimed this whole thing toward a New Creation, he does know how he will cause it to turn out somehow, some way, and he knows, therefore, how it will end. By faith, we can too. It’s just in the in-between time that we too often can see no point to an awful lot of things.

      • Karl Westerhof says:

        Thanks again, Scott! Yeah, randomness. But more importantly, as you say, God can break through it when necessary, and can steer it… and is in fact aiming this whole thing toward a New Creation, and he is in fact causing it to turn out as it “should”. And yes, the in-between time is marked by so much mystery! Your comments reminded me of a delightful session I remember at Calvin — a philosophy class taught by Tunis Prins; and in that particular session he said, “Of course God can be surprised! He loves surprises, that’s why he made us the way he did!” And then there’s my former pastor, Roger Van Harn, now with Jesus, who liked to say, “The older I get, the more I believe in less and less.” In my life, I’m finding that mystery grows, but so do faith,hope, and love!

  • Valerie Van Kooten says:

    I have long had issues with using God as a magic 8-ball, which I see so many Christians doing these days.

    *”God wouldn’t let the bus start because he didn’t want my kids on it that morning…” (for whatever reason);
    *God is in control of every vote taken for Congress, for city council, for President, for school board….”
    *God sent that tornado to that particular church because they have women pastors”…..(or affirm same-sex marriage…or because of their stance on abortion)….”in order to punish them.”

    I’ve never been able to see God as running a giant control pad where he’s looking at the outcomes of….if I do this, then I’ll have to do this….I see, instead, the people of God wrestling with this since the beginning, pouring out their frustration in the Psalms, and a very human Jesus crying over the loss of his friend Lazarus. Maybe the truest answer is the old bumper sticker, “Sh*t happens.”

  • Tom Ackerman says:

    Very interesting posting and discussion. The comments focus on the problem of evil and the nature of God but do not address the conspiracy aspects with which you start. To me, there is a stark contrast between accepting the finite limitation of my understanding of the infinite will of God, (and what that means n terms of our control of our own actions or the apparently random nature of evil) and accepting demonstrably false conspiracy “theories” when the knowledge to refute those theories is well within our cognition. We lack concrete evidence regarding the problem of evil and the nature of God, despite the immediacy of evil in our lives. We do have concrete evidence regarding many of these conspiracy “theories”. For example, people suggesting that the corona virus was deliberately released by the Chinese government are doing it because they want someone, particularly someone other than us, to blame and because it suits a political purpose. However, the preponderance of the biological evidence says that the virus developed in nature, not a laboratory. I think that we as Christians should be committed to truth telling, both theologically and societally.

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