“What is truth?” said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. —Francis Bacon
Although Christians are followers of the Truth, many find themselves tempted by the alternate “truths” offered by conspiracy theories. Christianity and conspiracy theories have had a long, complicated relationship. But today conspiracy theories are bringing our already polarized society to the brink of chaos. QAnon, the Big Lie, and anti-vaccination theories thrive online, disrupting faith communities. This timely essay collection explores the allure of conspiracy theories and their consequences—and ultimately offers gospel-based paths forward.
Accessible to all concerned believers, QAnon, Chaos, and the Cross features scholars of religion, ethics, and public life on the following topics: • evaluating evidence and forming beliefs • the Satanic Panic of the 1960s–1990s • understanding scientific methodology • conspiracy theories’ appeal to those searching for meaning • the consequences of social media and echo chambers • productive dialog with people who hold different opinions • intellectualism in the life of faith • conspiracy theories in Scripture • QAnon’s religious rhetoric
Complete with a guide to reasoning, which outlines both logical fallacies and intellectual virtues, QAnon, Chaos, and the Cross is an indispensable resource for all Christians seeking the truth.
Chase Andre, Michael W. Austin, Bradley Baurain, Daniel Bennett, Gregory L. Bock, Chad Bogosian, Kevin Carnahan, Jason Cook, Scott Culpepper, Stephen Davis, Garrett J. DeWeese, Marlena Graves, Shawn Graves, David Horner, Dru Johnson, Nathan King, Rick Langer, Christian Miller, Timothy Muehlhoff, Michelle Lynn Panchuk, Susan Peppers-Bates, Steven Porter, Kaitlyn Schiess, Aaron Simmons, Domonique Turnipseed, Rachel I. Wightman, Keith Wyma, Eric Yang
Table of Contents
Concerns about Conspiracy Theories for Christians, by Michael W. Austin and Gregory L. Bock 1. Jesus as the Truth, by Stephen T. Davis and Eric T. Yang 2. Is It Always Wrong to Believe a Conspiracy Theory?, by Chad Bogosian 3. The Cost of Debunking Conspiracy Theories, by Scott Culpepper 4. Can We Trust Science?, by Garrett J. DeWeese 5. Conspiracy Theories and Meaning in Life, by Shawn Graves and Marlena Graves 6. The Lost Christian Virtue of Reasonableness, by David A. Horner 7. A Failure of Humble Proportions, by Michael W. Austin 8. Getting Angry, by Gregory L. Bock 9. It’s Much Worse than You Think, by J. Aaron Simmons and Kevin Carnahan 10. All Christians Are Conspiracy Theorists, by Christian B. Miller 11. Christianity, Conspiracy Theories, and Intellectual Character, by Nathan L. King and Keith D. Wyma 12. How Shall We Then Think? Biblical Insights on Conspiracy, by Dru Johnson 13. Faith, Reason, and Conspiracy Theories, by Domonique Turnipseed 14. The Greatest Conspiracy Ever, by Susan Peppers-Bates 15. Testing Teachings and Torching Teachers, by Rick Langer 16. Word Spoken at the Proper Time, by Tim Muehlhoff 17. Following Christ into Controversy, by Jason Cook 18. The Religious Rhetoric of QAnon, by Chase Andre 19. Loving Our Online Communities, by Rachel I. Wightman 20. Conspiracy Theories, Political Trust, and Christian Witness, by Daniel Bennett 21. A City Divided, by Kaitlyn Schiess 22. They Are Coming for the Children, by Michelle Panchuk 23. Parenting Teenagers in Gullible Times, by Bradley Baurain 24. Jesus Was Also Conspired Against, Yet He Was without Sin, by Steven L. Porter Appendix: Careful Reasoning Guide List of Contributors Index
Michael W. Austin is Foundation Professor of Philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University and Bonhoeffer Senior Fellow of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning and Leadership of Hebrew College. He has published twelve books, including Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life (Eerdmans, 2012), Humility and Human Flourishing (Oxford University Press, 2018), and his latest, God and Guns in America (Eerdmans, 2020).
Gregory L. Bock is assistant professor of philosophy and religion and program director for the philosophy, religion studies, and Asian studies at the University of Texas at Tyler. He also serves as director for UT Tyler’s Center for Ethics. He is editor of volumes 3 and 4 of The Philosophy of Forgiveness (Vernon, 2018, 2019) and coeditor of Righteous Indignation: Christian Philosophical and Theological Perspectives on Anger (Fortress, 2021).
The Christian Century “With a wealth of disciplinary outlooks and diverse understandings of conspiracy theory, this volume deserves the sustained attention of those seeking to understand QAnon and its impact.”
Publishers Weekly “A fascinating, timely outing.”
“This is a long overdue book for Christians around the world. It should be widely read, studied, and preached from the pulpit. I have been frustrated that the media has largely made the disinformation worse. We need more clear-headed scholars to be heard. Faith and not coercion is a believer’s walk. Humility and integrity are vital. Love and Truth are the paths forward.” —Steve Hassan, author of The Cult of Trump and Combatting Cult Mind Control
“Christians believe in the literal embodiment of truth, Jesus Christ. We also confess the One who is Truth to be the creator and sustainer of all things, including the human faculty of reason. Editors Michael Austin and Gregory Bock have assembled an outstanding collection of essayists who help us use these epistemological anchors and others to recenter our faith, worldview, and interpretation of reality. During a time of competing fantasies and deceptive and destructive conspiracy theories that play on our hearts and minds, this book is a gift to the people of God. Individuals, churches, schools, and denominational bodies will find QAnon, Chaos, and the Cross an effective tool to protect themselves and their communities from falling prey to a real and present danger while deepening their relationship to what is ultimately and consummately true and good.” —Rob Schenck, president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
“This collection of essays, largely from evangelical Christian scholars, offers a generous and substantive engagement with the problem of conservative Christian susceptibility to conspiracy theories. Most essays appear to be written by authors who live within contexts in which conspiracy theories such as QAnon have been fairly widely embraced. Thus, the book is interesting both for the virulent conspiracy thinking that it addresses and for the rhetorical and reasoning strategies now being attempted by scholars within such contexts.” —David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University
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