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How should Christians combat conspiracy theories?

Malcolm Duncan & Sue Rinaldi

Every day we are bombarded with a plethora of news bulletins, conspiracy theories, beliefs, judgements, and opinions. How careful are we in assessing the viability of each source and discerning what to believe and what to dismiss? And how do we combat the fake news and ideologies that are contradictory to the gospel and to the word of God?

Theologian John Stott recommended the valuable art of double listening. That is…the faculty of listening to two voices at the same time, the voice of God through Scripture and the voices of men and women around us.

Learning to discern and hold fast to God’s truth when surrounded by relativism, manipulated narratives, fear and scaremongering should be the concern of each one of us, and church is not exempt from these operational forces!

This year at Spring Harvest Malcolm Duncan did a thorough job of leading us through the many challenges and dilemmas of trying to live faithfully in the missional purposes of God within a culture that often seeks to exchange truth for lies, and offers us valuable guidance in these areas.

Here's a video of his seminar on How should Christians combat conspiracy theories?

Getting the most from this message

We have an online video and audio library full of past Spring Harvest sessions. Recently, we have started to create Home Group resources that are based on some of these session videos. Here, we show you what you may find in one of those home group resources. The home group notes below are based on Malcolms video above.

Read these Bible verses


…from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do - 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command


2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance

1 JOHN 4:1-6 (NIV)

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognise the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

Discussion starters

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 15 verses 2-7. What is the significance of Paul's words 'of first importance'? Do you think knowing and understanding doctrine is given the importance it should have within our churches?
  2. To help us live faithfully in our culture, Malcolm Duncan mentions John Stott’s art of double listening. How much do you practise it? How much do our churches practice and encourage it? How important is it for every generation to live faithfully in the missional purposes of God and understand the times?
  3. Read 1 John 4:1-6. Testing the spirits, or deciding what’s healthy and what’s not, relies upon discernment. Malcolm Duncan gives 6 principles which will develop discernment and help us distinguish between truth and lies. What are they? Discuss each one.
  4. To engage with culture yet not be consumed by it, is one of the many important aspects of Duncan’s message. When you’ve read conspiracy theories or fake news and when you’ve heard manipulated narratives, lies and scaremongering in the past, how have you responded? Will you respond differently after hearing Malcolm Duncan’s message?

Live it out

  1. With the Bible in one hand and a newspaper or digital news content in another, practice a discerning engagement with the world and culture at the same time as holding fast to the centrality of God’s word. Use these purposeful times as a launchpad into prayer.
  2. What shapes you? Are you more influenced by news and social media posts than the Bible? What or who do you listen to more when there are contradictory messages or truths?
  3. Malcolm mentioned 5 points. 1. Popularity is not the same as faithfulness. 2. Platform is not the same as authenticity. 3. If anyone makes a claim about Jesus, it must be rooted in scripture. 4. Position is never a guarantee of reliability. 5. Power is not the same as authority. Consider each one. What arises within you?
  4. Reflect upon these words from Sinclair Ferguson. True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.

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