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CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | SPRING 2024 EDITION
Pulled Out of the Rabbit Hole
Meet the Conspiracy Theorists Who are Turning to Christ

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Written by Kate Orson – Courtesy Premier Christianity

Photo by Benoit Beaumatin on Unsplash

Kate Orson speaks to the converts who are leaving the truther and new age movements behind

An increasing number of people who have followed conspiracy theories are turning to Jesus. That’s a bold claim, but I know it’s true, partly because it happened to me.

In 2016, a video popped up on my Facebook feed. In it, a man shared his story of supposedly being abducted by aliens. I was intrigued, partly because of the professionalism of the setting; he was wearing a suit and speaking in a large auditorium. Over the next few days, I followed one link after another on the internet, eventually buying a book by the world’s most notorious conspiracy theorist, David Icke, who, among other things, believes the royal family are shape-shifting lizards in disguise.

I had always thought Icke was crazy, but when I read The Biggest Secret: The book that will change the world (Bridge of Love Publications), I was surprised to find that what he said about alien shape-shifting reptiles from the fourth dimension actually made sense to me. Icke’s big idea was that secret societies were running the world – and the notion of evil people controlling everything had long terrified me. Thoughts about this secret system and the Illuminati disturbed my sleep, leaving me anxious and depressed.

I spoke to a friend who, coincidentally, had another close friend who’d looked into Icke’s theories and was also struggling to sleep. My friend and I concluded that while there is much corruption in the world, it didn’t serve us to investigate the details and fixate on it. It was much better to focus on the good we could do in our little corner of the world.

When the 2020 lockdown arrived, so did an influx of disinformation and conspiracy theories – from QAnon to The Great Reset; from satanic secret societies ruling the world to Rudolf Steiner’s theory that a vaccine would be invented to separate humans from their soul. All of these gained traction online. And Christians were not immune – some believers thought the Covid-19 vaccine was the “mark of the beast” (see Revelation 13:11-18). Online searches for “book of Revelation” spiked in March 2020 amid a flurry of interest in end-times theology.

As I struggled with my emotions during this time, I gravitated further into new age spirituality to find comfort in what now seemed like a very dark world. I followed psychics and astrologers, but began to feel that what they were sharing was truth mixed with lies.

One of the psychics I was following also claimed to be a Christian and would sometimes share Bible verses. I wanted to know more, so I decided to start reading the Bible for myself. I began with the last book, the one I’d heard so much about online; Revelation. Then, one day, I said the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Immediately, I felt God’s presence – and it was completely different to anything I’d ever experienced. I knew instantly that the God of the Bible was real. I gave up new age practices and surrendered my life to Jesus. Now, I no longer live in fear, or concern myself too much with the darkness. I trust God’s word that we are meant to focus on “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely” (Philippians 4:8).

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE 

I’m not alone. Lucinda Button is the creator of The Bridge, a Facebook group with more than 1,000 members who have left the new age to follow Jesus. Many were previously members of the ‘truther movement’, who believe that our reality is a lie, and that our world is controlled by elite families and secret societies who hate humanity. Truther beliefs can manifest as everything from conspiracies around the moon landings, 9/11 and JFK to fringe beliefs about the Covid-19 lockdowns and vaccines, or the conviction that the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and the World Health Organization are harming, controlling or even killing humanity and reducing the population.

I literally fell to my knees, crying my eyes out in realization that I’d been serving the wrong master all these decades

Like me, Button came to Christ after searching for information online during the pandemic. She explains: “When Covid happened, it was so shocking. I was suspicious and didn’t feel like the media was telling the full truth. During the lockdown, like many of us, I had lots of free time. I ended up watching documentaries I saw people posting on Facebook that were exposing evil in the world. There was one video about Satanism in the music industry that really made me see how there is evil involved.

“I was driving home one evening when I saw this black smoke up ahead of me. It was a few metres long by a few metres wide and it was moving from trees on the left-hand side of me, across the road, to trees on my right-hand side. It was so real. I knew I wasn’t just seeing things. It wasn’t like smoke floating, it had a thick density and I just sensed that it had a consciousness and that it was evil. Later, when I was reflecting on it, it felt like this was my confirmation; evidence that the spirit realm is real.

“At the same time, the name of Jesus kept cropping up. I became more and more open to the idea of him. It was very slow and subtle. When I came to believe, I didn’t even try. It was like a supernatural gift I was given. By that point, I had bought a Bible because I wanted to read about the mark of the beast in Revelation. I started to read it slowly and then I just knew he was real. Eventually I repented on my knees and I heard God say to me: ‘You are my child.’”

Another new believer, Andrew, had concerns about the vaccine and was looking for alternative sources of information during lockdown: “I was very active and militant, going to lots of protests,” he tells me. “I was fearful of forced vaccination. I had started a group locally to set up an anarchy state (one without rulers or authority). I was having clandestine meetings with other anarchist leaders.

“There was one friend, Rebecca, who had started to become a bit sceptical about it. One evening, she was the only one who turned up for my meeting and she started telling me that Jesus had been calling her. Her experiences made a lot of sense to me. I’d grown up in a semi-Christian family but then went completely the other way.

“Rebecca sent me a video called Aethereal from a YouTube channel called ‘The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction’. It talked about the falseness of the new age and the truth of the Bible. At the end of it there was one question: ‘Who do you serve?’ I literally fell to my knees, crying my eyes out in realisation that I’d been serving the wrong master all these decades. They weren’t just tears of remorse but joy, love, sadness. I cried for ages. That’s when I started my very slow journey towards Christ. After that, my previous fear of authority and death had completely gone.”

INTO THE LIGHT

When the truth comes and people are born again, their desires change. Button explains: “As soon as I found Jesus, this veil came down and just kind of veiled off the ‘truther’ world. I stopped looking at all that stuff and I just felt peace. Before, it was like opening up a wound and trying to find information that’s going to close the wound so you can feel calm again. But finding out more about evil never helps. Only Jesus brings peace.’’

Andrew’s experience was similar. He “moved away quite quickly” from the truther movement once he’d confessed Christ. “I carried on trying to set up the anarchy state but, in the last meeting, everyone was just banging on about new age concepts like manifestation and 5D, and I thought: This is a load of rubbish. I dropped it all and decided to focus on the Bible. I feel safe with God now. ‘’

Button, along with her pastor, Keith Rudman, of Stroud Baptist Church, have started both in-person and online groups for truthers. Rudman, who is himself a former Jehovah’s Witness, reports that truthers often come to him with “a lot of questions, often focused on Revelation”.

He has helped many people make the transition from believing in new age and truther concepts, to following Jesus. I ask if he has any advice for how best to communicate with people from these groups.

“I would say to anyone dealing with truthers, new agers, preppers – or whatever you want to call them – listen to them. Let them say what they want to say. Be respectful about it, because most of them are not idiots. They don’t want to argue, they’re just passionate about what they believe.

“I’ve said the wrong thing once or twice. Now, when the subject of conspiracies comes up I’ll say: ‘Look, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the Bible doesn’t say it is. So I can’t expend my energy discussing it.’

“There’s always been talk of conspiracy theories. When I got saved in the early 1980s, people spoke a lot about the Freemasons, the Illuminati and all of that. My thought even then was: Well, it’s not in the Bible so I don’t want to concern myself with it.’’

Conspiracy theorists are commonly written off of as hate-filled lunatics, but Rudman’s experience is the opposite. When I ask him what the difference is between this particular group of people and his non-conspiratorial church goers, he shocks me: “What struck me the most is how kind they are. Isn’t that incredible? I haven’t had one argument in over two years. No one has grown angry with me, and I have not got angry with anyone. They are so lovingly open and generous. One used to sign her emails to me: ‘with kindness’. I thought: Wow, that’s how Christians should speak.

He describes the “complete 360 degree turn” of those who have left behind their previous beliefs to walk with Christ as: “absolutely marvellous. It’s just unbelievable.” Growing tearful, he continues: “It’s fired me up. It’s been the oxygen for my life for the last couple of years. To see them come to church – I’ve never cried so much! The Lord has been so good.’’

We should think of truthers as we would do any other vulnerable group

Rudman is keen to emphasise the importance of grounding our evangelism in love and acceptance for the person we’re seeking to reach. “Everyone’s lost in some way. We should think of truthers as we would do any other vulnerable group. Their hearts are breaking. They’re lost. They don’t know what to do. Jesus came for the broken people. You’ve got to love them and treat them as valuable, because they are. They’re precious. I ask them: ‘How valuable do you think you are?’ They [often reply]: ‘I don’t know.’ I say: ‘Well, your value is equal to Christ’s death.’”

THE WHOLE TRUTH

How to answer popular objections

Claim:

The Bible has been edited and corrupted

Truth: There is no evidence that the Bible has been systematically or deliberately changed. Manuscripts were copied meticulously by scribes over time and, through the centuries, only very minor differences have arisen. The vast majority are spelling differences. More than 99 per cent of the biblical text is unquestioned, and of the one per cent that is in question, no major doctrine is in jeopardy.

Claim: 

We all have a spark of the divine in us

Truth: This is the age-old lie that Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden: “you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5, DRA). Satan loves to flatter people, telling them they can be like God, and minimising the work Jesus did on the cross. The idea that we all have a spark of the divine in us (also known as ‘Christ consciousness’ in the new age) deceives people into thinking that Jesus wasn’t anything special, and anyone can do the miracles he performed if they work hard enough at spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation.

Claim:

The Old Testament God is evil and not the same as the God of the New Testament

Truth: This idea comes from Gnosticism, a belief system deemed heretical by the early Church. Gnostics also believed we can achieve salvation through discovering ‘hidden knowledge’. Christians of all denominations have always believed the God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old Testament. We see all aspects of God’s character, including his love, justice, judgement and grace expressed throughout the biblical canon.

Claim:

There are many paths to God

Truth: Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If we trust the Gospels as reliable accounts of Jesus’ life, then it’s clear that only Jesus enables us to have a relationship with the Father. The idea of many paths fits in well with a postmodern worldview of ‘my truth’ and ‘your truth’ but no absolute truth. However, just as there is an objective truth about the physical realm we live in, there is objective truth to the spiritual realm too.

Claim:

Christianity is so judgemental

Truth: Some elements of Christian belief may appear judgemental to our modern culture. For example, the belief that humanity is sinful can cause offence. However, just because a teaching may be unpalatable does not mean it is incorrect. God’s heart is that humanity will turn from their sin and be saved, as Jesus said: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). Those who seek truth will overcome any initial offence and be convicted by the Holy Spirit.

A DIGITAL CONVERSION

Many of the truthers who are coming to Christ are doing so as a response to YouTube videos they’ve watched, Facebook posts they’ve read or conversations with online friends whom they’ve never met in person. This presents a challenge to the Church to better engage on digital platforms. In a recent post on social media, Phil Knox, evangelism and missiology specialist at the Evangelical Alliance, highlighted the most common ways adults come to faith in the UK. Second on the list (after friendship) was ‘digital’, with one leader reporting: “I’ve had more new people come to church because of TikTok than through personal invitation in the last six months.”

While we cannot endorse the destination that most of those in the new age and truther movement arrive at, we should applaud their desire to seek out truth. We worship the God of truth, and a person’s quest to find truth is evidence that they are made in his image. Drawing on the words of Jesus in Matthew 7, Rudman puts it this way: “The Bible says ‘seek and you’ll find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and you’ll receive’ [see vv7-8]. If you’re searching honestly and openly you’re gonna end up at the truth.”

The Author; Kate Orson
Kate Orson is a freelance writer and author of Tears Heal: How to listen to our children (Piatkus). Her writing focuses on emotional wellbeing and her articles have been published in UK’sThe Telegraph, Daily Mail and Metro among others.