Tag Archives: conspiracy theories

Franklin Graham Supports COVID Vaccinations…. And Gets “Cancelled” For It By Some of His Followers?

I just got my first COVID-19 Moderna vaccine.

Some of my Christian friends, however, are a bit nervous about the vaccines. Sure, there are genuine concerns. But most of these concerns, upon closer examination, are unwarranted.

Hesitancy about using vaccines has a variety of factors behind it. A March 2021 Pew Research study observes that about 33% of Black Protestant Christians are wary of taking a COVID vaccine. The same study observes that about 45% of White Evangelical Christians are either cautious or dead set against any COVID vaccine.

So it comes as no surprise that when Franklin Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, and an influential spokesperson for many evangelical Christians today, announced his support for taking COVID vaccines, the reaction from some of his most ardent followers was swift and furious. Like Graham, I have relatives in my family line who served as medical missionaries, where the administration of vaccines have saved countless numbers of lives. Nevertheless, some denounced Graham as promoting a “devilish lie.” Some of Graham’s critics believe that taking the vaccine is a sign of taking “the mark of the beast.” However, a careful reading of Scripture shows that taking “the mark of the beast” in the Book of Revelation, is a loyalty oath, and not something that can be forced upon someone by someone else. It would appear that bad interpretation of the Bible is just as much a pandemic as is COVID-19.

Furthermore, when people use Bible passages like 1 Corinthians 6:19 (“Do you not know that you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…“), that is really a misuse of the Bible. You might as well decline the use of any modern medicine, if you plan to be consistent with that way of thinking. Paul even recommended that Timothy take some wine to remedy the latter’s health ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). So it seems odd for Paul to suggest that if he really had in mind a prohibition against all forms of medicine.

Others are hesitant about such vaccines because of suspicions about government programs.

Others are unsure, because as in the case of the Moderna vaccine that I took, these mRNA vaccines are so new and have not been tested across millions and millions of people. However, the mRNA vaccine technology is not as new as people think, having undergone a number of other successful test trials in other applications over the past several decades.

Then there is the long held distrust of the medical establishment by the “anti-vax” movement, which is totally against vaccines of any and all kinds.

Critics of vaccines do have at least one point to make in their arguments, and it is an important one: No vaccine is entirely risk free.

When I went to get my vaccine, I was asked a whole list of questions, to make sure I was the right candidate to receive the vaccine. Not everyone should take the vaccine, because of certain side effects. But the percentage of people who should not take the vaccine is very, very small. For most people who do experience side effects, those side effects are relatively mild and do not last for long. If people have questions about their use of a vaccine, they should consult their doctor. If their doctor does not offer good answers to these questions, then that might be a strong signal suggesting that it is time to find a new doctor.

But while no vaccine is entirely risk free, that is true with just about everything in life. I know of many people who think nothing of it to hop into a car, and drive across town to run an errand or go to work. However, the likelihood of getting into a life-threatening automobile accident is orders of magnitude higher than is experiencing a life-threatening injury from a vaccine. Still, I see thousands of people driving in their automobiles all of the time. Furthermore, taking a COVID vaccine is much, much safer than being exposed to the COVID virus itself.

I have come to learn that vaccine hesistancy is not just an American evangelical Christian thing. A large percentage of secular Europe is more skeptical of vaccines than is the American evangelical Christian community. I have also seen paranoia at the other extreme, too, where some people are so freaked out by COVID-19, that they will wear a mask while driving in their car…. even though no one else is with them!!

Yesterday, Christians in the West celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus, along with the hope of Christ coming once again to right all wrongs and heal all diseases. Yet unless Jesus returns in the near future, the likelihood is that mass COVID vaccination programs will continue to be effective in reducing the pandemic, and life should return to a more regular pattern of normalcy.

COVID will never fully go away. Yet the same is true about the 1919 Spanish Flu, based on the N1H1 virus, that killed millions of people, in the wake of World War One, a century ago. Descendants of the 1919 N1H1 virus still exist today, though they typically come in a more muted and less deadly form. Still, getting a yearly flu shot goes a long way towards making the flu more of a nuisance and less deadly than it was when 50 million people died a hundred years ago, when fewer treatment options and no effective vaccines were available then.

Aside from the health factors, Christians really should support COVID-19 vaccination, for the simple reason that such decisions impact their witness to the truth of the Gospel. For if Christians get the reputation that they are highly susceptible to conspiracy-thinking that goes against science, then the next generation of young people will be only more and more inclined to judge the Christian faith itself as yet just another conspiracy theory that should be rejected.

Let us help our young people have more confidence in the truth of the Gospel… and not less.


More QAnon Nonsense: March 4 as Trump’s True Inauguration Day?

Just when you thought folks would be done with this, QAnon roars back with yet another wild prophecy. According to QAnon proponents, Donald Trump will replace Biden and be inaugurated as President. Why? Because of some convoluted reasoning that Ulysses S. Grant was the last legitimately elected President, and that Trump will be Grant’s true successor, on March 4, and will come in and finally clean up Washington, for the glory of God.

What is so bizarre about this whole thing is that various reports say that 1 in 4 evangelical Christiansbelieve the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory is completely or mostly accurate.”

1 in 4? Are that many Christians really serious about this??

If you find this unbelievable that so many well-meaning folks in evangelical churches believe this, then just sample some of these following interviews yourself. I warned about this kind of stuff in previous posts (#1 and #2 and #3), acknowledging that every conspiracy theory has at least SOME element of truth to them. But this latest QAnon concoction is off the charts.

Of course, I know how this is going to go down. Dedicated QAnon folks will double-down and say that I am blinded and “liberal” biased because I reference videos done by CNN, which is just the lying “mainstream media.” Such folks would rather believe their Facebook feed, that Facebook’s algorithm engineers have already steered towards them, down the rabbit hole….. as though Facebook’s social media steering mechanism is somehow more trustworthy than CNN.

But they will not stop there. They will either say that the fake March 4 Inauguration prediction was simply a warning before the REAL storm comes at a later, yet undisclosed date; that is, we must simply “trust the plan.” Or they will throw these folks interviewed under the bus! They will say that all of the folks interviewed in the following videos were actually planted there by Antifa, or other elements of the Radical Left, and they really are not true Trump supporters…. another example of “fake news.”

Folks, this just makes Christians look foolish. What a contrast with the early Christians who gave their lives for the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection. People need to let this go and move on. If on the one-in-a-billion chance that something DOES happen like this, then I will surely post an update with a profound acknowledgement of error on my part….. But mark my word, come Friday morning, March 5th, folks will be able to look back on this and say that this was a false prophecy.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3 NIV)”

ADDENDUM:  If you are still convinced that I am just a hack for CNN, then I would encourage you to consider the following thoughtful analysis by Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying about how the New York Times steers the thinking of many of their readers, on a broad spectrum of topics. Be careful, as you might have to think about what is being said in this video. Weinstein and Heying are center-left liberals, in full disclosure.


Beware of False Prophets, QAnon Conspiracies, and Whataboutism!

Now that the dust is settling after the storming of the Capital on January 6, and Americans witnessed a peaceful transition of power, from one President to another President earlier this week, it is worth taking stock of what has happened, and what it means for the church.

The first point to note is that we are reminded, yet once again, that we are to beware of false prophets. A shocking number of Christian leaders have publicly made pronouncements, for the past many months, prophesying that Donald Trump would win a second consecutive Presidential term. Astoundingly, such pronouncements continued to come out even after the November election indicated that Donald Trump had lost the race. A few of these Christian leaders have, thankfully, stepped up to apologize for “jumping the gun” too quickly, with too much “thus saith the Lord,” in making this particular prediction, that Donald Trump would be inaugurated on January 20th, 2021. But the fact that so many Christian spokespersons put their integrity on the line with such so-called “prophecies,” only to see their prophecies fail to come to pass, should be a sober warning to believers to avoid such false prophets in the first place. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3 ESV), and also, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord’” (Jeremiah 23:16 ESV).

The second point to note is that Christians should be wary of conspiracy theories. The QAnon conspiracy theory was a special highlight of the fiasco at the Capital protest, on January 6. While the vast majority of protestors were peaceful, who gathered on the Washington Mall the day that the Electoral College votes were certified by Congress, the relatively smaller number of people who ended up storming the Capital included a number of Christians, who believe in the QAnon conspiracy. In a nutshell, the QAnon conspiracy contends that there is a pedophilia sex ring, enslaving countless numbers of children, run by a secret cabal of Democratic leaders, existing in the “deep state” of the American federal government. Believers in QAnon have held to the idea that Donald Trump was raised up by God to expose this “deep state,” such that while Trump was still President, his efforts would lead to the arrest of these corrupt Democratic leaders.  But because of the insidious nature of the “deep state,” followers of QAnon knew that President Trump would only signal to QAnon followers in code, to know what to do. Many QAnon followers then believed that the President’s speech before the crowds gathered on January 6 was the cryptic signal that was needed to alert QAnon followers, that “the storm” had finally come, and so, they should go and storm the Capital. This is not some “mainstream media” spin. This is stuff you can see on hundreds of videos taken at the Capital on January 6.

QAnon is quite a complex web of intricate and even conflicting beliefs, so it is really difficult to tell if someone is really “in” on QAnon as a serious believer, or if they are simply toying with particular ideas associated with the QAnon cult. Not everyone in QAnon is a Christian, for that matter, and this political cult has apparently spread to other countries, not just the United States. Nevertheless, the fact that this major, massive arrest of Democratic pedophilia supporters never materialized, before Trump left office, has left quite a number of QAnon folks demoralized. Of the tiny few Q adherents who were arrested at the Capital, some were shocked that the President did not pardon their efforts in penetrating the Capital, fully believing that Trump would do so. At the same time, the unexpected turn of events have only emboldened the remaining faithful to double-down on the QAnon theory, trying to come up with a new strategy to figure out what went wrong, and what will happen next. The latest claim: Trump actually did defeat Biden in the election, and he is secretly governing behind the puppet Biden. After all, as the Q would say, it is all “part of the plan.”

The third point to note is the trend of “whataboutism,” that I hear quite a bit, that oddly tries to justify some of the weirdness that a number of Christians have participated in, during this tumultuous political season. “Oh yeah?? Well, What about Antifa? What about the radical elements of Black Lives Matter, that led to so much destruction of property during the summer of 2020?Informed Christians should know that the rise of critical theory and wokeness has undercut the biblical justice theme of colorblindness, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned over 50 years ago, as more secular minded theorists seek today to co-opt earlier Christian efforts to combat racism. But Christians should be, first and foremost, taking a stand against all forms of violence, whether perpetrated by the left or the right.

There are several reasons why the failure to discern true prophets from false prophets, the lure of conspiracy theories, and the temptation to embrace the rhetoric of “whataboutism”, is such an important concern, particularly for today’s American evangelical church.

First, the scandals involving false prophecies, conspiracy theories, and overly defensive rhetoric cause embarrassment for the proclamation of the Gospel. When I try to share my faith with my skeptical neighbor, co-worker, or family neighbor, I really need to focus on the claims of the Gospel, that Jesus is Risen from the Dead, that the Bible is indeed God’s Word, and that faith in Jesus matters in every area of life. What I do not need to be distracted with is when a non-believer brings up false prophets in the church, the rabbit trails of conspiracy theory thinking, and criticizing excuses for Christians behaving badly. Instead, what every believer needs to be most concerned with is having confidence in the Gospel, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

Second, such scandals indicate that well-meaning Christians have lost their focus, and have been tempted to put their trust in man, and not in the Lord. When a Christian become more engaged with politics and less engaged with the work of missions and evangelism, then you know that something serious is amiss. “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God” (Psalm 146:3-5 NIV).

And finally, such scandals show that many believers in our churches are not being fed with spiritual food that can properly sustain them in living a growing, dynamic spiritual life in Jesus.  We have settled for rather shallow teaching, that does not really help the believer properly embrace and understand the Scriptures as the True and Living Word of God. For when people are not being challenged with solid teaching, they so easily gravitate towards other things that sound a lot more exciting and thrilling. Our social media enriched world only makes the challenge even more challenging. Weak sermons, lackluster one-on-one discipleship, and shallow small group Bible studies, that fail to help people really dig in and do the hard work of studying the Bible make people vulnerable to the exhilaration of the latest conspiracy theory, and having some special confidence in knowing the “real” inside scoop that false prophecy tends to encourage. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Folks, let us get back to basics. We have our work cut out for us. The culture surrounding us is becoming more and more opposed to the cause of Christ, which means that we are to hold onto and harness the truth of God, with greatly resolve and clarity, so that we might be more faithful in our life and witness, for the glory of His Name. We must learn the art of persuasion with our neighbors. Let us set about being in prayer and in the study of the Scriptures, and less enthralled with the latest Facebook post and media madness. Let us be out there, sharing our faith with others, helping the poor and the needy, and be ambassadors for Christ’s Glorious Kingdom.

 


COVID-19, Christians, and Conspiracy Theories

In our new COVID-19 world, there is a lot of confusion, misinformation, and even disinformation.  The plethora of Internet-based news outlets and social media does not help matters. What are reliable sources of information? Who can you really trust?

Such a climate is fertile ground for generating conspiracy theories. Granted, it is very easy to pooh-pooh skepticism about conspiracy theories. After all, some conspiracy theories actually do happen.  Here is just a partial list of some of the more well-known conspiracy theories, that turned out to be true:

  • Watergate. The 1970s break-in attempt at the Democratic National Committee headquarters triggered a cover-up that brought down an American President.
  • The Arrest & Crucifixion of Jesus: Jewish leaders, Roman rulers, and one of the insiders of the Jesus movement, who defected (Judas), conspired together, leading to Jesus’ Crucifixion.
  • The Arrest of the Apostle Paul: As former persecutor of Christians, turned follower of Christ, Paul threatened the religious establishment of his day, in Jerusalem, which led to his arrest and final appeal to Caesar in Rome to resolve the matter.

In recent times, we have seen conspiracy theories emerging from the far left, as some advocates of the “Social Justice Movement” and “Critical Race Theory” have gone off the deep end, freaking out even those on the moderate left, …. as well as, from the far right, with the “QAnon” conspiracy theory… related to the 2016 “PizzaGate” craziness (if you have not heard about “QAnon,” then read, or listen to, this article from The Atlantic about it…. it will scare the daylights out of you). Sadly, you can find Christians on both sides that get drawn into these types of conspiratorial thinking.

Now, we have COVID-19. Did it come from a lab in China, not simply as a result of some possible accident, that was covered up, but perhaps even as part of some intentional bio-warfare? Is it somehow related to Bill Gates and the Mark of the Beast?

There are a lot of good questions that sit underneath some of these more overt questions. There is still a lot about COVID-19 that we do not know. But sometimes the lure of conspiracy thinking can easily take us down the wrong path. As a Christian, I get bothered when critics of evangelical faith create their own conspiracy theories about Christianity. But when Christians themselves foster conspiracy thinking, that lacks evidential support, we risk damaging our witness to an unbelieving world.

It is far better to follow the evidence we already do have, instead of speculating on the possibility of evidence we do not currently possess.

Look. The uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 crisis is extremely stressful. We are already seeing a great deal of civil unrest, partly related to the COVID-19 crisis. I know people who are currently out of work, due to the crisis. I long for the day when businesses can fully reopen, and our churches can begin meeting again, without having to worry about social distancing. Thankfully, as I am writing this (June 1, 2020), there are positive signs that things are slowly coming back to normal. But let us not needlessly complicate matters by giving into unwarranted conspiratorial thinking.

Some Christians will be offended by my post here. But I would encourage keeping an open-mind on these things. Consider this: How is your conspiracy theory helping to enhance the service of the proclamation of the Gospel? Are you building bridges of trust, or are you creating an unnecessary barrier, keeping others from hearing about Jesus?

It is important to say that the conspiratorial theorizing about COVID-19 should not be linked even to Young Earth Creationism. Todd C. Wood, a prominent Young Earth Creationist, with a PhD in biology, has written two blog posts encouraging fellow Young Earth Creationist Christians not to give into the conspiratorial rhetoric. Wood even likens the rise of conspiracy thinking among Christians to a revival of the ancient heresy of gnosticism. A couple of quotes from Wood stand out for me:

“Everything about [COVID-19] is a classic, natural viral outbreak.  I’ve seen absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  The concern that prompted the drastic social distancing was the rapid rate at which this virus spread, combined with early estimates of a fatality rate about ten times higher than the flu.  Have we learned more and revised those estimates?  Of course we have, that’s what science does.  We learn new things and revise our models.  It’s not the sign of a scam…..
…..Is COVID-19 really no worse than a bad outbreak of the flu?  It’s far worse, or at least it has the potential to be.  The flu has been around for years, and there’s a lot of resistance already in the population.  Plus, the flu does not spread nearly as fast as COVID-19, and there are preventatives (flu shot) and effective treatments available for the flu.”

Wood even links to a video done by Robert Carter, of Creation Ministries International, who reviews the viral “documentary” film called “Plandemic. Part 1,” that some of my friends have sent to me as well in emails.  Carter’s conclusion?  “What a load of bunk.”

Also, a new edition of the Reasons to Believe podcast, RTBLive, tackles some of the questions surrounding conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19. Virologist A.J. Roberts, who has studied coronaviruses extensively, and Mark Clark, a political scientist and expert in national security, fielded a number of questions from listeners, offering a sound Christian perspective, grounded in good science and evidence-based reasoning. The program is about an hour and a half, but if you are looking for reliable information, that goes into some detail to answer questions many people are asking, it would be worth your time to listen. Some of the questions could not be answered in the RTB Livestream, but they can be found in the RTB Live Extra podcast, linked here:

 


Does Bill Gates Want to Use a COVID-19 Vaccine to Give Us the Mark of the Beast?

Bill Gates is working on a vaccine for COVID-19. Is this the “mark of the beast,” that the Book of Revelation warns us about?

For a number of Christians, what Bill Gates is doing is alarming. If it is not a vaccine, laced with some possible hidden microchip technology, it could be some type of universal ID system, using a chip implant of some sort. Should Christians be concerned? Should Christians resist taking the vaccine?

Does Bill Gates have a plan to give everyone the “mark of the beast?”

There are a number of problems with this type of thinking. First, fears about a chip implant are a bit late in the ball game. We already have a technological means of tracking people with a computer chip. You are probably using something like this to read this blog article.

It is called a smartphone.

Secondly, fears about the “mark of the beast” have a long, long history, of attempts to identify the “mark” with something that turned out to be nothing to fear. For example, when the New England Puritans, like Cotton Mather, started to promote inoculation against small pox, in the 1720s, a number of other Christians resisted such vaccination efforts. At one point, someone even firebombed Reverend Mather’s home in Boston, in protest. The vaccination itself left a permanent scar, on each person, which was nicknamed “the mark of the beast.” So, these type of prophecy speculations today are nothing new to church history. Thankfully, small pox today has been eradicated due to vaccinations, so we don’t have to worry about small pox anymore.

But the most difficult and third problem with all of this has to do with how we read the Bible.

The way to start is to read the relevant portion of Scripture. Some just look at Revelation 13:16-18, but a longer reading puts it all in context (Revelation 13:5-8, 11-18 ESV). Highlighted below are key phrases to consider:

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain…. 
Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. 

The popular idea, when reading about the “mark of the beast,” is to think that some demonic figure (the “beast,” as in the first and/or second beast mentioned in this passage) will try to force everyone, including believing Christians, to have this “mark of the beast” implanted in our bodies. The implication is that Christians should do whatever they can to be wary of the imposition of such a mark, and resist it with every means possible…. even if it means rejecting something like a COVID-19 vaccine.

I have thought about adapting a maxim, that is surely appropriate for a blog article like this: Having an open mind on all things is surely good, yet on the whole, it is far better to follow the evidence we already do have, instead of speculating on the possibility of evidence we do not currently possess.

Here is what I mean by that.

The popular interpretation summarized above makes a number of assumptions. First, it assumes a futurist interpretation of the Book of Revelation. A futurist interpretation suggests that the bulk of what is described in Revelation corresponds to future events. Many Christians are not aware that there are other, faithfully-orthodox methods of reading Revelation that do not assume a futurist framework.

For example, we have good evidence to indicate that the prophecy regarding the “mark of the beast” has already been fulfilled in the past, specifically in the first century of the church. Interested students of the Bible might want to at least consider this preterist, or past-fulfillment based, approach to interpreting this passage, as a reasonable alternative to the futurist approach.

Furthermore, we also have evidence that suggests that a more symbolic approach to the “mark of the beast,” exemplified by either an historicist or idealist approach to interpreting this passage, might carry more weight than a futurist reading.

But let us lay all of the above aside, and assume for now that the futurist reading is correct. It very well might be. Even though it is nearly impossible to figure out evidence for something that might happen in the future, most evangelical Christians today take a futurist approach, so it is not without precedent nor credibility. Regardless of approach, a more thorough attention to the context of the “mark of the beast” will help to illuminate why more popular understandings are problematic.

Does even the futurist approach really line up with the popular idea of “the mark of the beast” being imposed on Christians?

Notice first, in the passage above, that “and all who dwell on earth will worship it,” namely the “it” being the first and/or second beast. Who are those “all who dwell on the earth?” Well, the next phrase in the highlighted verse tells us, “everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” In other words, those who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will worship the beast.

This little nugget of Scriptural truth helps us to decipher what is meant later on by “the earth and its inhabitants [who] worship the first beast” and “it [the second beast] deceives those who dwell on earth.” The ones who are deceived by the beast are not believing Christians.

It is also helpful to realize what is meant by the “forehead,” which is where the mark of the beast might be placed. Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation we can read that the people of God, those who worship Jesus and put their trust in Him, will be “sealed” with a “seal” placed on their forehead (Revelation 7:3; 9:4; 14:1; 22:4 ESV), as in Revelation 7:3, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Furthermore, “foreheads” alludes to the concept in Hebrews 10:16, that associates the covenant of God, placed upon the hearts of believers, as also being written on our “minds.”

In other words, those who worship and love Jesus will have this forehead seal. This is contrasted with those others who are “marked on the right hand or the forehead;” that is, those who have “the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” 

The “mark of the beast,” whether it be a literal or symbolic mark, represents those who have identified with the powers that oppose Christ. Consider the “mark of the beast” to be like an oath of allegiance. Or think of it as the mark of someone passing a loyalty test. It can not be coercively forced on someone else. Instead, the “mark of the beast” is taken upon someone willingly.

What do we conclude from all of this? Those who possess the “mark of the beast” are simply those who worship the antithesis of the Gospel. Those who reject Jesus, and subject themselves to worshiping that which is opposed to Jesus will be the ones who receive the mark of the beast.

So, should Christians be concerned that someone might force the “mark of the beast” upon Christians? NO, not according to what is taught in Scripture. Therefore, unless you are planning on committing apostasy anytime soon, followers of Jesus need not worry about any potential threat of having the “mark of the beast” imposed on them, against their will.

Should we be concerned about those influences associated with the power behind the “mark of the beast?” Absolutely. That which opposes the Gospel should not be taken lightly. In the case of vaccines, we should do what we can, as believers, to promote the development of a safe, effective vaccine, freed from the influences of those who might try to use something like this, as an act of bioterrorism, or for some other nefarious purposes.

Should we be concerned about others who might take upon themselves the “mark of the beast? Again, absolutely. But the way we are to go about this is by spreading the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. We are to pray that the Holy Spirit might penetrate hearts, that others might turn from their rebellion against God, and embrace the Savior.

Despite whatever you may think of Bill Gates, followers of Jesus should support vaccination efforts, like his, that are intended to save lives. We have evidence that people, like Bill Gates, are at least trying to do good, to help people. Now, surely, Bill Gates is not perfect, but we do not have evidence for Bill Gates, that he wants to implant the “mark of the beast” on ChristiansSadly, such hyper-vigilance against the “mark of the beast” is associated with all sorts of conspiracy-type thinking, that mars the reputation of the Gospel, and invites an unbelieving world to view Christians with needless mockery and derision. Instead, let us all pray for the development of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, as soon as reasonably possible.

 

 


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: