The Great Delusion

We are living in unprecedented times. Here in the U.S., a violent insurrection rocked the nation’s capital on January 6 during a protest where Trump supporters included Evangelicals and other religious fanatics waving “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus 2020” banners.

Although not everyone at the mall participated in the riot, a mass of people seeking to overturn Trump’s election defeat caused chaos on the Hill and forced their way into the Capitol building, proceeding to invade offices, deface and steal things, fight with police, and smear feces throughout the building.

Some rioters were Christians

Taking part in the riot were those who call themselves Christians. Even after the day’s events, Evangelicals are still expressing support for the attack that left five dead and many injured: “‘No regrets’: Evangelicals and other faith leaders still support Trump after deadly US Capitol attack.”

Many on the Right have falsely promoted that the rioters and infiltrators were Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters dressed as Trump supporters. This has been debunked in several publications:

How is it that Christians, who should be champions of the truth, have fallen prey to lies and misinformation?

President Trump and his GOP supporters have repeatedly lied about election results, claiming that fraud was rampant. After over sixty lawsuits were filed and dismissed as having no basis—some by conservative judges—they persist in spreading false information.

Do they really believe the election was “stolen”?

Some do not, but others do. And these are, frighteningly, our lawmakers.

The Big Lie

Timothy Snyder (@TimothyDSnyder), Levin Professor of History at Yale, and author of On Tyranny (2017), posted a ten-tweet thread that explains the process I believe Hitler used to commit his atrocities less than a century ago:

  1. The claim that Trump won the election is a Big Lie.
  2. A Big Lie changes reality. To believe it, people must disbelieve their senses, distrust their fellow citizens, and live in a world of faith.
  3. A Big Lie demands conspiracy thinking, since all who doubt it are seen as traitors.
  4. A Big Lie undoes a society, since it divides citizens into believers and unbelievers.
  5. A Big Lie destroys democracy, since people who are convinced that nothing is true but the utterances of their leader ignore voting and its results.
  6. A Big Lie must bring violence, as it has.
  7. A Big Lie can never be told just by one person. Trump is the originator of this Big Lie, but it could never have flourished without his allies on Capitol Hill.
  8. Political futures now depend on this Big Lie. Senators Hawley and Cruz are running for president on the basis of this Big Lie.
  9. There is a cure for the Big Lie. Our elected representatives should tell the truth, without dissimulation, about the results of the 2020 election.
  10. Politicians who do not tell the simple truth perpetuate the Big Lie, further an alternative reality, support conspiracy theories, weaken democracy, and foment violence far worse than that of January 6, 2021.

Having been led through this process over the past four years, Trump’s supporters, including Christians, have been not only misled but brainwashed—by one who claims to share their beliefs but whose actions betray that he doesn’t.

https://religionnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/webRNS-Capitol-Mob4-010721.jpg

How hard it is to get people to believe or even consider views that counter their own. They’ve been conditioned against examining facts, making it nigh impossible to penetrate their shell of misinformation. Trump has groomed too many of this nation’s citizens to accept, believe, support, and defend lies and falsehood—even to the point of violence.

This delusion will persist for years to come. And it may lead to more violence on Inauguration Day.

God sends a powerful delusion

The Apostle Paul wrote about the Big Lie:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason GOD sends them a POWERFUL DELUSION so that they will BELIEVE THE LIE and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
–2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 NIV

Long ago, Jeremiah spoke for the Lord, saying, “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and MY PEOPLE love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer. 5:31 NIV)

False prophecy

Televangelist Pat Robertson “prophesied” last October that “without question, Trump is going to win the election.”

Yet, Trump not only lost the election but has now become the first president to be impeached twice.

21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
–Deuteronomy 18:21-22 NIV

Come January 21, will we cease to hear from Trump? Not by a long shot.

Despite his being de-platformed on Twitter and Facebook and other social media sites, Trump is not one to keep quiet. And his loyal followers, including Christians, will continue to believe what he says.

Idol worship causes blindness

In a recent Facebook post, progressive Christian author, pastor, and activist, Brandan Robertson says:

Evangelicals created the “Left Behind” series, which states that in the end times the antichrist will rise up and deceive masses of Christians, claim to be the Messiah, and ultimately lead the world towards destruction.

And here we are. It very much seems like those novels were at least marginally right. The problem is… they can’t see that they are the deceived ones though it is so obvious to everyone else.

As Jesus said: “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:39

Brandan Robertson

Two verses later, Jesus told the Pharisees, who claimed they were seeing clearly, “‘If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you CLAIM you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9:41 NIV).

What has caused this impenetrable blindness?

Trump worship.

This is exemplified by Miriam Adelson, Israeli-American physician and wife of the recently deceased Sheldon Adelson, billionaire donor to Republicans, who said she wanted a “Book of Trump” added to the Bible (July 10, 2019, USA Today).

Paul warned about the results of idolatry and its consequences:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness… 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images… 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…
–Romans 1:18,22–23,25 NIV

How are those who see through the lies and resist misinformation to deal with those who are given over to deception? If God has sent them a powerful delusion, is there any use in praying for them? His will is already done.

Separatism is biblical

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul discusses the matters of schism and separatism. In chapter 3 he upbraids the flock for their immature preferences for certain Christian leaders, a carnal division that he condemned.

1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?
–1 Corinthians 3:1–4 NIV

Worldliness is saying, “I follow Trump.” Or any other political or religious leader for that matter.

Over this issue, Paul urged the Corinthians to come to maturity and agreement (see 1:10–12). Yet later, concerning propriety in observing the Lord’s supper, Paul admitted that division was necessary for true believers to separate themselves from those who followed a wrong practice:

18 …I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have GOD’S APPROVAL.
–1 Corinthians 11:17–19 NIV

Today’s English Version phrases verse 19: “No doubt there must be divisions among you so that the ones who are in the right may be clearly seen.”

Paul did not praise them for dividing but acknowledged there was a valid reason for it. Separation is sometimes necessary for those who would follow God and live their life with integrity, free from deception. (From my book Outside the Camp.)

What stirred the mob to invade the Capitol with murder on their minds?

Robert P. Jones states, “This seditious mob was motivated not just by loyalty to Trump, but by an unholy amalgamation of white supremacy and Christianity that has plagued our nation since its inception and is still with us today.” (Taking the white Christian nationalist symbols at the Capitol riot seriously.)

However, the final book of the Bible assures us that there will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9 NIV). Bowing before the Throne will be those of all genders and orientations.

What must we realize about liars and those who are willfully deceived?

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
–1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV

Their consciences are seared—they have become impervious—and they’ve been given over to fictions like QAnon and a host of other conspiracy theories championed by the Right-wing media and disseminated from pulpits. Another gospel is a false gospel (Gal. 1:6).

16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
–2 Corinthians 6:16-17 NIV

We must not pursue unity with those who side with a dangerous leader that promotes White supremacy through demagoguery, lies, and the incitement of violent insurrection. They have idolized the lawless one, believed his deceits instead of loving the truth, swallowed a powerful delusion sent by none other than God, claimed to be wise but suppressed the truth, and loved to have it so.

Some of these people are neighbors, coworkers, friends, relatives, and members of our own households. We may not be able to shun them completely, but we can distance ourselves from their rhetoric. There is no use engaging or arguing with anyone who has “renounced the use of reason” (Thomas Paine).

We must “come out from them and be separate.” We must stand up for the truth in non-combative ways and lead by example in our thinking, speech, and actions. Then we will remain clean and walk with God.

“16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
—Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV

God bless and keep you in God’s love and truth.

More Scriptures about lies

Note: To evaluate Trump’s statements made over the past four years, visit Washington Post’s Fact Checker database.

“Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool—how much worse lying lips to a ruler!” —Prov. 17:7 NIV

“A lying tongue hates those it hurts…” —Prov. 26:28 NIV

“Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.” —Ps. 31:18 NIV

“Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” —Ps. 120:2 NIV

“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” —Prov. 12:19 NIV

“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” —Prov. 12:22 NIV

“‘How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?”’” —Jer. 8:8 NIV

“How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?” —Jer. 23:26 NIV

“‘“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’” —Ezek. 13:8 NIV

“By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.” —Ezek. 13:19b NIV

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” —John 8:44 NIV

“‘But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.’” —Rev. 21:8 NIV

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