Liberal theologian David Griffin’s new book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action (Westminster/John Knox), goes well beyond the normal use of conspiracy theories. Griffin argues that the Bush administration orchestrated the attacks of 9/11 by using explosives to bring down the twin towers. He believes that a type of controlled demolition was used as a “false flag” operation to provoke war in the Middle East so that the US could expand its global empire. Griffin views America as a “demonic power” which is responsible for starving millions of people every year.
This thesis is not that remarkable since the Internet is filled with these theories. Many others have advanced them in many contexts. What is remarkable is the solution Griffin offers—a one world government which would “bring the kingdom of God to earth,” as he told Heather Wilhelm in the Wall Street Journal. The reason that we should seek this kingdom on earth, argues Griffin, is to imitate Jesus, the original political activist who was himself intent on overthrowing the Roman Empire. (Wilhelm astutely observes, in commenting on Griffin’s thesis, that this would make Jesus’ original testimony that “my kingdom is not of this world” the original “false flag” operation.")
What is striking about this particular book is not the thesis or even the author but the publisher, an ostensibly Christian publishing house associated with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. As Charles Colson has noted, “What makes his theory so disturbing is the fact that he drags a twisted view of Jesus into his fantasies—and that the Presbyterian Church publishers world aid and abet him. One of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith is that Jesus did not come to lead an overthrow of earthly powers, but to announce the kingdom and to prepare people for it.”
Look, this type of book is not only foolish but it is heretical. It is one thing to promote such conspiracy theories. People are entitled to promote any theory they want. It is quite another to associate Jesus and his kingdom with such a theory so as to suggest the Messiah came to do what the Scripture plainly tells us he did not come to do. No wonder the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is in such deep trouble. Faithful people know better and justly protest this kind of nonsense.
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Heresy is a very serious charge and if my understanding is correct it implies that a person is not a believer (at least the way it is used traditionally) and we would need to deny them the Lord’s Supper. Are you using the term that way? Or are you using the term in the way people through history have used it to refer to Arminianism or Catholicism and its “work based” view of Salvation?
I am using it in the correct way, namely that it takes an anti-Christian position against our common faith and divides the church falsely. I am also using it in that this position attacks the very fabric of Jesus’ life and ministry (teaching). I do not use it carelessly (thus in no way as Calvinists and Arminians do for one another, a sad legacy of misuse) I assure you. Associating Jesus with conspiracy theories is stupid but associating him with this kind of doctrinal nonsense is deadly.