Our opinion or belief about a certain subject matter will depend largely on our understanding of the thing, particularly — and essentially — with respect to the definition of the matter itself. The old proverb says it all: Two persons cannot argue, at least, intelligibly, between apples and oranges. And sometimes, they could be talking about apples but one is focused on the core, the other on the juice. Or, they could be on to the juice but are looking at it differently: one on its nutritional value, the other on its economic value. Ad absurdum!
The Greeks perfected the art of polemics (“engaging in controversies or disputes”), so it is said. Fortunately for us, they made some great discoveries in many fields and helped us establish certain belief systems, methods and mechanisms for doing things efficiently without always resorting to wars or other less destructive results. Think of math, physics, astronomy, philosophy, politics, sports and theology. Of course, today we still argue a lot, online or face-to-face. Indeed, we do it so often that a single short FB post or meme may launch a thousand comments or rants. How many of you read comments first before watching a YouTube video? It often pays to do so if you want to avoid wasting your time over fake news or trash!
One of the most appealing topics on the web (mainstream media have practically avoided giving it the time of day) is that of Conspiracy Theories. Wikipedia offers this definition of “conspiracy theory” (CT) as “an explanation of an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often political in motivation, when other explanations are more probable”. Cambridge Dictionary puts it as “a belief that an event or situation is the result of a secret plan made by powerful people”. The first CT that qualifies under these similar definitions mentioned is the supposed 1964 assassination of JFK being perpetrated by powers lurking behind or within the US government. It also popularized the phrase, although it had been used before the 20th century.
So, argue with people on this matter and almost always they will be pointing to certain historical figures and organizations, or contemporary entities, who serve as master puppeteers or puppets themselves conniving and scheming among themselves to subjugate a certain community, nation or the whole world. Whether this cabal is composed of humans or sub-humans with reptilian or alien features, the supposed ultimate goal is world domination.
However, when we shift the definition to include angelic beings or unseen spiritual entities into the CT picture, we throw the whole argument into a wild spin. Some people do accept this premise and argue along this line, not realizing the difficulty of the process. Mainly because it would no longer be proper to call it a “conspiracy” as it will become one that enters into the biblical realm of “principalities and powers in heavenly places” that rule the lives of humans in all aspects of their existence. (Eph. 6:12) It would then be more appropriately referred to as a “spiritual war” between God and Satan. It would put humans not on the level of angelic beings but as their soldiers or pawns, even slaves or puppets doing the bidding of their masters. The early believers did not think it wrong to call themselves “warriors” or “slaves “of God, in fact; for they submitted to His righteous power and will. So with Satan’s minions, in their own distorted way. But the main issue is: Who is right? Who will win? That is where the real argument begins, whether you are talking to God, Satan, an angel, a pope, a bishop, a president, a preacher or a friend. Yes, all of them will say God will win. But who has the Truth?
Yes, with Christ, it was all about the Truth. Even with Socrates, Confucius, Newton, Einstein, or your mother. The ultimate goal is truth – and the freedom it brings. The freedom to know, to do, to be yourself and to express yourself. When you believe or act according to someone’s will without your complete consent, you surrender your freedom to that person’s truth. Hence, whether you believe in CT or not is not the issue but whether you have access to the Truth or you already have that Truth in you. We do not even wish to prove whether CTs are true or not but merely to seek the Truth itself. Who needs to argue when you already have the Truth and the Freedom that comes with it? What is the use of polemics or debates for one who lives in abundance and basks in the glory of such freedom?
The only thing that matters is to share that Truth and Freedom to those who remain in darkness. Meaning, you remain in battle mode against the principalities and powers according to the rules of engagement given by the Master and maintain your freedom before those enemies. And teaching, therefore, goes hand-in-hand with contending with those who do not have the Truth or think they do but really do not. But that brings us back to the circle of argument at the start, does it not?
In a way, it does. We merely proposed a higher and wider definition but only included an even more complex issue: the realities of the spiritual world. Does it really exist? Do angels actively participate in our lives? Does Satan rule the world? But we are way past that. The present talk of COVID 19 as a CT-made modern plague has brought the issue to the very core of our existence as humans, as nations, as planet-dwellers and as soon-to-be dust on the Earth. To think of the present situation as merely biological, social, economic, political or ideological in nature falls shamelessly into the very fallacy that a single-celled organism has ultimate control and power over the whole complex system and structure of a single human body, not to mention the collective body of the human race, without incorporating the reality and role of the human spirit.
We may look at our gallant medical practitioners and workers as being at the forefront of this ongoing battle, but we put ourselves in grave danger for not fully recognizing what principalities and powers, along with their followers, play in this climactic confrontation between God and Satan. Unless we all learn to fight this battle at the level it is meant to be fought, we will not be able to weather the enemies’ attacks which have been overrunning God’s forces since the time the first disciples of the Supreme Commander left this Earth several years after He had ascended to sit on His throne in Heaven. (Col. 13-15) It was then, after the first century, that principalities and powers gained a strong foothold of this planet and firmly set up citadels and bulwarks and surrounded the righteous warriors who launched the final battle against Satan. (2 Cor. 10:4-5) Today, these wicked spirits rule over worldly kingdoms and fiefdoms and where they have taken thousands and millions of captives with their mesmerizing doctrines and ways. (Eph. 2:2; Acts 20:28-30)
The children of light have become no match to the children of this world because the latter have set their eyes merely on the physical manifestations of wicked spirits through human leaders who entice people with science, technology, religion, wealth, prosperity, and control of the physical environment, forgetting totally the prime role of their Creator. (Luke 16:8) These evil masters have blinded the eyes of millions. Yes, many of believers still continue to adhere to religion and ceremonies that have long since been made obsolete by the New and Living Way the True Master had taught and delivered by His first-century disciples. (Heb. 10:19-22)
The sudden attack of COVID 19 has made our vaunted worldly paradigm of scientific, technological, economic and religious progress apparently helpless. All our achievements cannot help us save even a hundred or so from dying tomorrow. As thousands die, we question the true value of our worldly innovations and our human-made methods against the established laws of Nature that God had put into action since the beginning of time. We die and go back to the dust, leaving behind precious possessions God gave to us – our homes, our families, our cities and our businesses. And a single virus has caused all this to happen!
As Satan once said to God: Skin for skin; take away those blessings and humans will curse You. (Job 2:3-6). Or today, it would be “cell for cell, life for life”. It had all happened to Job a long time ago. The richest man of the East lost all he had: oxen, sheep, camels, servants, children and health. All because Satan set out to test Job, with God’s permission. And just as God allowed Job to suffer total loss, He allows us to lose all that we value today above all that God had given to us: Truth, Freedom and Salvation. Things He had delivered 2,000 years ago but which we gave up and surrendered to the principalities and powers that rule today. Why then should not God now reclaim what is rightfully His, whether the life itself of humans or the way they should live their life? Meaning, we have been rounded up like cattle and sheep by these wicked powers for centuries that God now shows that He alone has complete control, not Satan, not angelic beings, not kingdoms, not earthly rulers, not economic or political might, not scientific knowledge, not religious piety.
Moping in the dust for his plight, Job grieved and mourned for the day of his conception and his birth. He questioned God’s will and decisions and complained against his participation in Creation. Not once did he recognize the real participation of Satan, just as many often deny the existence of wicked spirits, CTs, hell and the coming judgment. It is God we often question, complain against and even doubt. Job had the right to be bitter for all his loss; but he did humbly accept his fate. (Job 1:20-22) But to question God without realizing the reasons for His chastening was Job’s misgiving.
Why then does God allow principalities and powers to dominate the world? Why does He allow millions of souls to live in terror and anguish? Why does He chasten even those who trust in Him?
Perhaps, it is because we have become so comfortable living in this world with all our wealth, health and comforts that we have become virtual slaves of this world and its ways. We have abused the environment for the sake of economic progress, such that the land, air, rivers, plains and valleys can no longer function the way they should. Animals and human can no longer breathe and live the way they should. The whole system of Nature involving the organic cycles of light, darkness, water, wind, weather, tide, planting, harvest and decomposition has been thrown in disarray. And in the process, we are killing ourselves. As we often say here, God sent the Flood to destroy humans and animals who had learned to kill one another. Ironic as it may seem, God’s justice requires death for murder.
Moreover, the New and Living Way (finally replacing the divine edict of punishment by death) that the early disciples practiced has all been lost in the artificial, unorganic faith that we practice and promote today. Is it any wonder why God would then keep us cloistered in our homes today with our families? Is it not to teach us that worship is not done through outward show, lavish rituals, or ostentatious words and music inside fancy buildings but in the silence of one’s heart inside a closet or room? Is it not to kneel down before God in your bed, as Job did with face upon the dust of the ground, and not before any physical image, whether virtual or real, whether human or carved wood?
Do we miss going to church or worship service because we cannot listen to a preaching of the word, sing the favorite hymns and partake of the elements of the so-called Communion? Then why would God force us today to go back to the ways of the early disciples when they ate normal meals or agapes (love feasts) in their homes, something we can do with our families today with ordinary food and not just token elements of a misapplied tradition? Do we feel incomplete without our solemn and sacred assemblies? We cannot even go out to buy food today without endangering our lives. What should we do? Postpone our worship till things “normalize”? Go online and search for a way to “publicly worship” God and “fellowship with other believers”?
Job, in his dire circumstances, we may not truly appreciate or relate with even now. But he had no time to waste arguing with friends. He even asked them to leave him alone after they questioned his integrity (God did uphold his integrity later). He had no desire to fellowship in his grief. Even his wife abandoned his cause and told him to curse God! In short, Job neither acknowledged Satan nor dealt with those whom he sent to aggravate his sufferings. He went to God directly and considered his life alone. And he got his answers and his reprieve. His wealth and his dignity increased later.
Yes, Job questioned God’s justice and wisdom. And he had so many questions left unanswered. It was only when God showed Himself to Job that he realized that all his questions and complaints meant nothing in the reality of His glorious Truth and Presence. We may also have many fears, doubts and questions in the face of this global plague. In our anxiety, we even fill the ether with all kinds of thoughts and ideas. For it is so easy to miss the point in all of this, especially God’s purposes, as well as Satan’s secret and pernicious agenda. We say that the enemy now is invisible, faceless and cunning. So are these principalities and powers. We may not fully comprehend what is happening; but we can always go to God for the answers.
Some problems cannot be answered by simply asking questions and finding the answers. But why do we often miss the target? Sometimes, knowing the answer already eliminates the problem and its troubles. Hence, we must begin with an answer so we can ask a question. For example, Moses, his people and pharaoh knew the source and reason for the plagues while the Egyptians suffered without any clue as to why, until later on; for they gave gold to the departing Hebrews upon realizing those slaves were indeed favored by God. It was their way of showing remorse for the way they had treated the Hebrews.
God has and is the answer. Until we finish going through God’s chastening, we will not receive the cleansing and renewing He wants us to achieve. This global clean-up (not just of the external environment) and refreshing (a spiritual victory over our worldly and carnal passions) has just begun. How it will end will depend on each person’s response to the Creator of the Universe. Let us not focus on the destruction that our enemies bring to our lives, such as our discomfort or loss of wealth. Forget our woes and complaints against the hardships of this present life. The Lord gives and takes away. But He gives perfect gifts that will never be taken away. On those eternal blessings, we must remain, abound and rejoice.
(Painting above courtesy of www.google.com)