Gnosticism was the first heresy that confronted the early Christian Church. This movement was a cult built upon “hidden knowledge” known only to the initiated that distorted the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. Cults usually congregate in remote compounds or cloistered communities, but now a new one has emerged that spreads its beliefs online: QAnon.
A recent Wall Street Journal post describes the movement:
“QAnon followers are awaiting two major events: the Storm and the Great Awakening. The Storm is the mass arrest of people in high-power positions who will face a long-awaited reckoning. The Great Awakening involves a single event in which everyone will attain the epiphany that QAnon theory was accurate the whole time. This realization will allow society to enter an age of utopia.”Wall Street Journal
According to a recent NPR/Ipsos poll of 1,115 U.S. adults, 17% believe and 37% are not sure whether “a group of Satan-worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media” — a bizarre allegation of QAnon followers who actually believe these elites are cannibals. 39% of those polled believe there is a “deep state” working to undermine Donald Trump.
At first, I thought QAnon was similar to movements like the Tea-party or Moral Majority, but the more I research, the greater my concern has grown. QAnon has an extensive fictional narrative that is truly dangerous and predicts/incites violence. This “Storm” mentioned involves hundreds of thousands of executions worldwide.
So, what is the appeal of such “Big Lies” by QAnon? This expression, coined by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf describes a propaganda tool of promoting a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe they “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously”. In other words, “the story is so bizarre, it must be true”; a proven trick of skilled propagandists and cult leaders.
These false narratives are hidden from outsiders who might otherwise reject this insider information reserved for the “faithful”. I mentioned Gnosticism because of its patterns of using hidden codes and insider knowledge to which only “true believers” have access. The covertness of online communication systems has allowed this secret society to grow and invade our society and threaten our national security. Instead of a cult located in a specific geographic location with a visible leader, QAnon has a mysterious “patriot/prophet” leader with a worldwide audience. This should concern us all greatly.
My dear friends, many false prophets are in the world now. So don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God.1 John 4:1
This QAnon movement more closely resembles the Game of Thrones than the Suffering Savior from Nazareth who was crucified for the sins of the world. QAnon has little or nothing to do with Christianity even though it targets a specific religious audience interested in end-times prophesy. The “Big Lies” of QAnon seek to justify violence, harassment, and bullying which is seen as a way of reestablishing a distorted version of an earlier so-called “Christian Nation”.
Maybe not so ironically, the German letter “Q” (first letter of the German word “Quelle” which means Source) is well-known in higher-criticism theological studies as a reference for “Source Documents” for the New Testament. I suspect “Q” has a theological background and “QAnon” stands for “Anonymous Source”.
What is the solution to this impending cascade of evil? Changed hearts through friendship. The Church has a wonderful opportunity to preach, teach, and show by our actions the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Start by emphasizing the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Christians who have been swept up in this movement need caring friends to help them remember “who they are and whose they are” as followers of Jesus Christ. We serve a Sovereign God who requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christianity looks like Jesus, not these symbols of hate, oppression, suspicion, distrust, and violence. Love your enemies. Pray for them. Gently encourage those moving out of this distortion of our Christian faith. Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding.
My dear children, you belong to God, so you have already defeated these false prophets. That’s because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. And they belong to the world, so what they say is from the world too. And the world listens to what they say. But we are from God. So the people who know God listen to us. But the people who are not from God don’t listen to us. This is how we know the Spirit that is true and the spirit that is false.1 John 4:4-6
Love God. Love your Neighbor. Love One Another.