QAnonsense April 14, 2021

Just making the pun in the title would have been good enough reason to write something along these lines. But there is more to it. I want to make a case for spiritual discernment as well as information literacy.

The pun occurred to me in the context of a discussion of the story of “Doubting Thomas” in my Sunday school class. Someone said that we could do with more doubt in this era in which so many people are duped by “QAnon nonsense.” The pun potential leapt out at me, of course. But so did the potential to explore doubt as a spiritual gift, as an exercise in faithfulness and wholehearted searching for God.

It is a perversion of faith to make it something that believes in spite of counterevidence. Thomas was not presented with the corpse of Jesus and asked to believe he was alive nonetheless. There is a place for believing without seeing, but it requires credible testimony, or it may merely involve going beyond what we can verify. But we must not contradict what we can verify. The Christian gospel is not a call to choose your own “facts.” Faith is the evidence of what is presently unseen. It is not a basis for denying what what you saw.

Some Christians have shown themselves to be not merely gullible but evil at heart. It is not that they have been duped when they could not have known any better. They have preferred false teachings over sound doctrine. They have preferred racist hate speech to balanced reporting. They have preferred conspiracy theories to plausible accounts based in evidence. They have preferred QAnonsense to Christianity. They have dived into a murky swamp on the empty promise of someone who promised to drain it and did the opposite. They have dragged the reputation of Christianity through the mud along with them.

I pray there will be a generation of Doubting Thomases who will wear that nickname with pride. Thomas did not doubt despite seeing. Thomas took God seriously enough that he would not give his belief away easily. He recognized that people in their grief and despair can persuade themselves of falsehoods and delude themselves and others along with them. He didn’t demand a higher level of evidence, he merely said he would believe when he experienced what the other apostles had the chance to. And according to the story, that is what he did.

The first prediction of the anonymous Q behind QAnon proved false. No one can legitimately call themselves a Christian and allow a demonstrated false prophet to guide their life and behavior.

I call on the QAnon believers to repent of their misplaced allegiance. But more importantly, I call on the rest of the Christian church to demonstrate a faith woven through with appropriate doubt, the kind that Thomas demonstrated. Show the world that you take God and truth seriously enough to not believe hastily—especially when someone says something you’d really like to be true.

We need to show what faith can be and is meant to be. The Apostle Thomas provides a Jesus-authorized guide for one way of doing that.

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