If he knew, John Knox, the great Scottish cleric, would be turning over in his grave.
A publishing company bearing his name has just released a book that links a September 11 conspiracy theory with claims that Jesus was a political activist intent on overthrowing the Roman Empire. It’s a warning of what can happen when Christians drift away from Christian beliefs.
The book is titled Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action. It is published by Westminster John Knox Press, the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church-USA. The author is liberal theologian David Griffin.
Griffin claims the Bush administration orchestrated the attacks, bringing down the Twin Towers with controlled demolitions. It was, Griffin claims, part of a “false flag” operation to provoke war in the Middle East and expand the American global empire.
Griffin views the United States as a “demonic” power, responsible for starving millions of people every year. His solution: one-world government in order to “bring the kingdom of God to earth,” as he told Heather Wilhelm in the Wall Street Journal. We should do this, he says, in imitation of Jesus, the original political activist who tried to overthrow the Roman Empire.
Of course, as Wilhelm dryly observes, that would make the testimony of Jesus that “my kingdom is not of this world” the original “false flag” operation.
While Griffin’s publisher incredibly claims the book “advances religious scholarship” and “inspires faithful living,” rank-and-file Presbyterians know better: They have called Griffin everything from “irresponsible” to “a total wing nut.” And as a reviewer on Amazon.com sarcastically wrote, “Actually, the 9/11 attacks were planned and coordinated by Martians, in conjunction with survivors from Atlantis.”
Griffin, of course, is far from alone in pushing September 11 conspiracy theories. What makes his theory so disturbing is the fact that he drags a twisted view Jesus into his fantasies — and that the Presbyterian Church publishers would 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.
In his classic 1923 book, Christianity and Liberalism, the great Presbyterian scholar and Princeton Professor Jay Gresham Machen reminds us that people who deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith are not just liberal Christians; they belong to another religion entirely. When it comes to liberalism, Machen wrote, Christianity “is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief,” rooted in naturalism. Despite its use of Christian terminology, “liberalism not only is a different religion from Christianity but belongs in a totally different class of religions.”
If I ever saw evidence of this writ large, it is the willingness of Presbyterian publishers to publish such a heretical book.
The Bible warns us that false prophets and teachers will always be among us, introducing destructive heresies and maligning the way of the truth. We need to be on guard against them — and willing to speak out against those who attempt to lead Christ’s flock astray. Bible-believing Presbyterians, take note and clean house.
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Heather Wilhelm, “Anything Goes: The Presbyterian Church Gets into 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Business,” Wall Street Journal, 8 September 2006.
“9/11: Debunking the Myths,” Popular Mechanics, March 2005.
David Dunbar, et al., eds., Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts (Popular Mechanics, 2005).