On Discernment, Gullibility and Healthy Scepticism
We are in desperate need of some mental and moral clarity on the Ukraine conflict:
One quite good thing that has developed over the past two years is that so many folks have woken up to the fact that the mainstream media is not always reliable, and that our politicians are not always telling us the truth. Some of us had known this all along of course, but the way the media and most governments ran with the Covid issue made this even more clear.
But if one extreme was rightly to be avoided (fully trusting the state and the media about things like Covid), the other extreme is also to be avoided (trusting no one, questioning everything to the nth degree, and throwing away our critical faculties).
Sadly I see the latter now happening big time concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Just because the Rona alarmists tried to claim that everything we believe is just a big conspiracy theory does NOT mean there are no actual conspiracy theories out there, especially in regard to Ukraine. I have seen far too many folks pushing what is just plain foolishness in this area.
I have lost count of those telling me with a straight face that the West, NATO, the EU and Ukraine are all part of the deep state, the NWO, a Satanist cabal, and are all fully evil, while somehow a murderous thug and KGB officer is a great Christian warrior and our knight in shining armour, saving us all while he drains the swamp.
As if he is swamp-free. By the thinking of some of these folks, Trump of course is a full tilt Soros puppet and NWO deep state Nazi, since he also opposes Putin and his power grab in Ukraine. He even once told Putin to his face that if he goes after Ukraine he will bomb Moscow.
Being rightly sceptical of media spin and political lies is one thing. But throwing off all restraint, discernment and rationality and accusing everyone and everything of being a cabal of evil Jewish bankers, etc., is NOT the way to proceed.
Let me speak to a few more aspects of this. One big problem is how so many folks – including far too many rather irrational Christians – are just brainlessly seeing some folks as 100% evil and others as 100% good. Um, in a fallen world, only Jesus is 100% good. Everyone else is a fallen and selfish sinner. So that means we must decide what is true and false on things other than just who is saying it.
That is, if Biden says that 2+2=4 that does NOT mean it is false, just because a dodgy character like Biden has said it. If you think Zelenskyy is evil, and he says the sky is blue, that does not mean it is false. If you think Putin is evil, and he says George Washington was the first US president, that does not mean it is false. That is known as the genetic fallacy: doubting something purely based on who said it or its origin.
Back in my hippy days we said we should question everything and doubt all authority. But the biblical Christian does not fully run with that advice. Yes we have a healthy scepticism, we test everything, we seek for godly discernment, and we understand that sin in the world makes everything suspect and everyone biased. No one has total truth. No one is totally pure. But total truth is not found in just one person, just one party, or just one camp.
Let me give some examples here. Many folks have been running with everything RT (formerly Russia Today) has been saying about this conflict. It of course is a Russian state-controlled international television network. Because it and Russia have sometimes pushed some pro-family editorial lines and positions does NOT mean both are pure as the driven snow in every other area.
Just because Putin and Russia have been strong on things like on homosexuality (the same is true of Zelensky and Ukraine of course), does not make him the Messiah, nor does it mean that “Putin has more respect for the God of the Bible than any of our leaders” as I heard one guy actually claim!
The simple truth is, RT can have as many biases as the NYT does. Why do we assume that some media outlets are 100% trustworthy, and others are 100% untrustworthy? Why not have a healthy and balanced suspicion of them all? Thus if you are going to constantly run with a clearly biased RT as your source of gospel truth news, then why not also run with – or at least give a hearing to – the Ukrainian media for starters?
Thus if the panic merchants are telling us that Ukraine is a full tilt principality of Satan with evil biolabs, while Putin is Jesus incarnate coming to the rescue, then why not also read what they say about such things, including this piece? https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/sbu-no-us-biological-laboratories-in-ukraine.html
Or if you believe Ukraine is some neoNazi headquarters and Putin is the great liberator, then why not also read things like this? https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/03/01/ukraine-holocaust-babi-yar/6979800001/
Or this: https://www.dailywire.com/news/so-much-for-that-de-nazification-campaign-nbc-reporter-reacts-after-russia-bombs-holocaust-memorial
I am NOT saying you must uncritically believe all these reports. But if you are telling us we must doubt the media and question everything, then you should equally doubt things like RT. If not, you have simply traded one set of biases for another. And you have also told us that you are not all that discerning after all. You have traded one bit of gullibility for another.
Let me speak a bit further to this. I have seen plenty of folks pushing RT articles and memes both saying that Schwab and the WEF support Ukraine. To this we always see the words: “Tells us all we need to know”. Um, can anyone actually think straight anymore? That tells us nothing!
By this idiotic ‘reasoning,’ ANY group we happen to dislike, whatever they say, we must run with the opposite. Thus if the KKK had said during WWII that they support Poland after Hitler invaded it, we could say “Tells us all we need to know”. Obviously if the odious KKK support Poland, then Hitler and the Nazis must be the good guys. Terrific logic there. Not.
Um, guess what? Sometimes leaders, politicians and media outlets can get things right now and then. Perhaps much of the world and its media are condemning Putin because he IS at fault here, because this is a horrific moral evil, and because democratic nations (with all their faults) should not be invaded by power hungry and increasingly deranged autocrats.
I just wish folks (including Christians) would start to actually think instead of emoting and running with whatever nutty thing they stumble upon. As I keep saying, this current conflict has numerous deep historical, military, and geo-political factors that must be carefully considered – like most wars. My many posts and articles have tried to offer some of those details. But too many folks are running with simplistic and foolish mantras.
If it is quite wrong to suggest that the Ukraine government has been without fault over recent years and Putin is Satan incarnate, it is also quite wrong to claim (as so many are) that Ukraine is the epitome of evil and Putin is the messiah who is here to save the world. All governments are corrupt because we are all sinners. All governments and leaders are under the judgment of God.
My concern here is especially with the plight of the Ukrainian people who have suffered so much already over the past century. Just think of the 10 million starved to death by a previous Soviet dictator in the 1930s. Putin is NOT George Washington and Jesus Christ rolled into one. He is an autocratic tyrant who loves power as much as any other dictator.
Try telling the women and children being cluster-bombed in their homes right now in Ukraine, and the many thousands of Christians and others being rounded up by Putin’s goons in Russia as they plead for an end to this madness, that Putin is God’s saviour of the world.
Enough of all the uncritical, undiscerning foolishness that I see everywhere. Indeed, if we were to believe all these Putinphiles and Ukrainophobes, we would have this bizarre situation: Donald Trump, millions of thinking conservatives, and millions of concerned Christians, are all Soros-backed, NWO deep-staters because they all have supported Ukraine during this invasion. But that is exactly what I see so many clueless wonders implying, if not saying outright.
And some of the utter nonsense I have seen some Christians posting on this has bordered on the blasphemous. They really do believe that Putin is God’s chosen messiah to save the world. Um, it is a very scary place to be in when one calls good what God calls evil, and when one exalts a very fallen human to a place that only Jesus deserves.
So much more can be said here. As I keep saying, all governments are corrupt. To say both sides are evil is true – to an extent. Evil is a relative term of course in this context. Are both sides quite corrupt in so many ways? Yes, but I am not sure if I buy a moral equivalence here. Ukraine is not invading Russia. Ukraine is not dropping cluster bombs on innocent civilians. Ukraine does not have plans for further territorial expansion, etc.
In sum, I concur with what Martyn Iles of the Australian Christian Lobby has said on this:
The truth is, nothing justifies what Putin is doing. There’s a lot of whataboutism out there – corruption in Ukraine, the West’s interference, NATO, history, etc. None of those things could make this right. They are not adequate excuses for a horror like this. It takes the moral discernment of a gnat to see that. Complicated circumstances tend to be simple right at their core. And the simple fact is, what he’s doing now is gravely wrong. Hence, we should oppose it completely.
Two brief things that I have posted on the social media of late may help us in getting a bit of perspective – at least some spiritual perspective:
“Today many people have lost their jobs. Today many people have found out they have cancer. Today many people are struggling with raging floods in Australia. Today many people are huddling in bomb shelters in Ukraine. Suffering and hardships are ever with us. God can give real comfort and hope now, but Christians also look forward to this day: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4”
“My wife recently told me of her rightful concern about the Australian floods, and how one news report spoke of 800 cattle swept away on one farm alone. (She is a zookeeper, so she has always had a soft spot in her heart for animals.) I agree. But I am also thinking of Ukrainian citizens being bombed by Putin right now. So much misery and suffering in so many places. Come quickly Lord Jesus.”
For further reading
There is no shortage of books, articles and videos that one can mention here. Since I see countless dodgy and just plain wrong ones being pushed all the time on the social media, let me offer just a few that I think are much more reliable, balanced, and worth considering:
https://www.bitchute.com/video/AZTGBhPdurnh/ – “Increasing Members of the European Parliament Are Finally Calling Out Mr Evil Schwab’s ‘Great Reset’”
https://www.jpost.com/christianworld/article-698214 – “Christians, wake up: If world doesn’t stop Putin – NATO, Israel are next”
22 Replies to “On Discernment, Gullibility and Healthy Scepticism”
Thanks for the links, good ones for me to explore. I am learning to ignore the social media noise, because it is really just a small agitated subset and not representative. Especially since I’m often one of the agitated agitators. I am also ignoring the media and all the ‘cool kids’ since a consistent narrative emerged way too quickly to be accidental. One thing I am focusing on is the Christian communities in the regions. I have gotten very few reports from believers and missionaries living there. So if you are inclined, that may be a useful area for us all to spread around the body: news on the brothers and sisters from the brothers and sisters. Thanks again for all you do. Flooding in Australia? I had no idea.
Many thanks Randall. Yes on the social media I have shared a number of reports on how churches, missionaries, etc. are faring in Ukraine. I should try to write an article on that.
And yes, there is big flooding here in Australia at the moment.
Particularly the Donbas and Crimean believers. I am getting wildly different reports about the years of shelling by Nazi groups in and backed by Ukraine hurting believers and Russian persecution of Crimean believers (non Eastern Orthodox)
Big thanks, Bill, for such a timely article.
We can never be reminded enough about being diligent and fair minded enquirers.
And really grateful for the links you have provided.
Thank you Bill for the warning about pitfalls and ways we can become ‘one eyed’. Also to think critically in a healthy way (meaning carefully and with God’s wisdom being asked for) and with discernment from above using His word too as a guide.
I can only recommend Jesus Christ alone, as our role model in every area of life, and don’t He would not ever have become embroiled in giving opinions or the latest theory.
Jesus was always attending to ‘His father’s business’ and said He came to only ‘to do His will’, which included travelling to tell others the good news, praying for the oppressed, helping the poor and sick, and to let the captives free (mostly from sin and from demonic spirits or ill health) but he never got entangled in the world’s affairs(in the sense he didn’t sit down and give His opinions but delivered His father’s message to the hungry, those thirsty for truth and needing to know the gift of eternal life.
While he taught he demonstrated love and acts of kindness to free captives, and to esteem the poor and needy or those with faith.
He refused to help one man who asked for sort out an equal division for an inheritance, as that was not His call. he obeyed the upward call to tell of the kingdom above and to demonstrate His father’s love to mankind .
If social media had been invented back then I think He would have largely dismissed it, prayed instead and gone on with his Father’s business and exhorting others to do good works (to show God’s mercy and love) and to ‘redeem the time because the days are evil’.
Occasionally he did say something which showed He discerned motives of those in power eg ‘God tell that fox Herod…’ but he didn’t expand on that and get into a debate or thoughts about Herod, as Jesus simply had a higher calling….That was to include laying down His life to die for our sin and to redeem mankind and all who believed in Him and the gospel. His Holy and a sacrificial offering on the cross spoke louder than any words but he did foretell us of the meaning of that sacrifice (but he said nothing negative about Pilate or Herod when he went through such suffering, but instead asked His Father in heaven to forgive all.)
What a Saviour and what a humble, suffering Servant of God He was. Than God Jesus is coming back in all His glory and power, and fully healed.
Thank you for the article. I agree we do have to be careful because at the moment there will be propaganda on both sides.
Putin is certainly no angel but neither are Western leaders who support or at the very least are not resisting the idea of the ‘Great Reset’ which will enslave people and be godless.
This was evident at Davos when in front of a great crowd of people Yuval Noah Hararik said the world does not have to rely on ‘Some God above the clouds.’
It seems to me that it will be a tragedy if the Ukrainians jump out of the fat into the fire.
Thanks Patricia. Of course one can simultaneously:
-Resist the Great Reset
-Challenge Western decadence and ungodliness
-Oppose Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
-Support the suffering Ukrainian people
There is no reason to claim we can only do one or two of these things.
Bill! I don’t expect you to post this, and I hope you are well btw.
There is every reason to blame NATO and the U.S (particularly Biden)
For this war…Ukraine as a bulwark for NATO and the US is naturally against Russian interest>
We can easily say, truthfully, that the US started this, provoked this.
*just a note – Im pro US*
Kind Regards, Andrew Maher.
Thanks Andrew. I would more carefully make some distinctions here. Is Biden, because of his weak and pathetic leadership, his idiotic energy policies that have made us dependent on energy from elsewhere (including Russia), and his emasculation of the military – to name just a few things – a major reason why this conflict is now upon us? Absolutely.
The other claim, that somehow Putin is simply wanting a buffer zone between Russia and NATO, I find much less convincing. And it overlooks many other political realities. He has already told us what he wants: to reestablish the old Soviet empire. That includes the Baltics of course. And as I said, if he just wants to reclaim lost territory, that would include moving on Alaska as well. So taking all this together, no, the US did not really start this or provoke this. Bless ya.
Thanks Bill for all the informative links. Cairnnews.org did have an article re Putin’s speech of what his reasons were for invading Ukraine but it seems to be taken down now. I believe the truth will come out as the situation progresses as it did with covid – nobody really knew what was going on back in Jan 2020 but we do now with Klaus Schwab’s NWO, elites all trying to take advantage of the situation to control us and suppression of treatments. Not sure if what is happening now is in the Bible but Ezekiel 38 and 39 speaks about Russia so may be a lead up to something in a few years as the covid mandates are said to be an imprint or warning of what is to come with the mark of the beast.
I agree we’re in need of mental and moral clarity, but after reading your article, I’m more muddled than ever!
It is not the case that the truth must be found between extremes. In fact, whatever the self-appointed, elitist “middle” is desperately trying to convince us is probably not the truth! Sometimes the truth actually is extreme. Sometimes not. But to suggest that the truth is never extreme is, well, rather extremist, no?
I’m an American. Many of us here, though not all, are not submitting to the government-media version of the truth. We’ve had recent experience with them, now. Our antennae were fully alerted when the American government tried to coerce us into submitting to their vaccines, silence those who didn’t accept their election results though rife with fraud, and now, accuse us of being unpatriotic if we don’t cheerlead Biden in his war against Russia. The pressure to unquestioningly submit to government and elitist (dis)information is enormous, as you know. It is far greater than any pressure the so-called “extremes” could impose, in part because the government censors the Internet, our only source of “non-approved” information.
Unlike you, I’ve never met anyone who “fully trusted the state and media.” The “other extreme,” as you put it, which has to be fully distrusting until verified, seems rational and justified to me. Impartial suspicion may be prudent, not extreme.
I don’t watch television and, at this point, read only the Wall Street Journal as well as a few online sources, including your blog. RT, in my opinion, should be regarded with as much of a jaded eye as the American media. All sources have agendas; there are no detached, objective observers; and all “reporters” are caught in a system of disinformation they may not grasp or understand. At this point, no elitist source, government or private, should be trusted, in my opinion. This includes both the American media/government and the Russian media/government.
I happen to live in an American military town and though I don’t have any military in my family, most of my church family is composed of military men and women. Let me just note that these military Christians, who will suffer most in Biden’s war, do not trust what Biden says and remain bitter about Biden’s coerced vaccination of the military. The fact that Biden’s war comes straightaway after he gutted the economic dreams of the private-middle class, disallowed the free association of believers, as well as coerced vaccinations is not lost on the military … or the rest of us. We also can see that Biden is desperate to bolster his failing presidency. So, perhaps the military is more “extremely” suspicious than the average American, for good reason.
You mentioned the deep state. Deep-state surveillance is out of control here; we are less free and more monitored and manipulated than ever before. The COVID-protesting truckers in Canada, for example, were targeted by a government-sponsored surveillance that was able to ascertain and freeze (steal) their identities, bank accounts and investments. There’s a reason why governments want us to go cashless – this is a way the deep state can control the population, as we just have seen.
Obviously, Biden is part of the deep state as is the media and State Department. I also think that some Ukrainian and Russian leaders, perhaps including Putin, are in cahoots with the powers that are crushing the freedoms of ordinary people. The corruption in our government is disgusting and pervasive. To admit this … to see this … is not wrong. Or extreme. So, Christians skeptical about what deep-state players are saying are not irrational, but rational; they’re not brainless, but wise; they’re not stupid, hippy-doubters of authority, as you used to be, but are displaying one of the fruits of the Spirit, discernment.
To sum, those who have read both the American media and RT – which I haven’t, by the way – and then have rationally decided that RT’s take on events seems more truthful and reliable, after praying for discernment, could be displaying the fruit of spiritual maturity, not extremism. RT could be more truthful than our government, you know. Similarly, Putin could be wrong and our government could be on the side of angels.
We should be praying for the displaced Ukrainian people, as well as practically serving them by opening our homes and churches after bringing them to the US. I wonder if our government is as eager to let Ukrainian “refugees” into the US as they were Muslim Afghans in their other bungled war? Are Ukrainian Christians less interesting, exotic or easily manipulated? We’ll see what the government does. My hunch is that Ukrainian Christians will never be given the red-carpet treatment reserved for non-Christian refugees.
We should also be praying for Russian Christians caught in a war with their Orthodox confreres. It’s a civil war to them – very painful. Let’s pray that Orthodox churches take the lead in brotherly restitution and reconciliation.
Lastly, we should be praying for our own corrupted and dishonest leaders who have either lost touch with the truth or are unwilling to speak it. Let us pray that the truth is revealed and that the deep state is weakened and exposed.
Thanks Kristen. I am generally in agreement with most of what you have said. A few points you may have misunderstood me on however. I am NOT saying there is some mushy middle ground that we must cling to and all “extremes” must be false. As to the gospel, for example, it is fully true – it is extreme truth. There is no middle ground with it.
But when it comes to things like geo-politics and international relations, we ALL are fallen and finite and therefore none of us have all the truth. We all see through a glass darkly. None of us know fully what is going on with this current conflict. So in that sense – as I said – we need to not fully depend on just one slant on this, be it RT or whatever.
That said however, some conflicts are less ambiguous than others. I think most thoughtful Christians would agree that in WWII, for the most part Hitler and the Nazis WERE wrong, and the Allies were right to oppose them fully. Here however there is admittedly corruption and evil in all sides, as I have already stated. But as I also tried to suggest, I am not sure if I see a full moral equivalence here between Ukraine and Russia. In terms of all nations and rulers being fallen and sinful, then yes they are equivalent. But in other areas they are not necessarily.
And it goes without saying – especially for those who have read other articles of mine – that I am NO fan of Biden, and much of this conflict IS due to his weak leadership, and so on. I am not saying ‘go Joe’ and let’s rush off to war. I am saying that what Putin is doing is wrong and he should be stopped in one way or another. And plenty of EU nations and others are seeking to do that right now. Even Canada has stopped buying Russian oil. The US should do the same.
And yes, all media outlets tend to be biased and pushing agendas. But some may be doing this more than others! Finally, for what it is worth, I happen to be American as well. Thanks for your thoughts.
Thanks for another very logical article.
If you didn’t feel depressed about all that’s been going on for the last few (or even 20!) years, you wouldn’t be human or normal. And you are a very humane individual and about as well adjusted as any normal human being can be.
You thoroughly and objectively research topics before commenting, and a font of knowledge and a ‘common-sense’ sounding board to many of us.
We are never going to have everyone agree with us, but if you believe you’re right, then don’t worry too much about dissenters.
It might be worth reading Desiderata for a bit of a “reset”. (Sorry to use that word!).
Thinking of you in these difficult times. Hang in there, we’ll all get through this.
Many thanks Julian.
Conspiracy nutters are doing an excellent job of protecting the REAL conspiracies by painting the whole conspiracy crowd as a bunch of mentally challenged flat-earthers. Do us a favour and just stick to the reliable conspiracies. A good start would be to apply one simple rule… Ignore any conspiracy that relies on some unknown advanced technology. (Twin tower plane holograms projected in direct sunlight against a blue sky – yeah right, I worked with hologram technology. The list goes on… artificial suns, flat/disc earth maintaining shape against gravity (easily refuted with Newton’s gravitational law that squashes a rock into a ball at about 1000km diameter), programmable Covid Vax nano-particles injected in to billions of arms, even the latest rain event being produced by weather manipulation/chem trails/etc. Hold your horses. If we had this sort of technology we could green the whole of Australia!)
So by ditching all the borderline secret technology conspiracy theories, we could concentrate on the real conspiracies – like drug company manipulations, government lies, media biases, educational agendas, political conspiracies. Then a conspiracy claim would be much harder to laugh at. In summary: The best way to protect a real conspiracy is to believe a stupid one.
I agree with your assessment. “Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean THEY ARENT out to get you”. Reason coupled with skepticism is alway a healthy cocktail. Now, about those chemtrails…
Thanks Tim and Randall.
A couple of things – One it would help greatly if the past couple of generations had been taught HOW to think not WHAT to think then we could assess things better. Two from a secular, political point of view I can understand Russia right now. She doesn’t like her enemies on her doorstep, something America and especially Australia have not truly had to deal with, in the Russian Empire she had countries around her as a buffer same in the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Eastern Europe was the buffer. With NATO, whose reason for continued existence is questionable, gobbling up Eastern Europe and eliminating the buffer NATO will be on Russia’s doorstep. When a frightened animal is cornered it will attack even if you tell it you mean no harm. I’m not painting Putin as a good guy but NATO militaristic expansion to the east to get right to Russia’s doorstep IS a provocative action.
This is a situation where everyone needs to pull back and truly examine things. We need real adults in the room not people only concerned with the next war. Unfortunately our leader class is made up of people who either like war or in some way profit off of it so that we can’t get any substant peace, as substant as you can get in this fallen world, because isn’t in THEIR interests. As always as it is the people, the unwashed masses, who suffer never those at the top.
Thanks Paul. If you have read my various pieces on this conflict, you will see I have often addressed this notion that Putin simply wants some buffer zone. There is a bit of truth to this, but there is much more going on, and I reject any moral equivalence here. Ukraine has no nukes and has no plans to invade and take over Russia. Nor is that the goal of NATO and the West. It seems various folks are keen to keep making excuses for Putin’s lust for power. Often people are just evil and have evil intentions. Christians of all people should know that. Therefore folks need to take care to not just keep whitewashing things here. But thanks for your thoughts. We may have to agree to disagree!