The Secret is Evil
No, not the book. Not even Oprah (mostly). No, I want to talk about the nature of a concept I call “secret knowledge.”
Cue spooky music and people chanting in robes.
Something that is a constant of human society and is simply exploded by the internet is the call of secret knowledge. We all want it. We all hoard it. We all partake in it. And really, only the truth can set us free.
So what is secret knowledge?
The idea that there is some information that is true, life-changing, or important that is of great value to any who hold it. That seems simple enough, right? Except the idea, as a banner heading, is dangerous. And, unchecked, it creates major issues.
For instance, the continuation and spread of the idea that vaccines cause autism. They don’t. At all. Ever. But this is an idea that keeps on going. It has never, ever been scientifically proven. In fact, it has been disproved (DoVaccinesCauseAutism.org). So why do people keep repeating it? More importantly, why do people keep believing it?
Because it’s secret knowledge. Any piece of secret knowledge imparts the holder with a sense of superiority, a sense of wisdom and strength, over those who do not possess such knowledge. It says, “You’re right about this, and everyone else is wrong.” It says, “Your knowledge will save you.”
I write this piece because there was a recent article in WaPo and I think originally in Fox News concerning a “Christian numerologist” predicting the end of the world in a week or so. Personally? If Jesus is riding a phantom planet and is planning to end the current hellscape that is 2017? Bring it. But I sincerely doubt any of that is true. Not least of which because there is no such thing as a “Christian numerologist.” (Also I am pretty sure this is just the plot to The Fifth Element.)
I always want to caution people about secret knowledge because it’s not just clickbait. “The Secret to Cooking Amazing Pasta You’ve Never Heard!” (salt the water, don’t overcook it, don’t wash it) isn’t really a big deal. If you read that and learn how to cook pasta? Great. But if it’s about God? Well, there we have a problem. If it’s about the health of your kids? Again, a problem.
The bible actually points this out. No, really. And I won’t even make you click through an ad to find out more:
 So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. (ESV)
Jesus Himself is speaking there and says, essentially, that people would claim to have seen Him or even have him held up somewhere in order to lure people into following them. Perhaps just to form their own cult or, perhaps, something much darker. Either way, the warning there is that God isn’t going to keep His work or His way hidden. Everybody can see the truth, even if they reject it.
There is this theological concept called perspicuity. Oddly enough, it means that something is easy to understand. You would imagine that word would be more widely used or understood. The idea, though, is that anyone can read the bible in their language and learn what they need to about God. Will they have questions? Yes. Will they have trouble on some of the more difficult texts? Yes. But if you want to know about God, He is speaking. Right there. In that book.
And I say that because all of us have the potential to fall for the trap of secret knowledge. All of us. Why? Because we crave the inherent hierarchy of that knowledge. I have been a part of way too many bible studies where the pursuit wasn’t the truth of scripture but the handy nugget that you had never heard before. Nuggetism is another form of secret knowledge. (I once had a man tell me that deliverance from the sin of lust needed something stronger than turning his affections to Jesus.)
The truth of scripture, the simplicity of it, should humble us all onto an equal playing field and the only one among us it should elevate is God Himself. Gurus walk on mountaintops doling out secret knowledge to those gullible enough to bring them offerings. But the Great Shepherd walks the fields with His sheep, feeding and protecting them out of love.
So get your kids vaccinated. Eat gluten occasionally. Drink fluoridated water. Don’t worry about the planet Nibiru. And above all, love God with your everything and your neighbor as yourself.