5 Reasons to Avoid the Flat Earth Controversy

If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are you’re familiar with the growing movement of modern-day flat earth believers. Maybe you’ve heard some persuasive rhetoric by modern-day flat earth proponents and it’s got you questioning things. Perhaps you’re even convinced that we’ve been lied to about the true shape of the earth and you feel the need to expose this lie.

However, if by chance you’re totally confused, let me give a quick summary: A conspiracy theory is going around claiming that the earth is not a sphere. It’s actually a flat circle (like a pizza) with a solid dome over-top of it. Picture a giant snow globe and you’ll get the idea. It is said that NASA, along with every other space agency in the world, has been keeping this a secret from us. Anyway, this used to be just a fringe theory on the internet, but now it seems to be picking up steam among followers of Messiah.

Normally I wouldn’t spend time writing an article on a topic like this. I’m not concerned with the shape of the earth; I’m concerned with ministering to the people who live on the earth. When I read the Bible, that seems to be the concern of Yeshua and the apostles too. The only times that they addressed trivial matters was when they rebuked believers for wasting time on them. And that is why I feel led to write this article. After witnessing many of my brothers and sisters being led astray into nonsense over this flat earth controversy, I sincerely believe that it is a destructive false doctrine, and I would like to encourage believers to avoid it.

Before we begin, I want to give some disclaimers: I am not part of the illuminati or any other secret organization bent on world domination. I’m not a reptilian shapeshifter or an alien in disguise. I feel like it’s important to state that up front, because a common tactic I’ve seen from flat earthers when someone opposes their theory is to dismiss what people have to say by accusing them of such things. In addition, I also don’t care about money. Another accusation I’ve heard from flat earthers is that anyone who opposes their theory is merely concerned about the supposed threat to their ministries and income. If you really believe I work in ministry for the money, I’d love to invite you over to our tiny quadplex unit for some ramen noodles—those accusations will be quickly dispelled.

Now, here are five reasons that believers should avoid the flat earth controversy.

1) The Bible explicitly instructs us to avoid foolish controversies.

In a number of places in the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells believers to stay away from foolish controversies. In 2 Timothy 2:16 he says, “Avoid pointless discussions.” Why? He goes on to say, “For people will become more and more ungodly.”

An obsession with foolish controversies leads to ungodly behavior. Foolish controversies do “no good,” and they “ruin those who listen” (2 Timothy 2:14). They lead to strife and division in the body (2 Timothy 2:23). They are “unprofitable and worthless” (Titus 3:9). Instead of focusing on foolish controversies that have no value, Paul encourages us to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22).

I believe that if Paul were writing 2 Timothy and Titus today, he’d have flat earth theory in mind. From what I’ve observed over the past two years, this foolish controversy has “ruined those who listen.” Believers who were once passionate about Yeshua and the Torah now talk only about flat earth and have since become very bitter and paranoid people. I’ve seen this topic cause massive division and strife in the body as believers make fools out of themselves fighting over photoshopped images of the earth. And instead of pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, I’ve seen believers claim to spend literally all day in front of a computer watching videos about how NASA is controlled by nephilim or whatever.

In response to this point, flat earthers will argue, “But Scripture says to test everything!” I agree that we must test everything, but we cannot leave off the second part of the verse: “Hold on to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). If we’ve tested a theory and found that it is not good—indeed, if it leads to nothing but unhealthy obsession, division, and foolishness—we must not hold on to it. We must put it aside and instead focus on what is good.

Flat earthers will also argue, “But the Bible supports flat earth theory! If it’s in the Bible, then it’s important!” First of all, it is debatable whether or not the Bible supports this theory. Are we sure that we’re interpreting the Bible correctly? Are we applying proper hermeneutics? Many flat earth teachers do not—they pluck Bible verses out of context and mishandle the text to support their theory. As Christian Theologian Dr. William Lane Craig explains, knowing proper hermeneutics is essential:

Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. In interpreting a writing, you have to apply or follow certain hermeneutical principles in order to understand it correctly. First, and most fundamentally, we must interpret a writing according to the literary genre, or type, to which a text belongs. It is absolutely critical to interpret a text according to its genre, because it would be a catastrophic mistake to interpret a text literally if the genre of that text isn’t of the sort intended to be taken literally. For example, when the psalmist says, “Let the trees of the woods clap their hands before the Lord,” he’s obviously not trying to teach botany. Think of how inappropriate it would be to read poetry such as the psalms literally. That would be a disastrous misinterpretation of the text.

Even if we assume that some of the biblical authors believed that the earth was flat, that wouldn’t mean that the earth is indeed flat. Again, this goes back to applying proper biblical hermeneutics, interpreting the text within its historical and cultural context. If we read the Bible like a science text book, we’re going to run into all sorts of problems. In his book, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, Hebrew and ANE scholar Dr. John Walton gives a great analogy to demonstrate the problems that arise when we apply this faulty hermeneutic consistently:

If God aligned revelation with one particular science, it would have been unintelligible to people who lived prior to the time of that science, and it would be obsolete to those who live after that time. We gain nothing by bringing God’s revelation into accordance with today’s science. In contrast, it makes perfect sense that God communicated his revelation to his immediate audience in terms they understood […] For example, in the ancient world people believed that the seat of intelligence, emotion and personhood was in the internal organs, particularly the heart, but also the liver, kidneys and intestines. Many Bible translations use the English word “mind” when the Hebrew text refers to the entrails, showing the ways in which language and culture are interrelated. In modern language we still refer to the heart metaphorically as the seat of emotion. In the ancient world this was not a metaphor, but physiology. Yet we must notice that when God wanted to talk to the Israelites about their intellect, emotions and will, he did not revise their ideas of physiology and feel compelled to reveal the function of the brain. Instead, he adopted the language of the culture to communicate in terms they understood. The idea that people think with their hearts describes physiology in ancient terms for the communication of other matters; it is not revelation concerning physiology. Consequently we need not try to come up with a physiology for our times that would explain how people think with their entrails.

Contrary to the Bible supporting flat earth theory, I would argue that in principle it discourages it. Indeed, this modern-day obsession with flat earth theory breaks Scripture and leads to nothing but ungodly behavior and division, which will be unpacked further in the following points.

2) It causes division in the body of Messiah.

Scripture says that God “hates” those who sow discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:19). We’re warned to stay away from people who cause division because they “do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve” (Romans 16:17). If you’ve been part of a congregation for any length of time, you’ve likely met these people. They’ll come to a service for the sole purpose of cornering people in the lobby and sucking them into a “discussion” about their favorite controversial pet doctrine—sacred name pronunciations, calendar disputes, etc. They’ll add thousands of “friends” on Facebook for the sole purpose of arguing with them. And since they don’t know anything about the Torah and sound theology, they promote speculations and drag people into vain discussion. The apostle Paul, in his warning against false teachers, describes these people perfectly:

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:3-7)

Flat earth theory has become the latest “myth” that these people use to cause division in the body. Ironically, I’ve been accused of causing division by speaking out against this false doctrine. I’m called mean and arrogant. But I’m merely doing exactly what Paul has done in his letters—identifying the true source of division and exhorting believers to avoid it. Indeed, one of the leading proponents of flat earth theory recently declared that if you reject his flat earth views, you are basically rejecting God’s Word. You can’t get any more divisive than that. It’s time to avoid this divisive topic.

3) It’s a distraction from what we should be focusing on.

Flat earth theory often becomes an idol. Judging by how some of these flat earth teachers gush over this topic, you’d think that the theory had taken on flesh and died for their sins. In an interview, one of the leading proponents of this theory has admitted to being “obsessed” with it. He says, “I wake up in the morning and it’s all I think about. And I’m doing something related to it until I go to sleep.” Indeed, when you talk to anyone who’s really in to flat earth theory, you’ll notice that it’s all they seem to want to talk about. All of this time and energy spent promoting flat earth theory is time and energy taken away from advancing Messiah’s Kingdom.

Flat earthers will argue, “But I’ve known atheists who have come to know God through their study of this stuff!” That might be the case, but I would argue that it still doesn’t justify obsessing over foolish controversies that ultimately end up doing more harm than good. God can use anything He wants to reach people and accomplish His purposes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that what He uses is always a good thing that believers should engage in. For instance, many of the believers who obsess over flat earth also believe that Christmas is pagan in origin and should be avoided. But according to the data, Christmas opens people up to considering Christianity unlike other times during the year. So if the ends always justify the means, these flat earthers should be encouraging the celebration of Christmas.

Even if someone receives the Lord at a Church Christmas service, I would still argue that they should not celebrate Christmas and should celebrate God’s holidays instead. In the same way, even if someone comes to know the Lord through their study of flat earth, I would still argue that they should avoid foolish controversies and focus on the Kingdom instead. A doctrine should be judged on its own merits, and flat earth theory is a foolish controversy that should be avoided.

4) It hurts our witness and profanes the name of Messiah.

The Bible not only speaks against sinful behavior, but also foolish behavior. If you are obsessed with proving to everyone that the earth is flat, most people are going to think you’re insane and will dismiss everything else you have to say. The fact that many believers have become so focused on this controversy makes us all look utterly foolish. We are being laughed at over this. We shouldn’t necessarily care what the world thinks of us, but when we’re engaged in foolish behavior, we need to repent because we are bringing shame to the name of Messiah.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

We must make the best use of our time and understand the will of the Lord. God’s will is not to spread flat earth theory. It’s a waste of precious time that could be better spent advancing His Kingdom. Our children are being swept away by the world because we are not giving them a solid foundation on the Gospel and training them how to defend their faith and engage the culture intellectually. Instead we are filling their heads with foolish controversies.

In addition to making us all look foolish, flat earth theory often comes as a “package deal” with other false and evil doctrines. As Judah Himango points out, conspiracy theories—including flat earth theory—are often rooted in anti-Semitism. Followers of the Jewish Messiah should not be associated with such evil false doctrine. Thus, focusing on these foolish controversies profanes the name of Messiah and hurts our witness to the Jewish people and the nations.

5) It simply isn’t true.

The purpose of this article is not to get into refuting all of the arguments in favor of flat earth theory. People already have entire websites devoted to doing that. My purpose is to get you to stop wasting time on this foolish controversy all together. However, the fact that it’s an obvious false doctrine is a noteworthy point in my argument. Indeed, as disciples of Yeshua we should be concerned with spreading the truth, not foolish conspiracy theories that are easily debunked.

On this point I’ll just give a few arguments. First, as Zach Bauer points out, in order to believe that the earth is flat, you have to believe that every space agency around the world (not just NASA) has been infiltrated with evil conspirators ordered to fool the world’s population into thinking the world is a globe. Let’s think this through for a second. Many of these government space agencies are not friends with each other. What’s keeping Russia and Iran from blowing the lid on this entire conspiracy and telling Americans that our government has been lying to us this whole time? That’s not to mention private space exploration companies. What reason do the employees of these companies have to keep this a secret? It simply isn’t remotely reasonable to insist that all of these people have successfully lied to us this whole time.

Second, minutephysics released a great short video featuring the top 10 reasons why we know the earth is round. It’s only two minutes if you want to watch it. Time Zones, the Coriolis Effect, Lunar eclipses, etc., are all best explained by the globe model. Also, Christian astronomer Spike Psarris wrote a short article with five simple arguments refuting flat earth, and it’s certainly worth a read. Of course flat earthers have explanations for why they reject these facts, but their objections are often completely whacky and bizarre. It’s much more reasonable to accept the model on which all the evidence is clearly and simply explained rather than trying to force the evidence to work with flat earth theory.

Third, if you want an easy way to verify the globe yourself, Joel Richardson mentioned a great idea. Using the app Stellarium, you can literally verify that the earth is round by looking at the constellations. This is something you can confirm with your own eyes. Here’s a video clip of the relevant portion of Joel’s video where he explains how. Again, flat earthers might have some convoluted explanation for why they reject this proof, but Occam’s Razor states that the simplest solution tends to be the right one, and the simplest and most reasonable explanation for all of these facts is that the earth is a globe.

Flat earthers will argue, “You’re a huge jerk! Why do you even care what people obsess over? You’re like the hand saying to the foot, ‘I have no need of you.’ You should appreciate the gifts and calling of other believers!” Anytime I’ve uttered the criticisms I brought up in this article online, I’ve had mobs of offended flat earthers accuse me of being a jerk and bashing other believers and teachers. Let me just say that I only bring all of this up because I sincerely love the body of Messiah, and I want nothing more than to see us come together as one and make a real difference for the Kingdom. I’m deeply saddened to see gifted teachers waste their time promoting this topic, because contrary to what I’m accused of, I do appreciate their gifts and I support their calling. That’s why I bring this up—I hate to see gifted believers miss out on their calling because they’re wasting time on foolish controversies.

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that these five points are reason enough to stay away from flat earth theory. This will be the only time I will address this topic aside from maybe responding to a few comments on Facebook after this article is published. I hope this was helpful and that it will encourage the body of Messiah to get back to Kingdom work. Blessings and Shalom!

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Posted on July 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

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About the Author

David is first and foremost a passionate follower of Yeshua the Messiah. In addition to that, he is a Bible teacher and writer. David has written several theological and devotional articles and is a regular teacher at Freedom Hill Community. David’s heart is to minister to God’s people by helping them rediscover the validity and blessing of God’s Torah and help prepare them to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15). David lives with his wife Rebecca and their beautiful baby girl, Aleiah.

Responses (15)

  1. Tony
    July 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm · Reply

    I have really enjoyed your websight over the past year or so but I am VERY SAD you have written this about the truth of our Creators earth and His people that believe flat earth according to the Holy Scriptures… I do believe the earth is flat and through this truth the scriptures make far more seance.
    I do not focus on this when sharing Yashuas love and our Father… It is however the foundation of the Tohra in Genesis. You will see this truth on the great day of YHWY

    • TorahBabies
      July 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm · Reply

      Tony,
      What do you do with the scriptures that talk about the “four corners” of the Earth? (ie. Ezekiel 7:2, Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1, Revelation 20:8) How does a flat disk have corners? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Or perhaps all the descriptions of the Earth are not meant to be taken “literal.”

  2. Tyler Dawn
    July 25, 2017 at 7:38 pm · Reply

    Good work brother – this is indeed a divisive, destructive, and dare I say it? Cultish doctrine. The people who get wrapped up in it – they rarely talk about any other facet of the Bible, they judge people as “not being full Bible believers” if they don’t bow down to it. They credit themselves as the “in the know” holders of secret knowledge – and what is the fruit of it? Nothing positive. I have yet to see a “Flat Earth Society” orphanage, hospital, or evangelistic association – well, except for evangelizing people about flat earth. am waiting for the FE Statement of Faith…

  3. Miryam Nicholas
    July 26, 2017 at 1:22 am · Reply

    What about Isaiah 40:22 YHWH is enthroned (He sits) above the CIRCLE of the earth.

    • TorahBabies
      July 26, 2017 at 9:49 am · Reply

      Hi Miryam,

      Many things we read about in our Bibles are not meant to be taken literally. Half goat/humans that dwell in the desert. Trees that clap their hands. Rocks that sing. Yeshua being a loaf of bread. Cannibalism in order to be saved. True believers ripping appendages off if they participated in unrighteousness. Hating your mother and father to be saved. Supporting necromancy in the dead taking up the shovel to welcome their own kind. Alphabets that kill.

      ^Other things in the Bible that should not be taken literally. God is not literally sitting above the Earth! It’s a figure of speech.

  4. Lorraine Forrest
    July 26, 2017 at 10:56 am · Reply

    wish I hadn’t bothered reading this…it’s still arguing from YOUR point of view..YAH will reveal all soon ..be at peace and thanks for loving spreading the Gospel…

  5. Butch
    July 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm · Reply

    Thank you Torah Babies. I agree that this subject is a huge distraction. When I first learned of the FE subject, I began studying scripture. I was searching if FE could be true and searching my heart. I have always been mathematically inclined and have shared with some that the pictures from a high altitude prove absolutely nothing either way (flat earth or globe earth). People will also say that those high altitude pictures show that people are looking level. Mathematically, the angle of declination of our “line of site” is less than 6 degrees on either model (FE or globe). This would give the appearance that we are looking out on the horizon level. If something is truth, it will stand on its own against all obstacles, without manipulating the facts. I found cities that would line up in straight lines that disprove the FE. I could go on with my findings. No need to bore you. I have tried to convince people to search this subject out, personally, and to NOT blindly follow the masses with the meems.

    TO DATE, I WATCH SOME OF MY FB FRIENDS AND WHEN THEY START THIS “FOOLISH CONTROVERSY”, I STEP IN AND SHARE SOME OF MY PERSONAL FINDINGS. THIS MY HAS BEEN A GOOD STRATEGY FOR THEM TO STOP. I HAVE ALSO EXCHANGED PHONE NUMBERS WITH SOME, THUS, BEING ABLE TO VISIT OVER THE PHONE. I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO SHARE THAT THIS TOPIC SHOULD NEVER BE DISCUSSED IN THE FOOLISH MANNER THAT MOST DO. I HAVE SHARED THAT IF SOMEONE WANTS TO BELIEVE IN THE FE, THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS, BUT IF SHOULD NEVER BECOME A DOCTRINAL ISSUE.

    Again, thank you, bless YAHUAH

    • Tyler Dawn Rosenquist
      July 28, 2017 at 9:36 am · Reply

      As a scientist who used to work in Aerospace, as well as a Torah teacher, I truly appreciate your comment. One of the things that really irks me is the manipulative language used “This is kindergarten math, folks.” Well, I don’t know what kind of math these people were doing in Kindergarten, but I can guarantee that I was still working on my counting numbers and it was many years before I knew enough to understand axial geometry. Using language like that serves one purpose – it is a manipulative ploy to get people to feel dumb if they don’t immediately agree. People who have hard facts don’t need to resort to suspension of disbelief manipulation tactics.

  6. quincy george
    July 27, 2017 at 8:10 pm · Reply

    my friends this is not a salvational issue. let’s focus on those things that will edify and strengthen the body and not divide. we only know so much about the earth and its mechanics. lets not become wise in our own opinions. shalom in Yahshua’s name.

  7. Carolyn Pearlstein Kauffman
    July 27, 2017 at 10:57 pm · Reply

    It’s amazing how we all came to the truth of Torah by questioning the lies perpetuated by the Religions. And we are to stand in our beliefs that the world was created in 7 literal days and we are to remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy, but how dare we question the institution that created the Sun-enthroned and centered universe before even a telescope was invented. How dare we question the system that was put in place to indoctrinate us to believe that we all came from the nothing that exploded billions of years ago and by chance and mutations you accidentally came to be. Even though we have found most of what we’ve been taught has been nothing but lies perpetuated by the wealthy and powerful who openly admit to wanting to get everyone on the same page for their New World Order with there version of self-admitted “philosophical” view of the cosmology and belief in science. Why don’t we all go back to the pews on Sunday so there is no division. We can continue to bow down to the White six-packed Jesus on the cross and believe the roll-over Catholic belief that we all rotate around Sol Invictus. Pay no attention to the truth behind the veil being torn. Pay no attention to the little black box behind every photo shopped picture of the “earth from space” pay no attention to the copy pasted clouds and the continent inconsistencies of every “blue-marble” from NASA. Pay no attention to the 19+Billion dollars a year that is given to NASA to give us CGI for every “space” item. Who cares if they say we are not on the created land enclosed with the beaten-out firmament where we are special to Yah. It’s all about getting along and obeying the law of the land (oops I forgot that’s not really in Scripture, Constantine just told priests to teach that). Yes looking at the information my faith that Scripture is the literal Word of Yah is concreted but I should ignore that so that I am not set-apart but just love everyone by letting them believe what the Pagan government tells us. NOT!

    • TorahBabies
      July 28, 2017 at 8:23 am · Reply

      Wow! There is so much wrong with your comment. I don’t have time to address everything wrong with it, but I approved it so people could see the attitude of people such as yourself. So people could see how mad you appear to be and confused on top of that! Maybe your written words don’t accurately portray who you really are or how you really feel, but if they do then I’m sad for you! Sad that you feel the way you do and with things that you allow to consume you! It must be very lonely for you! 🙁

  8. Sheri L. Putnam Cline
    July 28, 2017 at 4:23 am · Reply

    People need to fly in an airplane more often.

  9. Gene
    July 31, 2017 at 8:32 pm · Reply

    I actually thought Mrs. Kauffman’s response was well written and made several good analogies of the deceit both in religion and in governments. I realize that the FE is an embarrassment to the Torah pursuant believers and their teachers who are trying to help those that are coming out of the churches in search of truth and then they find out there is controversy in the Torah groups as well; is Shabbat on Saturday or is it Monday this month, and who’s got the correct calendar? Will YHVH forgive us if we follow the wrong one? Or should I have said HaShem, or Adoni, G-d? I could go on but I think most who have been in this walk for awhile know many of the controversies; and that being said there are good arguments on both sides of some of them (sighted moon, or conjunction) and we have stumbled our way through this mess… and then you have the anti-missionaries that seduce the ‘New Believer’ and sometimes the ‘Seasoned Believer’ into denying Yeshua. I recently unfriended a fb FE friend not because of FE but because he was denying that the Jews were Jews! Now I’ve seen other people that have taken that same position that are not FE, Matthew Nolan comes to mind who we had listened to a few times and I was intrigued by his teaching style but when he started down that road we stopped listening to him. I really believe the Matthew 13 Parable of the Sower is truer now than it was in our former Christian walk. I am not offended by the FE believer, just as I am not offended by the Jew who truly follows HaShem, I don’t feel the need to convert either one of them nor could I; YAH will gather his children and there is no one on this earth who can change that.

    • TorahBabies
      August 1, 2017 at 6:58 am · Reply

      Very well said, Gene!

  10. Chris Callahan
    August 11, 2017 at 9:43 am · Reply

    Great article! Needs to be said!

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