Why is scripture silent on... ...drugs?

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Is it a western way of separating off drugs as a separate category which leads me to see scripture as largely silent on the issue of drugs? I wonder if the emphasis on personal responsibility in shunning the prostitute rather than simply criminalizing the individual is part of the answer. It does raise questions about community activities which seem to focus on recycling waste rather than effectively dealing with drug dealers. Our sense of civic duty seems to have voids.

I have not phrased this well and may need to clarify it a bit but the question remains - why are drugs not mentioned as prohibited in scripture?
 

SeanAnderson

Puritan Board Freshman
In the historical context, I suppose drug abuse was not quite the same as the situation today.

But, based on scriptural verses against drunkenness, we could say that the moral law forbids any kind of intoxication.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
In addition to what Sean has said (which I think is totally applicable) I think using drugs would prevent us living the Christ-honouring life described by such verses as,

Colossians 3:1-2 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

The whole point I suppose of drugs is to let your mind go free or something like that, Christ would have us focus our minds on the things above, spiritual matters. Of course we all fail miserably a lot of the time in this regard, but far worse to deliberately do something which prevents or at very least hinders us from obeying these exhortations. I'm sure there are many other such references.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not speaking directly to an issue is not silence. Many laws in scripture are case law, one learns from the given cases shown how one might handle the cases not shown. Proverbial wisdom is rule of thumb generalities. Use the principles shown to wrestle with issues not shown and God is glorified in the struggle

The Bible speaks directly to many related issues: losing self control through excessive drugs or alcohol, drug induced sorcery (we get the word pharmacy from in Greek of this, I believe ) Harming our health or relationships all have say addictive uses are serious concerns to body and mind. Since regular pot use in a developing youth's mind might impair the brain functions for life or drug trafficking leads to much crime, one has to weigh that and often it will be found wanting in the light of the law of love for God and neighbor.

The Bible speaks indirectly to many related issues: the Bible speaks of pressing toward maturity and decisions need to be weighed. Does something glorify God or not? Does it cause more good than not? Various individual with different conscience might draw a different conclusion about appropriate medicinal uses of drugs. In general for the many cases, wine, caffeine, exercise, etc... where something is relaxing and beneficial and where is it excessive is often left to conscience and those around you truthing feedback in love.

( side note: Ironically abroad in Afghanistan a justification for growing and selling cocaine has been by the very religious that Muslims won't buy the drugs ???so it's somehow ok to provide them to Non Muslims????. That falls short of Moses and Jesus imperative of loving your neighbor as yourself as would funding organized crime by buying their drug product here at home. )
 
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PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Doesn't the prohibition against sorcery also come into play? After all, socrery = pharmakeion (pharmacy) and drug use was part of these trances. Drunkenness is the more pertinent, but the other comes in also.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
As Jake noted, I have written extensively on the topic here at PB (though not in the last year or two). And Johnathan is right on with regard to Biblical sorcery / pharmakeia.

In the paper, The Fate of Babylon, the section, “The Significance of ‘Pharmakeia’ References in Identifying 21st Century Babylon in Revelation” (published on Scribd), goes more into the drug issue (psychedelics, including marijuana) with expanded material on the "medicinal" aspect of this latter drug. (Caveat: this is a strongly eschatological study, not for the faint of heart.)

It is not that the Bible does not speak to the issue, but that the church at this time has forgotten the teaching that came up to confront those who were involved with such drugs back in the sixties and seventies.

The specific Biblical prohibitions on this do not go over big with some Presbyterians -- especially some PCA churches -- as it appears to me they do not like to give the appearance of being legalistic. But this issue will turn out to be a major problem in the days to come, as the civil magistrate increasingly allows it. Then the only fence to keep it out of our lives and the churches is the word of God, the exposition of which in this area, oddly enough, is often gainsaid.

I have another new paper, "Marijuana in the Church: 'A swift witness against the sorcerers' (cf. Mal 3:5)". I tried to keep this one shorter with a view to publishing it. It is attached below:

View attachment Marijuana in the Church - “A Swift Witness Against the Sorcerers”.pdf
 

KeithW

Puritan Board Freshman
Doesn't the prohibition against sorcery also come into play? After all, socrery = pharmakeion (pharmacy) and drug use was part of these trances. Drunkenness is the more pertinent, but the other comes in also.
Yes! Johnathan is correct. The Strong's number for the Greek word is G5331.

BlueLetterBible Lexicon said:
  1. the use or the administering of drugs
  2. poisoning
  3. sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it
  4. metaph. the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

KJV verses containing G5331 said:
Gal 5:19,20 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Rev 9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Rev 18:23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

The purpose of drug taking was to have an altered state of mind to be receptive to the spirit world -- but not the kingdom of God. So the Bible is not silent on drugs.
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
I encounter the attitude that we are wasting our time seeking to ban drugs and indeed by driving the trade underground, drive up the price and hence increase the incentives. If drugs were legalised then quality could be assured and the desire for what is forbidden would not be there?

As a Christian I see the choice to have nothing to do with (illegal) drugs as the most important factor in their elimination from society. Governmental decrees seem to be less effective at removing the scourge of drugs(?)
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Might not be entirely silent. Ancient magic was simply the manipulation of dead matter to create new entities, or to change one's (or other's) psychic states.

Of course, that is an entirely different issue from cases of medical marijuana.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
And I don't buy the argument that legalizing weed will put the Mexican cartels out of business. They can bring in more then enough in harder drugs to compensate that loss.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
And I don't buy the argument that legalizing weed will put the Mexican cartels out of business. They can bring in more then enough in harder drugs to compensate that loss.

I don't smoke it now, and I wouldn't if they legalized it tomorrow, but I think that it would have a tremendous effect on the cartels. Many people, young and old, smoke marijuana, but not many people desire hard drugs ....... comparatively speaking. If marijuana were legal it would be dispensed, as alcohol is, through officially sanctioned channels. Younger people seeking it would not be exposed to criminals plying the harder drugs on them as well. The law enforcement resources freed up to focus on the harder drugs would be bolstered by the tremendous tax revenues generated by the controlled sale of the substance.

As far as I'm concerned alcohol causes far more addiction and injury to individuals and society than marijuana. If it were possible to remove both from the face of the earth I'd be all for it. Since it is not, and as the 1970s book title stated, "Marijuana, The New Prohibition," we should have learned our lesson from the Volstead Act. The prohibition of alcohol didn't work nor will the prohibition of marijuana. Just throwing money into a bottomless hole and enabling criminals to line their pockets, while incarcerating large numbers of people who otherwise would have never been in trouble with the law. In my humble opinion.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
And I don't buy the argument that legalizing weed will put the Mexican cartels out of business. They can bring in more then enough in harder drugs to compensate that loss.

I don't smoke it now, and I wouldn't if they legalized it tomorrow, but I think that it would have a tremendous effect on the cartels. Many people, young and old, smoke marijuana, but not many people desire hard drugs ....... comparatively speaking. If marijuana were legal it would be dispensed, as alcohol is, through officially sanctioned channels. Younger people seeking it would not be exposed to criminals plying the harder drugs on them as well. The law enforcement resources freed up to focus on the harder drugs would be bolstered by the tremendous tax revenues generated by the controlled sale of the substance.

As far as I'm concerned alcohol causes far more addiction and injury to individuals and society than marijuana. If it were possible to remove both from the face of the earth I'd be all for it. Since it is not, and as the 1970s book title stated, "Marijuana, The New Prohibition," we should have learned our lesson from the Volstead Act. The prohibition of alcohol didn't work nor will the prohibition of marijuana. Just throwing money into a bottomless hole and enabling criminals to line their pockets, while incarcerating large numbers of people who otherwise would have never been in trouble with the law. In my humble opinion.

I imagine the cartels get their bigger money from coke, heroin, and the other stuff. Legalizing weed might actually have benefits on the American monetary system (tax regulations and other government goodies).
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
I remember reading an article on guns in the Van Til magazine. The essence of it was that scripture is about accountability not proscribing (outlawing) things. The effect of always holding somebody accountable for shedding blood (cities of refuge) was not to outlaw manslaughter but to hold people accountable. It was their accountability in not preventing the accidents which made them "guilty" of manslaughter but not murder.

There are too many things to pass legislation on and innumerable, laws, codes and regulations simply exhaust and alienate those fair minded citizens who might just try and be law abiding. As Milton Freidman points out we simply have too many laws. The principle of holding somebody accountable however should be much more prominent. In the west, as long as someone can show paperwork he is off the hook - no? In the east, japan and china there is (was?) still a sense of accountability which is personal.

I can't help feeling that we in the west are somewhat Pharisaical in the way our legislature tries to pass laws to safeguard everything. Scripture points towards personal accountability, the law probably just leads to legalism. How often do we hear the defense - we have complied with all current legislation? There are echoes of "...all these I have kept since my youth"

I am not convinced that passing laws forbidding hard drugs is the way forward. In that sense I am not convinced that legalism is a positive. It might be a guide to the simple but scripture seems to point to accountability rather than an exhaustive list of don'ts?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Hello Eoghan,

I appreciate what you say re there being too many laws, and I realize the danger of the over-regulation of things, which we are experiencing in the U.S. presently. This could allow an unscrupulous and malign government to exercise tyrannical control over a populace. But then we have laws that reflect Biblical prohibitions (I am thinking of the Ten Commandments) such as forbidding murder, theft, false witness, and adultery. In the New Testament these are reiterated. Such laws conduce to the health of a society, at least civilly.

There are strong warnings regarding the use of certain types of drugs in Revelation, involving excommunication of the unrepentant, followed by eternal torment. In the OT under Moses the use of the same sort of substances warranted execution.

Now what the civil magistrate does with regard to laws upon society is one matter (and I see the way marijuana laws are going in the civil sphere), but what the governing authorities do in the church of Christ is another matter. If John by the Spirit of Christ pronounced damnation on a certain class of drug users (please note the qualification, “a certain class”), then we in the church do well to prohibit such among our members, just as we do murder, adultery and theft.

It is evident that in our age we are ignorant and naïve of what Biblically-defined sorcery is (I am not talking of arcane magic mumbo-jumbo), which in one respect is good, as we should not be too familiar with such profound evil. But in times where nations are in danger of becoming full of sorcery and sorcerers (it was said of the American counterculture of the 1960s, “a generation of sorcerers”), and it is even now being approved by the church – some members likening it to alcohol, and less harmful than tobacco – then it is appropriate we gain some better knowledge of it.

The reason it was forbidden in ancient Israel, a relatively small and supposed-to-be holy community, was that a person with a consciousness filled with demonic content and power would be a profound defilement of the life of this community.

I have clearly established the reality of such things in the articles I have referenced and linked to in my post #7 above, so I need not do so here, plus it would cumber this thread with many words.

We seem to be filled with the lightness (levity) of the worldly culture around us with regard to such things, and perhaps this comes from our lack of experience with such evil. Perhaps I shall write on it again here, when I see some of the things said in this thread.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
What drugs were available to the people of ancient Israel?

I think only alcohol.

So we would not see laws against PCP, marijuana, speed, acid, whatever. Because these things were not around - unless I am incorrect.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Muriel,

The pagan nations surrounding Israel were known to have such sorcerous drugs. The Hebrew word for sorcery, kesheph, was rendered pharmakeia in the Greek translation of the OT. We do not know the specific drugs they used, but the properties of these drugs are the same as in our day (and for all time): they are used to facilitate contact with spiritual powers, that is, entities.

Bret, this (below) might answer your questions. I have excerpted it from the work, The Fate of Babylon.

___________


The Significance of “Pharmakeia” References in Identifying 21[SUP]st[/SUP] Century Babylon in Revelation

It is said by some Reformed Amillennialists that one ought not identify any specific historic events as prophesied by John in the Apocalypse, save that pertaining to the local churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3, and the return of Christ in judgment at the end of the age. I am positing and arguing the existence of one which is a recent and ongoing notorious transgressing the Law of God through the widespread use of what Scripture calls “sorcery”, and which can be discerned as a marker identifying a particular nation.

Said transgression is seen in the phrase spoken of Babylon in Revelation 18:23: “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived”, and was a prime – but not the only – cause of the unparalleled judgment executed against her, wherein she was utterly destroyed. The word translated from the Greek as “sorceries” is in the original language pharmakeia. Although this was a sin of Chaldean Babylon in OT times (cf. Isaiah 47), it has not been so [widely] prominent since, yet in Acts 19:19 we do see repentance in Ephesus resulting in many burning books pertaining to magic arts. We’ll take a brief look at the sin involving pharmakeia.

Cornelis Venema, author of The Promise of the Future (which work has replaced Anthony Hoekema’s The Bible and the Future as the standard Reformed seminary textbook on eschatology), has said of Revelation,

The book, though addressed originally to the circumstance of the church in the first century of the Christian era, certainly speaks of events that will occur prior to the return of Christ and as well of events that are typical of the entire period of history in which we now live.” (From the article, Revelation 20: Part II – The Millennium is Now <http://www.graceonlinelibrary.org/eschatology/revelation-20/revelation-20-part-ii-the-millennium-is-now-by-cornelis-p-venema/>) [Emphasis added]​

At issue is the question, is this pharmakeia / sorcery spoken of in Revelation truly a discernable event, and if so what actually is it?

Woodstock is well known as the time when drug use in the United States commenced as a popular activity from the 1960s through the 70s, went underground for a while as a result of increased law enforcement, emerged again in the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century by popular demand, and two of them, marijuana and hashish, are now in the process of incremental legalization. I refer specifically to what are termed the psychedelic drugs, namely marijuana, hashish, LSD, mescaline, peyote, angel dust / PCP and other substances in the same category, which may include speed and others, but excluding legitimate medicines, as well narcotics. What connection is there between the New Testament’s statements concerning the Greek word pharmakeia, the Woodstock drugs, and the identity of Revelation’s Babylon?

First, a brief primer on the Greek and Hebrew terms, on what is Biblically defined as sorcery, and the laws of God with respect to this in the Old Testament and in the New:

We have a word in the New Testament (in the books of Galatians and Revelation) which is translated “sorcery” or “witchcraft”, the underlying Greek of which is [size=+1]farmakeia[/size], pharmakeia. The same word – pharmakeia – is used in the Greek Old Testament (sometimes called the Septuagint or LXX) and is likewise translated sorcery or sorcerer and witchcraft or witch. The word [your] sorceries in the Hebrew OT is [SIZE=+1]%yIp;êv'K[/SIZE], kesheph.

From The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament, Warren Baker, Eugene Carpenter (AMG Publishers, 2003), we have this entry,

3784. [SIZE=+1]@v;K'[/SIZE] kāšaph: A verb meaning to practice magic, to practice sorcery. It occurs with words of similar meaning in Deuteronomy 18:10 and 2 Chronicles 33:6. While the exact meaning of the word is obscure, it involved the use of supernatural powers that hardened hearts against the truth (Ex. 7:11). Those in Israel who used such powers were to be executed (Ex. 22:18[17]). . . Judgment is promised against sorcerers when the Messiah returns (Mal. 3:5).

From the Hebrew & Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Vol 2, p.503 (Ludwig Köhler 1994-2000), which doesn’t add much but gives concurring background on the root [SIZE=+1]@vk[/SIZE]: “(...Macuch Handbook 537b) to work magic, to bewitch”; . . . [in its Arabic cognates] “Arb. kasafa to cut (WKAS K:191)”

In the New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon, p. 506 (Hendrickson/Jay P. Green Sr. 1979) is this entry on the Hebrew word sorceries [SIZE=+1]@v,K,,[/SIZE] and its cognate in Arabic, cut off, cut up: “acc. to RS[SUP][[/SUP]*[SUP]][/SUP] [SIZE=+1]@v,K,[/SIZE] is prop. herbs etc. shredded into a magic brew”.

[* W. Robertson Smith]

So what is the New Testament pharmakeia? It is the Greek word used in Revelation 18:23, where the symbolic “harlot Babylon” is said to have deceived the nations by means of her “sorceries” (pharmakeia), and it is also used in Rev 9:21 of the Textus Receptus / AV (while what are called the Majority Text and the Critical Text have a variant reading in which the Greek word is pharmakon: drugs “that induce magic spells”, although it doesn’t affect the translation, per the NASB or ESV). In Rev 9:21 it is used with respect to men refusing to repent of their “sorceries” in the time of terrible judgments in the world, those that survived these lethal judgments meted upon the rebellious of the earth. When Paul uses this word in Galatians 5:20 (translated “witchcraft” AV, “sorcery” ESV NASB) it is called a work of the flesh, along with murder and adultery.

Related words (called cognates) are used also in Rev 21:8 and 22:15 of “sorcerers”, those who use and administer the drugs, and influence others by means of them. In 21:8 it says that these people have their part in the lake of fire – “the second death” – and in 22:15 these are said to be eternally barred from the City of God. Let’s try to get a sense of what this deadly (per Scripture) pharmakeia is. Consider this entry from The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol 2, p. 558,

“. . . pharmakos, magician (Rev. 22:15); pharmakeus, mixer of potions, magician (Rev. 21:8); pharmakeia, magic, sorcery (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23). The basic word pharmakon does not occur in the NT [save in the aforementioned variant –SMR], but its meaning of medicine, magic potion, poison gives the underlying idea of the words. Potions include poisons, but there has always been a magical tradition of herbs gathered and prepared for spells, and also for encouraging the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies (cf. possibly the final sentence of Ezek. 8:17: ‘They put the branch to their nose’). Sorcery is classed among the works of the flesh in Gal. 5:20.” [underlined and last bold and italicized emphases added – SMR]​

Another example, from the old ISBE,

“The word translated in the AV ‘witchcraft’ in Gal 5:20 (pharmakeia) is the ordinary Greek one for ‘sorcery,’ and is so rendered in the RV, though it means literally the act of administering drugs and then of magical potions. It naturally comes then to stand for the magician’s art, as in the present passage and also in . . . the LXX of Isa 47:9 . . . translated ‘sorceries’.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, Ed., Vol. 5, p. 3097.)​

And from, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates:

“Strong’s #5331, pharmakeia, from pharmakon, a drug, which in the Gr. writers is used both for a curative or medicinal drug, and also as a poisonous one. Pharmakeia means the occult, sorcery, witchcraft, illicit pharmaceuticals, trance, magical incantation with drugs (Gal. 5:20; Rev. 9:21; 18:23; Sept.: Ex. 7:22; Is. 47:9, 12). (pp. 1437, 1438)​

The lexicons and the commentators hold that pharmakeia pertains to drugs used in the “magic arts”. In fact, Kistemaker says of pharmakon (drugs) – appearing as a variant in Rev 9:21,

“[SIZE=+1]farmakon[/SIZE] [pharmakon]—‘magic potion . . .’ [and refers] to the concept of drugs that induce magic spells.” [Emphasis in original]. (Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Revelation, p. 302.)​

I think this is sufficient for the moment to demonstrate that the underlying Greek for the word in Revelation translated “sorceries” – pharmakeia – is directly and exclusively used to refer to drug use and drug-related activities of a certain kind, although Joseph Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th Edition) gives a metaphorical use as well, which shall be discussed just below.

To show why the use of “sorceries” in the Rev 18:23 passage refers to activities involving certain kinds of drugs rather than figuratively for mere deceptive practices, consider the classes of transgressors in Rev 21:8 who are consigned to the lake of fire: “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars”. Sorcerers (from pharmakeus) here specifically means one who administers or uses a certain class of drugs to “enchant”, to cast a psychic spell upon by use of these drugs and accompanying demonic power. It doesn’t mean a deceiver – a liar – generally or even figuratively, but specifically one who uses sorcerous potions. Liars / deceivers are already classed separately in this listing. Likewise in Rev 22:15 where a similar Greek word, pharmakos, is used for sorcerer, with the same meaning as pharmakeus in 21:8, again with liars / deceivers named separately. In these verses the usage clearly refers to drug-using-and-promoting people, so at the very least it is quite likely pharmakeia / sorceries in Revelation 18:23 – “by thy sorceries were all nations deceived” – refers to drug-related activity and not deceptive practices. On the other hand there is no doubt at all that Thayer’s, “the deceptions and seductions of idolatry” are a result of and part of Babylon’s sorceries, but the sorceries themselves are distinctly pharmakeia / sorcery (i.e. drug) activity.

The picture we are getting is of drugs used for sorcerous potions, which may “encourage the presence of spirits” and “induce magic spells”. Often we find in the OT the use of synecdoche (a figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole or vice versa) when the word pharmakeia and its cognates are used, as the use of drugs is the essential and common component in almost all of the “magic arts”. Consider, the Jews who translated the OT Hebrew into the Greek LXX always used the word signifying “drugs used as magic potions” when referring to certain magic arts and its practitioners. Why would they do that – use that particular word – were it not actually so?

But what does all this talk of drugs used for occult purposes – for “sorcery” – have to do with 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century life? Aren’t sorcery and magic potions something of the ancient past, legends, and superstition? First, let us be clear to differentiate between the entire realm of superstition with regard to the occult and its practices, and the plain Biblical definition of the term. It is granted that there is a vast repository of arcane nonsense in legends, fictional stories, etc, as well as some factual accounts. Yet it is also certain there is a Biblical definition with regard to actual pharmakeia / sorcery, for to violate it was death under Moses and removal from the church under Christ – very serious punishments!

Were there things happening in the 1st century (and earlier in OT times) that no longer happen now in our day? But if that’s so, why does John in the Revelation speak of sorceries as pertaining to the end times – the very end times – which may well be in or near our own time?

And can it be that such a sin as this – ranked with murder and adultery, and warranting eternal punishment if unrepented of – is incapable of being identified by modern exegetes?

There is an answer to these questions. Since the latter half of the 20th century – from events in the 1950s through the 1980s – we have developed a term never before used in the history of the world: recreational drugs (though I conceive it possible Chaldean Babylon had some equivalent). People differ in their views of them. They began in popular use in the ‘60s, and the two staples of the counterculture that used them were marijuana and LSD, although mescaline, peyote, hashish (and hashish oil – both of these derived from the marijuana plant), STP, PCP (angel dust), and sometimes various amphetamines or cocaine were mixed / used in conjunction with these drugs. To law enforcement these drugs are sometimes a big deal (though some agencies and laws are becoming more lenient, and marijuana is slowly becoming legalized in the U.S.), but to the general populace they pretty much are no big deal at all. Connecting them with sorcery, given their popularity and seeming harmlessness (at least as regards grass), seems farfetched!

Oddly, the properties of these drugs – all of those noted above – have the same properties as the pharmakeia / sorcery drugs Scripture strongly warns against: the capability of “encouraging the presence of spirits” and inducing spiritual / religious states of consciousness. That ought to send up red flags of warning to those who ponder these things.

At any rate, prior to the 1950s such things – recreational drugs – were unheard of, save perhaps in small subcultures (some musicians, for example, who used marijuana). In the pre-counterculture days going all the way back to ancient Israel, Biblically defined sorcery was verboten – a forbidden thing – connected as it was to the demonic and demonic practitioners. History is replete with instances of severe inquisition and punishment of those suspected of sorcery and witchcraft; nor were all such occult activities merely superstitious or hoaxes, seeing as the God of Israel took it very seriously, instructing His primary OT Lawgiver to execute the death sentence on violators, and revealing to John in His Revelation to him that eternal torment would be meted on unrepentant violators of His law given through Christ and the apostles. So we know there is real substance to such activities, for the Bible to take such a view of them!

In the pre-‘60s counterculture times such things showed their faces only in the crawling shadows of the world, rightly condemned by society. These were shrouded activities, and no wonder superstitions arose about them – they were hidden, frightening, and unknown.

In the time we live some modern Christians do not acknowledge these things, even though the unbelieving world does, as per – for example – this site on the Spiritual use of cannabis <http://sparcsf.org/spiritual-use-of-cannabis>, which gives an interesting history of its use in various religions for obviously sorcerous / pharmakeia purposes, in accordance with the Biblical definition. This one pharmakeia substance – far more potent than its predecessor in the Woodstock era – is on its way to decriminalization and legalization in our time. These things were foretold by the Spirit of God in Revelation.

Two astute writers on the fulfillment of prophecy, Oswald T. Allis and Geerhardus Vos, commented thusly,

[The prophecy of Antichrist] “belongs among the many prophecies, whose best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment, and in regard to which it behooves the saints to exercise a peculiar kind of eschatological patience.” (Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, p. 133)​

Although widespread sorcery is not “Antichrist” per se, the principle Vos states – the “best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment” – applies here as well. O.T. Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church, wrote similarly to Vos when he said,

The usual view on this subject [“the intelligibility of prophecy”] has been that prophecy is not intended to be fully understood before its fulfilment, that it is only when God “establishes the word of his servants and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,” that the meaning and import of their words become fully manifest. (p 25)​

We now in the year 2014 find ourselves in the unusual position of being able to observe – in hindsight – “the eschatological fulfillment” of a portion of the Babylon prophecy, that being the section ending Rev 18:23, “for by thy sorceries (pharmakeia) were all nations deceived”, and for which she would later be judged.

I realize that’s quite an assertion – observing in hindsight part of the Revelation prophecy on the final Babylon – but consider: there will be a time when this may be said with absolute certainty (which I am not claiming), for before the end shall come many things prophesied will have come to pass, and those still alive will see and understand. I do believe I am seeing accurately now.

The explosion of these drugs onto the world scene was an event (the term now used for military-scale biological, chemical, or nuclear events) that befell nations around the globe through the drug-energized sixties generation in America, as this potent counterculture permeated these nations through its music and musicians, literature, art, film, and other culture-bearing vehicles, as well as spiritual teachers and gurus (think Timothy Leary and Baba Ram Dass). The nations and cultures of the world were leavened from within by the exciting new consciousness of the sixties and the Woodstock spirit exported into them, but it was a Trojan Horse filled with the denizens of Hell. Its impact was, in the psychic realm, the equivalent of a massive nuclear detonation. The “fallout” of this “detonation” came in the presence of malign spirits and their influence upon the new thinking: it became (seemingly) obvious to all that real vitality was not to be found in the Christian faith but in the relativity of postmodernism – the validation of everyone’s and every culture’s subjective truths and beliefs – and thus was the world made ripe for satanic deception on an unprecedented scale.

It was obvious now – at least to “enlightened” people – that the Christian worldview was a relentless cultural and spiritual imperialism, evil in that it denied the validity of all thought and cultural development contrary to itself and, for the sake of humankind’s health, urgently needed to be eradicated. We see, with the progressive delegitimizing of Christianity, the rise of fundamentalism in pagan religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with these now showing murderous hostility to Christians (not just verbally, but in acts). Communism also attacked “Christian imperialism” with new rigor, as seen in North Korea, China, Eritrea, etc. And it will eventually give rise to the final deception and manifestation of satanic power in the last and worst antichrist figure and beast government that shall institute the “final solution” for God’s people – the followers of Christ. And the Jews will be hated as well.

The damage done is irreversible. The timetable of the Sovereign God is counting down. Across the non-Western world Christians are already under severe duress – violent, murderous persecution increasing daily. And the signs are that a groundswell is building in the West – the mystery of iniquity and lawlessness – and that He who restrains it will not restrain it for long (2 Thess 2:6 ff.). In the West lawlessness will come by means of the law.

[End excerpt]

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
I’d like to add the following regarding medicinal use of marijuana, as that throws a lot of folks off the trail of Biblical truth:

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But what about medicinal use? Isn’t that legitimate? This is a more nuanced topic than the world realizes, as it does not have spiritual discernment. But we who are Christ’s should have it.

It is understood that a person psychically “elevated” by marijuana may experience a sense of detachment from the bodily source of pain, and thus a decrease in the sensation of its intensity; still, the very action that detaches from the pain will open one to other aspects of the “high” such as consciousness in a dimension not usually entered in the normal state of mind, the dimension spirits inhabit. Even were I (speaking personally) in extreme pain I would not opt for marijuana relief, as the “cure” would be far worse for me as a Christian than the ailment: making myself vulnerable to demonic activity – deception, depression, oppression, delusion, attack, etc. The web page linked to earlier in this article, Spiritual Use of Cannabis, showing its use for shamanistic and psychic activity in a number of pagan spiritual paths, clearly demonstrates its effectiveness and power as a means of enhancing contact with the spirit world and its occupants. Does one think that by force of will – or “good intentions” – one can hold off demons one has opened one’s consciousness and heart to? One can surely hold them off by the word and Spirit of Christ, but if in disobedience – even if done unwittingly – opening wide the door to their entrance through sorcerous drugs, they will take advantage of that and either enter or exercise their influence under cover of deception. The folks who say, “I’m only using it for simple enjoyment; but for ‘sorcery’ – be it far from me!”, deceive themselves thinking they can avoid the consequences of entering the dimension of satanic presence, even if they do not believe it.

Let me posit a possible situation in an area where grass is legal for medicinal use. What would one think of a pastor, say in New Jersey, New York, or California where medicinal grass is legal under prescription for pain (or Colorado, Washington state, or the country Holland where it is simply legal), who, having smoked before the service, ministers while high? Or where a number in the church are (legally) high in the service? Would you assert that, if they’ve done it in moderation (or for pain relief), this is fully in accord with the word of God? Does using a Biblically forbidden substance for pain relief exempt one from obedience to God’s law? Did God have a good reason for forbidding pharmakeia drugs? (Note: this is not forbidding standard analgesics, even medicinal opiates. Psychedelics – pharmakeia substances– are a class unto themselves.)

Or if the assistant pastor – who teaches the teenage Bible study – has pain from a sports injury, and smokes (with a prescription) beforehand, is that okay? Though surely there will be teenagers – as well as adults – who, knowing their pastors are smoking marijuana (under medical license) for pain relief, will say, “Well, if they can do it for pain – and are okay mentally, and also accepted by the church – why can’t I do it as well for fun? We can see it’s not harmful if used reasonably.”

Besides the corruption of morals of others, children included, let me say what the Scripture view of this would be. A pastor has smoked his grass (ostensibly for pain) and expanded his consciousness by opening himself to the spiritual realm – much as the Hindus do to contact their spirit entities – and he is now open to energies and influences or thoughts that come to him from he-knows-not-where. But they seem to be godly and in accord with the Bible, and he has a new depth of feeling for the subject he is speaking on, and sharp insight, and he powerfully feels what he believes to be the presence and love of God. Has this man increased his godliness and anointing through the drug? Scripture says he has taken a drug (pharmakon) . . . known to induce magic spells, and to encourage the presence of spirits at magical ceremonies. Well, one wouldn’t call a church service a “magical ceremony” someone might respond! Unfortunately, using a sorcerous drug of the pharmakeia-class would turn that church service into a magic ceremony, replete with demonic agency operating through the minister intoxicated by it.

A couple of years ago (May 16, 2012) in the NYTimes online OP/ED section, an article appeared by a sitting New York State Supreme Court Justice, Gustin L. Reichbach, titled, “A Judge’s Plea for Medical Marijuana” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/opinion/a-judges-plea-for-medical-marijuana.html), and is one of the most compelling, heartwrenching cries for the allowing of medical marijuana I have heard (and I’m sure those reading can come up with like cases they know of). Read it and see. Justice Reichbach is a for-real candidate for this medical use. Which better allows me to make my point: As far as the world is concerned, allowing this man medical marijuana – and as he puts it, the “inhaled” kind, not the synthetic – is simply a human right, a humane medical treatment. But spiritually, what is the cost? Now Justice Reichbach is not – to my knowledge – a disciple of Christ, but for a disciple what would the issues be? It would be opening the heart and mind to demonic activity. Let me put myself in his place: without some grass – inhaled – I cannot eat (my appetite has failed), and cannot sleep, both of which I need to sustain my life. But with it, I could do both. Would it be worth it to me? To the world this dilemma is false, delusional, and cruel! To the spiritual man or woman it is vital and actual: would I allow my communion with Christ and communion with other disciples in spirit to be open to influence or infiltration by demonic beings? Just for the ability to eat something, or sleep, or to relieve pain? Put another way, would I, under torture – being starved, subjected to sleep deprivation, and inflicted with pain – betray my Lord and my friends? With God’s help I would not. Why, given the same conditions of affliction, would I voluntarily sin, if I would refuse to in the other case? No, God giving me strength I will retain my integrity of being before Him and my friends. I would refuse to smoke the “medicinal” marijuana for the sake of keeping my spiritual health and integrity. Especially if I were in terrible pain with advanced, terminal cancer, I would not use marijuana for relief. Would anyone in their right mind, when on the very brink of death, open their hearts and minds to demonic influence? That would be sheer destructive madness!

[There is a scenario, however, where a derivative from marijuana may be used; a chemical termed CBD has shown itself useful in some cases in preventing seizures in children; but this has been extracted from the plant without the THC which is the psychoactive agent producing the “high”, and so in this form the extracted chemical is not in the pharmakeia class. Here is an article on it <http://news.yahoo.com/colo-pot-aids-kids-seizures-worries-doctors-053424609.html>.]

[End of excerpt]
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This also is taken from The Fate of Babylon, where many more questions and objections are addressed. Please see that if you're interested in this matter.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The early Church had herbalists. One thing that must be forefront is what the intent of the drug use is. We all agree abuse for jollies is out of play. Some use opiates daily to maintain their sanity in chronic pain cases. William Wilberforce comes to mind.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Right, Rich. It really depends on what kind of drug is being taken. All medicinal and analgesic drugs, even medicinal opiates, are not classified pharmakeia in the Biblical sense. Though a case could be made that HP Lovecraft took an opiate at least once (?) and this took him into realms where he had an evil experience, per his short story, "The Crawling Chaos". But it is the psychedelics exclusively that are termed sorcerous per se.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think once when I was in grade school they gave my too much gas in the dental chair and I had a wild dream... the nurse said it wasn't exactly a dream.... was hallucenogenic and they lowered the amount.... is that pharmakeia?
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Michael, nitrous oxide (what dentists use) is certainly used by some folks as a psychedelic, and often in conjunction with other psychedelics.
 

Free Christian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hi Steve. Thanks for the info, a lot to think about.
On a Pastor or Minister having an illness or chronic pain where he needs to use a strong pain killer to get on without the pain which could be crippling without it, I would have thought that whether they used a prescribed one being an opiate based or even grass, they would step down (in the scenario you presented). As just about all of the really strong ones carry warnings not to operate machinery or drive a car if you are affected. Id be surprised a Minister would preach under the effects of any of the strong ones available as they all affect the mind. My wife a couple of years ago was really sick and had to use strong pain killers which greatly affected her thought process as well, which they do. To me in that situation its not whether they should use it or not, not saying im for or against, but should they continue to Preach? Id say no.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Michael, nitrous oxide (what dentists use) is certainly used by some folks as a psychedelic, and often in conjunction with other psychedelics.

It was used for party purposes before it was used for surgical anesthesia, and was the inspiration for anesthesia. In college, we used to say if it wasn't for the drunken parties at the University of Georgia, surgery would be much more painful today, although it appears that Long learned about nitrous oxide in Philadelphia, not while at Georgia.
 

Ken_lamb

Puritan Board Freshman
My problem with the discussion about expanded consciousness into the spiritual realm is that it adopts the system of belief held by unbelievers as true.

Sure there is prohibition against drunkeness, a fact that I do not dispute. But when I got my wisdom teeth removed and I was prescribed hydrocodone, which is an opiate, am I drunken(?). Legally I'm not fit to drive, am I not.

We know exactly how much alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, but this is relatively unstudied when it comes to marijuana. Furthermore, as our bodies are our temples I can say without qualification that prescription pain killers are killing people, and at the very least causing severe damage to vital organs. Even over the counter drugs like Tylenol and Aspirin can be potentially lethal or at least damaging to vital organs, but there is no study that I am aware of that shows marijuana use damages any vital organs and may potentially lead to death.

I also happen to know that most prescription drug addictions start with legitimate prescribed pain management.

Given that highly probable outcome,would I be doing harm to encourage a brother in Christ to seek pain management from a God created natural medicine that has no known fatal side effects. Any possible negative consequence of misuse is certainly a hundred times greater with the prescription drugs regularly dispensed to our church going brethren.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Ken, thanks for the thoughts. You said,

“My problem with the discussion about expanded consciousness into the spiritual realm is that it adopts the system of belief held by unbelievers as true.”​

It is more nuanced than that. I would say it is actual – for it exists – but it is not true, as in genuinely being what it purports to be. We are not to be like Christian Science (a la Mary Baker Eddy) and say that evil does not really exist. The belief systems of unbelievers are real enough to them to lure their souls into eternal destruction, even though they are but deceptions / illusions.

God’s holy community – that portion of it which is still upon the earth – is not to be defiled with demonic influence through those involved with witchcraft (how pharmakeia is translated in Galatians 5:20 KJV, sorcery in the other versions). You say it is not “true”, but the Holy Spirit considered it real enough to prohibit it.

You say,

“We know exactly how much alcohol impairs judgment and coordination, but this is relatively unstudied when it comes to marijuana.”​

How is one to study the affect of marijuana (and other sorcerous drugs) upon the brain and nervous system relative to matters of consciousness, and that of the spiritual dimension? (Though, oddly enough, the pagan world knows well of these things, as the article, Spiritual use of cannabis, demonstrates – it is the community of Christ, supposedly given the gift of spiritual discernment, which is naïve as to such dangers!) Such studies of the relationship between matter and spirit are not grist for the scientists’ mills. A little more from the paper, TFOB:

Using these drugs in the presence of other people often involves an apprehending the depths of their beings apart from their voluntarily opening them to us; it may thus be a sort of “rape” of their psyches; it also may involve a transmitting into them depths of our own souls unasked-for and unwanted by them. Extremely serious psychic transgression is involved in such things, and it is clear why it was forbidden in ancient Israel, and in the new covenant community of the saints.

But how can someone be convinced – namely those skeptical – that what is said of these drugs is true? How could they possibly know – or even believe – if they had no personal experience of them? It should be sufficient that the Lord has raised up witnesses through the exposition of His word, and the accompanying testimony of those He has rescued from participation in these activities.

Which brings me to the matter of witnesses, and legal testimony. In this matter of the pharmakeia drugs there are three witnesses:

1) The testimony of Scripture: these drugs exist, are used in sorcerous activities, and are condemned by God on pain of death.
2) The testimony of exegetes, linguists, and commentators: who define what sorcery and witchcraft are by indicating the use of drugs to enter demonic realms, and the practicing of their crafts there by said users.
3) The testimony of those who have experienced these peculiar drugs, and they are of two classes: a) godly men and women who have been delivered from the use and effects of them; and b) ungodly men and women who continue in use of them and clearly tell of their properties, their affect within their beings, and their efficacy in entering the spirit world.

The quality of this legal testimony (Deut 19:15; Matt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; etc) ought to be sufficient for skeptics to at least take notice, and ponder, weighing it.

To return to the brain and spirit: I cannot explain how the drugs’ action upon or affect in the brain and its effect on the spirit works any more than I can explain the relation between the spirit and the brain. What do we know about that? The immaterial soul is able to control – to direct – the physical brain, nervous system, and from these the body. Material substances – brain and nerves – are able to directly impact, and influence, an immaterial substance, the soul, and the soul the body. There is such mystery here at this juncture – but it is very similar to the material acting on the immaterial of drugs/brain/and soul. How can I go further in explaining such things? It remains, that evil is not inherent in things, but in the human heart, and in the environment of evil beings, in the midst of which we live, according to Scripture.​

[End quote]

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It is really distressing to see the attitude in the church with respect to these drugs. May the pastors and elders shepherd the flocks of our God and King so as to keep such darkness and sin out of the precincts of the holy.
 

Ken_lamb

Puritan Board Freshman
But you call it a sorceress drug. I do not see that it is one by definition because some sorcerers may have used it. If they also happened to use turmeric, is that also now prohibited. I think scripture speaks against this sort of conclusions with regards to sacrificed meat does it not?

This means that we have to judge the heart behind the use, not the use in and of itself. Is not medicine a common grace from God for all peoples, yet those concoctions would certainly more closely resemble a sorcery like remedy than a natural and unadulterated agricultural product. Also, by calling marijuana a sorceress drug, you perhaps unwittingly ascribe guilt to God who created all things good.

Even the rhubarb plant has lethal potentiality but it also makes a nice pie. I point this out because I think we ascribe too quickly human notions of wickedness as opposed to Godly ones.

I am in a unique position where I hear many anecdotal but credible accounts of the positive medicinal effects of marijuana medicine. I was never a proponent of it as a medicine, though working on the regulatory end has been eye opening.
 

Ken_lamb

Puritan Board Freshman
I had an interesting discussion some years back with a brother in Christ regarding yoga. The topic was about whether a Christian could assume certain physical postures for health and healing purposes, mostly as simple as back stretches. But he contended that because these poses had been sacrificed and prayed over by yogi adherents that the poses themselves held demonic powers. But this is silly, some of these poses are assumed while in still being knitted in our mothers womb. Some our automatically assumed while in a sleeping position. I don't not deny that satanic forces are at work in the world and they may seek seemingly harmless mode of temptation, but it's never been about the method, but the heart.
 
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