Douglas and John, would you please address the issue of Christians smoking mushrooms, especially for healing, from an eastern medical perspective? What about the spirit world? I know some believers who meditate and believe in spirit world. – D.L.
Reply from Douglas Jacoby:
The occult is forbidden in the OT and the NT—I'm sure you know the passages. It's off limits not only because of fraudulence, or for how this distracts us from our ministry, or because of the danger of compromised vigilance (it’s hard to stay sharp if your mind is elsewhere), but also because the dark world is real. It's not all fake or just in the mind.
I would also emphasize the pursuit of holiness. The "me generations" (from the '60s till now) make it all about individuals and their rights, esp. the right to pursue any sort of pleasure they want. Is someone's goal as a Christian to be "happy" or holy?
Searching each of our websites you will find articles on drug use, marijuana, the occult, New Age, etc. Also helpful could be the conference on Christianity and the Paranormal, recorded in 2011. At my website, please check out the articles on morality (starting here.) I am confident John will have some wise direction for you, too.
Answer from John Oakes:
What you are asking, essentially, is whether Christians ought to be involved in mind-altering drugs and witchcraft—two things which are intimately associated in the Scripture. As disciples of Jesus we have no business having any involvement with the occult, spirits, demons, seances, hallucinogenic drugs, witchcraft, Ouija boards, palm-reading, divination or anything else even remotely related to these things. Can you imagine Jesus of Nazareth smoking mushrooms to expand his consciousness?
Douglas gave a masterful lesson on the paranormal at the conference he mentioned above. He demonstrates a beautiful balance in this lesson, pointing out that much of what is found under the occult is fakery and gullibility, yet the Bible tells us that such things are often real and the spirit world should not to be taken lightly.
Here are just a few of the many passages in the Bible which make it clear that God does not want those who are in his kingdom to go anywhere near anything that even remotely smells of the occult, demons, hallucinogenic drugs, etc. (credit to John Clayton, who saved me the trouble of looking these up.)
- Old Testament: Ex 22:18; Lev 19:26-31; 20:6; Deut 18:10-12; 2 Kings 17:10-20; 21:1-6; 23:4-7, 24-25; 2 Ch 33:6
- New Testament: Acts 13:6-12; 16:16-18; Gal 5:19-20
As for taking hallucinogenic drugs for supposed mind-expansion purposes, I believe that this is specifically labeled as sin in Gal 5:20, which calls any form of witchcraft (Greek: pharmakeia) sin. The very word used which is often translated witchcraft is the one from which we get the work pharmacy. The relation between drugs and witchcraft has been an intimate one since prehistorical times. Let me give an unqualified no to the suggestion that Christians ought to consider smoking mushrooms, taking MDMA, etc. as things a follower of Jesus ought to do.
There is a lot of research right now into the use of hallucinogenic drugs to treat major psychotic disorders. This may bring us to some ethical gray areas at some point in the future (but not right now!), just as the legitimate use of marijuana as prescribed by physicians has made the outright and completely unqualified proscription of the use of legal medical marijuana a gray area. However, this does not appear to be what you are asking in your question above.
As for meditation, this is not so clear-cut a question for believers. David meditated on God's law. Meditation/reflection on God, on the beauty of his creation, and on the Scripture are positive spiritual practices throughout the history of Christianity. In fact, I believe that we ought to encourage this sort of spiritual practice much more that we have in the past.
However, many practitioners of Eastern religion have tried to sneak pantheistic meditative practices into the public square (and into Christian's lives as well) through popularizing of yoga and other modalities. We should develop the ability to detect such infusions of pantheism into the kinds of "meditation" and mantras that some Christians have adopted. I do not suggest making a huge issue of this (unlike the other categories above), but rather that we educate believers about the theological distinction between Hinduism, New Age, and Buddhist practices, which point us to find the spark of God in us, and Christian types of meditation in which we focus not on God-in-us but on the God of the universe (who chooses to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit).
I published an article on the use of legalized marijuana a few years ago. This is not directly mentioned in your question, but some of the principles will be helpful in their relation to your question. CLICK HERE for the article on marijuana. It could be used to address the potential future legal use of hallucinogenics for serious psychotic disorders.