In 2015 I wrote about an article from the New Yorker magazine titled “The Trip Treatment,” subheading: “Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is now yielding exciting results.”
What drew my attention to the New Yorker article was not so much my interest in the drug scene of 2015 but rather how it relates to what the Bible has to say about the increasing use of drugs in the End Times. It’s a significant part of the prophetic picture prior to the return of Jesus. What follows is a recap of my TBC article of 2015 with an update of what’s happening in 2020.
The baby boomers (those born during the rising birth rate just following WWII) introduced the subculture of the hippies, a youth movement that began in the US and rejected the establishment with its traditional social customs. They protested war and violence and instead promoted peace and love. Much of the movement was fueled by mind-altering drugs that were greatly encouraged by influential men, such as Harvard professor Timothy Leary (“Turn on, tune in, drop out.”), a major advocate of LSD. The use of psychedelics grew exponentially during the 1960s. Drug companies and psychiatric researchers tested them “on alcoholics, people struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depressives, autistic children, schizophrenics, terminal cancer patients, and convicts, as well as on perfectly healthy artists and scientists (to study creativity), and divinity students (to study spirituality).” The 1970 Controlled Substances Act, as noted, put the experimentation and use of LSD and other psychedelics practically out of business—but only for a time.
Today, those of the psychedelics-prone hippie generation are now part of the establishment. They may have “turned on” and “tuned in,” but many did not “drop out.” In fact, some are running our largest and most prestigious institutions, from medical institutions to research organizations to universities. Michael Pollan, author of the New Yorker magazine article mentioned above, documents the surprising return of medical experiments featuring hallucinogenics. Psilocybin, a.k.a. the sacred or magic mushroom, is the lead experimental drug. That’s primarily because it doesn’t carry some of the “political and cultural baggage” of LSD, which is “stronger and longer-lasting in its effects and is considered more likely to produce adverse reactions.” The research is taking place in respected institutions such as Johns Hopkins Medical facilities, UCLA Medical Center (Harbor), New York University, the University of New Mexico, London’s Imperial College, the University of Zurich, and many other universities. Pollan notes that “Researchers are using or planning to use psilocybin not only to treat anxiety, addiction (to smoking and alcohol), and depression but also to study the neurobiology of mystical experience, which the drug, at high doses, can reliably occasion.”
Pollan’s article cites the case of a man whose cancer had spread throughout his body and was given no hope of recovery by his doctors. Facing death drove him to seek options to relieve his extreme anxiety. Quoting researchers, Pollan writes, “Cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months…. People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear.” Novelist and drug proponent Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is often quoted for support regarding using psychedelics with terminal patients “in the hope that it would make dying a more spiritual, less strictly physiological process.” Huxley, a humanist and anti-Christian, was injected with LSD at his deathbed. His “spiritual” process (read hallucination) may have given him temporal relief, but his ecstasy, according to the Scriptures, eased him into an eternal separation from his Creator in a place where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth in darkness forever (Matthew:22:13). The Word of God would have us think about death and what follows as life’s most critical consideration.
Huxley’s so-called spiritual process has been an important subject of many of the researchers. Pollan writes, “Perhaps the most influential and rigorous of these early studies was the Good Friday experiment, conducted in 1962 by Walter Pahnke, a psychiatrist and minister working on a Ph.D. dissertation under [Timothy] Leary at Harvard. In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel, on the Boston University campus; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo (nicotinic acid). Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of ‘sacredness’ and a ‘sense of peace.’ [T]hose on the placebo sat sedately in their pews while the others lay down or wandered around the chapel, muttering things like ‘God is everywhere’ and ‘Oh, the glory!’” Further evaluation of the experiment noted that some of the subjects had to be given antipsychotic drugs in order to counter the side effects of psilocybin. For some of the early researchers “it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the world—a psychedelic gospel.”
What then of this “gospel” from a biblical perspective? It contributes to a fulfillment of what the Scriptures indicate will be an end-times deception. It is referred to as sorcery. The term in Revelation:9:21 and 18:23 in the Greek is pharmakeia, which Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines as “the use or the administering of drugs.” Galatians:5:20 translates the term pharmakeia (from which we get our word pharmacy) as witchcraft. It should be apparent from those scriptures that drugs will play a major part in the “strong delusion” of the Last Days (2 Thessalonians:2:11). Revelation:18:23 declares that “thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” Furthermore, the commitment to the use of drugs will be so strong that even after God pours out His wrath upon the earth during the Great Tribulation none will repent of their “sorceries” (Revelation:9:21).
Satan’s devices often come progressively like ocean waves that arrive in sets. When a wave crests and crashes on a beach, it deposits its debris and then retreats, followed by another set. This analogy fits the use of hallucinogenic drugs by the baby-boomer generation followed by a new drug wave, which is taking place today. This is not intended to condemn the use of all drugs, some of which, notwithstanding their abuses, have been helpful to mankind. Hallucinogenic drugs, however, have a long history in many cultures as key ingredients in religious rituals. The drug-induced altered state of consciousness transcends euphoric experiences and becomes a means of contacting spirit entities. That has been the mainstay of shamanism throughout the world by people groups and cultures that have had no contact with one another. The shaman or witch doctor, by ingesting or inhaling a hallucinogenic substance, is enabled to commune with the spirit world. He is thus “equipped” to mediate between the spirit beings and his tribe or village. The Bible censures the practice as a form of divination that results in communication with demons (which explains the uniformity of shamanism throughout the world).
Although there is a great deal of research to document the harmful effects of psychedelic drugs, even so, many participants in the psychedelic experiments are convinced of the value. Pollan reports that support for the use of hallucinogenics is gaining ground. The prestigious Psychopharmacology journal published a supportive landmark article titled “Psilocybin Can Occasion Mystical-Type Experiences Having Substantial and Sustained Personal Meaning and Spiritual Significance.” One might judiciously wonder exactly what part of the pharmacologist’s education prepared him or her to address the mystical and spiritual realm.
There is a critical question that must be answered by everyone who faces death, because our eternal destiny depends upon it. Scripture is unambiguous: “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews:9:27). It is an extraordinarily deceptive scheme of the Adversary to deny a dying person what may be the final opportunity for salvation by wrapping one’s last days of physical life in a cloak of psychedelic bliss. Heartbreakingly, this drug wave will certainly increase in the days ahead, as Pollan points out: “Many of the researchers and therapists I interviewed are confident that psychedelic therapy will eventually become routine. Katherine MacLean hopes someday to establish a ‘psychedelic hospice,’ a retreat center where the dying and their loved ones can use psychedelics to help them all let go.” The former hippies will likely help with its formation: “Many of the people in charge of our institutions today have personal experience with psychedelics and so feel less threatened by them.”
Fifty years of the ever-increasing influence of Eastern mysticism, however, through its homogenized and westernized form known as the New Age Movement, has corroded away the last chains of opposition. The gurus rushed to the West, trumpeted in by the Beatles under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Eastern meditation took its practitioners to a higher level of altered states of consciousness than the banned hallucinogenic drugs.
Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement, which was barred from US schools because of its blatant teaching of Hinduism and Eastern mysticism, has come back even stronger as the fraudulent science of Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Popular TV medical doctor and Sufi Muslim, Dr. Oz is the national spokesperson for Transcendental Meditation’s mystical mind-altering Hindu practice. Yoga, which is the heart of Hinduism, rivals Starbucks in popularity and can be found everywhere throughout the country, including in Christian churches. Its meditation is a more direct vehicle to a mystical altered state of consciousness. The legal use of marijuana (the psychedelic drug cannabis) began under the belief (some would say “ploy”) that it has significant value for medicinal purposes. It has recently been ushered into the realm of a recreational substance in a few states. It’s hardly a wild guess that the rest of the country will follow.
The astounding and pervasive use of drugs (which, again, the Bible terms sorcery) in our day is one more proof of the prophetic accuracy of Scripture. Certainly the world is falling prey to the deceptive scheme instigated by the father of lies, Satan himself, and, tragically, so are many who profess to follow Christ. The Israelites heard from the Prophet Jeremiah God’s words of correction and His pleading with them to return to Him, yet they refused to repent of their spiritual adulteries (6:16). Christendom today is on that same path.
That was 2015. The following quotations (some followed by my comment in italics) are from an article published in 2019 in Psychology Today titled “Ten Reasons Psychotherapists Should Learn about Psychedelics: Here’s how therapists can get involved in this groundbreaking field right now.” The article [below] reflects the recent views of psychedelic therapy taking place today as presented by the many professional therapists who have contributed to the magazine (which declares them to be “balanced” views).
“After a long hiatus, research in the field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is picking up speed again and new developments indicate the immense potential for a revolution in mental health care. The implications are enormous…. Psychedelics are poised to be the next wave of empirically supported treatments for addiction, trauma, and depression. Mental health care providers should be able to provide accurate, clear information, establishing ourselves as authorities and experts on the topic.”
Psychotherapy is not science but rather the subjective treatment (through talk therapy) of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems. Psychedelic therapy is focused mainly on treating depression and suicide.
“Spiritual use of psychedelics is consistent with research studies that have found that psychedelics can occasion mystical experiences and that people often rate psychedelic experiences as one of their top five most spiritually significant experiences. In addition, the use of psychedelics for spiritual goals is also consistent with the indigenous use of psychedelics for at least 5,000 years, typically for the purpose of accessing the spirit world and healing.”
What valuable insights can psychedelic therapy provide regarding the subjective “spiritual goals” and “accessing the spirit world?”
“Mental health care providers should know the basics of assessment, red flags, and methods for alleviating excess anxiety, distress, and stigma around such experiences.”
“Alleviating excess anxiety and distress” centers mainly on removing the fear of death related to terminal diseases. The FDA has designated psilocybin recently for the treatment of such major depression disorders.
“Therapist competencies include empathetic abiding presence; trust enhancement; spiritual intelligence; knowledge of the physical and psychological effects of psychedelics; therapist self-awareness and ethical integrity; and proficiency in complementary techniques.”
What courses in the training of a psychotherapist enhance his or her “spiritual intelligence”? Or what “complementary techniques” raise them to a “proficiency” level?
Psychology Today continues: “Fortunately, there are a wide variety of non-drug methods including meditative and yogic practices, holotropic breathwork, sensory deprivation, fasting, hypnosis, relaxation, and rhythm-induced trances. Non-psychedelic approaches can also be helpful when a person wants to experiment with non-ordinary states of consciousness without taking a drug or as an intermediate safer way to experience altered states of consciousness.”
Psychedelic therapy is drug therapy that actually treats sorcery through the use of sorcery. Although it’s being advocated by the medical and academic establishment, it’s only part of the world of sorcery that produces altered states of consciousness. “Consequently, it’s far less than ‘fortunate’ that ‘non-drug methods’ including meditative and yogic practices, holotropic breathwork, sensory deprivation, fasting, hypnosis, relaxation, and rhythm-induced trances” can not only produce the same, but have a greater history of physical and spiritual destruction. (See America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice)
Dave Hunt and I wrote America, the Sorcerer’s New Apprentice for the purpose of informing biblical Christians about the New Age Movement so that they could witness to their unsaved friends and relatives who were attracted to Eastern Mysticism through New Age teachings and practices. Times have changed. Today, the world and much of Christendom are involved in some form of sorcery, as God’s Word has prophesied. We cannot turn this collective inevitability around. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, we can prayerfully rescue individuals from this strong delusion (2 Thessalonians:2:11).