Recently our small town has become host to, not one, but two pot shops (and also boasts a grow op)! Additionally, in visiting someone in the community I came across their legal limit of marijuana plants growing on the deck. Canada is truly going to pot.
Aside from critiquing the fact that the government is promoting this and yet also promoting not smoking and other contradictions (such as the argument that legalized marijuana would get rid of the black market), what shall we make of Christ and Cannabis as Christians, are they compatible? As a general statement, NO! I can think of at least 7 basic Biblical principles:
1. Delight and Idolatry
The Bible resounds that we were made to enjoy God. To find ultimate enjoyment, or delight, in anyone or anything else is idolatry, the worship or enjoyment of someone or thing other than God. Certainly this does not mean we cannot enjoy lawful and good exercises but arguably (see below) substances don’t fit this category, and what is more so, they are consumed purely for the purpose of getting a ‘high.’ If we knew the Lord we wouldn’t have need of such a high and so at its very core people seek it out for idolatrous spiritual reasons rather than rejoicing in the Lord.
2. Upon Whom Do You Trust?
The Bible likewise resounds with the call to faith, to trust in the Lord and His word. Those who use substances are placing their trust in a substance to meet their deepest and spiritual needs and not the Lord.
3. Dominion and Lordship
The Bible, again, is very clear that Jesus is Lord. He is our creator, we’re meant to love and serve Him. The addictive nature of substances means that our lives come to be under another power (the substance) rather than Christ.
4. Loss of Control
The high received by substances comes at the expense of one’s mind such that we lose self-control, something which the Bible says we are to be vigilant to maintain. This can lead to other sins, which is why the Bible prohibits drunkenness for example.
5. Harm to Bodies
We were created in God’s image, given our whole person (including our mind and bodies) to be stewards of (not to mention our finances). Being ungodly stewards is therefore sinful. Further, if we are a Christian, as we are united to Christ, to smoke pot would be to make Christ a pot smoker Himself! Not only does smoke harm our lungs it also harms our brains. Studies have shown how progressively the brain dies as one smokes marijuana.
6. Seek Goodness
The Bible commends us pursuing things that are noble and good and lovely. Smoking something that smells like skunk, not to mention the other negative spiritual and moral outcomes, surely doesn’t qualify here.
In Scripture we’re called to live above reproach and not associate with questionable company. Cannabis, however, has a long and present history of being associated with the morally questionable to the outright dangerous (like gangs). It is a portal into darker things.
Whether a non-Christian or a Christian there is ample evidence why you should put a lid on pot; Christ and Cannabis don’t mix; nor should Cannabis be legal in Canada.
Paul says this in 1 Cor 2:1–5:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Corinth was known as a city that loved its rhetoric; the finesse, eloquence and polish of its public speakers. As a Greek city, it also loved philosophy and knowledge. Coming into town as a missionary Paul could have adopted such practices to have wooed the crowds, but he didn’t. Instead he preached rather plainly, or rather than what the world wanted to hear, he preached Christ crucified. Didn’t he shoot himself in the foot by this practice? Not at all, by speaking the truth plainly he allowed room for the Holy Spirit to move through his message in power so their faith didn’t rest on Paul but on the Lord.
Today, amongst liberal and evangelical preachers, there has long been a trend to be like the culture in preaching style: use lots of jokes, entertain, be a motivational speaker, conceal the hard truths like hell or sex, all to win over their audiences. Not a few disenchanted Christians have expressed their disgust with me over this trend. Now being winsome as a preacher is good; but to conform to the expectations of a culture is exhausting, and unless you’re a natural jokster, untrue to who you are. Most of all, however, it gets in the way of preaching the plain truth, expounding Scripture, telling people about Jesus. Ultimately it doesn't nourish souls with the truth. In preaching, the preacher must decrease so Christ might increase.
Related: A Painful Preacher of the Truth
*Apostasy, apostate(s), apostatizing
Apostasy, a turning away from or a departing, falling away, renunciation of the Faith (litt. to posit, to position yourself away from the Faith), is as old as the Fall (the greatest act of apostasy). At different times and for different reasons, the visibly faithful have departed from the Faith, whether that be in the time of Judges or under persecution in the early Church. On a mass scale, it could be argued, that the greatest apostasy in history has been the Christian West’s turning from Christ to other gods. On a more individual level, there are many who reject some nominal form of Christianity and so—lamentably—turn from Christ as well. Others depart so as to “freely” be greedy or lovers of pleasure. I would say that the number one reason why people apostatize today is because it is easier to go with the anti-Christian flow of culture than to stand in Christ against it. With the norms fast changing against Christian beliefs (the exclusive claims of Jesus, Hell, etc) and practices (marriage and gender and other high ethics), it is simply easier and more advantageous to capitulate than to remained steadfast to Faith. Covid has certainly accelerated the departure of those only nominally adhering to the Faith (T. Rainer estimates this, in America, to be as high as 20%).
Many Bible verses speak to this subject, though they tend to be neglected because we like to emphasis choice today and underplay accountability. Two stand out:
· And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. (Mt 24:10)
· if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us. (2 Ti 2:12)
Let’s be frank; apostasy is a grave sin. We sugar coat it by giving it names such as “de-conversion” but it remains non-other than to turn one’s back, to shut yourself off from the truth of the Creator and Redeemer, the giver of life.
Coming soon…answering tough and pastoral questions apostasy raises.
I sent this open letter to the CPSO. For more information about Bill C-7 (Euthanasia) and to learn what you can do visit: Canadians for Conscience | The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience
Dear College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO),
I wanted to respectfully add my voice to your consultation regarding Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), specifically the matter of forcing medical professionals to make arrangements or be complicit in euthanasia/medically assisted suicide should such participation be against said professionals conscience or religious conviction (My arguments are limited to this and do not extend into the realm of what I consider to be the immoral nature of the subject generally).
I make this recommendation on a fourfold argument:
Rev. Dr. Chris W. Crocker (Markdale Baptist Church; Professor- Toronto Baptist Seminary)
…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
—Jesus (John 8:32)
Someone recently sent me a quote attributed to George Orwell, “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” This got me thinking.
If you were like me you had to read one of two books (or both) in high school, George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) or 1984 (1949). In these books Orwell showed both insight into wartime totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) and also great prescience, forward thinking, as he warned of many dangers to personal freedom that such regimes, and their way of thinking, were liable to cause in the future. Evidently, Orwell didn't believe society had seen the end of such tyranny.
Animal Farm is about the animals of a farm that revolt against their farmer and establish a commune. In the end this communist experiment goes awry as power is centralized with the pigs. The slogan that had begun, “All animals are equal,” degenerated into the most famous line in the book, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
1984 is a story of a distant time (in the past now!) in which a utopian society had been produced through centralized control under the guise of offering “freedom.” Newspeak, Doublethink, Big Brother and the Thought Police are all key words that give a window into the control that existed within this "utopian" totalitarian society. As the main characters begin to think for themselves they yearn for true freedom.
Classic liberalism championed the freedom of the individual as created in the image of God (Gen 1:27, and thus was a predominantly influenced by Christianity). This was the basis of modern Western society—a secular freedom as close to real freedom that one can arrive at apart from Christ—but which is now under attack by a creeping new influence: neo-liberalism (or neo-Marxism), that privileges the group against the individual and seeks to exert coercive influence against any that would oppose its worldview.
Let’s think about the wisdom of Orwell and apply it to today (i.e. where can we see seeds of his critique in society at large? [btw- this is no attempt at a conspiracy theory!]).
What similarities do we find in our present culture?
As post-Christian society becomes further unmoored from its foundation in Christ, Christians will be called to speak the truth in love, and will often bear the brunt of hatred as a result.
But individual freedom and the pursuit of truth aside (as important as those are), is not what Jesus is getting at in Jn 8:32. He is saying we are actually all spiritually enslaved to sin but that He came to offer the greatest liberty, freedom from it and the ability to follow Christ and live the good life we were created to live. Jesus is the truth, not only the ultimate reality but true and good. We are false and sinful. He came not only to live out a true life, but to die for our falseness so we might live truly. He calls us to believe in His truthfulness, so we might be restored and walk in the truth ourselves.
Thanks George, but thank you most of all Jesus.
 I couldn’t find the original source but this certainly sounds like Orwell, and even if it isn’t is still a helpful quote.
 Orwell was a nominal Anglican (at best). Yet, it is striking how this quote bears a Gospel semblance. Jesus spoke a similar truth concerning what He was hated and why His followers would be likewise hated in Jn 15:18.
With the Covid-19 vaccinations ramping up around the world there has been some apprehension that these could be “the mark of the beast,” some sort of globalist agenda to make the planet march to their orders.
Besides the fact that Christians in past ages have fretted over this mark in one form or another and it never came to pass (e.g. everything from slave brands to computer chips have been suggested; besides different names [see below]), there are a few reason why the Covid vaccine is probably not this mark:
What is this mark?
*It must be noted that apocalyptic litterature is picture language, and besides other complex matters in understanding Revelation, must be kept in view.
Not delving into the broader context, Rev 13:17–18 says:
“16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave,[a] to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”
What are some basic facts? The mark relates to the beast. Everyone will need its name or number to conduct business. Christians are to be discerning to watch out for the man and his number, which is 666.
The mark in all certainty refers to the notion of slave branding. Like cattle branding it lets people know to whom you belong. However, in Ezekiel 9:4–6 this same notion is more veiled, only God can see the sign visibly, to others it must be invisibly or spiritually discerned. Brands also speak heavily to the subject of loyalty, to whom do I belong.
It evidently meant something to John’s readers (“let the one who has understanding…”) so we shouldn’t give up inquiring.
Some in church history used gematria, using the numeric symbols to calculate the letters they represent. Some, using Greek, thought it spelled Tatian, an early Emperor. Others, using Hebrew, Nero Caesar (the Emperor who killed Peter and Paul). Some have thought it to refer to Popes, Martin Luther and even Ronald Reagan (and a host of characters in between!).
In the 3rd century many Emperors demanded certificates of sacrifice to pagan gods. Some Christians compromised and some refused and were burned or cast into the colosseums. This practice of enforcement has been employed since (the Test Acts in 17th C England, Trudeau’s attempt with the Summer Jobs program). Something to do with this mark means persecution for the faithful that diminishes their economic standing.
Let me suggest another numeric way of coming at 666 that builds on some of what we’ve worked through. (On this verse I follow the interpretation of Steve Wilmshurst, Revelation: The Final Word).
In the Bible the number “7” is the perfect number (e.g. the Creation week). Therefore as God is triune and if He could be assigned a number it would be 777; this is the number of Divine perfection.
666 then is a number of someone who seeks to imitate God but ultimately falls short, even as it demands loyalty to it. It is the number of the “unholy trinity” (Satan, the Beast and the whore of Babylon). Remembering that marks are like brands, they are a symbol of loyalty. The person who has the mark of the beast shows they are of the beast. The devil’s agents give false signs (13:13) whereas Christ’s agents have true signs (11:5–6). Remembering too the more invisible nature of marks from Ezekiel, these signs are the fruit of such a person’s moral character (you shall know them [professors] by their fruit, Mt 7:16a), either Christlike or wicked. Often throughout history, and still today, Christians have been persecuted (with economic effect) because of who they are, what they stand for and where their ultimate allegiance lies.
I would contend then that the mark is not merely some future thing but a present reality of someone who bears the characteristics of their father, the devil (Jn 8:44).
The wisdom of Revelation, written to persecuted Christians, is less eschatological and more imminently practical. It is to teach the wisdom of trench warfare that says: be on the lookout for the fruits, for these will help us discern friend from foe; and don’t conform, not even for economic benefit, and betray your loyalty to 777 for the fleeting pleasures afforded by 666.
Even prior to the Premier’s announcement of a lockdown today, Christmas and New Year’s, for many people, was going to look much different than the season of faith, family and merriment that many people often associate with the season. The lockdown announced for Boxing Day will make this an even more difficult season for many.
To put this in perspective (and provide encouragement) and to remember that Christmas is about Christ—that He is all we need for a blessed Christmas or to live a blessed life in the face of trials—let us turn to the first Christmas story to contemplate just how difficult it would have been for Joseph and Mary and how Christ made all the difference.
Though they had no Christmas by which to evaluate their lived experience, the first Christmas was no easy time for Mary and Joseph. Notwithstanding the shame the couple probably faced because of the pre-marital pregnancy, they had to travel away from their comfort zone and support network, from Nazareth to Bethlehem. While not a long distance by modern standards, it was far enough by ancient standards. We might think that because Joseph was “of the house and lineage of David” that he would have had close family to call in on. However, Luke’s silence on this matter leads us to believe that Joseph’s roots were more connected to Nazareth than they were to Bethlehem; otherwise some relative probably would have made room for them. As it stood, homes and inns full because of the census, the couple were all alone in a foreign town and had to take shelter in a stable, “because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Lk 2:7). Bad travel plans, a grotty motel—not to mentioned being 9 months pregnant—it all seemed as if their stay would be a miserable one. But the cherish story of the nativity is far from unhappy because Jesus made all the difference.
Trusting God’s providence in the situation, looking to Him, Joseph and Mary were pleasantly surprise that first Christmas. The promised One of old, revealed as the expected child through prophecies, dreams and visions, finally arrived. The birth of any child has the effect of bringing joy to troubled circumstances; how much greater must have their joy been to welcome the Christ child!? Then unexpected visitors dropped in and told of angelic choirs rejoicing at the Saviour’s birth. God was encouraging the couple. Mary treasured and “pondered these things in her heart” as the shepherds went away “glorifying and praising God.” It is amazing how faith in God’s providence and the presence of Christ can bring joy to otherwise discouraging circumstances!
The Christmas holidays of 2020–21 will certainly be different, but they needn’t be as grim as Satan may tempt us to think. May it be that God is stripping away all of the distractions and adornments of the holidays: goodies, good company, traditions, etc, etc, so that we might focus exclusively on Jesus? As we worship Christ at Christmas may we be filled with all the joy and wonder Joseph and Mary were on that first bleak mid-winter Christmas night, and may we be a light in the darkness.
“His [Jesus’] winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt 3:12; c.f. Lk 3:17)
When I was younger I worked for an organic farmer for several years who still used many traditional Ontario farming practices, including the fanning mill. Taking grain from the grainery of the old hip roof barn I insert pails of raw grain directly into the mill. A combination of the fanning and shaking would separate the chaff from the grain. The chaff was good for, well, nothing; and the grain, free from defect or blemish, would be used to plant in the fields. This Victorian invention mechanized the age old practice that Jesus describes in our verse, whereby the grain was threshed (beaten to loosen the grain) and then winnowed by tossing the grain-husk-stem mix into the air. The breeze would carry away the unwanted materials and the grain would fall to the threshing floor to be collected, used or consumed. The chaff would be burned.
Now this verse has an eschatological edge to it (end times), however, there is a sense in which it has more universal application today: the Lord is often busy about winnowing the visible Church, separating real and nominal Christians, the former to His glory and the latter to their derision.
As we’ve been seeing in C2C, at certain times in history seismic events overturn established orders and reveal the true state of things, human hearts.
For many years the wheat and chaff in the visible church have been allowed to remain together in Ontario churches. Many people looked like respectable Christians, that is until the winnowing fork was set to them, the pressure produced by recent seismic shifts and events that revealed on what side of the line they really stood:
We are living in changing times and the pressures of these changes are highly revelatory as to the hearts of visible Christians. This is burdensome, yet there is hope, hope that the church, purged, pruned and winnowed may be the faithful remnant that will then shine forth all the brighter in the darkness.
The crowd, the media, pressures people to abandoned independent thought, and through fear, make them conform to their program. That is what lies behind virtue signalling.
Virtue signalling, a buzz word these days, is when you go along with the flow, not believing it to be true, but accepting or giving lip service to it, so that you do not face its wrath or intimidation.
But this is so very dangerous, to go along with something you don’t believe in simply out of the fear of public reprisal. This is how Nazi Germany developed, with too many Germans fearing taking a stand and so becoming virtue signallers for the safety of their families, economic benefit or continued social standing.
An old county song I recall from my youth had this poignant line, “you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”
Biblically, that something ought to be what God has said is true. In grace, we need to pray that as Christians we would have the boldness to speak the truth; that He would give us the courage to stand with the Lord in faith and not go along with the world in fear.
So many men of women of the faith from the Bible and history come to mind when I think of this, however, one verse strikes me, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)
May we be radiant signals pointing people away from the world and to Christ!
Names being changed, statues being toppled, all a result of Cancel Culture. What is this?
Cancel Culture is the belief that anything that does not align with “modern sensibilities” or your view or ideology generally, must be cancelled, gotten rid of, purged, forgotten, if we are to liberate ourselves and create the world we desire to live in.
If he/she/they were slave owners, traditionalists, “homophobes,” etc, etc, they have no place in the remembrance of society, they must be cancelled.
From a historical perspective, Cancel Culture is troubling because it seeks to erase history and tell a different tale rather than recognize it, learn from it, understand it as part of your story and move on to new chapters of that story.
Politically it is disconcerting because this is the same strategy employed by Authoritarian and Communist countries. Identify the story that stands against your story and power, and cancel it. Those who used to be traditional liberals and moderates are more and more embracing what their very movement used to stand against.
Spiritually, however, Cancel Culture is most distressing for it foolishly believes that people are perfect. Reality check: if you look hard enough into any past or present figure—and even figures from your own group—you are going to find something nasty you could dig up. Why? Because no one is perfect (Ps 14:1a, Ro 3:10), we’re all sinners (Ro 3:23), even amongst the righteous we will not find one example of someone who never sins (Eccl 7:20).
Seeking to cancel our sin doesn’t change the reality. Instead we ought to recognize it and learn from it; to learn the chief lesson that if we want to become the person God desires us to be we need to ask him to cancel (to forgive) our sin—the shadiness of our past and present—and give us new life by His Spirit.
There was ever only perfect man, Jesus, and He was hated and killed for being perfect, yet He couldn’t be cancelled. He rose from the dead, is ascended into Heaven and calls on people to look ahead, look up, look to Him, if they desire a better life and future.
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.