We are all sinners because there are always ideals we hold that we fail to live up to. Suppose someone denies this and claims not to have any ideals he or she has yet to live up to. I think we will find it difficult to believe this person. Objection: “But won’t we finally live up to all our ideals when we reach the ultimate goal, and didn’t you say we’ve already reached the ultimate goal?” Yes, but I also said there is always a new ultimate goal, and that means we discover new ideals we have not yet achieved.
We are all sinners and we are all forgiven for our sins. By the way, let me just say that I hate the bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I hate it because it implies that Christians are superior to non-Christians in that they are forgiven and non-Christians aren’t, and this is not a bit less self-righteous than simply saying, “Christians are perfect. Non-Christians aren’t.” Non-Christians are forgiven too.
Jesus said that there is only one sin that is unforgivable: blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. And what is that? Well, it certainly isn’t just not being a Christian. If it were, we would all be damned; because, even if a person is baptized in infancy and a Christian from that point on, she or he wouldn’t have been a Christian before that; so, if not being a Christian was an unforgivable sin, all of us have committed it, and it would be the one sin that baptism can’t wash away.
Given, then, that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not equal failure to be a Christian, what is it? The context in which Jesus proclaimed this to be the one and only unforgivable sin was one in which some scribes and Pharisees had accused him of driving out demons with the help of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons (Matt: 12:24-32, Mark 3:22-30) He had just been curing many people, including a man with a withered hand and another who was blind and mute, and he was being criticized for violating the Sabbath (curing the man with the withered hand on that day instead of insisting that he wait until the next day to be cured) and for using evil powers to rid people of their suffering. He responded with anger against the hard-heartedness of those who would have us believe that the commandment to rest on the Sabbath implies that no one should be healed on that day (Mark 3:1-6), and argued that if they really believed he was using the powers of demons to defeat demons, they should be glad, because that would mean Satan was defeating himself; and that if it wasn’t by the power of Satan that he was able to heal people, then it must be by the power of God, so that they should see that the kingdom of God had come to them. It was at that point that he proclaimed that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. (Matt. 12-25-31) So, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is being so morally blind and confused as to be unable to see plain and evident goodness as goodness and instead to think that there must be something evil about it. It is unforgivable only because the intended recipient of the forgiveness would be unable to accept it, would think there is something evil about forgiving and being forgiven. If you are worried that you have committed this unforgivable sin, then you haven’t, because your worry shows that you care about and can recognize goodness.
What this tells us about what we should do to reach the ultimate goal is that we should be open and ready to see goodness in the place where we find ourselves. If we can’t do that, it won’t help to be in the kingdom of heaven. No matter how bad you think you are, God forgives you and blesses you, but he can’t accept and appreciate the forgiveness and blessings for you. Only you can do that for yourself.
We have already attained the ultimate goal, and we are reaching for a new ultimate goal. God forgives and blesses us, and we are still learning how true that is. How can I claim my psychedelic experience as evidence that we have already attained the ultimate goal? Did everyone freely choose to act justly during my peak experience? What I said before is that it is a matter of seeing that being in the right relationship with God is always there, underlying everything else that could be described as not being in the right relationship with God. Another way to put this is to say that whenever someone — I, you, or anybody else — is doing the wrong thing, is acting in a way that indicates not being in the right relationship with God, then he or she is, for one reason or another, deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth about the way things are. During the peak experience one sees, in a way that can’t be put into words because it is too richly detailed and kaleidoscopically ever-changing but I will try anyway, that everyone, despite all her or his troubles that cause false steps resulting in being unfair to oneself and others, has moments of freely choosing goodness, with confidence, with no false steps, as sure as sure can be; and these moments, like this tremendous moment, are the true moments that constitute life in the kingdom of heaven. And we will all continue to enjoy such moments now and in a future that has no end. That part is guaranteed, but we can also hope, based on the faith kindled by such moments, that we will continue to act in such a way that the intervening moments of missteps and being out of the right relationship with God will become less frequent. How can we help each other to do that?
Praise for Psychedelic Christianity
“… a breath of fresh air at a time when many folks are losing their religion. The book offers bold and refreshing takes on age-old questions in a modern context. … I highly recommend this book for believers, non-believers, and those that are undecided. The author has built a large tent for all of us to be together in peace.”
—Bruce Olav Solheim, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History, Playwright, Citrus College
“This book deepened my understanding of the kingdom Jesus spoke of; it deepened my faith. My own experiences of ‘spiritual ecstasy’ have come through REALLY good music and nature. It was fascinating to read how Jack Call’s psychedelic experiences have given him deeply beautiful spiritual insights. I hated to have the book end. I know I will read it again.”
—Barbara Kremins, Registered Nurse, retired
“Written with humor, clear language, and a practical approach to the spiritual journey, Psychedelic Christianity does its readers a great service by reflecting on what many of us have probably thought or wondered, but few of us have the context and rigor to evaluate on our own.”
—Michael Dennis, Moderator, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles
“A highly trained philosopher, Jack Call (Ph.D., Claremont) takes great care to present clear and convincing arguments, and as someone who has walked the walk, speaks with authority about both psychedelic and religious experience. One of the aims of this book is to show how Christianity, how its system of archetypes that constitutes its intelligible framework, can work toward healing the spiritually blind, so that they many now see the Kingdom of Heaven that has been here all along.”
—Kurt Smith, Ph. D., Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
“Jack Call’s Psychedelic Christianity offers readers a kaleidoscope of profoundly personal experience and emergent theology — hoping for ‘glorious joy’ in life after life while exploring this life, focusing on human desire for moral, sensual and intellectual beauty in the here and now. Not ‘an aging hippie,’ Call shoots from the hip; he is both self-reflective and frankly straightforward in opinion (e.g. opposing politicized Christianity). Scripture is generously cited.”
—Deanna Wilcox, Executive Director, Kids-Net LA, Inc., a non-profit in service to young foster children
“Psychedelic Christianity is an entertaining and lucid evaluation of the usefulness of hallucinogens in achieving insight into key questions that underlie a spiritual quest. These include our relationship to a higher deity and what is expected of us. The argument leads us to examine the ultimate question concerning the goal of existence. Jack Call argues that while this goal has already been reached, it is not the end of the road. All in all, a fresh examination of the overlap between substance-induced spiritual experiences and Christian teachings, and the revelations that one may have on the other. Psychedelic Christianity is an innovative and provocative read that feeds the inquiring mind.”
—Rick Brown, Ph.D., Psychology Dept., Citrus College
About the Author
Janitor and President of the Institute for the Advancement of Psychedelic Christianity, Jack Call was a professor of philosophy at Citrus College in Southern California for 19 years. He has published essays on the relations between philosophy, religion and social science in The National Social Science Journal. He also authored the entry, “Cloning Human Beings,” in The Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties. Earlier in his life he was a clergyman in a psychedelic church for six years, a period he wrote about in two previous books, The Latest Roundup and The Long Watch (currently out of print). He has a PhD in Philosophy from Claremont Graduate University.