This post continues a four-part interview with arguably the most controversial contemporary charismatic minister, John Crowder. It’s worth noting that Crowder’s ministry has evolved since 2008, and that he’s recently released two new books reflecting this: Mystical Union & Seven Spirits Burning. Here we talk about all the DRUG references…
Mike: I totally get the idea of redeeming drug culture for Jesus and ministering to those within it with a ‘tokin’ the Ghost’ motif. And I’m *also* fine with consenting adults – whether they have such a drug background or not – participating in worship celebrations where Jehovah-juana and Godka are in fresh supply. We’re free in Christ, y’know? But I have a question: What about the children? On the YouTube videos I see kids participating in your meetings, which is great as far as it goes – as we’vd discussed. But when you pass spiritual joints to little kids (like I saw on one of Ben’s India videos), don’t you think that *could* be sending them the wrong messages, like that it’s a good idea to start smoking stuff?
John: This is a valid question, Mike, and has been asked before. I think the example you gave (re: Ben in India) is a bit moot though: the person in the video simply looked like a child, but it was actually a crippled person with no legs, who really did need a toke of the Ghost considering the circumstances!
Mike: I’m not sure we’re talking about the same video, John. I mean this one, at around 5 minutes in. It sure looks like a little girl to me [Alas, in 2011, this original video appears to be gone]:
John: You first have to understand something about what we are doing here before we tackle the subject of children. To the pure all things are pure. I am not “pretending” to smoke marijuana, I am REALLY getting blasted on the Holy Spirit by faith. I am not “pretending” to inject heroine, I am REALLY being infused by God’s presence. Obviously, I know the package is offensive, and to say this is not entirely intentional would be a lie. But you see, we are not trying to copy a worldly experience. We are offering the “real thing” which are the supernatural pleasures of Jesus Christ. Joy unspeakable (not humanly utterable).
One of your bloggers (Micah) made a great point with which I fully agree, and in fact I preach this very point vehemently:
“What disturbs me is the repackaging of the world, and it’s way as Christ in order to keep youth interested. I guess my question is, What did Christ have to offer? Did he offer the same culture and “ways of the world” repackaged and relabeled? Or did he offer an entirely new way of life, and an entirely new way of looking at and interacting with the world around us?
I also offer a challenge to the idea that there is anything wrong with going out dancing, or enjoying a glass of wine, and wonder why we would feel the need to try and co-opt and replace those things with a “Get high on Jesus” T-Shirt? If we cease to look at the world around us as something that we need to flee, and the Church as a way to cloister ourselves, but look at everything and everyone as an opportunity to experience and express Christ.. well I wonder if this would even happen?”
I think we are all sick of this repackaging nonsense. This is why I can’t stand Christian bookstores with all their duplicated Jesus paraphernalia knock-offs. We are on the same side on this one, so hold the friendly fire. I’ve had enough of “Let’s make our worship band sound like Nirvana” – rather than “Let’s create a whole new genre of music because the Creator lives inside of us!” We need to create, rather than to repackage. We need to set the standard, rather than duplicate. But is it possible that drug culture has simply “repackaged” something that originally belonged to the church? I am talking about recovering true, authentic experience – not imitating the counterfeit. Drugs imitate and copy the trance experiences of the apostles and the ecstasies of the mystics. They attempt to substitute deep spiritual and emotional needs for interior (and exterior) pleasure. John Piper is completely right that we are “created for holy pleasure.” In getting “whacked up,” am simply living out his theology to the furthest possible extreme. Holy joy is not a “repackaged” version of Prozak. The opposite is true. The issue here is precedence. Prozac is counterfeiting divine joy. Crack is already counterfeiting the bliss of the cross. Jesus is not the duplicator. It is satan/the world/the bad guys who are already trying to repackage the spiritual experience with their naughty schemes (shame on them). If you taste the real deal, you will not want the artificial substitute. Furthermore, we are not comparing God to drugs. The world has already made this comparison by presuming that a drugged lifestyle has more immediate pleasure than what is afforded by the Living God. I am simply recovering what was stolen.
Mike: I can follow what you’re saying here…I think…even though I’d still prefer to speak from the relatively original language & matrix developed for divine intoxication by the Christian mystical tradition rather than the drug culture – how un-missional of me? But hey, we’ll talk about that more on Wednesday, our final slated discussion day. For now I’ll bring it back to the children.
I mean, adults with discernment can tell the difference between the real and the counterfeit, right, but I’m a little worried that little kids (especially ones in other countries) might not know any better and get the wrong idea and start drinking and doing drugs and stuff, at an even earlier age than they normally might. Please give me your take on this – especially if you think I’m way off-base.
John: Let’s talk the issue of children. Kids are going to learn about drugs sooner than later; better at home than on the streets. But furthermore, what if we give them the “real deal” first, so that they are not tempted by the substitute? What if our kids learn to have an interior satisfaction on the pleasures of God, before drugs ever become a shadowy temptation? What if kids taste the presence of the real Holy Spirit before the duplicate ever comes along? What if they learn about visionary experiences before they are ever tempted by hallucinogens?
Whaddaya think parents, would-be Dr. Phils, Dr. Spocks, Dr. Dobsons? Will teaching your kids to savor the shekinah keep ’em away from coke and meth? And what does it mean to be a divine original in a world of spiritual copycats? More tomorrow!