Pharmacy Music

The following article is from Sword & Trowel, Issue 1, 2011, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England:

In reviewing the sins of the flesh (in Galatians 5:19-21) the apostle mentions witchcraft, often today translated sorcery. He actually uses a word which we have in English, although for us it has a much nobler meaning.

The Greek word is a form of our word ‘pharmacy.’ Obviously, no Bible translation would use this term, because for us it denotes a healing profession, not a sin of the flesh. So in what way were the sorcerers and witches of olden times involved in pharmacy?

For them, a large field of expertise was the preparation of drugs and potions with mood-altering, consciousness-altering properties; now known as psychoactive, psychotropic drugs. They prepared hallucinogens, opiates and aphrodisiacs both to heighten and suppress emotions. Some were designed to dull the senses and banish care; to disengage from the world in order to float along in sublime indifference and peace. More commonly (the experts tell us) they prepared euphoric drugs to send people soaring into ecstatic dreams and trances, or to amplify love or deepen hatred. In Galatians 5 ‘witchcraft’ refers to shamanistic pharmacy.

Opium (weaker in those times) was used both for pain relief and euphoria. It as the ancient Sumerian ‘joy plant.’ Cannabis was a very well-known hallucinogen. Jimson weed also was in use as a fantasy producer.

To seek these artificial sensations is listed as a work or sin of the flesh: something base, carnal and injurious. The imbiber effectively says -- ‘I don’t want to be a human being. I don’t want my mind to be in charge. I don’t like rationality. I don’t want responsibility. I want exciting sensations, or detachment from reality.’
All this is sought today to a greater degree using even more powerful versions of these drugs. But the level of mood tampering attainable by first-century people was of the same order as that which may be achieved by alcohol, and by heavy, relentless beat music. Amplifiers, tweeters, and woofers now produce the high-decibel excitement and compelling power of rock, securing strong emotional effects. Tremendous skill goes into the production of fascinating, irresistible band arrangements designed to get hold of the emotions and carry listeners along. but it is mood-manipulating ‘pharmacy.’

Hearers may take no potion, but they succumb to sensations, getting outside themselves, and either dulling or exciting the mind. Many come to depend on it for well-being.

Are we hooked on ‘pharmacy’ music? Is the mood-affecting rhythm vital for us? Is it so important to us that we overlook the lyrics that are sensual, anti-moral and anti-God, little realising that the musical vehicle is tampering with the mind, bringing us under addictive power, and becoming our chosen alternative to joy derived from the Holy Spirit?

Does not the apostle also say in 1 Corinthians 6:12, ‘All things are lawful unto me ... but I will not be brought under the power of any’?


Distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist Information Service, an e-mail listing for Fundamental Baptists and other fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. OUR GOAL IN THIS PARTICULAR ASPECT OF OUR MINISTRY IS NOT DEVOTIONAL BUT IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION TO ASSIST PREACHERS IN THE PROTECTION OF THE CHURCHES IN THIS APOSTATE HOUR. This material is sent only to those who personally subscribe to the list. If somehow you have subscribed unintentionally, following are the instructions for removal. The Fundamental Baptist Information Service mailing list is automated. To SUBSCRIBE, go to . TO UNSUBSCRIBE OR CHANGE ADDRESSES, go to the very bottom of any email received from us and click "Manage My Subscription." If you have any trouble with this, please let us know. We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. Some of the articles are from O Timothy magazine, which is in its 28th year of publication. Way of Life publishes many helpful books. The catalog is located at the web site: Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061. 866-295-4143, We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications, but only from those who are. OFFERINGS can be made at PAYPAL offerings can be made to

WAY OF LIFE LITERATURE SHARING POLICY: Way of Life’s content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. These are sharable. Other items we sell to help fund our very expensive literature, video, and foreign church planting ministry. These are not sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, video presentations, O Timothy magazine, and the hundreds of Fundamental Baptist Information Service (FBIS) articles. You are free to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and redistributed are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, the print and eBook editions of our books, etc. These items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we need the income from the sale of these to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy.