Biblical doctrines Trials and temptations worldview

Return to Paganism?

Abortion1In the Greco-Roman world the use of ‘medicine men’ (pharmakai) was common for the poisoning of your political opponents, inducement of paranormal experiences and obtaining toxic herbs to induce abortions.

Poisonous herbs were used to induce abortions. Such a practice, in part, led to the downfall of the Roman Empire

“Abortion may not have been easy or safe for a woman in ancient times, but it was nevertheless widely practiced… The declines in population of the Roman Empire at the time of Augustus and again after Hadrian were probably due in part to such action by both rich and poor.” — Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church (1982)

Abortion was not the only problem that led to the downfall of Rome, but also infanticide. Romans who didn’t want a child would place it on the walls of the city and at night the child would be devoured by any passing beast that might be looking for a meal. With 1 million unborn humans aborted each year in the United Sates of America and 1 hundred thousand per year in Australia I’d say the current so-called enlightened Western liberal democracies are worse than the old pagan Roman republic. Paganism is back in full force.

No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft [pharmakeia], hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  Galatians 5:19-21

Those who commit such heinous acts cannot inherit the kingdom of God. They cannot be saved; they cannot be redeemed from Hell, unless they repent.

In Paul’s list of the works of the flesh he included the Greek word pharmakeia. The KJV translators translated ‘pharmakeia’ as ‘witchcraft,’ but could have also been translated as ‘sorcery.’

Pharmakeia is a form of the Koine Greek root from which we ultimately get our English words ‘pharmacy,’ ‘pharmacist,’ and ‘pharmaceutical.’ The Greek word pharmakeus is a sorcerer and uses medication (‘pharmacy’). Thus pharmakeia means having to do with the use of medicine, drugs or spells, which is understood to be closely allied to sorcery. The Apostle Paul was not speaking of what you might typically imagine as witches and witchcraft but of medicine men and women who practiced their ‘science’ with mind and body altering drugs. Pharmakeia connects drug addiction with sorcery.

“Pharmakeia is a term best translated as ‘medicine’ in the sense that a North American Indian medicine man makes medicine… Paul’s usage [Galatians 5:20] cannot be restricted to abortion, but the term he chose is comprehensive enough to include the use of abortifacient drugs.” — Prof. J.T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (1970)

Modern use of pharmakeia once again has become more like sorcery. Many forms of sorcery are practiced today, which include contraceptive drugs to stop ovulation, or drugs used to kill the zygote (the just fertilized egg) as with abortifacients, the RU-486 abortion pill, for example; or psychostimulants, like Esctasy; or many forms of other illicit drugs like methamphetamines, even marijuana.


This modern trend seems to characterise a return to the paganism of the Romans. It is also worth noting that because king Saul rebelled against God equated his actions with witchcraft or sorcery and conjuring a vision, which resulted in him losing the kingdom.

 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft [divination], and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king. 1 Samuel 15:23

So for Christians to condone or use these types of drugs, they are condoning or using sorcery, which is an abomination to God.

By John Gideon Hartnett

Dr John G. Hartnett is an Australian physicist and cosmologist, and a Christian with a biblical creationist worldview. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Physics from The University of Western Australia, W.A., Australia. He was an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, with rank of Associate Professor. Now he is retired. He has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters and conference proceedings.