"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Judging Christians Who Practice Yoga as Theologically Incompetent Reveals a Bias

A recent essay by the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., warned Christians that yoga is contradictory to Christianity. Pastor Mark Discroll went even further.

"Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic," Driscoll said. "If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you're signing up for a little demon class."

Mohler received heavy criticism for his article calling yoga "contradictory" to Christianity. He responded to all the letters, emails and rebutal editorials by pointing out the following:

(1). Not one protest against his article contained a "theological" argument.
(2). More than 90% of the protests came from women.
(3). Those who protested are replacing Christianity with a religion of their own invention.
(4). Women who argue for yoga have no reference to "biblical Christianity."
(5). The evangelical world is in "worse shape" than he ever thought.

Even a casual attempt at research would have caused both Mohler and Driscoll to find websites such as Holy Yoga, which places their doctrinal statement on the front page. Under a detailed confession regarding the person of Jesus Christ, Holy Yoga is as theologically orthodox, if not more, than the Abstract of Principles of Southern Theological Seminary.

There are two main issues with Mohler's and Driscoll's comments about yoga. First, the spirit in which the comments are conveyed seems haughty. It sounds as if Mohler and Driscoll are saying those who oppose their statements against yoga are theologically incompetent. One of the tell-tales signs of spiritual arrogancy and an unhealthy debate is for one side to act as if the other side has no ability to counter one's arguments. Second, Mohler and Driscoll seem to be confusing a cultural bias with a theological argument. Instead of investigating what Christians who practice yoga actually believe, there is an assumption that Christians who practice yoga can't believe correctly.

One of these days we will realize that culture evolves, civilization's habits change, and peoples' perspectives alter over time. It used to be that culture considered fat people rich, prosperous and educated because people with access to an abundance of food became  fat and were the elite of soceity. Now, culture often discriminates against fat people, believing them to be inferior to the elite of society. Those kind of judgments are wrong. In my opinion we Southern Baptists should be very careful about judging a fellow believer who practices yoga by assuming they aren't theologically sound. It would akin to judging a fat Southern Baptist pastor as theologically unsound before we ask him what he believes.

The best way to discover whether or not Christians who practice yoga are involved in a "dangerous" practice or participating in a "demon class" is to ask the yoga participants what they believe about Jesus Christ. Any judgment against Christians practicing yoga before this happens is at best premature or at worst reveals some sort of cultural bias.

134 comments:

Thy Peace said...

This post is very personal to my life. Why? I am a Christian (former Hindu) who happens to practice Iyengar Yoga. I practice yoga at least twice a week with my yoga instructor. My main motivations for practicing yoga is for health issues that have been tremendously helped by yoga.

There are two parts to yoga. One is the physical exercises and other part is meditation. In Iyengar yoga the meditation comes at the end and it is only undertaken by people who have mastered the body first.

But I do practice Christian meditation and sometimes this also called yoga by some.

What are the demonic things I do in this meditation?

As I go through my daily routine (walking, working and so on) I say a short prayer of St. Francis.

My God and my all.

This short prayer (also called a mantra in hindu texts) centers me in Christ. Wherever I am.

I am known to say this even in my dreams.

I also do a form of meditation. This involves reciting the prayer of St. Francis s-l-o-w-l-y in my mind one word at a time, as a drop of water falling into a pond.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon:
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope
where there is darkness, light
where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


I understand the above form of meditation goes against the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ against mere repetitions of prayer.

So these are the demonic things I do, while being centered in Christ.

Wade Burleson said...

Well said Thy Peace.

Well said.

Anonymous said...

A description of 'repetitive prayer' from Revelation:

8 . . . "Day and night they do not stop exclaiming:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, Who was, and Who is, and Who is to come."

Steven Stark said...

An MSNBC article says that he objects to "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine."

I guess that means that in addition to yoga, people should also give up fasting, preaching, praying, thinking, singing, going to church, helping others, etc. etc.


Thy Peace, perhaps we are a bit different in our theological beliefs, but I am not surprised that you are a meditator because of the spirit in which you usually communicate. Meditation, though I am not very accomplished at it, has changed my life for the better. In fact, meditation is really, really paying attention to life - that's one simple way of describing it. It's a partial "waking up" from the sleep-walk that we all fall into in our daily lives.

I aspire to try yoga someday. Sounds wonderful.

Cheryl Schatz said...

I do meditation all the time. But my meditation is solely on reading through and meditating on the Scripture. I am going through the book of Romans right now and mulling over and meditating on each phrase and how it relates to what Paul has already said or will say in a few verses. Meditating on God's Word causes me to find peace and spiritual growth through the washing of the water of the Word. This is Christian meditation that is found in the Scriptures. It is a means of grace that God has designed for us. But are "Christian" mantras a means of grace given by God? There are many who had a strong walk with God but who found themselves slowly drawn towards spiritual practices in common with non-Christian religions through the door way of yoga. For them it is not how they started, but how they will finish. For many who start these practices will end pulled away from the pure Word of God and firmly planted in spirituality that takes them away through subtle deception that causes compromise.

Our ministry sells a DVD called Yoga Uncoiled from East to West available at http://mmoutreach.org/order_macgregor_video.htm I would encourage every one who thinks that the practice of yoga meditation is compatible with Christianity to be willing to be challenged by watching this DVD to see what goes on behind the veil. It is an act of love to warn our brothers in Christ that there is subtle deception out there disguised as Christian spirituality.

Christiane said...

I have to smile when I read this post.
I once commented to another blogger on 'imonk' who had studied about meditation and after viewing the film 'Into Great Silence', saw no point at all in any of it for Christian people.
Thy Peace has given me another idea to include in my original remarks to that man:


"In all your ‘studies’, did you ever ask to visit a monastery?
And to stay there for a while? You can do this, you know. Maybe you didn’t know.

This is an important question.

There is in Christianity that which cannot be contacted by simply reading or hearing. It must be lived deeply over time for it’s effect to be absorbed. For some, the background of silence is what is needed for the full impact of the Words of Christ to be experienced. These are the men and women that God ‘calls’ into the quiet. They understand what you may not know.

In the Gospel of St. Mark we find this: ‘And He saith unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.’

The ‘deep silence’ may not be for everyone, no.

But there is a part of everyone that needs, at times, to ‘come away, and rest for a while’ because the world’s demands have drowned out the ‘quiet still Voice’ of the Lord.

A monastery?
Or the quiet of camping in the woods ‘by the still waters’ ?
Silent sailing at night out in the deep under the stars?
Or a steaming cup of coffee at four-thirty in the morning, before the household awakens, with a candle lit for prayer, instead of the electric lights?

We all have our mini- versions of the cloister, if we think about it . . . . "


And I would now like to add to my 'mini-cloister' list:
"A LYENGAR YOGA CLASS "
Thank you, THY PEACE :)

Strider said...

One of my college professors was a real Renaissance man. He knew about EVERYTHING. He had studied yoga and meditation. He said that he stopped one day because after meditating he stood before a class and could not produce the simplest calculation. His mind was blank- which was the goal of the yoga he was studying. In eastern religions the goal is to empty the mind. In Christianity the goal is to fill it with Christ. Yoga is not the issue. The real issue is what is being meditated on. The critics should stop being lazy and get the facts on what Christians are actually studying instead of 'demonizing' them!

Kristen said...

I firmly believe that what matters is Who we are worshiping, not the form that worship takes. When God made a covenant with Abraham, it was done in the form of covenant-making as it existed in Abraham's time. God didn't reject the form as a "pagan" practice. Abraham divided the animals in half, and God passed between them. His power filled the form of Abraham's ceremony.

I think what matters is not whether we say a mantra, but what the focus of the mantra is, and Who we are focusing on when we say it. It is not whether we do yoga, but why we do it, that matters. I think this is a Scriptural principle, particularly in the New Testament. The external form takes a back seat to the internal power. As long as the practice is not inherently sinful, harmful to ourselves or others, we are free to turn it to the glory of God.

Anonymous said...

What's ironic is that Dr. Mohler admits that the evangelical world is "worse shape."

But don't most evangelicals who practice yoga, do it in order to get in or stay in shape?

Gene S said...

The stinkers!!!!

First they turned Halloween into a "thing of the devil." Now they are taking on Yoga.

What's next---don't you mess with Old St. Nick or the great pumpkin!!!

Mohler is a LLH = "Lightweight Looking for a Headline" in my opinion.

Just think--a few weeks ago he was awing new students with his "over the top" personal library at his little SBTS President's Mansion and saying Time Magazine considered him a "leading theologian."

Mohler, et al, "better watch out / better not shout / Santa Clause is coming to town!!!"

Lydia said...

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-meaning-of-yoga-a-conversation-with-stephanie-syman-and-dough-groothius/

Mohler interviews Philosophy prof at Denver seminary, Doug Groothius about yoga. Groothius happens to be an egalitarian and married to Rebecca Groothius who edited Complimentary without Hierarchy...the response to RBMW.

Jack Maddox said...

I think Yoga is ok. He is hard to understand sometime and his green pointy ears are very strange, but that little guy can hold his own with any Sith Lord in the Empire! Another thing I like about Yoga is...oh...wait...woops....my bad!

Lydia said...

Just a couple of observations:

1. Many want to "Christianize" things they like such as Yoga. This can be confusing and deceptive if we are not careful.

2. I agree with Mohler about Yoga and the dangers. I also agree with what Cheryl wrote that folks can easily be lured in deeper without realizing it. It would be less confusing if it is just "special stretching" to call it something else. I, personally like the stretching positions and practice them but it has NOTHING to do with my mind. It is strictly a physical exercise.

Keep Matt 12 in "mind" when emptying the mind:

43"When an evil[b] spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation."

Anonymous said...

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Meaning, though Mohler and Driscoll are "mistaken about a great many things" (movie quote), they are right about Yoga. "Haughtiness" is in the eye of the beholder, and it is NOT haughty to cite the authority of the Word of God on dangerous spiritual practices. I'll cite comments here that support this shortly.

"Theologically orthodox" is something even Satan can claim. But knowing and doing are two different things. People don't always think through what they believe, and if they did in this case, they'd see that Yoga is incompatible with the core truth of the Gospel. God "will not share [His] glory with another", even if that "other" appears to be benign or even "spiritual". So we cannot merely ask practitioners of Yoga what they believe about Jesus.

Jesus is not to be added to one's existing religion, any more than He is to be diminished or demoted; one error is as great as the other. Remember also that "... Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness." (2 Cor. 11:14-15). If Yoga were just a physical exercise or a practice beneficial to the Christian, one would hardly need a special name for it. But if one studies the roots and goals of Yoga, one sees that it opposes the teachings of Jesus.

Now for the dangers. A comment above says, "... the meditation comes at the end and it is only undertaken by people who have mastered the body first". Red flag! "Mastering the body" is required for what reason? Sure, the NT says we must control our physical body and corral its cravings, but that is not what "mastering the body" means in Yoga. It means achieving a certain level, not unlike the Gnostic belief in levels of spirituality.

Secondly, there is no "Christian" meditation beyond studying and thinking about the teachings of God in the scriptures. Look at the Psalms-- "I meditate ON YOUR LAW" is repeated often. It does not involve emptying the mind by chanting a mantra; this is clearly pagan religious practice, and Jesus specifically warned against "useless repetitions". "What are the demonic things" in yoga? Is Satan supposed to hold up a sign, or would he be more subtle? It matters not WHY the mind is emptied but THAT it is emptied. We are to FILL our minds with "the mind of Christ", and that comes through "the renewing of your mind". Paul wrote that "whatever is true, whatever is noble... THINK about such things".

I say all this out of the most grave concern for all who promote Yoga or any of the mysticism inflitrating the church today. This level of failure to discern is alarming. The Christian is to hold tightly to two anchors: truth and love. One without the other is very dangerous, because truth alone is cold and lifeless, while love alone is driven by every wind of doctrine (and make no mistake, Yoga etc. are doctrines). But put them together and the gates of hell cannot prevail against us.

Be sure to immerse yourselves in scripture and note that when we have the Spirit indwelling us, no "steps" are needed to reach the Holy of Holies. If a Christian is feeling "unspiritual" (or, hypocrically judging others as such), let them examine whether they have been spiritually unfaithful and gone after other gods.

Anon TK421

Anonymous said...

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Meaning, though Mohler and Driscoll are "mistaken about a great many things" (movie quote), they are right about Yoga. "Haughtiness" is in the eye of the beholder, and it is NOT haughty to cite the authority of the Word of God on dangerous spiritual practices. I'll cite comments here that support this shortly.

"Theologically orthodox" is something even Satan can claim. But knowing and doing are two different things. People don't always think through what they believe, and if they did in this case, they'd see that Yoga is incompatible with the core truth of the Gospel. God "will not share [His] glory with another", even if that "other" appears to be benign or even "spiritual". So we cannot merely ask practitioners of Yoga what they believe about Jesus.

Jesus is not to be added to one's existing religion, any more than He is to be diminished or demoted; one error is as great as the other. Remember also that "... Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness." (2 Cor. 11:14-15). If Yoga were just a physical exercise or a practice beneficial to the Christian, one would hardly need a special name for it. But if one studies the roots and goals of Yoga, one sees that it opposes the teachings of Jesus.

(continued...)

Anonymous said...

(...continued)

Now for the dangers. A comment above says, "... the meditation comes at the end and it is only undertaken by people who have mastered the body first". Red flag! "Mastering the body" is required for what reason? Sure, the NT says we must control our physical body and corral its cravings, but that is not what "mastering the body" means in Yoga. It means achieving a certain level, not unlike the Gnostic belief in levels of spirituality.

Secondly, there is no "Christian" meditation beyond studying and thinking about the teachings of God in the scriptures. Look at the Psalms-- "I meditate ON YOUR LAW" is repeated often. It does not involve emptying the mind by chanting a mantra; this is clearly pagan religious practice, and Jesus specifically warned against "useless repetitions". "What are the demonic things" in yoga? Is Satan supposed to hold up a sign, or would he be more subtle? It matters not WHY the mind is emptied but THAT it is emptied. We are to FILL our minds with "the mind of Christ", and that comes through "the renewing of your mind". Paul wrote that "whatever is true, whatever is noble... THINK about such things".

I say all this out of the most grave concern for all who promote Yoga or any of the mysticism inflitrating the church today. This level of failure to discern is alarming. The Christian is to hold tightly to two anchors: truth and love. One without the other is very dangerous, because truth alone is cold and lifeless, while love alone is driven by every wind of doctrine (and make no mistake, Yoga etc. are doctrines). But put them together and the gates of hell cannot prevail against us.

Be sure to immerse yourselves in scripture and note that when we have the Spirit indwelling us, no "steps" are needed to reach the Holy of Holies. If a Christian is feeling "unspiritual" (or, hypocrically judging others as such), let them examine whether they have been spiritually unfaithful and gone after other gods.

Anon TK421

Bob Cleveland said...

In "The Church's One Foundation",we sing about this "mystic sweet communion....". I certainly hope all this doesn't cause a re-think of all that....

:)

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Absurd! Trying to find God through any means other than Christ is absurd and unbiblical. The Holy Spirit guides this process, not some man-made bodily alignment process. Yoga, or Labyrinths for that matter serve no purpose but to replace the Spirit with an idol. Would better to bang ones head against a brick wall to a bloody nub and find God than all this nonsense.

Religion in the physical, Wade, is a sad thing to be teaching your followers. You lead them to hell and not to Christ. Meditation on self is for the eternally damned. That is what they will do for eternity. Prayer and obedience to Christ is for the redeemed.

You're on a roll...

Anonymous said...

Mind-emptying meditation works for all religions:
sound of silence

Mind-emptying meditation is a well-known method of self-hypnosis:
self-hypnosis

Even Satan can heal and work miracles. But do we actually believe that God has withheld the best and most direct path to physical and spiritual health from us, by utterly failing to even hint at them in the pages of scripture? (remember not to try lifting a few proof texts out of context)

Think about it! ;-|

Anon TK421

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Now that OU is back on track to go to the Big 12 game you must really be bored if this is all you can come up with. Please find better things to complain about in the SBC. I'm sure they are out there if you look real hard.

John Wallace said...

It seems that those promoting yoga in the West are taking Eastern terms, like mantra, and assigning completely new meanings to them? Al Mohler is raising a legitimate concern based on the emails he has received and I believe you are over generalizing his argument. He suggests that those who engage in the exercises in a Christian context shouldn't call it "yoga," lest they promote confusion of Christian meditation with Hindu meditation. Hindu meditation is designed to empty the mind of external sources of knowledge so that one can find enlightenment from within. Christian meditation focuses the mind on the Word of God that the Holy Spirit might use it to transform our thoughts and actions. I don't doubt that there are Christians who promote the latter and package it as "Christian yoga." The question is: Should they call it "yoga"? Whether you agree or disagree, I think there's a legitimate discussion here.

Wade Burleson said...

John,

Tthose promoting yoga in the West are taking Eastern terms, like mantra, and assigning completely new meanings to them ..."

Uh hmm.

It's a little like taking the Arabic word "Allah," which means God, and redefining it to mean "The Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Not necessarily wrong if, like many said above, who is being worshipped is the only Savior given among men.

Wade Burleson said...

Kevin Crowder,

You are missing the point by creating a straw man. No Christian who practices yoga is "Trying to find God through any means other than Christ." We all would agree that to do so would be unbiblical.

The issue is, plain and simple, "Can a genuine Christian who has come to know God through Jesus Christ, the only Savior given to sinners, practice yoga?"

Mohler and Driscoll say "no" -- or if one does "call it something else."

I say there's nothing wrong with taking the terms that lost people are familiar with, redefining them, and teaching them about Jesus Christ -- which after a quick examination of a few Christian yoga sites is what these Christians are doing.

Wade Burleson said...

Off on a staff retreat.

Everyone meditate over what you have written before you stretch out your finger and punch "Enter."

Smile.

Darby Livingston said...

Wade,

I think their point is that Yoga is not an amorphous thing left open for each practitioner to fill in the gaps. It came from somewhere. Mohler is arguing that it is an alternative gospel that is incompatible with a solid Christian theology.

Those who strip down Yoga of its spiritual dimension in order to make it compatible with the gospel are not really practicing Yoga anymore. They're just doing some exercises. This is the danger of a consumer culture that feels every right to pick and choose certain elements of every religion and customize it to one's own liking.

Anonymous said...

"This is the danger of a consumer culture that feels every right to pick and choose certain elements of every religion and customize it to one's own liking."

Exactly. This is what Augustine did in renaming the statues of pagan gods into Christian "saints". This is what the reformers did when they merely renamed the priest into the pastor, sacraments into ordinances, etc.

Check out this link: interview with a zen master. How can any Christian think that it is a trivial thing to adopt all the terminology and many of the practices of this obvious pagan religion and sanctify it with Christianese? A rose by any other name...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I wrote Augustine when I meant to write Constantine.

Anonymous said...

"Everyone meditate over what you have written before you stretch out your finger and punch "Enter.""

How can we meditate over what we've written when we aren't even supposed to meditate on what GOD has written?

Anonymous said...

A "staff retreat"... yes, retreat! You are being defeated by scripture and the real Holy Spirit! Let the "generals" rethink their strategy and consider surrendering to God and renouncing this false king.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I like Yoga, and don't know what all the fuss is about. Sure, I don't think he got enough credit for his defensive skills behind the plate, and his sayings like "it ain't over til it's over" show he is not a great philosopher or theologan, but you people need to get off his back!

I'm all for Yoga!

Darrell said...

Strider Said:

" In eastern religions the goal is to empty the mind. In Christianity the goal is to fill it with Christ."

AMEN! so few words, so much truth.

Why do people still give credibility to Mohler? I gave up on that years ago. Education and a quick mind to do not equal wisdom.

Anonymous said...

If two people do yoga and practice it exactly the same, can they say that one is for the purpose of emptying the mind while the other is for filling it? If both chant a sound and reach the same kind of "enlightenment", can one say that the chanting emptied their mind while the other says it filled their mind?

Doublespeak!

Lydia said...

"It's a little like taking the Arabic word "Allah," which means God, and redefining it to mean "The Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Actually, that is a big problem. Lots of people, even professing Christians, do think it is the same god as the God of Abraham.

Words mean things and when they lose or take on variations of their meaning, confusion reigns.

So when immature believers see the Word "yoga" approved by other believers, they think it is ok. After all, it is "spiritual".

It is not that different than when the mega church bookstore sells Rob Bell or Joel Osteen books. That communicates approval of their doctrines.

I don't think Mohler made a good case in his original article. He does not make distinctions and only later admitted that if they are simply stretching, it is not Yoga as Yoga is defined.

Jonquil said...

Strider: " In eastern religions the goal is to empty the mind. In Christianity the goal is to fill it with Christ."

I was raised Society of Friends. They attempt to empty the mind every Meeting precisely in order that it may be filled with God; perhaps in that complete silence can we listen fully. There is a long, long Christian tradition of trying to empty out the self so that there is room for God to come in.

It frustrates me when ancient Christian practicess are called unholy merely because other religions share them. Should we give up praying next?

Wade Burleson said...

Lydia,

"Words mean things and when they lose or take on variations of their meaning, confusion reigns."

I don't disagree. That's why I think those in a Christian yoga class are instructed about Christ. That which I resist is a general denunciation of all Christians practicing yoga without the caveat that some Christians could be meditating and filling their minds with the good news of Jesus Christ while stretching and call it Holy Yoga.

:)

Bill said...

The problem is with the word Yoga. What does it mean? Obviously it means different things. There certainly could be some forms of yoga that are not healthy for Christians. Other forms, called Yoga for simplicity, are simply a series of stretches and exercises. Can a Christian do that type of yoga? Or does the word Yoga taint the very practice?

The same applies to martial arts. Some forms of MA employ spiritual and meditative aspects which would no doubt be unhealthy for Christians. But does that mean Christians cannot learn how to disarm an attacker or flip some guy over their shoulder?

To come out and say that Yoga, or MA or ( ) is incompatible with Christianity is too simplistic.

Any physical activity can be coupled with a spiritual or religious component. By the same token those physical activities can be practiced without the spiritual or religious component.

We don't object to non-Christians eating bread and drinking wine do we, even though we perform that activity as part of a religious observance.

Bill said...

It is also interesting that Mark Driscoll is a huge fan of Mixed Martial Arts, to the point of suggesting that all real Christian men are fans of MMA.

John Wylie said...

Lydia,

I appreciate your comments about Allah not being the God of Abraham. I got accused of "splitting legalist hairs" last week when I made the same statement. Allah is a reinvented version of a tribal moon god, the very fact that Isalm did not come around until somewhere around 600 AD should give people a clue to this fact.

Anonymous said...

Would those of you who see nothing wrong or harmful with "Christian yoga" explain what it does that cannot be achieved any other way?

Are practitioners of "Christian yoga" more enlightened than non-practitioners? More spiritual? More loving?

believer333 said...

Its a good idea to remember that most people who practice yoga are doing so purely for the physical benefits. They do not meditate on anything other than keeping their body in the proper position for as long as they can without hurting themselves.

There are physical benefits to stretching of various kinds. The yoga routines do have good stretches. IMO the best way to approach it is to divorce the meditation concept from the routine altogether. Next best is to replace them with a prayer time in general with the Lord. Have a good long chat with God. I think anything beyond that is not the best though it still may be OK to recite a prayer I don't think its the best thing to do. Having been raised as Catholic I now do not see any great benefit to reciting rosaries or repeating saints prayers. Best to say your own from your heart.

Bottom line is to NOT repeat the spiritual recitations of the yoga routines even if you are aiming them differently.

Steven Stark said...

I have read a lot of comments that reference "emptying the mind". Meditation is about emptying the mind of distractions - of compulsive thinking.

"What's for lunch?" "I have to remember to pick up the cleaning" "I can't believe she wrote that!"

Replaying argument in our heads, inventing fantasy arguments, thinking of all the things we have to do, trying to pursue some little chemical pleasure (candy, rest, complimenting oneself) etc. etc. etc. etc.

Meditation is about trying to wake up to life, rather than sleep-walking through much of it driven by urges which lie below the surface of our mindfulness.

Rex Ray said...

As the song leader started a repetitious new song, I overheard an elderly woman say, “Here we go with another little ditty.”

The leader said, “Just turn your mind off.”


Is this type of church singing of almost chanting a type of yoga?

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what the zen master said in that link above. Turn off the mind from its normal activity.

But if yoga is tied in any way to a Christian's spirituality, it is much more than mere exercise, and it is being used as an elitist path to "enlightenment" or "more spiritual than thou". That's the attitude I always see in those who practice yoga or mysticism. They look down their noses at Christians who don't practice them or who think they're spiritually dangerous. Just like Gnosticism.

Point being, that if yoga/mysticism isn't a spiritual requirement or exclusive path to spiritual maturity, then the Christian has no need of it. Why work for that which we all receive for FREE when we are saved-- the indwelling Holy Spirit? Didn't we get all of Him when we were saved?

I see nothing in yoga/mysticism to compare to the indwelling Spirit and nothing keeping me from knowing God as "abba, father" in the Word or in my "cluttered" mind.

Some people see a meadow as "cluttered". After all, it's filled with many forms of life and they are not marching like an army. But I see that meadow as the design of God, a harmony that needs no "practices" or "disciplines". It just is. And that's what the mind filled with the Word is: a spiritual meadow, cluttered with life.

I'll take that meadow over the stark, gray, bland "order" of mysticism any day of the week. You can't claim that this "ordered" mind is anything else.

Jesus, the Word, the Spirit... I have it all and it was a gift.

Anonymous said...

A lot has been written about this topic, and most of it unnecessarily.

I think that Wade and Lydia hit upon the true issue when discussing the meaning of the word "Yoga."

If that word is defined by it original meaning by those who created Yoga, I suspect all of us would be in agreement (or at least a substantial portion of us).

In the U.S we have the uncanny and wonderful ability to take something from another culture, to keep its moniker but re-create it into something else.

That's what we have done with Yoga.

I did a quick search on-line for a definition of Yoga. Here is what I found:

yo·ga[ yṓgə ]NOUN
1. Hindu discipline: a Hindu discipline that promotes spiritual unity with a supreme being through a system of postures and rituals
2. system of exercise: a system or set of breathing exercises and postures derived from or based on Hindu yoga
[ Late 18th century. < Sanskrit yogaḥ "union" ]


In the U.S., 99% of the people who practice Yoga, practice the later, not the former, though the derivation is from Hindu practices.

I suspect that there is not one of us that is going to say that Yoga, as defined by "spiritual unity with a supreme being through a system of postures and rituals" is Christian.

But many of us, have been to the local YMCA or something similar to "Holy Yoga" (that must make the people who keep the flame of the founders of Yoga puke).

There is nothing unholy about a local YMCA stretching class called "Yoga."

The term "Yoga" and the practice of Yoga in the U.S. has been so completely bastardized from its original concept and meaning that in my opinion, it is harmless.

I have taken Yoga classes, and have found them quite helpful to my endurance athletic performance. But the classes I took had no spiritual component or true Yoga masters etc.

I will agree that there is a good warning to unknowledgeable people who may become involved in Yoga studios where they have spiritual classes in addition to the stretching. They should know what "Yoga" means and from where it is derived so they can avoid things that would not be helpful.

I think that it is fine for Dr. Mohler to point out the difference between how Christianity teaches people are to come to know God, and what Yoga teaches.

I think his writing and communication would be better if he were more clear with his definitions. That would have dispelled any incorrection notions that have so dominated the discussions.

If anyone should be upset about all this, I think it would be the creators and founders of Yoga.

Louis

Steven Stark said...

Anon,

That's one of the problems with Christianity - it can degenerate into a religion with no concrete practice for self-improvement. Christianity is profoundly mystical - it says "fill the mind with Christ" but too often it offers no practical methods for doing so.

But if one wants to preserve the status quo in one's mental activity, then meditation is probably a bad idea. I have found, however, that developing a bit of mental discipline (and in my case it's only a bit!) has been extremely effective.

Steven Stark said...

But of course, I think some people focus more on the spirit of what one is pursuing and others focus more on the "correct" names and mental pictures.

As a Lutheran minister friend of mine said recently, "Who am I to tell the Holy Spirit when, where and how it should do its thing?"

Hinduism is a generous, ancient religion with much to offer.

John Wylie said...

The Bible has a lot to say about meditation. But in no way is the idea of emptying one's mind in view when the word is used in the Bible. It simply means to think or ponder upon God, His works, Who is, what He says in His word. No mantras are to be employed, or chanting of any useless words.

Anonymous said...

Steven Stark,

Problems with Christianity? You mean "Jesus Christ and him crucified" isn't good enough? Can't the Holy Spirit "improve us"? And isn't it clear that filling our minds with Christ means what Paul said to the Philippians, and Romans, etc.?

Christianity isn't about methods or practices or disciplines from the world's religions. It is not defective or incomplete. The "status quo" you deride as inferior is what the Christian knows as "the Sabbath rest", a place of having peace with God. And it's all given for free to any who ask.

Christianity isn't about ME, about SELF, but about JESUS. All the "discipline" in the world is a mere house of cards compared to the Rock that is the risen Jesus.

(See the "holier than thou" attitude from the practitioners of mysticism/yoga?)

Anonymous said...

So who all here did MasterLife back in the day?

Go on, raise your hands.

Remember the last session?

The whole find a quiet place, relax, and meditate on the Lord with copious amounts of prayer?


Same thing if you ask me...

So basically you can't start your day with a calm relaxing meditation centered around Christ while doing stretching exercises that are good for you?

That would first explain the obesity and gluttony of an overwhelming majority of our pastorate that everyone notices but no one addresses.

No. Yoga is perfectly alright if you're meditating on the Word of God and spending time with Christ. That's no different than those who have micro-worship sessions in their cars or who lock their office door for a half hour to have a bible study of one.

Heck, if you really want to make them mad, make sure you have a glass of red wine with lunch afterwards...

Christiane said...

What DO Christians 'chant' these days? Oh, yes, they DO 'chant'.
And the litany goes like this:

'We thank You Oh Lord that we are not like those other sinners who:
-practice yoga
-celebrate 'The Great Pumpkin'
-drink wine
-have gender issues
-pray using 'Allah' for 'God'
-celebrate St. Nicholas at Christmas
-just love Halloween
-accept people as they are
-have no problem with the Easter Bunny
-here we can add your own speciallity
of what makes 'us' better than 'them'

Now THAT's a 'litany', but just not one of praise (except to ourselves)

My own personal favorite, of which I am SO very guilty is 'God I thank You that I am not like those others who engage in the 'pointing of the finger'.



Time to sing a new song unto the Lord. . .
it's long overdue

Anonymous said...

How many ways can we say that Christian meditation is on the BIBLE? Yet somehow, now this is the same as yoga!

Of course, that only brings us back to the question, who needs yoga?

Christiane said...

Can a moment of meditation bring you closer to Christ ?
See for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POm7_WBMJTI

CB Scott said...

I have never been involved with Yoga, although I do have friends who have been/are. Yet this post and the comment thread reminds me of an experience I had long ago.

I made my living a little differently than most people before God saved me. My entire way of life drastically changed after my conversion. I had to leave most everything behind.

After having been a Believer for a little over a year, I went to hear a well known evangelist preach. It was during the time when almost every professional evangelist had at least one sermon against demonism and Satan worship taking over America through the likes of Anton LaVey.

During the evangelist's sermon he mentioned the evils of practicing Martial Arts due to the presence of demons in the lives of those are "caught up in it and spend hours and hours practicing it." (not an exact quote, but pretty close)

Now, I must admit, I had known some pretty evil guys who were very good at Martial Arts, but I had not encountered any who could levitate, hurl green vomit from a rotating head or had tried to get me to join the Church of Satan. Their evil desires were usually to leave you in a broken heap on the ground.

After the sermon, I got the opportunity to spend some time with the evangelist. During the conversation, I realized he knew very little about Martial Arts as a whole and especially as it was practiced in Western culture.

One part of the exchange we had that I remember was something similar as the following:

He said, "Karate people are in danger of letting demons into your lives." To which I replied, "Well, preacher, all I know is that it has kept a whole bunch of devils from takin' it."

That particular evangelist is still holding meetings. I don't think he preaches much against Martial Arts anymore. Especially since the chief Parliamentarian for the SBC since back around 1986 is a Black Belt. :-)

Anonymous said...

I saw the film biography of Bruce Lee. Everybody would agree that Bruce Lee wasn't what we'd consider an evil man. But toward the end of the movie he was told he had to "choose a demon".

So demons are okay as long as they don't make someone a serial killer or pedophile or ::shudder:: a fundy?

Whatever you people want to call this religion you're making up as you go along, I just hope someday you'll accept Jesus as the ONLY savior and stop trying to add the world's spirituality or organizational charts or whatever to Him. And please, stop looking down your noses at people who disagree with you.

B Nettles said...

Steven Stark: "Hinduism is a generous, ancient religion with much to offer. "

Go ask some shudras or chandalas what they think about that.

Hinduism is a vicious religion which denies Christ and imposes unending "karma" on people. Choose a god, hope that you can make them happy and maybe you won't come back in a lower caste.

Generous? In what way?

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,
You need to inform your Lutheran minister friend that said, “Who am I to tell the Holy Spirit when, where and how it should do its thing?"

That the Holy Spirit is not an “it” but a person.

John Fariss said...

Steven Stark comments, "I have read a lot of comments that reference 'emptying the mind'. Meditation is about emptying the mind of distractions - of compulsive thinking." I agree with him completely. Although I have no first-hand knowledge of yoga, I do sometimes practice various forms of meditation in my walk with Jesus; and whether the source is eastern or western (and we in the west sometimes forget that Christianity itself is an eastern religion), the idea is to reduce distractions so that we can hear God speak. I would however go one step further than Brother Stark: those distractions can be not only little worldly things ("Did I turn the stove off?" "Is that my dog I hear barking?" and so on), but can also be me reciting Scripture or praying. After all: if I am busy talking, even if it is about God, even if it is in my mind rather than with my mouth, can I possibly hear the "still small voice" of God?

Something else that occurs to me: to say "yoga" is inherently evil or demonic comes quite close to saying that a "thing" is, in and of itself, evil and demonic, rather than how that thing is used/misused/abused. I am not sure I can agree with that; but then I don't think that beverage alcohol in itself is evil or demonic or sinful, but that such judgments come with its use/misuse/abuse. Maybe there are a few things which are inherently evil (a ouija board comes to mind), but yoga I'm not so sure about.

John

Anonymous said...

In the 1960's when my mother enrolled me in ballet class, my great-grandmother was certain it would lead to my moral ruin. In the 80's my grandparents where appauld by Christian Jazzercise classes.

B Nettles said...

It seems that what is going on is a dance of definitions.

Yoga, the word, traditionally means the whole system of Hindu discipline which encompasses both body AND mind, focusing on self-enlightenment, clearing away distractions so that the "true" self is found. That is antithetical to Christianity.

So, if one finds physiological benefit to the stretching and movement of yoga, should we call it yoga? I answer with other questions: If one finds satisfaction in adopting orphans and taking care of widows should they call it Christianity? If one enjoys singing songs together with others, should we label it Christian worship?

Calling the mere exercises "yoga" is not evil in itself, but calls for a redefinition which distorts the original and could end up harming someone who ends up in a REAL yoga situation.

Why do Christians want to call the exercises "yoga?" Is it because of marketing? Is it because of a fascination with Eastern religions? I don't think either of these is a good reason to co-opt the term.

I do think Driscoll, as usual, goes overboard with his language.

Let "yoga" mean "yoga," not merely the stretching. Then we have a reason to defend the term "Christian" against the onslaughts of those who would deny the Gospel is necessary for those who would call themselves Christian.

Anonymous said...

"In the 1960's when my mother enrolled me in ballet class, my great-grandmother was certain it would lead to my moral ruin. In the 80's my grandparents where appauld by Christian Jazzercise classes."

So anything goes, right? Nothing is dangerous if we personally benefit, right? There are no standards, no boundaries, as long as Jesus tags along, right?

And what part of Jazzercise is supposed to bring you closer to God?


Sheesh, what lame arguments people use to justify their pet heresies!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of Jazzercize described before as 'a heresy' by an extemist-fundamentalist.

This is a first !

Are Christians allowed to walk around the block for exercise ?

Or even breathe ?
But that's another story . .

Lydia said...

BNettles, You said exactly what I wanted to say but could not articulate!

Anonymous said...

"I've never heard of Jazzercize described before as 'a heresy' by an extemist-fundamentalist."

Wow... That would be HILARIOUS if it weren't due to completely missing a point! Point being: Jazzercise is not at all like yoga because only yoga is touted as a way to get close to God.

Get it?

Oh, and what exactly is a "extemist-fundamentalist", and how is it worse than a Buddhist/Hindu Christian, especially the kind that look down their noses at the unenlightened?

Steven Stark said...

I didn't mean to imply that Christianity is inferior to other religions, simply that it often lacks concrete steps a person can take for self-improvement. And I have met few Christians who are not interested in self-improvement. I certainly believe that feeling the grace of God can "grease the wheels" for self-improvement, but if I don't practice the piano, the grace of God is not going to make me into a virtuoso. It's no different with our thought patterns and actions.

I sat and thought about whether I should use the pronoun "he" or "it" for the holy spirit. Maybe I chose wrongly! We will have to hope that the Holy Spirit doesn't mind. ;)

John Fariss,

Thanks for an enlightening comment. You are so right that it is not the nature of particular thoughts running through the mind that is the problem necessarily. It is the involuntary, reactive way of thinking.

I do think that Hinduism can be a very inclusive religions, and every Hindu I know has shamed me with the level of generosity they demonstrate. One of my college friends worked for hours at a gas station so he could earn enough money to rent out a restaurant and throw a party for all his friends. Wonderful, wonderful people. But yes, the caste system can be nasty business.

Anonymous said...

She's BAAAACK . . .

Anonymous said...

The Christian faith is all about us being saved, and then about us becoming like Jesus. The focus turns from self to God, and then we are transformed by the Holy Spirit-- not through our own efforts but through the power of God.

Of course this doesn't mean we don't lift a finger. God will only work with what we give Him. But our "work" is to trust Him and to live to please Him. We cannot know what pleases or displeases Him without reading scripture, because our own personal ideas of right and wrong are flawed. Neither can we take our cues from the world.

Nobody is saying other people aren't generous or compassionate, or that Christians can't improve in this area. All we're saying is that yoga, mystical disciplines etc. are cheap substitutes that the world uses because they don't have the Holy Spirit.

Our righteousness before God does not come from our good deeds but from whether we have the blood of Jesus on our hearts. Salvation is a gift, not an earned wage. What we do after that should all flow from gratitude for this gift, and that takes time walking with Jesus-- not through "disciplines" or postures but simply talking and listening, using the mind as well as the heart.

We are to sit at Jesus' feet and learn, not open our mouths like baby birds who have no concern about who or what feeds them or what is dropped in. Jesus taught His disciples with many words and with examples in action. But not once did Jesus lead them in meditation. In fact, when they asked Him how to pray, He used words; remember "the Lord's prayer"?

Look to scripture to find out how to grow spiritually, not to false religions, no matter how much they do appear to be "angels of light".

Anon TK421

Anonymous said...

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

believer333 said...

"The Bible has a lot to say about meditation. But in no way is the idea of emptying one's mind in view when the word is used in the Bible. It simply means to think or ponder upon God, His works, Who is, what He says in His word. No mantras are to be employed, or chanting of any useless words."

Well said, John Wylie, worth repeating...

Muff Potter said...

Pastor Burleson,

Even though I do not subscribe to reformed theology or believe in TULIP doctrine, I applaud you sir for contending with those in your belief system who expect all others to fall into lock step with every pronouncement they publish. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"We cannot know what pleases or displeases Him without reading scripture, because our own personal ideas of right and wrong are flawed. Neither can we take our cues from the world."

"For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified . For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness , and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another ;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."

Anonymous said...

"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead."

Christiane said...

Pondering is good.
But are we called to something more as Christian people?

John Wylie wisely states this:
"But in no way is the idea of emptying one's mind in view when the word is used in the Bible."

But yet . . . there is another way to see the emptying of self as the 'letting go' of our own mind's pride, and self-righteousness, and smugness;
and in its place, we may look to the Bible for a word from St. Paul:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus"

P M Prescott said...

The Bible has a lot to say about meditation. But in no way is the idea of emptying one's mind in view when the word is used in the Bible. It simply means to think or ponder upon God, His works, Who is, what He says in His word. No mantras are to be employed, or chanting of any useless words.

Meditation, to me is about having a conversation with the Holy Spirit. Prayer is when I talk and meditation is when I shut up and let God through the Holy Spirit talk to me. You can't hear what God has to say if your mind is cluttered with every day items.
I personally don't like humming, mantras or chanting. I found the one time I was at a rosary service that all the repitition did was numb your mind from hearing what God might have to say.
I liken this to Elijah when he was in the cave and he heard the "Still, small voice of God."

Anonymous said...

"You can't hear what God has to say if your mind is cluttered with every day items."

Not necessarily.

One of my sisters is a professional singer. I remember hearing her college choir and telling her afterward that I could pick out her voice. She wondered if she was too loud and I said, "No, not at all, the balance was perfect. But I know your voice and could hear it even when all the other voices were the same volume".

If you really know God, you will hear His voice even in the clamor of life and the "clutter" of your mind. The important thing is not whether the mind is cluttered, but what with.

Anon TK421

Anonymous said...

"If you really know God, you will hear His voice even in the clamor of life and the "clutter" of your mind."

sounds like 'I'dol worship to me.

Anonymous said...

"sounds like 'I'dol worship to me."

"My sheep will know my voice..."

Sounds like a lot of Christians can't tell Jesus from idols.

Anonymous said...

sounds like people casting God in their OWN image

Anonymous said...

Yep... God is whatever pops into your head when you empty it. That's what mysticism teaches.

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us that when we are saved we get the Holy Spirit to indwell us, and we are predestined to be conform to the image of Christ. It's all a gift-- something to be grateful for, not ashamed of.

natamllc said...

Well, what an interest Biblical Critical thread today. I need to ponder it do I? :)

I would observe that "yoga" really is a form of praying conflating a Biblical practice nuanced by verses like these:

2Sa 7:18 Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?

Psa 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psa 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. [[[Selah]]].


Now one wonders, ponders or [[[Selah]]] where King David gets this whole idea of going into the Glorious Presence of Almighty God and being still and then conversing with Them?

Might King David have had sufficient access to Holy Scriptures such as this one then taking the time to ponder it and as a good Jew does after coming into an understanding of such, practicing it too, not only for his welfare and health, but also so he could guide God's people with God's Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding into the same Spirit of Grace and Truth as Moses was led into?

This seems rational to me?

Exo 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.
Exo 24:9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:
Exo 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
Exo 24:11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
Exo 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Exo 24:13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
Exo 24:14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
Exo 24:15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
Exo 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exo 24:17 And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
Exo 24:18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.


Notwithstanding Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel all got to had lunch with the Lord that day listening intently I am sure to the lunch conversation over roasted Lamb God was having with Moses, we also see after lunch Moses went forth as he was instructed and began sitting there for six days in silence before God, Who then proceeded to speak to Moses and as we all remember, wrote out the ten commandments with His finger on two tables of stone!

I think smart business people have been using yoga having hijacked those practices we see God taught to the earliest members of Abraham's people. And we should protest, or at least seek to collect royalties, not because of the practices yoga engenders, but for using the name without giving credit where credit is due? Maybe we should try to replace it's name back to what one can best describe the practice of sitting in the Presence of God as a God breathed and man practice Prayerful Intent!

What do you say, anyone game? :)

Anonymous said...

Gee, I sure do hope that they apply this 'evil roots' argument to everyting.

So much of our culture- from the days of the week, saying "bless you" when someone sneezes- even our Christmas trees ad Easter eggs are pagan in origin.

I get so sick of this "You have to justify everyting you do through the Bible nonsense....I don't think it was ever intended to be used in that way. Think about it- how much of our day to day lives can we justify 'Bilicaly.'

This gives me even more reason to thank God daily for freeing me from lies people have tried to wrap the Bible around.

greg.w.h said...

You know, everything I really know about yoga isn't in a book selling yoga to Christians. It's reflected, accurately, on the wikipedia page about yoga.

I especially thought the Jainism comments and the references to tantric sexual rites (on the tantra wikipedia page) were interesting.

Of course, we can pretend there's nothing dangerous about a system of thought with strong gnostic/mystical undercurrents if we wish. But to say that Christianity is compatible seems to me to deny the truth of Scripture.

Are there health benefits from yogic "stretching exercises"? Possibly. But why do you need eastern, cultic methods when you can do the same thing without the baggage?

Anonymous said...

And I'm thankful I don't have to pose or control my breathing or numb my mind to know Jesus and bask in the warmth of His love.

But I suppose it was too much to ask for Christians to follow the Bible or be concerned about any spiritual dangers, because there are none, right?

So, for those of you who don't like the Bible being quoted when it impinges on your favorite practices, what do you need it for (the Bible that is)? Why not just throw it out? And why bash people about what they do or believe, since you don't like them doing the same thing to you?

Seriously, who needs the Bible or a profession of faith if the Hindus had a handy, non-judgmental exercise that gets you to God anyway?

greg.w.h said...

Anonymous writes (among other things):

Seriously, who needs the Bible or a profession of faith if the Hindus had a handy, non-judgmental exercise that gets you to God anyway?

Or why did Jesus have to die on the cross if there is another way to re-establish the relationship between humanity and the inhabitant of the Holy of Holies? The claim of the book of Hebrews is that the Old Covenant was necessary, but neither sufficient--because sin continued--nor superior--because sacrifice had to continue, as well--after all.

Anonymous said...

"Or why did Jesus have to die on the cross if there is another way..."

Some of the regulars here will tell you that because Jesus died, then everybody worships the one true God whether they know it or not. So anything that sounds good to their ears is okay now, because Jesus paid it all. They've got a license to sin--- only there's no such thing as sin anymore, unless it's people trying to quote the Bible.

So they'll tell you Jesus died so that as long as people worship something and act spiritual, they're in. But come to think of it, a loving God wouldn't send anyone to hell anyway (except Bible thumpers), so that whole "Jesus died" thing is probably a lie the Bible thumpers made up.

Which is why the question, what do they need the Bible for anyway? Why does anyone need to know Jesus died for them, since everybody's going to heaven anyway, as long as they don't quote the Bible?

[/sarcasm]

Anonymous said...

I find it hysterical that some people are looking down on those who practice yoga (or are OK with it) while whining tha those OK with yoga are looking down on them.

Anonymous said...

I find it hysterical that some people are looking down on those who don't practice yoga while whining that those who don't are looking down on them.

And I find it pitiful that so-called Christians can't even define saving faith or say there's anything the Bible teaches that can't be taught or practiced better elsewhere.

"Christians" promoting Hindu religious practices and hating those that still believe the Bible is God's Word... judgment is near.

Anonymous said...

What irritates me more than people trying to wrap lies in the Bible is throwing Bible verses out- Such as the "lord Lord" verse (Matthew 7:21).....cuz someone quoting that PROVES that those who support Yoga are not really Christians!11!!! When will someone throw out Matthew 7:13 futher "proof?"

Anonymous said...

"Christians" promoting Hindu religious practices and hating those that still believe the Bible is God's Word... judgment is near.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh please!

'Judgment' has always been near...that evil rock n roll, men with short hair, women going to work... I doubt the sanitized version of Yoga practiced by Americans is going to hasten anything.

Honest question...do you realize how much in your day to day life has (so-called) 'evil' roots?

Do you justify *everything* you do VIA the Bible? Can you justify being online with the Bible...I mean it could be an **GASP** "appearence of evil" you could be watching porn for all anyone knows...

Anonymous said...

..typing too fast...that shoud be men with *long* hair/ women with short hair...

Anonymous said...

"Oh please!" is right. What leaps!

People promote a dangerous spiritual practice, others appeal to the Bible against it, then the first group starts throwing out red herrings to take the spotlight off of what the Bible says about those practices. Even legalistic Judaism was seen as a danger in the Bible, but no, we can't say anything is dangerous or we're trying to call every single human activity dangerous!

And they think we who quote scripture are the ones with the attitude!

Good night!

Pege' said...

WOW.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

L's,

I hate yoga and women becoming pastors, but I love wine and Halloween.


Can we be half friends? :)

-K

PS: Won't be trick-or-treating this year though, going to hear Dr. Tom Nettles speak at a Reformation Day Conference. Can't decide if I want to dress up like Calvin or Spurgeon. :)

Anonymous said...

All I know is that though I may practive Yoga from time to time, I know in WHOM (Jesus Christ) and WHAT (His shed blood) I believe.

A few stretches and breathing exercises won't be changing that.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, I am going to wear my old bride's maid dress, give myself a big hair style, and add a tara& a sash that says "Miss Understood."

Or maybe I'll be a glowstick witch...haven't decided yet.

Either way, I am surely helbound for taking my daughter (who wil be a ladybug) trick or treating. I better get some good chocolate in exchange for my soul.

Anonymous said...

Why call "a few stretching exercises" yoga?

As for us Bible thumpers, we're so unenlightened and unspiritual we must have no souls to lose. Another reason not to bother the enlightened and oh-so spiritual. Let's let them tune out and invent their own personal Jesus, it makes them happy.

Anonymous said...

"As for us Bible thumpers, we're so unenlightened and unspiritual we must have no souls to lose."

you forgot 'mean as hell, too'

Anonymous said...

...because the stretching and breathing exercises ARE, in fact, yoga?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
you forgot 'mean as hell, too'

WORD! Really, the only 'down looking' I see in this thread is from the 'Bible thumpers'.....those of us who engage in Yoga are far too relaxed and mellow to get our unders that twisted. ;-P

Darrell said...

As I do my martial arts streatching and the exercises that have been know to be healthy for centuried, (longer than america is old) I think of:

Y is for YAHWEH
O is for ORDAINED
G is for GODLY
A is for ATTRIBUTES

I pray, exercise, stretch and meditate to the glory and honor of my Creator.

Elisabeth said...

I think Romans 14 applies here. Vs. 3 & 4: 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Look it up in context. I know we're talking yoga, not food, but it seems the same principle.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christiane said...

http://www.lmu.edu/academics/extension/crs/yoga.htm

I was looking for info on yoga from a Catholic perspective and, as usual, there is a 'diversity' of opinion on the subject.

But I did find the above site, one of the premier Catholic Universities in California, Loyola Marymount University,
has really well-developed programs for teaching yoga.

I have this feeling that 'diversity' is not to be feared in the Body of Christ, but embraced.

Sometimes people get distracted and worry way too much about the unimportant things;
and then they neglect those matters that are so dear to the very heart of Our Lord.

We are better off staying focused on Him.

Christiane said...

Having read the comment stream, I don't see yoga as a threat to anyone's faith.

And I think it could really help people as a form of exercise.

I do respect that some people have concerns about the ancient practice of yoga, but I have noticed that, in the past, some of these same people have also indicated fearfulness about many other things that are strange to them.

For them, I wish more peacefulness in Christ, and, also in time, the gift of Christian courage to venture out of their 'comfort zones' with less fearfulness and less dread.

Gene S said...

WOW!!!

Mohler, the twit, sure got us going with his tweet!!!

For me, it is of little worry and another Mohler "tempest in a tea pot."

I'm just glad I read all this stuff before taking my cup of coffee to the deck and watching the sun rise of the Pamlico just before it opens out into the Sound.

I watched the setting in a beautiful autumn sky last night / slept good / watched a Clint Eastwood movie / got up early / will watch the sun rise and praise God / then go cut some trees for my living.

Question: Is there any tantric value in pecking a keyboard of the 'puter late into the night????

Some of us are getting over-extended on this one. I'm getting my costume ready for Halloween / reading my Peanuts coffee table book in the Great Pumpkin section / oops---this one ain't worthy of great biblical exegesis.

Mohler throws rotten husks before swine rather than pearls of wisdom. How the heck did he ever get a graduate degree---I know---a Craker Jacks BoX!!!!

Anonymous said...

"you forgot 'mean as hell, too'"

Nice words from a "Christian". And of course it's always "mean" to disagree with the super-spiritual but not "mean" for them to mock us Bible thumpers. Mystics are such hypocrites.

But they have "tuned out" for so long it's no mystery why they can't hold rational thoughts together, so what's the point? If they want to practice Hinduism and put a Jesus mask on it for Halloween, let them. And if they want to call cow dung chocolate pudding, let them.

Anonymous said...

ike the attitude from ANON @8:06 is even remotely 'Christian"

Anonymous said...

ike the attitude from ANON @8:06 is even remotely 'Christian"

Tue Oct 12, 08:32:00 AM 2010

Seriously. But it's probably Gene S, just look at his post right above it.

Anonymous said...

"mean as hell too"

Righteous !

Anonymous said...

Hinduism is a generous, ancient religion with much to offer.

Mon Oct 11, 12:45:00 PM 2010

Much to offer whom? The little girls who are forced to work as Temple prostitutes to make money for the Hindu priests? The widows thrown on the husband's funeral pyre? (This still goes on in remote areas) Or the Caste system.

Big business in India: Sonograms to determine gender and subsequent abortion if it is female.

Not a lot to offer females in your generous Hinduism.

Anonymous said...

" Nice words from a "Christian". And of course it's always "mean" to disagree with the super-spiritual but not "mean" for them to mock us Bible thumpers."


one out of control 'thumper' tried to 'take an uzzi' to a group of bloggers over at SBC Voices:

http://www.sbcimpact.net/2010/09/20/do-jesus-and-pauls-harsh-words-justify-ours/

just a bible-thumper?
more likely, a blasphemer against Jesus and Paul, who is trying to use them as an excuse to practice abusive treatment of others

Anonymous said...

"more likely, a blasphemer against Jesus and Paul, who is trying to use them as an excuse to practice abusive treatment of others"

And there you have it: harsh words for people who use harsh words. Can the hypocrisy get any clearer? Judging the judgmental, making themselves God's ambassadors over people who allegedly make themselves God's ambassadors... THAT's hypocrisy! It's always fine to flame flamers, as long as the flamers are Bible thumpers.

Gene S. can fire at will and still be "loving" just because he's liberal. But let a conservative object and its hate speech.

Hypocrites!

Anonymous said...

Here comes another one:
blaspheming against Jesus is an unforgivable sin

take that !!!!

Anonymous said...

BONK !
THUMP !
WHACK !

thumper is down for the count

B Nettles said...

Kevin:
"Can't decide if I want to dress up like Calvin or Spurgeon. :) "

More original would be Edwards or Boyce.

Q: Are you a Calvinist?
A: I'm as Baptist as Boyce.
Kevin, you would like Boyce. He thought you should use wine for communion. :)

Kristen said...

Um. . . Wade said this before he left:

Off on a staff retreat.

Everyone meditate over what you have written before you stretch out your finger and punch "Enter."


But this whole conversation has descended to the level of personal attacks. Can we all stop flaming one another and agree to disagree?

Anonymous said...

Shhhhh . . .
bible 'thumper' is out cold

it's quiet now

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Someone once said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

That is so very evident in the comments regarding the subject of your current article.

A chap by the name of Pope said,"Twas well observed by my Lord Bacon, That a little knowledge is apt to puff up, and make men giddy, but a greater share of it will set them right, and bring them to low and humble thoughts of themselves."

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Please hurry and get home and put up a new post so you can spare us all this discussion about something that noone cares about in the first place.

I'd even rather see yet another post on women preachers than this thing.

Ben said...

"Even a casual attempt at research would have caused both Mohler and Driscoll to find websites such as Holy Yoga, which places their doctrinal statement on the front page."

So ones doctrinal statement which affirms scripture (sola scripture), salvation through Christ alone... is enough to believe an organization is OK?

www.gaychristian101.com does the same thing. Are you ready to support them?

I am not saying AM is right on this but the statement you made above is not true in all situations. Who gets to decide?

Anonymous said...

why not let people think for themselves . . . or is that now discouraged completely ?

Anonymous said...

Did it ever occur to anyone that AM 'goes with the flow'.

Could it be that AM follows 'the base'?

Tom Kelley said...

B Nettles said...
Kevin:
"Can't decide if I want to dress up like Calvin or Spurgeon. :) "

More original would be Edwards or Boyce


Your brother Tom does an impressive Edwards. :)

-----
Tom

Anonymous said...

The bias Wade refers to in his post title might be a type of cultural xenophobia.

All the symptoms are there for that phenomenon, so the term fits.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Part of it is how Yoga is being defined. If it's just the exercises then it seems it's not really Yoga. If people try to Christianize Yoga such as Christoga is it really either?

Ben said...

"why not let people think for themselves . . . or is that now discouraged completely ?"

Does that include you letting AM think for himself and give his opinion, even if you disagree?

Anonymous said...

'Does that include you letting AM think for himself and give his opinion, even if you disagree?'

Yep.
And then it also includes me giving my opinion that HIS 'opinion' is a mimicking of THE 'base' he plays to.
To which he is also entitled to do, but it exposes him as a player rather than a 'theologian'.

Ben said...

"'Does that include you letting AM think for himself and give his opinion, even if you disagree?'

Yep.
And then it also includes me giving my opinion that HIS 'opinion' is a mimicking of THE 'base' he plays to.
To which he is also entitled to do, but it exposes him as a player rather than a 'theologian'."

If we are all allowed to have and give our opinion why ask:

"why not let people think for themselves . . . or is that now discouraged completely ?"

You contradict yourself.

Anonymous said...

'playing to one's base' may be a personal choice,
but it is not the same as 'thinking for oneself'

Anonymous said...

Dang and I love yogart! Guess I will have to give it up.Do they make a patch or some gum to help a person trying to quit,or, does one have to quit cold turkey?

Cheryl Schatz said...

A lady from our church was upset when eastern religious practices were brought into the church. She was told by the leadership that keeping the non-Christian spiritual name doesn't mean that the practice is against Christianity because they have Christianized it. She thought a bit and asked them if it was okay for her to have a witches coven that would focus on prayer. She asked them if calling her prayer group as "Christian witchcraft" would be acceptable to them. They were silent.

Often I wonder what God thinks. Is he okay with aligning our exercise programs with eastern religious practices and calling them the same thing? What's wrong with having a class on stretching or exercising? Do we really have to call it Yoga? And would God be offended by us calling it "Christian" Yoga when He seems to be very interested in keeping us pure and away from any unholy alignment with the occult? If not, then why not Christian witchcraft? Surely if God is okay with Christian Yoga, then we should be able to attach "Christian" to anything that had an occult or eastern religious foundation and God should be perfectly fine with that.

Steven Stark said...

Cheryl,

I think you bring up a great point. Is it what we call something that matters, or what it actually is? What it promotes, what the spirit is, etc.?

If something is negative and selfish, but called a Baptist church, and something is positive and compassionate but called witchcraft, then I would take the "witchcraft".

But this has alway been a struggle with religion, or any other human organization. What is the right balance between preserving the personal experience and preserving the hierarchal, organizational structure? It's not always an easy call.

Thy Peace said...

A quick counterpoints to some of the arguments/reasonings being advocated.

My name is a hindu name. Most person names in india who are hindus to begin with are names after gods and goddesses. I do not worship any hindu gods because my name reflects one of the hindu gods name.

I am fully familiar with the philosophy of yoga and the Atman or the Self (which is separate from the self). Yoga texts claim that the Self is the same in all human beings. The self is a mask over the Self.

I do not worship the Atman or the Self. I worship Jesus Christ.

I enjoy listening to music. Mostly classical music. Both western and eastern. I enjoy opera from different languages. I also enjoy listening to south indian classical music, which is ALL religious music. They are mostly praising indian gods. I do not worship indian gods while listening to this music. I happen to enjoy the music. In my heart I worship Jesus Christ.

I can not divorce my indian upbringing and culture just because I have become a Christian.

I enjoy cooking. I make elaborate indian dishes. They all have hindu names and meanings. I do not stop making indian dishes, because I have become a Christian.

The essence of what I am saying, it is the heart which matters and whom the heart is worshipping.

Clearly sorcery and witchcraft are a no-no for christians.

I firmly believe yoga is not wichcraft or sorcery.

Yoga is simply "awareness" and "focus".

I respect lot of the commentators here.

Lydia said...

Thy Peace,

What is it about what you do that is "Yoga". What makes it "Yoga". Do you see where I am coming from with this?

I do not think the traditions of your upbringing are any cause for concern like food, names, etc. Some believers in the NT were named after Greek gods. Like Apollos. Those things are no cause for concern at all. Not even dress. My cousins were missionaries in India and dressed in Sari's, etc the whole time there. They ate the same food, etc.

And as I said, I love the stretching exercises/positions. I bought one of those cheap pocket books at the grocery years back with a whole slew of the positions of stretching but it said nothing about meditations, etc.

What if I announced Kaballah for Christians. Could it be done?

Thy Peace said...

I can not claim Iyengar Yoga is Christian. There are hindu concepts and philosophy built into this yoga. Especially breathing and focus/meditation excercises. At least from what I know, one does not chant any mantras or attempt to "blank" one's mind. But so far my experience is all the asanas (poses/exercises) are simply bringing awareness and focus of the mind to the different parts of the body and most of Iyengar Yoga is the breathing in and out during various asanas that streches/relaxes various muscles of the body.

I am only in the beginning stages of this yoga. In the later stages of yoga, the "dhyana" asanas comes in. In Iyengar yoga, Iyengar believe that the body is easy to master than the mind, so most of the beginner asanas are body asanas.

chaidrinkingfool said...

I've taken classes from time to time at a local yoga studio. It calls itself this, and calls what it does "yoga". There is no guru: I have experience with the guru system, and the whole idea gave me the willies even before I was called to Christ.

Some of the language used during the class is non-Christian in the sense of belonging to other spiritual practices, but mostly it's non-Christian in the sense of lacking religious or spiritual content: The teachers there are very grounded in the practical physical aspects of the practice, and help people incorporate whatever modifications they may need to because of injury, etc.

Practicing yoga, for me, it helps me to have space in which I can breathe: to act instead of simply reacting. To focus on Christ more often in my interactions with others rather than on my own perceived or real woundedness. This would not even be possible without the Holy Spirit within me, and perhaps there are other ways I can listen to the Spirit, which I am open to and seeking for, but I wanted to share my experience, as a Christian person, with yoga.

Yoga may be good for some Christians, yet tempt other Christians to stray from Christ. I also do not expect it to be beneficial for all Christians to be vegetarian, as I have been, or to drink alcohol, as I do, as these things are not good for all people.

The owner of the studio, who is also one of the instructors, is not a Christian. He and I have spoken about the fact that I am a Christian and that he welcomes Christians to the studio. Some of you may point out that he may be Satan luring Christians into the evil of yoga. I mention his attitudes merely to note his lack of open hostility toward the faith.