Monday Morning Insights

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    Yogatta be kidding me

    Yogatta be kidding me

    It's been a bad few weeks for Yoga in the Christian community.  First Al Mohler came out with his stance:  "Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality."

    Then others, including Mark Driscoll, took it a step further, calling Yoga "absolute paganism":  "Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic... If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you're signing up for a little demon class."

    Then, yesterday, I read this blog post by Shawn Groves entitled "The Death of Discernment".  Shawn made some great points about many things that we do that have some pagan roots.  Things like tortillas, Halloween... even paper and Thursday. (the day of the week)

    A little internet search this morning told me this:

    Just because something was created by non-christians doesn't mean that it is forbidden.

    Paul talks about idols in the New Testament.  His approach is not to run as fast as we can from the pagan stuff, in fact, he takes a different approach... an approach that still bothers many Christians.

    1 Corinthians 8:4 and 7 talks specifically about this when it relates to the actual food we eat and it's relationship to idols: 

    So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.   For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.  But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

    Paul is saying:  even if your food has been sacrified to an idol; it's still permissible.  That doesn't mean you should eat it and flaunt it, but it is permissible.  In Paul's words, we're no better if we do, or no better if we don't.

    Viewing things as pagan is largely determined by your culture.  Things we would have done in Moses' time may have been pagan; but today have lost their cultural stigma.

    So what's my view on Yoga?  My view is that nobody really cares.

    I do think that Christians that go to a yoga class are no more trying to embrace pagan culture than I am when I send my wife flowers.

    Do I think that taking a yoga class is like taking a little demon class?  No... probably not the same thing.

    But one thing I do know... you won't find me in a yoga class anytime soon.  Or ever.

    Read Al Mohler's thoughts on Yoga.

    Read the Seattle Times interview with Mark Driscoll.

    Read The Death of Discernment by Shawn Groves.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on this... what do you think?  Are Mohler and Driscoll out in left field on this one, or did what they say need to be said.  How big of a threat is Yoga to the Christian's walk?  What say you?

    Todd

     

     

     

    Comments

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    1. Serving Strong on Wed, October 20, 2010

      Perspective.
      That’s what we need.
      That’s what you provided.

      btw, you won’t find me at a yoga class either. my aging muscles would never forgive me.

    2. karen Kemi on Wed, October 20, 2010

      I haven’t read all the articles yet but I would like to say that I practice yoga-or at least the stretches
      I do not chant or find my inner light…..etc
      I practice it because it is one of the few ways I van exercise with my arthritis

      Also- bo mention of weddings in the Bible? A Wedding was the site of Jesus’ first miracle

    3. Joe Sewell on Wed, October 20, 2010

      AMEN!!! Finally a sane response to a “Christian panic attack.”

      Based on the 1 Corinthians quote (which is 100% appropriate in this and many other situations), if Mark Driscoll or anyone else recognizes the pagan influences and may be influenced by them, OR the yoga teacher goes overboard into the pagan ritual aspects of the thing, then those people should disconnect from yoga.

      I, too, could probably do a yoga movement exactly once, and after that the judgment. grin

    4. Roger Green on Wed, October 20, 2010

      I think the “controversy” is silly.  Next thing you know, we’ll be getting rid of Christmas trees (pagan), Easter eggs (pagan)...

    5. Kim S on Wed, October 20, 2010

      In the effort of full-disclosure, I personally do yoga.  I’m a former dancer and adding yoga to my exercise regimen has been wonderful for me physically.

      When I first started taking the classes, the whole meditation thing, chanting, and Buddha’s in some of the classrooms, very much rubbed me the wrong way.  I started doing a little research and realized that there was a general outcry by some Christians regarding the practice of yoga. 

      While I loved the practice so much, I didn’t want to do it in a way that would compromise my faith.  I suppose it helped me to get a little more comfortable when I realized that the daughter of my pastor practiced yoga.  I guess I felt I was in safe company?!

      Anyway, so what was my answer and final decision on the topic?  Find yoga practitioners that don’t put so much emphasis on the Hindu beginnings, but much more emphasis on the body stretching and positioning.  I don’t participate in chanting and I don’t meditate on myself, but I do pray during those quiet times.  Maybe this is too simplistic of an approach, but I’m okay with it.

      Regardless, I think you touched upon something important and that is what we choose to give value to.  While garden statues may stem from idol worship, we put them in our gardens today because they look pretty.  We have no clue what they mean and don’t care to know. 

      I’m with you on your bottom line on this topic: who cares?  Focus on this sort of thing is what separates us from the world in a seemingly destructive way.  Very un-Christ like, no?

    6. Joe Sewell on Wed, October 20, 2010

      Roger: some people already avoid Christmas trees, yule logs, Easter eggs, Halloween decorations, and so forth. (I must confess to avoiding most of those, more due to lack of interest, though.)

    7. joy-renée on Wed, October 20, 2010

      UGH!

      yoga class = demonic class

      Good post, sir! I think some things can really be taken overboard…

    8. Leonard on Wed, October 20, 2010

      I practice my yoga while listening to rock music played backwards.  It really gets me going. 

      Yoga as a practice… not good.
      Yoga as exercise and stretches… healthy.

      Just my opinion.

    9. herbhalstead on Wed, October 20, 2010

      breath.of.fresh.air.

      I think we spend so much time being “against” things that we really miss the point of what our walk on this earth is about - loving God, loving each other, and passing that love on. Let’s get passionate about those things and we’ll soon see that all this other stuff is really insignificant.

      thanks!

    10. joshbernard on Wed, October 20, 2010

      In the Old Testament when the Ark of the covenant was being made out of gold. The only gold the Israelites had was gold that was used to make idols in Egypt. God didn’t have a problem with the Israelites melting down the gold to make things for God’s glory. He liked it actually. It’s the same with things we do now. I am a minister and I did “yoga” on P90x. Before I even knew it was originally a thing to worship other gods. So know what I have done is I change the meaning. Now I do yoga to exercise my body, to keep up my strength, etc… because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you are not doing these things to worship other gods than I believe God has no problem with it. And if you are convicted of it. Then don’t do it. And let people who are not convicted of it do it. Let God be the judge. That’s why He is God not us. Not to mention we get the english word “God” from Germanic paganism. Food for thought. God Bless!

    11. David on Wed, October 20, 2010

      I have to say I have a lot of respect for Driscoll. He is a pretty smart cookie. You’d have to look at the Times article in context - Seattle is a very secular city; does the average reader know the distinction between yoga with and without the eastern influence? Not likely. Being ignorant of the self-realization or finding your inner god-power doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an affect.
      His church has multiple sites around the city and I was watching a short piece on the downtown site. The previous tenant was quite a violent night-club. They are not above finding the value in a bad situation. He does not hide in his sanctuary - never to go out in public.
      So in this case, the first word is no on yoga. The nuanced answer is stretching without any (not just “less emphasis”) buddist/hindu vestiges. 
      As far as the other items: most of what you list is objects without the ceremonies or customs. The latter have been stripped away. Much like the customs of Christmas and Easter for the general public - only the hollow objects remain.

    12. BunnyB1802 on Wed, October 20, 2010

      I have performed an exercise that combines yoga, tai-chi and pilates. It’s excellent for improving movement and core strength. I don’t think about the Eastern meditation practices but, like anybody commentor, I pray instead to Jesus. I think the practice of Yoga is only harmful when teamed with Eastern spiritual practice. Other than that, it’s just stretching!

    13. CS on Wed, October 20, 2010

      For full disclosure, I practiced Chinese martial arts for a decade and a half, which included many elements of eastern mysticism including yoga, tai chi, meditation, and other forms of Taoist and Buddhist exercise.

      That said, I agree with Mohler, and yoga is wrong for a Christian to practice.  The primary purpose of yoga was to work toward higher spirituality.  Many yoga classes teach the same principles of assuming stances while emptying the mind in order to expand this sort of consciousness.  It is a religious practice at heart, and not simply a matter of exercise, and we, as Christians, should not engage in the religious practices of another faith.

      You want to stretch and do calisthenics?  Wonderful.  You want to learn a martial art for health, defense, and strength?  Wonderful.  But engaging in something that nearly a billion people follow or regard within their faith as a way of growing spiritually?  No.


      CS

    14. sgillesp on Wed, October 20, 2010

      Thanks, Todd, for your wise discernment.  It’s not lost on me that Dr. Mohler makes sure we note that the “other” Michelle Obama is behind trying to make that pagan yoga something our children are doing!  I suppose we Christians ought to stick to the spiritual discipline of donuts every Sunday.  All joking aside, I appreciate a call to examine what we do and not do it unthinkingly, but I appreciate even more that to put the body in a particular pose does not in and of itself invite demons into my life: that’s a matter of my ‘spiritual posture,’ if you will - and I can be doing that while sitting in church.

    15. Serving Strong on Wed, October 20, 2010

      @Leonard: “I practice my yoga while listening to rock music played backwards.  It really gets me going.”

      Thanks for the laugh this afternoon. Excellent! smile

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