Quote# 76377

When Christians practice yoga, they must either deny the reality of what yoga represents or fail to see the contradictions between their Christian commitments and their embrace of yoga. The contradictions are not few, nor are they peripheral. The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine. Christians are called to look to Christ for all that we need and to obey Christ through obeying his Word. We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness, but to follow Christ in the way of faithfulness.

There is nothing wrong with physical exercise, and yoga positions in themselves are not the main issue. But these positions are teaching postures with a spiritual purpose. Consider this — if you have to meditate intensely in order to achieve or to maintain a physical posture, it is no longer merely a physical posture.

The embrace of yoga is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church. Stefanie Syman is telling us something important when she writes that yoga “has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country.” 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. Should any Christian willingly risk that?

Albert Mohler, AlbertMohler.com 50 Comments [10/2/2010 4:21:14 AM]
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While I concede a mind-over-matter aspect of yoga, there is something disingenuous about this argument. I think it ties in with a facet of how you get out of something what you put into it. Kind of like the way there's room for Jesus in Hindu theology.

When you close yourself off to ideas outside your own worldview, you miss out on more than you can know. And that's sad. Fundamentalism is all about this kind of self-propelling isolation, striking out wildly at anything that might threaten its worldview without bothering to examine its merits (or demerits as the case may be).

So the glaring observation that begs to be made: if your faith is threatened by some stretching and breathing exercises, your faith isn't that strong to begin with.

10/2/2010 4:48:31 AM


If a spiritual practice is empowering (gaining mental discipline or awareness of one's body and self if nothing else) I consider it superior to prayer.

10/2/2010 4:57:44 AM


Positions: Christians kneel to pray. They clasp their hands, or they extend their arms. I believe these are positions.

As to consciousness of the divine, what about Francis of Assisi, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc, etc (Check Christian mystics on Wiki). All of thesehad experience of the divine... No?

10/2/2010 5:14:42 AM


Who's stopping you from meditating on Jesus while you do yoga? Seriously. Meditation doesn't *have* to involve Hindu gods, you know. It's just thinking about something with focus.

Of course, if thinking about Jesus for five minutes at a time will weaken your faith, you might want to recheck why you're in the religion in the first place. Heh.

ETA: Intense meditation? Ur kind of doin it rong. It's like "fiercely going with the flow".

10/2/2010 5:44:25 AM


This reminds me of the argument some Hindus have about the way yoga is practiced in the west. They don't like the idea that one of their important spiritual traditions has basically been watered down and commercialized. But that's way different than what Albert is complaining about.

10/2/2010 6:04:45 AM

Brendan Rizzo

But... but, Christians have always meditated and done mystical activities, especially in the religious orders!

*Head explodes.*

10/2/2010 6:44:53 AM


I almost feel sorry for people like this. Life can't be very enjoyable or fulfilling if you're always on the lookout, always afraid that everything unfamiliar is bad and out to get you.

However, any sympathy or pity I have dissipates when I remember how hateful and bigoted this type of person generally is. In fact, living in constant fear is usually simply a direct consequence of choosing to mindlessly hate over keeping an open mind and thinking critically. It's almost a natural punishment of sorts.

10/2/2010 6:52:28 AM


The more I read statements like these from fundamentalist Christians, the more I am convinced they are morons.
While you're at it, don't forget to not practice any martial art form, after all, there are Eastern spiritual elements to kung-fu. tai kwon do, and karate. Oh, and tai chi.

10/2/2010 7:02:14 AM


Albert, you do realize that mediation is a central part of vitrually EVERY religion right? Even yours?

10/2/2010 7:04:56 AM


This is a complete overreaction to the practice of yoga; yoga is meditation, and that meditation can be focussed on anything. Heck, the Bible makes it clear that Christians can meditate on the Lord.

But oh well. It seems that people like Mohler just enjoy telling others what they should- or, moreso, shouldn't- be doing.

10/2/2010 7:07:15 AM


Yeah. All that yoga stuff is too much work. Much better to be a Christian. You can do anything you want - except be a homosexual, believe your grandmother was a monkey or vote for a Democrat - and then just say "Lord, I have sinned"*, and everything's forgiven.

* best said with a heavy Southern accent - "Lord, ah hev seeee-und!"

10/2/2010 7:23:19 AM

Jezebel's Evil Sister

Meditation helps the practitioner gain a clear mind.

Yoga assists the practitioner in gaining flexibility.

Therefore, I can certainly understand how funditards view these practices as horrible, horrible sins. Fundies are not called "stiff-necked, close-minded fools" for nothing.

10/2/2010 7:29:10 AM


I miss the old days when these people were more concerned with yoga, Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons than obstructing health care and putting Christine O'Donnell in Congress.

10/2/2010 7:40:05 AM


Short version

"Remember, staying retarded for the Lord is good"

10/2/2010 7:56:31 AM


Should any Christian willingly risk that?

10/2/2010 8:34:36 AM


Is that the same sort of thing as when people who get reiki or acupuncture treatments have to believe that its possible for Pei Mei to leap up and stand on the bride's sword?

10/2/2010 8:49:47 AM


"We are not called to escape the consciousness of this world by achieving an elevated state of consciousness"

Elevated consciousness is so not on.

10/2/2010 8:57:16 AM


Interesting that none of the responses here suppose that yoga is just as vain, spiritually bankrupt, and silly as Christianity. I guess someone needs to start a website called "Hippies say the Darndest Things."

10/2/2010 8:57:27 AM


@Helena: it's a form of exercise, and the forms have mantras that you can chant or not. I've practised yoga, and I'm certainly not religious about it in any sense of the word. You might as well discuss the spiritual bankruptcy of jumping jacks.

ETA: Yoga's older than the hippies, on account of the world outside the US existed before 1960. No, really, we promise.

10/2/2010 9:18:31 AM


@Helena: Indeed, stretching and breathing are vain and silly. What the hell, why don't we add eating and sleeping to the list?

Also, PAI Mei

10/2/2010 9:25:29 AM

Jezebel's Evil Sister

"yoga is just as vain, spiritually bankrupt, and silly as Christianity."

Wrong, Helena. Yoga does wonders helping me overcome muscle spasms caused by MS. Silly spiritual beliefs have nothing to do with it in my case, or that of thousands and thousands of other people who practice yoga for its physical benefits.

The biggest difference: Yoga works; christianity doesn't

10/2/2010 9:32:37 AM


@Helena: Your comment is operating under two false assumptions:
1. that all Christianity and spirituality is fundie (or that such a belief is the general consensus here), and
2. that Yoga is always or mostly spiritual.

Also, we actually have quite a few fundie quotes from people widely considered "hippies". If you want to see them, then I suggest you use the site's search function. Searching for posts with "hippie" or "New Age fundie" in the comments is a good start.

10/2/2010 9:52:41 AM

Following your line of thinking, mystics like St Theresa never existed. And, by the way, no coffee for you either.

10/2/2010 10:14:34 AM


Then I'm glad I'm not Christian, if being one requires me to starve myself of such wondrous things the world has to offer.

10/2/2010 10:26:28 AM

grad student

This issue completely depends on the situation you are practicing yoga in. My batshit crazy sister-in-law is teaching yoga. She pushes Eastern religion (or a watered down version) in her classes and is very hardcore with people that they have to embrace chakras and all the spiritual aspects as she understands them. For a committed Christian--even a liberal Methodist--a lot of the notions she has about the beliefs that must be embraced to learn yoga in her classes are going to be objectionable.

And it is okay to respect people's belief systems enough to acknowledge that in some settings, yoga is not going to mesh with religious belief not just for Christians, but also for Jews and Muslims.

10/2/2010 10:29:27 AM

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