Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Christian Yoga - An Oxymoron?

Someone at work once asked me if I would like to join a Yoga class. Judging by the expression on their face, I think my answer must have surprised them.

"Yoga? No, thanks. I'm a Christian."

What?? What does one's faith have to do with an exercise class? Well . . . let's find out. Go grab a dictionary and look up the word "yoga." You will be "enlightened" by what you find there. Here's what Merriam-Webster defines yoga as.

"a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation."

A Hindu theistic philosophy? Seriously? I have seen ladies walking into Christian churches with yoga mats. What IS this Hindu philosophy called "yoga" and should we Christians be participating in it if it's part of another religion?

Yoga can be traced back to the fifth or sixth century before Christ but its specific origin is a bit fuzzy. Some say Hindu, others say Buddhist. It was brought to the U.S. in the 10th and 20th centuries but really took off in popularity in the 1980's as a form of exercise.

Yoga is one of the six major "schools" of Hinduism and its ultimate goal is "liberation." Are we as Christians supposed to be liberated?

Another thing yoga teaches is the "emptying of your mind." Hmm. I know we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 2:12) but not transformed by the emptying of it. That sounds a little dangerous to me.

There is a story in 2nd Kings about a people who unknowingly worshiped other gods. Things did not go well for them.

"11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. 15 And she said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. 18 But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 19 because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king." - 2 Kings 22:11-20

Before we participate in anything that is part of another religion we should do our research. Check it out for yourself. There are lots of articles about the subject. Here is one such article plus a discussion by two pastors. What do YOU think? Should Christians participate in yoga?

Yoga - John MacArthur vs. Doug Pagitt

Why Can't Yoga Just Be An Exercise? - SBrinkmann

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