Yoga – Hard? Yes. Anti-Christian? No.

Time magazine recently quoted Albert Mohlers, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who stated that yoga was anti-Christian, and comes close to labeling it pagan.

You can find the Time post here and Dr. Mohlers’ post here.

Ok, with all due respect to Dr. Mohlers, let’s get serious. Yoga, in its typical American form, is mostly jut some serious stretching. It is about as religious as weightlifting.

Let’s use an analogy to compare – church buildings.

Having a building designated for a church is a widely-accepted, commonplace situation in Christianity today. However, most of the elements of church buildings have pagan roots –

The “steeple” was originally a type of statue to pagan gods.
The practice of a persuasive speaker at the front of the church was a Greek tradition.
The setup with chairs behind a podium was designed after Roman courthouses.

I could go on. However, just because those practices were once secular or pagan doesn’t mean they must have the same meanings today. I doubt anyone putting a steeple on their church is secretly trying to worship a pagan fertility god.

Also, what abut Christian music? Much of the music style mimic secular music styles. However, I doubt most Christians would define such music as “pagan” simply because the styles are similar.

I believe the same holds true for yoga. Hard? Yes. Anti-Christian? No.

Comments

  1. says

    Meditation and yoga are completely non-secular practices, and people from all religions practice them. The Southern Baptists have always been overly fundamentalist, fear-mongering, and extreme. Good post!

  2. caseycase.com says

    Thanks Steven. I am certainly not out to bash all SBC members, but I found Dr. Mohler’s statement, which seems to have gone essentially unopposed among Southern Baptists, to be appallingly misguided.

  3. Jamaal Richardson says

    Hey Casey, Jamaal here. I figured I’d offer some words to add to this discussion. I’ll begin by saying that while I can agree with you that the biomechanics of Yoga may be boiled down to “just some stretching,” I don’t think you’re on solid footing when you say that is what it actually boils down to “in its typical American form.” This is partly due to our inability to assess why many American’s practice Yoga without some sort of polling research or a similar means of data collection. Needless to say it is probably the case that some individuals truly “practice” Yoga, the kind that Syman writes about in her book (the one Dr. Mohler cites). Here is the rub, while a Christian can “do” Yoga, that is perform Yogic exercises for the purposes of building better flexibility, strengthening joints, etc., a Christian can not “practice” Yoga without compromising on fundamental biblical principles. This I’m sure you’d agree with. For instance, and this is undeniable as Syman clearly illustrates, “yoga cannot be fully extricated from its spiritual roots in Hinduism and Buddhism.” Try as we might, it would be erroneous and deceitful to justify the “practice” of Yoga in the traditional sense on the grounds that we just don’t look at that way. This is what befuddles practitioners of the Eastern ancient art and this is what prompted the invention of Pilates which is Yoga stripped of it’s pagan undertones.

    I can certainly understand the reaction by many who simply ask “What is the big deal?” I don’t have an answer, but I do understand that in principle, Yoga is an ancient practice, developed for the express purpose of connecting mentally and physically to the divine. This practice was condemned by the biblical writers as idolatrous, but Christ had not yet come. I think Dr. Mohler’s premise is, if not correct, at least defensible on very strong grounds. In fact, he doesn’t make much of an argument himself, allowing Syman to speak for the tradition she practices.

    • caseycase.com says

      Hey Jamaal! Thanks for the comment. I know I can always count on you to have a solid, well-thought out response in any discussion we have.

      I can agree with you that it might be a stretch (pun intended) for me to make a statement about yoga “in it’s typical American form.” I probably should have used different wording, maybe “in the form that many Americans know, which is stripped of its spiritual elements.”

      That said, the fact the Mohler allows Syman to make the argument for him is essentially what I have taken issue with in my original posting. He essentially allows her to make the argument, and I can find very little Biblical basis for their claims. It sounds more like fear of the unknown. Sure, caution is wise; however, outright denouncement of a practice based on a non-Biblical argument does not suit us as believers.

  4. Leah says

    well-said Casey! The benifits of yoga are well-documented, for those who care to read up on it. Looking forward to your next post~ perhaps you will write about churches who ‘bless blackberry’s'(from the first article)…?? just a thought.

  5. says

    We have only led off to employ an electrical vehicle on some farming dry land , which is 95 % created of reusable product -.this was the first of many to get, I think.One minor event is the distance it can cover – but, when you cerebrate it is but used on the farm, it has not been. Forced too far over distance.I amply support all endeavours to conserve , reuse and reprocess – and it should be something that the whole nation.should be doing – NOW!. More detail about cheap store

  6. says

    Casey, granted, I’m not a Christian so maybe this comment will be seen as biased (or non-biased depending on how you look at it) – Religion is a constant mindset, a philosophy you live by. Yoga is a practice, a discipline. How can one see this as being a treason to faith when faith holds priority over every other deviation to God? Great post. Very thought provoking.

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