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Yoga Threatens Christianity, Says Baptist Theologian

Yoga Threatens Christianity, Says Baptist Theologian

Over the past few years, many have pointed to what has been called the sanitization of yoga; separated from its original spiritual roots, the practice in America becomes merely exercise, as secular as an aerobics class.  The latest to emphasize this change in how yoga is practiced is Stefanie Syman, author of the new book The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, who says that yoga is now so mainstream that it can be part of White House Easter festivities.  One would assume that if someone were to take issue with this reading, it would be to mourn yoga’s popular separation from its ancient traditions.

Strangely, though, Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, takes a different tack.  In a blog post, he traces Syman’s argument, through her claim that yoga can’t be separated from its origins in Buddhism and Hinduism, and jumps upon a bold statement.  Yoga, Syman writes, “is one of the first and most successful products of globalization, and it has augured a truly post-Christian, spiritually polyglot country.”

The first danger sign is the use of the word “post-Christian.”  This clearly makes Mohler uncomfortable, and he matches Syman’s claim with an even bolder one.  “To a remarkable degree,” Mohler writes, “the growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture. Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding.”

So – does this mean that Christians shouldn’t practice yoga?  Mohler doesn’t seem to think so, suggesting that the poses represent more than just exercise, a move away from Christ.  “The bare fact is that yoga is a spiritual discipline,” Mohler explains, “by which the adherent is trained to use the body as a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine…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.”

The article immediately reminded me of a piece by Anita Diamant, a Jewish writer, from the Huffington Post a few weeks ago.  She wrote that she managed to keep her yogic and Jewish practices separate, using them for different spiritual and mental functions.  She saw no contradiction in the bifurcation; rather, she wrote that Judaism was where she went to strive, to wrestle, to engage – and that yoga was the place where she found respite.

Whether or not this is applicable for Christians is another question.  But I’m most troubled by Mohler’s claim that, for Christians, the body should not be used as “a vehicle for achieving consciousness of the divine.”  In fact, for many Christians, the fact of Christ’s incarnation is one of the most appealing parts of the faith; the fact that God became human and was deeply embodied – to the point of pain and death – means that these bodily sensations are a way of connecting with the divine.  Thus, yoga can be a deeply spiritual act, a display of gratitude for the extraordinary body like the one that even God, however, briefly, inhabited. 

What Mohler seems to fear, to me, is not embodied spirituality but rather religious pluralism – he writes disdainfully of the “manic syncretism” of India, and even more fearfully of the practice of channeling sexual energy through yoga.  One thing is clear: Mohler is threatened by yoga, but Christianity is not.  And while I’m not sure if I agree with Diamant that religious beliefs like Judaism and spiritual practices like yoga should coexist but not overlap, I know that for many people, yoga and Christianity can make a spiritually happy union – perhaps because Christianity is such a wonderfully embodied faith.

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301 comments

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6:30AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

Here's something for you.

You'll find it on the internet site The Reluctant Messenger (love that site). There is a book The Lost Years of Jesus......The Life of Saint Issa. ......translation by Notovitch. I read the book. It is wonderful

It is believed that Jesus studied in India and was Saint Issa.

So if India was good enough for the young Yahshua (never called Jesus a day in his life. That's Greek), if he studied under the masters, why shouldn't we?

6:25AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

OUGHT OH!!!

My comment was too lengthy. This is the lower part of my comment. So you might want to read the part below first and then read this ending. Or you may not. Just want to share my religion without any attempt to convert anybody. This is what I believe. -------------------------------------------------------page 2

However, understanding the Eastern teachings of Lord Kal Niranjan certainly helps me to understand and relate to this soooooo misinterpreted God of the Christians. I'm in love with the guy and I have no illusions of him being the Christian concept of God.

He's not. He says so many times and so many ways in the Bible. He says "I do good and I do evil." Do some research and you may be surprised at what he says about himself.

I think he is most adequately understood in the high magick of the secret groups such as Masons, Illuminati etc. who recognize him both as good and as the creator of evil as well as the creator of good. He's recognized and honored as he really is, the soul who did not "forget" and get entangled in these lower worlds. He is the Lord of Karma. When he collects and/or administers the karma we may howl "It's not fair". It is fair. What we do to others will be done to us. We call it evil cause we don't like it when it's time to pay the piper.

There's an easy loophole. Forgive us our debts AS (to the same degree) we forgive our debtors. Walk karma free. If you forgive all who owe you any karmic debt, past, pre

6:01AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

My comment is too lengthy and therefore it's printed backwards 3 then 2 then 1

You may or you may not want to start way down there at the last 3rd "page" then the page 2, then page 1.

Sorry 'bout that.

5:58AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

Ok it's still too long.

Page 3

There's an easy loophole. Forgive us our debts AS (to the same degree) we forgive our debtors. Walk karma free. If you forgive all who owe you any karmic debt, past, present or future. If you go to the Lord of Karma (praying will do it) and ask that all debts owed to you be forgiven, (it's a business deal....not emotional) what is the karmic result? All your karmic debts must be forgiven. Cancel the debts of others to you and your debts will be cancelled. Walk karma free.

Memory and pain are not unforgiveness. Memory is memory. Pain is pain. This is a business deal and has nothing to do with emotions.

Me, I'm in love with this guy. And I have no intention of leaving these lower worlds. Some day we'll get them working right and they can be like a playground for visiting souls.

The God worlds are boring. Everything the way you want it. No problems. No challenges. That's why Lord Kal got the ok to create his own worlds. These worlds are very imperfect but they aren't boring. Lots of DRAMA!!!

As for morals, do anything you want. It will come back to you. What you do to others will be done to you. Further, you can not do it to others unless they have first done it to another and have earned the karma for your crime against them. If you're smart, you'll live a very ethical life. That way, you earn only the good stuff!

It's really not all that serious.

It's a game.

5:54AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

OUGHT OH!!!

My comment was too lengthy. This is the lower part of my comment. So you might want to read the part below first and then read this ending. Or you may not. Just want to share my religion without any attempt to convert anybody. This is what I believe. -------------------------------------------------------page 2

However, understanding the Eastern teachings of Lord Kal Niranjan certainly helps me to understand and relate to this soooooo misinterpreted God of the Christians. I'm in love with the guy and I have no illusions of him being the Christian concept of God.

He's not. He says so many times and so many ways in the Bible. He says "I do good and I do evil." Do some research and you may be surprised at what he says about himself.

I think he is most adequately understood in the high magick of the secret groups such as Masons, Illuminati etc. who recognize him both as good and as the creator of evil as well as the creator of good. He's recognized and honored as he really is, the soul who did not "forget" and get entangled in these lower worlds. He is the Lord of Karma. When he collects and/or administers the karma we may howl "It's not fair". It is fair. What we do to others will be done to us. We call it evil cause we don't like it when it's time to pay the piper.

There's an easy loophole. Forgive us our debts AS (to the same degree) we forgive our debtors. Walk karma free. If you forgive all who owe you any karmic debt, past, pre

5:46AM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

I was surfing the internet tonight when I came across a group with blogs having to do with understanding and leaving the Christian religion. I wrote up something and left my name. I've received more info on this group of intellectuals and psychiatrists. They were dealing with the ethics of G-D who doesn't have to have ethics. He invented them. lol

This seemed an appropriate place to share what I wrote up. It may offend some Christians but it is a Bhakti yoga of devotion. By now I think you're pretty used to my eccentricities. You keep sending me green stars! (((HUGS)))

Here's what I wrote up.
...................................................

Hi, I have just enjoyed your delightful writing.

In my opinion, it is almost impossible to understand Yah if one does not have a knowledge of the Eastern teachings especially of Radha Swami and Surat Shabda Yoga. A group called Eckankar has tinkered with the teachings and reduced them to a simplistic level with just enough hints to actually lead to an understanding of the Creator of these lower worlds Lord Kal Niranjan.

I am not a member of any of these groups I have mentioned. They don't understand or love Lord Kal the way I do. They think of him as some prison guard keeping souls from returning to the God worlds. Not so.

However, understanding the Eastern teachings of Lord Kal Niranjan certainly helps me to understand and relate to this soooooo misinterpreted God of the Christians. I'm in love with

5:45PM PST on Dec 23, 2012

@ Anso B - you've illustrated my point so very well, my dear. Why so shrill??

I wish you peace.

3:53AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

Sorry, may comment was cut as I'm prone to writing long comments...

Here's the cut paragraph from "Unfortunately" and the end :

Unfortunately, as religions tend to present themselves as absolute corpus of beliefs explaining everything in the universe and beyond, they are quite easy to transform into sects in the modern sense of the term : mind-washing, manipulation, isolation from the outside and ultimately loss of freedom of the individual and complete submission to the group and the leaders : Panurge sheep.

It's that sectary derivatives that exist in all religions and that are deeply afraid of any interaction with other religions. True believers in one religions, people who are seekers rather than just sheep-thinkers, are by simple logic open to inter-religious dialog, as they focus on asking questions and seeking answers rather than following to the letter what the dogma says.

3:51AM PST on Dec 23, 2012

I see the religious sentiment as a mountain with a peek high in the clouds. No-one can rightfully say he sees or reaches the peek. But along the course of history, some people tried and came closer, and they opened numerous pathways for getting closer to the peek.

Now, it's up to us, as fully conscious sentient beings, to look at these different paths and choose our own. One can stay on trodden paths led by, say Christ or Mahomet or Boudha, or to any other, say Chamanism, Pantheism or Paganism, or Atheism, or many of the many other religions that exist. Or one can even choose to build a personal faith out of bricks laid by different traditions.

The only person one can give orders about how s/he should believe is one's own self. No-one, and I mean no-one, has any right of saying a road is better than another. Of course, I mean, granted following this road does not harm others. Which boils down to the chosen road being on the side of goodness, which has a definition fairly common to all religions, based on not harming others.

Now, religions begin to fall to the evil side when they become dogmas and deny the necessity of coexistence with other religions and the right of each individual to religious freedom.

Unfortunately, as religions tend to present themselves as absolute corpus of beliefs explaining everything in the universe and beyond, they are quite easy to transform into sects in the modern sense of the term : mind-washing, manipulation, isolation from the out

10:14AM PDT on Apr 14, 2012

Yoga may very well be a threat to rigidly doctrinaire Christianity, which I would think a good thing. It could never in any way be a treat to true spirituality, no matter in which religious tradition that spirituality was based.

Cultural historians of the future will see the coming to the West of the philosophies, traditions, religions and practices of the East as one of the great transformative movements in human evolution.

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
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