For those who are called to the practice of Contemplative Christianity there are a number of attractive, seemingly harmless but actually quite deadly pitfalls to avoid.
Most Christian know better than to go into a Mosque and bow and pray to Allah, or to visit a Hindu temple and offer incense to any of the multitude of Hindu gods. And we won’t gather with a group of Buddhists and do their meditation. We do not do these things because we accept and respect the exclusiveness of Christianity. In John 14:6 Jesus plainly declared that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Anyone who would come another way is a thief and a robber. In fact, if you managed to somehow get into the Wedding Feast without wearing the proper garment of His Righteousness, you will be cast into outer darkness where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”.
There is no such thing as hyphenated Christianity. You cannot be a Christian-Buddhist, or a Christian-Moslem, and you certainly cannot be a Christian-Hindu. The two are mutually exclusive. Only a few deceived souls within “Christendom” believe otherwise. You do not hear Buddhists, or Moslems or Hindus and followers of other “world religions” declaring the nonsense that the Christian God is the same as theirs. The Dali Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism, told a group of Christian monks that it was impossible for them to be Buddhist. Buddhists are non theists; they do not believe in a personal God.
And Moslems “pray” several times a day declaring that Allah is God and Mohammed is his prophet. The message of “only one way” is a primary principle of their faith. In fact, most Moslems believe when Jesus returns He will repent, declare His resurrection a hoax, abolish Christianity declaring that Allah is the one true God, judge and rule by the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet, pray the Muslim prayers with Muslims under a Muslim Imam and perform the pilgrimage to Makkah. This is not the Jesus of Christianity. Because of the many fundamental differences Islam and Christianity cannot both be true; the Bible and Qur’an cannot both be God’s Word. To believe they are is illogical.
So no, you will not find Bible believing Born Again Christians worshipping other gods or practicing other spiritualities. We many stumble from time to time, but not like that.
Or Do We?
Sad to say the above statement is only partially true. Some Christians have been found in heathen temples, bowing before demon gods (1 Corinthians 10:20), and following leaders who teach false spiritualities, even defending the same when the topic comes up in conversation. Some of these are Born Again, Bible believing, Spirit-filled Christians I know.
“Oh Ken, say it isn’t so!”
Sadly, it is so.
Few of us fall for the obvious, but a second level of spiritual deception has invaded our land and our culture. In order to infiltrate the Christian West these spiritual disciplines from the East have come to these shores not wearing burkas or sarongs, but in secular garb. Presenting themselves as “disciplines” that benefit the body, soul, and spirit they can be found in almost every neighborhood of my city. And they are abundantly present in mine.
Please, Hear Me Out
I am referring to martial arts and yoga studios. And please, if you are involved in any of the same, before you dismiss me as a typical reactionary right-wing Bible-thumping pulpit-pounding Christian who sees demons under every bush and around every corner, at least hear me out. One of the marks of a true Believer is a teachable spirit. The very fact that a person is resistant to listening indicates that their spirit has been negatively affected!
“What in the world could be the matter with the stretching and the gentle exercise of Yoga? It is very peaceful and contemplative. And it is very spiritual. I know people who say they have really benefitted from their Yoga classes.”
Yes, I am sure you do. And at least on one level they have. Gentle physical exercise is of great benefit and I applaud their desire to get fit and glorify God in their bodies. And if that is all there was to Yoga, I would not be issuing this warning.
Beneath the Surface
Sad to say, there is more to Yoga than beneficial stretching. Beneath the surface there is a strong and forceful “spirituality” that is absolutely incompatible with and antithetical to Christianity.
Do you really think
you can eat the fruit
and not be affected by
poison in the root?
“But I only do the stretches. I don’t get involved with the rest.”
Oh dear soul, do you really think you can eat the fruit and not be affected by poison in the root?
I became more aware of the truth about Yoga when I met a leader of the movement at a yard sale. We had a fascinating conversation. She gently informed me that she was raised as a Catholic Christian but had left the faith for Yoga. I asked her if Christianity and Yoga were compatible. She told me that they were not. Even the greeting “Namaste” is foreign to the concepts of Christianity. It means the god in me acknowledges the god in you. And this “god” is not the Lord Jesus Christ.
So I asked her to tell me what it was really all about. This pleasant sincere lady had a strong gift of teaching so she was able to make the complicated quite simple. She told me that the exercises were just the beginning of Yoga, and that the full benefit could only be received as you went deeper into this “ancient spiritual discipline” that “predates Christianity”. And that is what she was doing – going deeper. In fact, she had spent the past year meditating on a tree, and now she was ready for the next step. It was going to take time to get there, but she was determined to make the journey through all eight levels.
So, just what is so bad about Yoga? What is so bad is that each pose is a Kinetic Invocation, an invitation if you will, for a spirit that is not of God to come and take up residence within you. That alone should be enough information to cause you to get up off the floor, roll up your Yoga mat, and find the nearest garbage can or incinerator. Then find a place of prayer and call upon God in heartfelt repentance, asking Him to forgive you of the sin of mixing light with darkness, good with evil, and let Him remove from you anything ungodly that you have unwittingly invited in.
I can assure you that those who do not think Yoga a risk to their spiritual health do not fully understand Yoga, or Christianity. At their very core they are diametrically opposed to each other.
Yoga is not a benign “religion-less” philosophy. The gods to which Yoga practitioners bow are Hindu. Sannyasin Arumugaswami, the managing editor of Hinduism Today, said,
Hinduism is the soul of yoga based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God. . . . A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.
You cannot seek for “god realization” and seek for God at the same time. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the “divine”.
As Christians we fold our hands, we bow our heads, we close our eyes in prayer, we clap our hands or raise them in worship, some of us sign ourselves with the cross, during moments of deep worship we sometimes prostate ourselves before the Lord. This is kinetic worship whereby we honor and adore God with our bodies, and invite His Presence more fully into our lives. Yoga poses are a heathen equivalent.
Yoga Classes are Hindu Evangelism
What Alpha is to Christianity, Yoga exercise classes are to the religion of Yoga and Hinduism. We hope that people who come to an Alpha or some other introductory course will not just learn about the Bible and Christianity; it is our hope and prayer that they will come to know Christ and become a part of His Church. Yoga instructors also hope you will progress past the Kinetic Invocation (stretching) stage and embrace the whole “spirituality” and lifestyle, eventually working your way through all the eight stages – including the sixth, Dharana where you “get in touch with your psychic abilities”, and the seventh, Dhyana, which is devotion and meditation - all the way to the eighth, “Samadhi — the ultimate reward, utter joy and bliss, and the union with the divine”. During the classes you are increasingly desensitized to language and concepts that are foreign to Christianity, until the hesitancy in your spirit is overcome, your mind and thinking is altered, and your pure walk with God subtly defiled.
An enthusiastic young woman teaching Yoga wrote,
I’m pretty sure that most Westerners think that yoga is just a bunch of funky stretches and poses that you have to be super flexible to do in stretchy, black yoga pants. I’m here to tell you that yoga is soooo much more than the asanas or yoga poses. In fact, most of what I really love about yoga is all of the spiritual aspects that come along with those yummy poses like downward dog and savasana.
It is unavoidable today, and even more so in the days of confusion and increased cultural conflict which are ahead; we will be forced to make a choice. Either the ever popular Spiritual Syncretism, combining the so-called “best” from the multiplicity of gods which are around us, or Christianity. We cannot have both. Jesus Christ is Lord.
- Yoga: More Than Meets the Eyes
- What is Yoga? A Catholic Perspective
- Why Yoga and Christianity Cannot Ever Mix