Yesterday Yahoo put the Associated Press article about Al Mohler’s story on yoga on the front page. Needless to say this has generated lots of hate mail for the President of SBTS. Most of the original article is based on his thoughts on a new book by Stefanie Syman named The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America which Mohler says “is
a masterpiece of cultural history”
Here are some excepts from the original article to give you a summary of Mohler’s position :
Yoga begins and ends with an understanding of the body that is, to say the very least, at odds with the Christian understanding. Christians are not called to empty the mind or to see the human body as a means of connecting to and coming to know the divine. Believers are called to meditate upon the Word of God — an external Word that comes to us by divine revelation — not to meditate by means of incomprehensible syllables.
Nevertheless, a significant number of American Christians either experiment with yoga or become adherents of some yoga discipline. Most seem unaware that yoga cannot be neatly separated into physical and spiritual dimensions. The physical is the spiritual in yoga, and the exercises and disciplines of yoga are meant to connect with the divine.
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?
Mohler ends with saying
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?
I came away from these articles thinking of how this is just another example of how as Americans in general think of life and spirituality as a buffet of sorts. You can just pick the things that you like and leave the things your don’t. I’ll take Heaven without Jesus, I’ll take yoga without Hinduism, I’ll take sex without marriage, I’ll take abortion without murder. Everyone just lives by the mantra “If it feels right, it must be right” without every asking questions like “Why does this feel right?”, “Should this feel right?” and most importantly “Is this right?” We have all done a bad job at thinking about the logical conclusion of our actions and beliefs before we act or believe. Fortunately if you are reading this you are still alive and there has never been a better day to change. I think this just serves as a reminder and an example of a bigger problem that exists in our own hearts.
All respectful opinions and thoughts are welcome in the comments!