Mohler on Yoga and I disagree

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/09/20/the-subtle-body-should-christians-practice-yoga/
http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/10/07/yahoo-yoga-and-yours-truly/

So Mohler recently wrote these articles on Yoga and how its unChristian, and how Christians who practice it are either teetering on the brink of post-modern pluralism, or teetering on the bring of apostasy, or they aren’t really Christians.  Maybe he wouldn’t necessarily agree with the last two, but I think that he some what leans that way.
I do not disagree with what he says about yoga’s background, indeed it is an historical spiritual practice, and everything about it that we practice is only based off of that.  In that sense we are simply taking part in the religious practice of it, albeit ignorantly and not fully giving ourselves to it.  I would also say his conclusion is correct, because of yoga’s religious/spiritual nature Christians who practice it are taking part in another religious practice that directs its worship to another god(s).  However, I disagree with his premise that because yoga and Christianity are in service to two different truths, that they are forever diametrically opposed.
Christianity has it fair share of ascetics, Simeon the Stylite for instance.  Prayer and fasting are ascetics, they are simply means that we use to assist our focus on God.  So, yoga as an ascetic practice is completely and totally viable, simply using the body and certain movements to clear one’s mind to better meditate and focus on God.  The whole idea of ascetic discipline is to train the body to allow one to clear their mind.  We are created as physical beings; we should not abandon our physicalness for a solely mental spirituality. That to me sounds too much like gnosticism.
Therefore, I applaud the efforts of Christians who seek out some sort of physical discipline to help them focus and relax, I myself hike/backpack,do yoga, lift weights and sleep. (Ha! So maybe not the last one as a discipline, but it is an area of weakness and I wouldn’t doubt my ability to serve God would be enhanced if I got more.)  Humanity, Christians included, have a problem of letting life get in the way causing us to cast our eyes downward.  So we need a time of solitude to disengage our attention on the world and enable us to focus our eyes up back on God.  Of course reading Scripture is a great way to do this, prayer is as well, but those things alone are often very mental.  Our Western, Greek Philosophy influenced, culture leaves out our physicalness, which is obviously important to our creatureliness, so luckily we have this connection to this eastern religious practice of yoga that can help.
Yoga, like fasting, I would say depends mostly on natural revelation, where as bible study and prayer depend mostly on special revelation.  Now granted natural revelation without special revelation can be distorted and twisted.  Of course special revelation itself can be distorted and twisted too without insights from natural revelation.  But if I am to go through life dependent solely on one or the other, something is gravely missing.  I am unable to truly experience God in all things if I do not take to heart natural revelation, and I am unable to experience him truly if I do not take to heart what special revelation says about natural revelation.  All this to say, ascetic practices like yoga, hiking, fasting or running are ways to experience God through the body, they are diving into natural revelation, and through this one can fully rest in the Truth that comes through special revelation.  When I hike I let go, I rest; I experience the Triune God in his glorious creation and it frees me (my mind and my body) to rest in my knowledge of his love and my redemption.
The primary point of contention as I see it, and I am pretty certain in this, is not so much of the physical aspect of yoga, it is the practice’s historical direction to whatever other god that wasn’t Yahweh, not to mention its tantric aspect.  One cannot really practice yoga without diving into some aspect of this, if they do not dive in, then it simply becomes a workout.  However, its not that black and white; one does not have to dive into this to fully appreciate the practice of yoga.  Yoga’s whole spirituality can be redeemed, after all it was created by man.  It is simply the longing of individuals to reach out to something that which they know is there; they know it because they sense something in their heart, and they know it because they sense something in nature.  Unfortunately, it was only directed to something other than God.  Now, if one wants to say that once yoga becomes “redeemed” it no longer becomes yoga, but becomes something else entirely, I might say they have a point.  Although, I could in turn say that this opens the door for saying that once humans experience the finality of their redemption then they are no longer human, but something else entirely because their sinful past has been done away with.
I cannot find fault for people who are trying to find a divine experience with the God they know from church through yoga.  Yes, they may be diving into it not truly knowing what they are getting into, nor truly knowing what they could be opening themselves up to.  But I do not find fault with them, I find fault with the staid, dull churches that pushed them there.  We do not need to be cutting off the people who are trying to experience Jesus through yoga by telling them its not Christian to do so.  No, what we need to be doing is fixing the Christianity that’s not enabling them to experience “life abundantly”.  Perhaps they think church is dull and boring because they have sin and that inturn is making them deaf to the “words of life” they are hearing at church, but if their sin issue isn’t being competently addressed by the church then where really is the problem?

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