The pastor of a mega church in Colorado led his members in a Tantra meditative session to close out the Sunday service. People who felt uncomfortable with the breath and hum meditation were invited to leave.
The pastor had just come back from a missionary trip to Africa. While there he had a crisis of faith. He couldn’t understand why God would allow so much suffering and deprivation.
He said that he was on the verge of a breakdown when, one evening, he called his wife and sobbed uncontrollably. The peace of God had left him yet he couldn’t help but notice that the tribal people, in the midst of their squalor, were comforted by their worship of pagan deities.
The pastor then remembered the books that his mother gave him when he was a child. This was what interested me about the pastor because my mother gave me the same books about Native Americans and their cultural and religious customs which were not unlike the tribal rituals in Africa. He noted that indigenous people everywhere seek after their gods for comfort. They are no different from Christians and Jews. By whatever name He is called, people are seeking God.
To deal with the stress of his African trip he started doing breathing exercises that he had learned from his study of Eastern religions. There, somewhere on the African plain, he claims to have had a ‘God’ experience.
He couldn’t explain what happened except that it was a deeply spiritual event that was triggered by his chakra breathing technique.
We are all searching for God. People have different customs around the world, but they all are seeking communion with God. Their ways may be different from ours, but they are seeking the same peace of mind. As Christians we believe in Jesus Christ, and that’s a good thing; but other people groups seek God according to their customs and traditions. They don’t know Jesus Christ, but they are spiritual people. We seek God in the way we were taught, but it’s not the only way. I mean, we believe that Jesus Christ is the way to God, and that’s fine; but tribal people who are without that knowledge seek the same God.
I want us, as a church, to close our eyes and breathe together — in and out. As we breathe I want us to notice the rhythm of our breathing. In that rhythm we find harmony and closeness with God. This is sort of like what happened to me in Africa. A sudden peace just washed over me.
This practice is foreign to us as Christians so if you feel uncomfortable you may leave.
So, on this particular Sunday, the pastor decided to close out the service with a group breathing exercise. It was an interesting experiment where Christianity was seasoned with a touch of Hinduism.
Christians Practicing Yoga posted on their Facebook page:
(We) want a Church that takes the connection between the body, mind, and spirit more seriously. (We) envision a Church that recognizes the importance of the body in the spiritual life and is more open to popular practices that lead to calm and connection.
These popular practices include yoga. The blurb was an excerpt from an article about Ignatian Yoga that appeared in The Jesuit Post. Ignatian Yoga is a blend of Christianity and Eastern meditative arts designed to create body awareness, spiritual and psychological development and connection to the presence of God. Breathing and stretching techniques are necessary to create the proper balance between body, mind and spirit. Only in this balanced state can we connect with God.
Trendy millennials, young women in particular, are especially seduced by New Age, metaphysical practices. According to the Yoga Journal over 80% of the 23 million yoga practitioners are women (18-44). It has become a $27B industry.
The Christian Research Institute (CRI) called this popular trend Satanic, but when faced with opposition and declining contributions they recanted (although CRI still advises caution for those who practice the Eastern arts.)
I noted in another post an article titled, How Satan Deceives Women to Corrupt the Church. Since Eve in the Garden this has been true. Anyone who claims that the church is patriarchal does not understand the powerful influence that women have always held in the church. Christian women who are practitioners insist that yoga has physical and mental health benefits that are separate from the spiritual implications. And, they argue, the Bible teaches that we should meditate. However, when the Psalmist (Aleph) wrote …
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways (Psalm 119:15) …
… he did not mean that he would twist himself into a pretzel, breathe in rhythm and chant Jehovah’s name. The verse following explains that, by meditation, the psalmist will delight in God’s statutes and remember His word.
One Christian woman said that the yoga she practices is so Westernized that the pagan symbolism has no force of effect. It’s like eating meat offered to idols, but all of the Yogi masters I researched concurred with Dr. George P. Alexander from Sri Lanka:
Yoga poses are offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods. Many Westerners who practice yoga today are unaware that the physical positions assumed in yoga symbolize a spiritual act: worshiping one of the many Hindu gods. To a Hindu, yoga is the outward physical expression of a deep spiritual belief. You cannot separate one from the other.
Yoga professor Subhas Tiwari, Swami Param and Hinduism Today agreed that yoga is Hinduism, and it is naive to think one can separate the physical aspect from the religious structure.
The positions and breathing techniques are designed to make the practitioner one with God. But what god? Certainly, Christianity does not teach this as we learn from the Apostle Paul …
… for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8).
There are many ways to stretch and tone and care for your body that are not tainted by Eastern mysticism. Paul does not imply that we should not exercise — only that godliness is of more value in this life and beyond.
Yoga practitioners claim mental health benefits, but a study by the University of Rochester concluded that prayer has meditative health benefits and is the most widespread alternative therapy in America today. The study found that people who pray are statistically healthier and longer-lived. Prayer calms the mind, lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system while increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is associated with a greater sense of well-being.
Consider this, 35 years ago aerobics studios were the ubiquitous cultural fad. Like yoga shops are today, there were aerobic dance gyms everywhere. Inspired by the very popular movie Flash Dance, aerobic exercise was the dominant trend of the 1980’s. Likewise, yoga is a youth-oriented fad that may go the way of leg warmers.
The world is a distraction, and Satan uses that to deceive many. In my neighborhood yoga shop they have a little Buddha that people rub as they greet one another with the cordial namaste which is a recognition of the Divine spark dwelling within the heart chakra.
There is a lord god of Yoga. His name is Shiva. He represents the eternal life force, and the one who conquers death. Christian practitioners will say that yoga is as harmless as putting up a Christmas tree. But is it?
“Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit word “yogah”, which means “to yoke or to unite.” Indeed, the goal of yoga is to uncouple oneself from the material world and to unite oneself with the God of Hinduism, commonly understood to be Brahman, the impersonal cosmic consciousness of the universe. Put another way, yoga is the means by which the user’s mind is merged into the universal mind.
While an alarming number of American Christians suppose they can harmlessly achieve physical and spiritual well-being through a form of yoga divorced from its Eastern worldview, in reality attempts to Christianize Hinduism only Hinduize Christianity.
The sin of Israel is that it adopted the customs of its pagan neighbors; and Christians are similarly called to not be conformed to the world. My recommendation? Go for a walk, eat a good meal, take a nap … and say a prayer.
Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate