Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I'm Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today's program, we continue a two-installment series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives, with the late founder of The Berean Call, Dave Hunt, and TBC excutive director, Tom McMahon. This week they address the question: "Can Yoga Be Christianized?" And now, here's Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. We are continuing our series of programs on yoga and the amazing popularity it’s having among those who profess to be Christians, and we’re basing it upon Dave Hunt’s book Yoga and the Body of Christ. And Gary will give you information later on how you can order Yoga and the Body of Christ, subtitled What Position Should Christians Hold? In past programs we established that the religion of Hinduism is at the heart of yoga, and the goal of Hinduism and yoga is self-realization, to realize that you are God, and everything about the practice of yoga is designed for God-realization. So when a Christian practices yoga, he or she, at least to some extent, is involved in the religion of Hinduism. And our complaints are not that Hinduism and its evangelists are seeking converts, but the problem for us is that there is a deceit involved in their proselytizing. Most are claiming that what they are doing has nothing to do with religion. It’s scientific. It’s a scientific approach, we’re told, to help improve one’s physical health.
Dave, you title chapter two, “Yoga for Christians?” Christian yoga - that’s an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, or it should be considered that by anyone who is a biblical Christian and has even the vaguest idea of what yoga is about. Yet, Dave, you mentioned in this chapter, and we’re going to get into it in a second, there are 586,000 references to yoga for Christians on the internet. Google search shows 512,000 references for Christian churches and yoga, and in many of these references we’re told that yoga is biblical, that Jesus practiced yoga, that the early church was into yoga, and so forth. Now is there even a hint of any of that being true?
Dave: Tom, it’s fantasy! Not just fantasy however, it’s because many yoga instructors…well, they call themselves Christians; it’s being taught in churches - one of the instructors that we mention in this chapter, she first was put in contact with yoga in a Baptist hospital. I guess it was supposedly for therapeutic purposes that exercise or physical benefit of some kind or other. And yet, Tom, they talk out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they will say, “Oh, it’s only physical.” On the other hand, then they begin to say, “Well, yes, I got into yoga when I went through a search for spirituality.” And then they try to say, as you mentioned in the introduction, “Well, it’s really Christian - its spirituality is like Christianity.” And they even say Jesus practiced yoga.
So, which is it? Is it just physical? I don’t read of any bodily exercises, anything for physical fitness, in the Bible. Paul does say bodily exercise profits a little - for a short tim, in other words, but godliness is profitable in all things and for eternity. So which is it? Well, there’s no doubt, Tom, yoga - of course we’ve mentioned in the past - it originated in India. Shiva, the destroyer, is called Yogaswara. That means the Master of Yoga.
Tom: This is the Hindu god Shiva.
Dave: Yeah, and Krishna, he taught yoga. He calls himself the first yoga instructor. I don’t know what Shiva was doing - he was the master of yoga. But anyway, what was it designed for? Not a hint - and you can read the ancient books on yoga by the great yogis - not a hint of physical exercise or physical benefit. When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came to the US to teach Transcendental Meditation, he never said that it was for physical fitness. It was a spiritual procedure that would - well, we won’t go into those details. But anyway, the whole idea of yoga: yoga means “to yoke,” and we’ve been over this before. The whole idea is to yoke with Brahman - this is the manifestation of the Hindu deity, Brahman. Now we’re going to yoke ourselves with him, so you become one with “God,” and he’s actually the universe, everything. Now…
Tom: Dave, let me just interject this. Sometimes I think about our young audience out there. They may not know what “yoke” means. You see pictures of it let’s say, you have an ox and you put this harness on the ox, and it’s a yoke so that you can drive the ox, but basically it’s a connection kind of thing.
Dave: And Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, I am meek and lowly at heart, you will find rest for your souls.” So, to be yoked with Brahman actually means to become one with Brahman. In fact, in Hinduism you have this saying, “That thou art.” I used to know it in Sanskrit but I have forgotten it, Tom. But anyway, that is what you’re aiming for, to win your yoga master - or the yogi who is training you -can really say, “That thou art. You are God, you are the universe, you have realized yourself.”
Now we have a human potential movement in the US, part of the New Age movement. Wow! if you just knew the potential you had, then you can do anything. It’s like The Secret that we talked about not too long ago. You can be anything, do anything, and so forth.
Tom: And that’s all…The Secret is based on Hinduism, in fact.
Dave: Right, this is just another alternative.
Tom: For the West.
Dave: For the West, right. First of all, Tom, it’s Hinduism. So you cannot possibly unite it with Christianity. They are as far as the East is from the West, that’s how far they are separated. The Hindu says: “There’s no such thing as sin. The greatest sin is to call yourself a sinner! You are God; you just don’t know it - you practice yoga in order to realize who you really are.”
Dave: And talk about a delusion! Talk about the delusion of yoga, it is not - well, I’m sure it can relax your muscles. I never could get into a…I couldn’t even sit cross-legged on the floor, even when I was young, but I’m sure that it can limber you up, and so forth. But that is not the purpose of yoga, and every one of them - Tom, they betray themselves! And I quote these yoga instructors…
Tom: Well, let me give you a quote once again from chapter two. I can’t pronounce the man’s name - I won’t try to - but he is an Indian from India, yet he is a professor at the Hindu University of America in Orlando, Florida, and, Dave, we’ve seen time after time, these people who know and teach and understand true yoga, or Hinduism, are offended when Christians try to integrate their belief with theirs. So here’s a quote from him. He says: “Hinduism is at yoga’s core. If you give me a recipe and I alter the ingredients and give it back to you, am I giving you the same thing? Clearly not.”
Dave, as you know, I just got back from CBA, Christian Booksellers Association Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, and we must have talked to a thousand people there, and it was really interesting to meet all kinds of people. Two people that came to our booth - they were from India, and they were missionaries - Indian missionaries. And so I thought, Well, I’ll just run this by. I said, “What do you think about what’s going on in this country with regard to Christianity and particularly yoga in Christian churches and schools, and so on?” They were just flabbergasted and outraged. Who knows best? Somebody who has certainly come out of Hinduism, became a Christian, and now these are evangelists for the Lord. Recognizing what’s going on here, they were absolutely shocked.
Dave: You know, Tom, it’s very much like Christian psychology. Let’s show a relationship here. Peter says that God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.
Tom: 2 Peter:1:3.
Dave: Now, Jesus said, “You continue in my Word, and you will know the truth; the truth will set you free,” and that’s John:8:31, or thereabouts. The Bible claims to have given us all that we need to be fruitful, happy, well-integrated, to use a psychological term - all that God wants. Paul says in 2 Timothy:3:16, that the man of God…Well, let’s quote the whole thing: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [that means mature, complete] thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” Now, over and over, the Scriptures promise that if a Christian will follow them, they will have everything that God wants for them spiritually, morally, and fruitfully - to bear fruit for others. This is very clear teaching in the Bible, and Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Furthermore, the Bible says that the Christian is indwelt by Christ himself. In fact it says, Christ is my life. I am crucified. Christ lives in me now.
Tom: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Dave: He is my life, He is my all! Now, I don’t think that Jesus Christ needs psychotherapy, and I don’t think that He needs yoga in order to somehow help my inner man yoke itself. So, yoga is a denial. A Christian who practices yoga, and they are going to get into the spiritual side of it, although they claim they are not, they are denying what the Bible says just as the Christian psychologist has denied the promises of Scripture.
Tom: Well, Dave, some would deny that they are getting into the spiritual side of it, but some would say, “No, this is the vehicle…” We’ll talk about that in a minute. In chapter 2 of your book, you give all kinds of examples of Christians who are actually trying to integrate this into their belief system - in, as you mentioned earlier in the program, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches, and so on. Well, here is a Baptist church in Memphis, Tennessee, and they started a class in yoga in 2001, and I’m quoting. This is a woman who began the program, she said, Oh, yeah, at the beginning, we took a little bit flack for it, but now she says, “Christian yoga as an exercise and relaxation tool has become one of the most popular classes at the church, served up four days a week.” Now Dave, this is an oxymoron, and for those who don’t know that term, just emphasize the moron. How are you going to combine things that are diametrically opposed? You can’t do it. So it’s a delusion at best, but it’s demonic.
Dave: Well Tom, let me quote from Rebecca Laney, she taught it, maybe she still does at this Baptist hospital -that was where this person we referred to first contacted yoga -she also became a yoga instructor, and her Center for Yoga and Health is decorated with a variety of Eastern and Western religious images including small statues, pictures of Jesus, the virgin Mary, Buddha, and Hindu deities. Now she says it’s Christian, but yet she says, “Yoga can enhance a person’s spirituality whatever it may be.” Now that’s amazing! This is Christian. What do you mean by “spirituality?” Now we have a problem. The Bible does not talk about spirituality. In other words, “Wow, I’m getting to be quite spiritual!” The Bible talks about the people who are spiritual, but they are in touch with the Holy Spirit, they are filled with the Holy Spirit. It does not speak of spirituality as some general quality that a Hindu has, or Buddhist, and so forth.
So, Tom, why did I even write this book, why are we dealing with it? Because many people are really being confused, they are really being deluded, they are being led astray. “Oh, well, if I practice yoga that will make me more spiritual.”
[But] “Oh, wait a minute, no, oh no, that’s just physical.”
“Yeah, but it will make you more spiritual, even though it’s just physical.”
Well, wouldn’t I, as a Christian, want to be more spiritual? Wouldn’t Christ be pleased with that? So, Tom, it is a delusion, but it is also a clever trap from Satan, and it can cost - it can cost quite a bit. Robin Norsted and Cindy Senarighi, when they realized the spirituality in yoga they decided to sell it as a package to others. They were especially impressed “by the spiritual aspect of the physical practice of yoga—as Christians they experience this as a devotional time in the presence of God.” So, as a result of that, they founded Yogadevotion in 1999. They are convinced that Christians and non-Christian should be “using the physical practice of yoga to still their minds and be open to the relationship God intends for us.” Their motto is, “Growing Faith and Fitness through Yogadevotion Classes.”
Tom: Dave, let me add what the ad for their promotion of this process says, “Combining yoga poses with Christian music and thought-provoking devotions, Yogadevotion is the way to experience the presence of God through the physical expressions of yoga.” Now, what god might this be, Dave? Certainly not the God of the Bible.
Dave: You know, Tom, if this is so beneficial, I’m sorry, I don’t want to get back into psychology but I often say…
Tom: Well, it’s related.
Dave: It is. I often say to Christians or Christian psychologists, “It’s very logical, you cannot escape it: if Christian psychology has anything of any value to offer, then the church was missing it for 1,900 years until its marvelous Christian founders - whoops! Freud and Jung and so forth came along.” Okay. The same thing is true with what this lady you just quoted: If the physical practice of yoga is going to open me to God and help me get to know the God of the Bible, why is it that it’s never said in there? The Bible does not teach this means of coming to God. Now we’ve got a problem, because the Bible claims to be complete, but something was left out. Furthermore, why did this method of getting in touch with the God of the Bible come out of Hinduism that has about 300-and-some-million gods! Which god are you getting in touch with of the Hindu gods? It doesn’t really matter. Tom, it is so wrong, it is so obviously irrational, and it is malicious, really, because it introduces error in what people hope will bring them into touch with God, and this will take them away.
Tom: Dave, answer this question that you posed, and again, in chapter 2 of your book - the book is called Yoga and the Body of Christ: What Position Should Christians Hold? Here is what you say: “What connection is there between physical expressions of yoga or any physical things, and God who, according to Jesus, is a Spirit?” Do we need methodology, do we need techniques, or is there is some physical way that we are going to enhance our spirituality according to the scriptures?
Dave: Absolutely not, and that, of course, is what witchcraft is all about, shamanism. When the witchdoctor slits the rooster’s throat, sprinkles the blood in a certain pattern, and mumbles a formula, then bingo, the spirits have to come through. There are Christians who are trying to present formulas, techniques, and if you follow this – principles - no, that’s Christian Science, you see.
Tom: Pseudoscience, really.
Dave: Right, well, but if you follow the principles of science, like put certain chemicals together in a test tube you’ll get a reaction. God does not automatically react to our motions or prayers or formulas or techniques. That will take you away from God. There may be some spiritual being, a demon, who will respond, but you are being led astray. We come to God in the name of Jesus Christ by grace and faith, trusting in Him, and we approach Him through His Word. He has communicated... Look, Tom, this is a big book, the Bible! Why don’t we go to this and find out? Tom, this invasion of the West with Hinduism is debilitating the church.
Tom: And Dave, what you said earlier is worse: we’re talking about demons here. In fact, the scripture talks about seducing spirits. This is divination. When you begin to develop a methodology, a technique, some object, whatever it is, whether it be clearing your mind, or whether it be some physical exercise - this is the path into the realm of demonic spirits, without a doubt.
Dave: It’s what the Bible calls…you mentioned the word “divination,” absolutely forbidden to Christians, in Deuteronomy 18 and elsewhere. What do we mean by divination? You have a divination device - it could be a magic wand, it could be a crystal ball, it could be tarot cards…
Tom: And whatever Harry Potter is using.
Dave: Right. Whatever it is, that’s how you get in touch with God, according to this. Yoga stands in that position. That is not the God of the Bible! You will meet something else.
Gary: You've been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of the The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God's Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638; or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I'm Gary Carmichael. We're glad you could tune in, and I hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.