By Sam S. Nath
Seattle mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church created an uproar when he stated earlier this year that Yoga is “absolute paganism.” “Should Christians stay away from Yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic,” Driscoll said. “If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.” (Source: The Seattle Times)
Why is that Yoga, practiced by an estimated 15.8 million people in the U.S. alone, instills fear in some Christians?
The Seattle Times noted that Driscoll earlier made a similar statement: “There’s not creator and creation,” he said. “All is collapsed into what we call oneism. The result is that you don’t go out to God, you go into self. It’s not about connecting to God through the mediatorship of Jesus. It’s about connecting to the universe through meditation. It’s absolute paganism.”
Unfortunately, this opinion is not a far leap from that of the Catholic Church. I have discussed this very issue in great detail in my book: The Second Coming of Da Vinci – Real Lost Symbols of Bible.
Many pastors and church leaders believe that anything they don’t understand, in a literal and narrow Biblical context, is “demonic.”
Such low-ordered, two-valued logic erroneously reasons that: If it doesn’t originate, literally quote-and-verse, directly from the Bible (the entirely of their world in exclusion to all others where the Bible is the only “Word of God”), then any other religious practice must be “paganism.”
Examining Yoga, not from a Hindu perspective but rather against the backdrop of its true purpose – Yoga is indeed Biblical. The real reason we do not see Yoga and meditation in the Bible are contained in the real lost symbols of the Bible.
Sadly, pastors with a limited view lack the required breadth of understanding of religious philosophies and practices outside their own, with the result that symbols of the Bible are lost on them. Therefore, Yoga and the Bible remain, in their minds, unrecognized for what they truly are: united in the common purpose of all religion – the freeing of Mankind from his earthly chains.
But one does not need to be a theologian to see that Yoga and the Bible share the same purpose of reaching enlightenment through and with God – when the Bible is viewed with a clear mind and heart that is open.
Pastor Driscoll’s criticism with Yoga shows only his ignorance, both toward Yoga – and Christianity. This so-called “oneism” is no different than the following message of the Bible: The Kingdom of God is within you.
The difference is that Christians read it in the Bible and yogis practice it in life.
Pastor Driscoll is not alone in his misplaced opinions. According to Telegraph last month, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler warned his followers of the dangers of chanting Om – the Hindu enunciation during inward meditation and praise for the Divine.
“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,” he wrote.
Nothing can be farther from the truth when one reads the Bible in concert with its core intent. You do not even need to decipher the real lost symbols.
Mohler’s remark, “Christians are not called to empty the mind,” should be placed in context with the Bible’s verse, Mark 7:15: “There is nothing from without a man that entering in to him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.”
Continuing in Mark 7:21-23: “For from within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, “Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
In The Second Coming of Da Vinci, we see the total focus on internal cleansing or purification of the mind as the process of moving from our lower mind to our higher mind.
One can still disagree that the verse cited above is not related to what Mohler is talking about. However, one can – even now – find further understanding from the Bible:
“The kingdom of God is within you.”
“When Thy eye will be single, your body will be full of light.”
“I die daily.”
“Be in the world, not of the world.”
Yoga is continually striving for the transcendence of the “Single Eye” – which fills the body with light. Meditation and Yoga allows one to be in the world but not attached to it. (This is a parallel concept to the Bible’s wisdom: “not of the world.”)
While one may still disagree that Yoga is Biblical, please bear in mind John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This is no different than Hindus calling that primordial word Om. True yogis claim to hear this sound, Om, in their meditation. The sound of Om is not as foreign an oration from Amen and Amine as one might assume at first glance.
We can actually dig deeper, looking at Revelations 1:8: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the almighty.”
This verse supports Eastern Yogic assertion that Jesus was not limited to time and space but exists as an eternal consciousness: the Holy Spirit. When an advanced Eastern Yogi reads it, he or she can see the Yogic visions of Revelations. How different is this from what Krishna revealed as his deepest mystery to Arjuna…
”My existence is not known to anyone, for I am cause of everyone’s existence.”
It is this author’s belief that Christian pastors naming Yoga as “demonic” based their assumption on a misguided theology and not the exercises or postures of Yoga itself.
Yoga also carries forth the uniting of body and mind with the ultimate goal of uniting oneself with God (which many pastors mistakenly argue is in contravention of the Bible, as the Creator and creation can never unite.)
Nevertheless, Yoga, in itself, does not contradict the Bible. Rather, when you read John 1:12…
“But as many received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God?”
…one sees meditation as no different than trying to prove the Biblical declaration that: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
In fact, all Yogic experiences are revealed in Revelations. So next time, we hear the imprecation that Yoga is demonic, we may ask them if they’ve ever read Revelations.
Sam S. Nath is the author of The Second Coming of Da Vinci: Real Lost Symbols of the Bible.