There has been a bit of discussion on the topic of Christian Yoga the past couple of days here on CRN.info, and now Ken has decided to post a “source” on Slice 2.0 to back his contention. Granted, his article does nothing more than build some straw men to burn down (which is what we’ve come to expect, anyway).
You can tell from the start of the article that almost no intellectual heavy lifting was done in researching this (kind of like with Johnnie Mac’s “Truth War”), though with less of the pomposity and polemic we’ve come to expect from Ken:
Why is there such a thing as Christian Yoga? It certainly has no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it.
Why is there such a thing as a Christian Website? There certainly is no scriptural or biblical basis in support of it? In fact, 20% of the websites on the web are pornography sites. [For the sarcasm/irony impaired, this is not by actual belief.] The logic is similar, and when you boild it down, what seemt to be most of the crux between the ‘externals’ focus of CRN/Slice 2.0 and the ‘internal’ (i.e. what is in the heart) focus here at CRN.info comes down to how we react where the Bible is silent.
The non-denominational church movement I belong to (which comes from the Restoration movement in the early 1800’s) has a particular saying regarding this prediciment:
Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we remain silent.
Additionally, where the Bible does speak (but possible differences in interpretation may create friction), we have used a similar mnemonic sometimes credited to St. Augestine:
In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.
So, where the rub tends to come is “Where the Bible is silent, are things permitted or forbidden?” and “What is essential vs. non-essential?” In the case of Christian Yoga, what it really comes down to is this: Is this Bible silent on this topic, and if so, should Christian Yoga be allowed within the church?
Let’s be clear with what “Christian Yoga” actually is and isn’t, though, first. Technically, what is referred to as “Christian Yoga” should really be called “Low-Impact Stretching and Stress Relief for Christians” (LISSRC) and not “Yoga” because, aside from the stretches and positions, it does not incorporate Hindu mantras or teachings. However, by using “Christian” as the modifier for “Yoga”, that implies the non-incorporation of Hinduism.
[NOTE: Can you see why many prefer "Christ-Follower" to "Christian", since the former can't be used as an adjective?]
First, is the Bible silent on the topic of LISSRC? I can’t find anything that could be tied directly to such a thing, though yesterday Amy suggested that this could be similar to worshipping God in the high places in the OT. However, this is nowhere near such a parallel, because God had commanded that he could only be worshipped in the Temple, which then set the stage for Pentecost 33 A.D., and the elimination of the sacrificial system with the destruction of the Temple, one generation later, in 70 A.D. Neither Ken nor his “expert” offer any scriptural support for their position from prohibition, outside of GBA origins.
Secondly, should this be allowed within the church? I believe that since the Bible is silent on the issue, it should be up to each local church body to decide if they will allow this, but not to condemn other church bodies that do so. However, this is where the rub between neo-fundamentalism (as demonstrated by Slice 2.0) and evangelical/emerging Christianity occurs.
In general, the neo-fundamentalist crowd – which is much more concerned with externals – tends to answer the question of “what do we do where the Bible is silent, and can such things that act where the Bible is silent give honor to God?” with an answer of prohibition based on tradition. The evangelical/emerging view tends to answer the same question with an answer of permission. Neither view, at an extreme, is correct. However, in the neo-fundamental view, there is little need for discernment, because the overriding answer tends to be “no”. In the e/e view, thuogh, there is great need for discernment, because the overriding answer tends to be “yes”.
Which view holds more risk? The evangelical/emerging view.
Which view holds more opportunity for service to God? The evangelical/emerging view.
Which view will be more apt to make mistakes along the way? The evangelical/emerging view.
Which view is more apt to actually BE (rather than just talk about being) salt and light to a dying world? The evangelical/emerging view.
The key, though, is discernment.
For instance, I have a rather large issue with the emergent tendency to use coarse language on a regular basis (though I disagree that “suck” is always coarse language, per our earlier conversation…). I think there’s a great deal of machinations and intellectual dishonesty in trying to justify it as being something on which the Bible is silent.
However, with Christian “Yoga” (LISSRC), I would find no more wrong with this than (as was pointed out in the thread discussion) Christians celebrating Christmas (pagan origin) or Easter (pagan origin), having a Christmas tree (pagan origin), participating in the Olympic games (pantheistic pagan origin), running the marathon (pagan origin), and on and on.
What it comes down to when viewing these two worldviews and their corresponding response to the question of dealing with Biblical silence on an issue is this:
I believe this is part of what is alluded to by Jesus in the Parable of the Talents. One can choose to take the narrowest, safest path and be condemned for burying his talent in a field. Or, one can choose to take the riskier path and bring more honor and reward to the one who gave them the talent in the first place.
Jesus didn’t call us to play it safe – he called us to serve: heart, soul, mind and strength.