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Are yoga stretches and poses sinful?

The same Seattle pastor who said Mormanism is a cult, now has a warning about yoga which he calls “absolute paganism” that can lead to “demonism.”

YogaIn a detailed blog post, Mars Hill Pastor Mark Driscoll writes that there is “nothing wrong with stretching, exercising, or regulating one’s stress through breath.”

But in studying the roots and history of various yogic practices, he comes to the conclusion that “Christians must reject yoga” if they’re doing it as an act of worship in any way.

He goes on to say, there’s no way to do yoga without being spiritual.

Driscoll’s analogy, “…there is nothing inherently wrong with intimacy, sex, and pleasure. But when the tenets of adultery are included, it’s a sinfully idolatrous worship act.”

The historic purpose behind yoga was to achieve union with the Hindu concept of God, he says quoting this article in the Christian Research Journal. This is the purpose behind virtually all of the Eastern varieties of yoga, including those we encounter in the West.

This does not mean it is the purpose of every practitioner of yoga, for many people clearly are not practicing it for spiritual reasons but merely to enhance their physical appearance, ability, or health.

Driscoll believes “it’s nearly impossible to practice yoga and divorce it from its spiritual elements.”

“Christians must reject yoga, as defined here. I’d also go so far as to say you should reject the term ‘yoga,’ as it is impossible to divorce it from its historical and spiritual context without much explanation and linguistic gymnastics. Instead, feel free in Christian liberty to stretch however you’d like, participate in exercise, calm your nerves through breathing, and even contemplate the Scriptures in silence. But do so in a way that does not identify with yoga and non-Christian mysticism. Do not seek to negate your mind, but rather renew your mind with the Word of God. Do not seek to empty yourself, but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do not seek to turn into yourself for enlightenment, but rather look out to the God of the Bible. Do not seek to become one with the universe, but rather be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

Exercise is a gift of God for us to take care of the bodies that he created for his glory. It’s good and important to exercise. But we should never, in our desire to be in shape and be healthy, adopt systems antithetical to Christianity because they make us feel good or have bodily value. Rather, let’s first stay true to God and his Word and work out our bodies to his glory by his values handed down to us through Scripture.”

(AP file photo)

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