Christian Ouija Boards- The Next Big Thing?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Jason Carlson
I can remember a time when if a person wanted to experience the ancient Hindu religious practice of Yoga they'd have to go downtown and find their local Hindu Yogi from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />India who had opened up a studio here in the States. Back then most Christians wouldn't have even considered trying out Hindu Yoga, let alone go through the trouble of finding a place that offered it. Then along came the Emergent church, making Hindu Yoga readily available within the church to those Christians who would identify themselves as "Postmoderns". Now, even more recently, many churches that have historically embraced traditional, conservative, Evangelical values are starting to offer their congregants the opportunity to participate in Hindu Yoga; all in the name of spiritual growth through experiential practices and experiential worship that will supposedly draw us closer to God.
There are a couple of key problems at work in the thinking of those Christians who believe that Hindu Yoga can be "Christianized" and used for physical benefits, but more so for Christian spiritual growth. First of all, as I've detailed in a previous article that you can find in my archives, Yoga truly is an ancient Hindu religious practice. Hindu Yogis themselves will tell you that you cannot separate the physical aspects of Yoga from its intrinsic spiritual nature. So, to practice Yoga, but only for its exercise value, is basically an absurd notion to the very people who developed and brought Hindu Yoga to the West.
Now, there are some honest Yoga practicing Christians who recognize that Hindu Yoga is more than just a form of exercise, that it truly does have an intrinsic spiritual component to it. However, these Christians make the claim that Hindu Yoga can be "Christianized" so that the practice of Yoga draws us closer to the one true God of Scripture, and not the millions of pagan gods found in Hinduism. This however is a tragic mistake. As I've challenged Christians involved in Yoga for many years, please just show me one example from Scripture where God encourages or allows His people to adopt the religious practices of pagan nations so that they might have one more tool at their disposal for worshipping, experiencing and drawing closer to Him. You won't find it.
The underlying problem with this whole trend towards adopting pagan religious practices, such as Hindu Yoga, and trying to "Christianize" them, is that the church today has become enamored with postmodern, subjective, experiential forms of "worship". As our culture has become more and more postmodern, these postmodern values have sadly filtered into the church. Thus, we now find churches, which at one time were hallmarked by a deep love for God's Word and the rational teaching of it, now turning away from a reasoned and rational instructing of their flocks, so that they might instead pursue the next "big thing" on the market of Christian experiential worship; and Hindu Yoga is just the latest thing to come along.
I believe that Christians everywhere should be seriously concerned about this trend. If we are now comfortable with adopting Hindu Yoga and incorporating it into the life of our churches, a religious system, which by the way has literally enslaved millions of lives in India into a terrible spiritual bondage, what will we be willing to tolerate next?
Seriously, for anyone who thinks that Hindu Yoga is a harmless practice, or that it is of some benefit to the Christian church, worthy of being "Christianized", let me just challenge you to go to India and see the fruits of this Hindu religious practice firsthand. You will witness there, as we've seen ourselves, a nation trapped in spiritual darkness. You will see Hindu Yogis, practicing their various postures, totally blitzed out, oblivious to the suffering around them. You will see, as we have seen, Hindu Yogis lost in meditation, while naked and starving children are literally lying just feet away, slowly wasting away. This is the fruit of Hindu Yoga my friends. Does the Christian church really want any part of this?
And as I asked earlier, if we are willing to tolerate this kind of paganism entering the church in the name of experiential worship, what will we be willing to tolerate next? You see, here's the problem with this trend towards experiential practices and experiential worship in the church, part of human nature is that we always long for a new, a greater, a more intense experience. We tend not to ever be satisfied. So, my question is this, what's next once we get bored with "Christianized" Hindu Yoga? Seriously, where do we go for that next great experiential fix? Christian Ouija boards? You might think its ridiculous, but the church is already proving that we're willing to tolerate paganism within the body of Christ, so why not? I mean, why couldn't we "Christianize" the Ouija board, so that instead of contacting demonic spirits, we use them to get in touch with and draw closer to God. How cool would that be?!
Friends, the only solution to this snowball turned avalanche of experiential practices and experiential worship is to get back to our true foundation as Christians, a deep love for the Lord and His revelation found in Scripture. We may always be tempted to experience God and the worship of Him in new and unique ways, and not all experiences are bad, but we must test all experiences and practices by God's revealed truth in Scripture. This means that we must encourage our churches and our pastors to get back to the basics: preaching the Word, teaching from the Word, instructing our congregations in how to rightly interpret and apply the Word, and also teaching them how to discern truth from error and to contend for the faith. This is the pattern that was set out for us in Scripture by Jesus Christ and the apostles, not looking for pagan practices that we might incorporate and adopt into the Christian life. We need to get back to a place where Scripture and the teaching of it becomes the priority in our churches again. If we do this, we can be confident that our worship will not be in error and we will be equipped with the truths we need to guard ourselves against our human desire for the next "big thing" or experience.
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