Yoga, Mohler, and the Media

Onslaught today with this yoga business with Dr. Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I worked for almost 3 years. As you might recall, I posted this post on yoga and its compatibility with Christianity based off his review and interaction of a book.
With today’s media blitz and bashing of Dr. Mohler and some more inquiry, I was asked some questions by a friend. I thought I would take the time to answer them here on the blog – hopefully to spark more conversation and get everyone thinking.
Q1. Am I wrong to be a little irritated by the fact that this post on yoga is the thing that got plastered on the media. I want to say thanks for directing the media’s attention to something so trivial.
A1: It seems media will focus on anything that will get people riled up. Especially with the Louisville crowd – which has a high population of yoga-ites and vegetarians, organic only people, people who love that side of nutrition and fitness (this is not a slam, just a description. I know many of these people and love them and did yoga when I lived in the ville and ate organically, so please don’t hear that as a slam.) But, Mohler isn’t popular anyway, especially in his own town, by people who don’t agree with him. So, the media will take any opportunity to square him off to the public. And his beliefs and opinions about this subject aren’t mainstream. But, yes, I do agree there are more important things in life than yoga, or the next president of any SBC organization, or some other topics that the media decides is the headline for today.
Q2: It sounded as though Dr. Mohler did not find even the physical aspect of yoga in his article to be tolerable. And from speaking to others, this is also what they understood. It appears in his new statements and article that this may not be the case?
A2: My friend is referring to a new rebuttal article that Dr. Mohler has written on his website: First, one sentence I didn’t appreciate and I know why “yoga-people” get bent ouf of shape is this one: “The first lesson — count the cost when you talk about yoga. These people get bent out of shape fast.” Just isn’t necessary. Second, to answer my friends question, I too believe that Dr. Mohler totally shot down the physical benefits of yoga practice in his first article. In this follow-up, he still says that you can’t practice the moves of yoga (little y) and consider yourself a Christian. I still disagree. When I have been sitting at my desk for 5 hours writing, hunched over my keyboard or open Wayne Grudem book and ESV journal Bible, my shoulders are very tight. When I get up out of my chair, get into a downward dog position or a plank or a tree pose, I don’t think I’m doing something that is anti-Jesus. I’m stretching – and practicing yoga moves (little y).
Q3: If he is ok with the physical practice of poses purely in the physical sense, then ok, I think he should have made that clear in his original article.
A3: I would not say that he is. This is his comment in the new article. “I have heard from a myriad of Christians who insist that their practice of yoga involves absolutely no meditation, no spiritual direction, no inward concentration, and no thought element. Well, if so, you are simply not practicing yoga. You may be twisting yourselves into pretzels or grasshoppers, but if there is no meditation or direction of consciousness, you are not practicing yoga, you are simply performing a physical exercise. Don’t call it yoga.”
Q4: I do agree that we do not need the “spiritual enlightening” that yoga “promises” to have a closer relationship with Christ. What are your thoughts on this aspect specifically and what these other Christians are saying about being spiritually awakened through their practice of yoga?
A4: There are many things that bring newness into our spiritual walk with Christ. This comes in many forms. It may be specifically going to church. It may be reading the Bible or praying. It may be hiking and praying as you hike, thanking God for His beautiful creation. It may be reading a Christian book or novel that enlightens the Word in some new way for you. It may be meeting a friend for coffee and having accountability and experiencing true community. It may be sitting in a pigeon pose in your office and praying hoping that you can write this next lesson, praying God to give you an insight into the Bible story you are working on. The Christian life is not a set of “this is the only way you can get closer to God” rules. It is a relationship based on the cross of Jesus Christ. The Word was given to us to know God and His Son better. If you are a believer from grace through faith alone, then the Holy Spirit lives in you, abides in you. He convicts and brings to remembrance all that He has taught (John 14-16).
Q5: Is it just me or does Dr. Mohler sound just a little irritated (and maybe rightly so) in his most recent article?
A5: Yes, I think that the response from Dr. Mohler may be both. I think he could have handled the criticism just with a little less hint of “I can’t believe you disagreed with me”-ness. But, that is me.
I hope soon that the focus of the media will turn to something more important than practicing or not practicing yoga. The gospel is more important. Families are more important. Missions is more important. Me stretching in different yoga (little y) poses is not a matter of my eternal destination. I am thankful for the Cross for that.
What is everyone else’s thoughts?

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About kimddavidson

I am bought with the blood of Christ and being graced every day to know Him more. I am a writer. Love to read, run, hang out, watch movies, cook, bake, work hard/play harder. God is so abundantly good to me.
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14 Responses to Yoga, Mohler, and the Media

  1. Baker says:

    I think both you and Mohler have better and more productive things to talk/blog about. Not to criticize either of your entries… I think the first was a particularly good rebuttal. Like you said Kim, of all the things that we as American Christians may or may not be getting wrong, I think our choice of exercise regimen is among the least important. Sometimes I think the whole of the SBC leadership has “grumpy old man” syndrome. Whether Mohler is right or wrong (he’s wrong, btw) doesn’t even really matter. That he would even bother to formulate an opinion based on a single book authored by someone with an extreme opinion, and then rant about it on his blog is just embarrassing.

  2. lara says:

    Jesus is alive. 😉

  3. As a Christian who appreciates the physical aspects of yoga tremendously, I thank you so very much for addressing this “issue” in a way that I could not fully express myself. The sad thing is that while I respect Dr. Mohler, I am finding myself quite frustrated with his argument and his rebuttal, especially the tone (which I found to be rather snarky). Shouldn’t his goal be to focus more on finding ways to win those who practice Yoga to Christ instead of telling Christians they shouldn’t practice yoga (little y)? I don’t know, I am finding this all very upsetting. It’s just another thing pushing people (non-believers) further away from Christianity. As I said to my friend on his blog, thank goodness Dr. Mohler does not speak for all of us.

    I love that you said “The Christian life is not a set of ‘this is the only way you can get closer to God’ rules. It is a relationship based on the cross of Jesus Christ.” Amen, sister. I love you and your heart! 🙂

  4. Melissa Munger says:

    1 Corinthians 8:4-9

    This passage was particularly helpful when working through this “issue”. And I do feel the same way that this is such a trivial issue comparatively (I think Paul would have thought so too).

    • kimddavidson says:

      I think you are absolutely right. I think Sojourn taught me much about this in their belief and practice of Christian liberty.

      • Melissa Munger says:

        We’re thinking about visiting sojourn to see what it’s like soon. I’ve heard so many opinions from so many different people and I’d like to see for myself. I hear the preaching is awesome 🙂

      • kimddavidson says:

        It is a great church. There are some reasons that I would choose not to go there now, but I love the communion, the preaching, and the music. Let me know what you think!

  5. Lauren says:

    I like the distinction between Yoga and yoga.
    And I agree that we have more important topics to discuss. But all the debate has been interesting
    My very first Yoga class ended up being Yoga with a capital Y. It really freaked me out, focusing on my inner being and stuff like that, and I never returned to that class.
    I’m not against yoga, but I don’t really do it because it’s tough! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Workout Choices: Yoga or Rock Music | This Whole Life

  7. Pingback: Yoga or Not? « A Baker's Life

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