Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gnat Strainers

So, I am minding my own business yesterday when all of the sudden an action news alert popped up in my email warning me of theological compromise afoot in the contemporary church.

What could it possibly be now assailing God's people? What compromise is causing confusion and endangering Christ's flock so as to ship wreck their faith? Could it be some new hybrid offshoot of the emergent movement? A new take on the Arian heresy? Dave Hunt has embraced Calvinism?

Nope. According to this press release, John MacArthur made "confusing" statements about yoga during his interview on CNN Prime News when he engaged emergent guru, Doug Pagitt, on the topic of whether a Christian can practice yoga and still be a Christian.

The news alert can be read in full here.

The relevant portion of John's statement "making discerning believers to sit up and take notice" as the alert states is when he said in his opening comments:

Well that would depend on how the yoga is conducted. If it’s just purely exercise, and you’re a strong Christian, it probably wouldn’t have any impact on your faith.

The outfit concerned about John's comment is called Christian Research Service and though the website looks like it may generally contain good information, many of the articles addressing "compromise" and "error" in the church have the feel of gnat straining to them. By that I mean the author latches onto one sniggling detail and blows it way out of proportion.

This latest reproof of John is prime example. Anyone who watched the video of the interview with John and Doug know exactly where John stands. He is no way endorsing that Christians involve themselves with yoga as a religious practice. What John does say is if the Christian does the exercise portion of yoga, you know, the back stretching and leg lifts and what not, then there is no spiritual harm. The real issue is when a person pursues yoga for spiritual benefit, such as "spiritual wellness" or "wholeness," something that Pagitt fellow was promoting.

Now, this CRS "apologist" believes the exercise portion of yoga cannot be separated from the spiritual side of yoga. I believe he is wrong. I know I can separate the exercise portion from the pagan aspects, just like I can separate Christmas trees from their pagan origins, or Easter eggs from their pagan origins. A back stretching exercise is a back stretching exercise and if there is some Hindu swami who does the same exact back stretching exercise to indicate a spiritual connection to one of the many Hindu false gods, who cares? I am not doing the back stretching exercise to connect to one of the many false gods of Hinduism. I am doing the exercise to relieve my lower back pain, or my shoulder pain, or leg pain, or strengthening my body.

Paul used illustrations from the Olympic games to explain spiritual truth. Ancient Olympians use to compete in their games naked as a plucked chicken. There would be homo-erotic undertones attached to a group of nude athletes running out on a field, along with the elevation of the person's outward physical appearance and abilities. Was Paul causing "confusion" and would "discerning Christians be sitting up and taking notice" when he wrote in his letters about running the good race, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize, and buffeting his body? I hope not.

Surely there has to be real, genuine compromises out there in the Christian world for the people at the Christian Research Service to expose, rather than chasing after these windmills. John MacArthur's comment under fire here is not one of genuine compromise.



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