Or at least that’s what Albert Mohler and Mark Driscoll would have you believe. He’s what Mr. Driscoll had to say in a recent interview with the Seattle Times:
“A recent essay by the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., warned Christians that yoga is contradictory to Christianity. And local megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church went even further, saying earlier this year that yoga is “absolute paganism.”
“Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic,” Driscoll said. “If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.”
Now, I’m not shocked to hear Driscoll bash yoga. Obviously it’s not the most masculine thing in the world. So, therefore in Driscoll’s mind it must also be non-Christian. But when you label everything under the sun “demonic” and “pagan” you lose some credibility. That is if you had any to begin with.
Now, to be fair: does yoga have “pagan” (Hindu) origins? Yes. And so does Christmas and Easter. The church intentionally selected pagan holy days and rituals and reclaimed them for use in the kingdom.
For me this is the heart of the Christian faith and the very point of redemption and salvation. We see this over and over again in the gospels. Jesus, the “cleanest” and holiest of holy reaches out, touches, and restores the unholy. The entire structure of existence is reshaped in this redemptive act. No longer does the holy become corrupted through it’s contact with the holy, instead the unclean is made clean again because it has come in contact with the Savior.
We have, I think, in many ways reverted back to the via negativa (negative way) faith of our recent forefathers. We define ourselves almost exclusively by what we DON’T do and who or what we DON’T come in contact with. This couldn’t be further from the gospel Jesus proclaimed when He sat down with sinners, ate with tax collectors, and defended adulterers.
Yes, we must always be on our guard and flee from temptation. But at the same time we must remember that the unholy, the “pagan” is made holy when it comes in contact with the holy. We are God’s holy people charged with spreading that holiness and grace to a lost and dying world. Instead of spending all of our time calling things and people “pagan” and “demonic” perhaps we should start to imagine ways that those unholy things and people can be reclaimed and restored for use in the kingdom of God.