Guest / Limited Access /

In September 2010, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, ignited a blogging and media firestorm by arguing that yoga and Christianity are incompatible. "The embrace of yoga," he wrote, "is a symptom of our postmodern spiritual confusion, and, to our shame, this confusion reaches into the church." Mohler's critique went over as well as one might have expected among those who practice yoga either for health or spiritual growth. He reportedly received hundreds of responses, most of them negative.

The controversy regarding yoga wasn't new. In some ways, it rehashed an earlier kerfuffle surrounding emerging church leader Doug Pagitt, who was invited to debate John MacArthur on CNN in 2007. Once again, the battle lines were clear: MacArthur dismissed yoga as a degraded form of spirituality incompatible with the Christian life, while Pagitt embraced it as a way of integrating the body into a relationship with God.

Whatever we make of yoga's relationship to Christianity, it functions as a cultural bellwether within evangelicalism and its offspring. Pagitt and those who affirm yoga do so out of a genuine attempt to cultivate a holistic faith, one that resists a dualistic division of body and spirit. This movement might be understood as an extension of Eric Liddell's famous suggestion in Chariots of Fire: "I believe that God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure." If running, why not yoga? While nearly all evangelicals want to affirm Liddell's sentiment, there is obvious disagreement over precisely which activities are commensurate with it and which are not.

Evangelicals clearly need some boundaries. Yoga (if only for health benefits) has been normalized for ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedKirsten Powers: The Rise of the Intolerant Left
Kirsten Powers: The Rise of the Intolerant Left
The commentator says we are in a new McCarthyist era—and that the Americans quashing free speech are the ones who have typically heralded it.
TrendingInternational Mission Board Drops Ban on Speaking in Tongues
International Mission Board Drops Ban on Speaking in Tongues
New rules also loosen restrictions on baptism, divorce, and parents of teenagers.
Editor's PickThe Christians Who Annoy Us Are the Christians We Need Most
The Christians Who Annoy Us Are the Christians We Need Most
Why learning from those outside your tribe is essential to the church’s witness.
Comments
Christianity Today
God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Body
hide thisAugust August

In the Magazine

August 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.