Monday, October 25, 2010

yoga is demonic, says mark driscoll

Oh, here we go again!

My coworker pointed me to this article in Relevant about Christians doing yoga. An avid yoga-goer, I was super interested to read it. Until, that is, I saw Mark Driscoll's name in the first sentence. Rolling my eyes at least halfway back in my head, I sighed and pressed on.

He never disappoints. "Yoga is demonic," Driscoll announced definitively. "Yoga is absolute paganism." "Yoga and meditation and Easternism (yes, he said that) are all opening to demons." Anticipating the counterargument that yoga can actually help people connect to God, Driscoll was quick to compare this with "getting drunk and sleeping with your girlfriend in the name of Jesus" or becoming a Jehovah's Witness and worshiping a false God.

As someone who has never held Driscoll's teaching in high regard, it's not shocking to find that all of this strikes me as deeply thoughtless, bombastic, uninformed, and frustrating. Beyond my own opinion, though, is real (anecdotal) evidence. I know several Christians - myself included - who have benefitted in very real ways from doing yoga, and whose walks with God have been deepened through their practice. The Psalms, Proverbs, and other parts of the Bible make reference to the goodness of meditating on the word and works of God, and practicing yoga is a fantastic space to practice taking your thoughts captive to do just that, as you connect with your body, a good gift from God.

"If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you're signing up for a little demon class, that's what you're doing," Driscoll says. (A 'little' yoga class? Are we four?)
The point that Driscoll is missing here is that we can connect with God in all things where he will choose to meet us. And turning away from him, or to another God - as in the Jehovah's Witness example - although not beyond the pale of God by any means, aren't usual instruments of God's formation. But yoga? Yes, it originated in the Hindu tradition. And people were praying long before Jesus set foot on earth. Should we summarily dismiss prayer, as well? Or fasting, or solitude? Or should we meet God where he is, and where he is working in us? That's what I'll choose to do.


Julie said...

Maybe he's running out of things to preach about. Let's see, he already has emasculated men in the church, scared people into Xianity by threatening hell (Nathan went there this weekend and he said this was the focus), totally defined ridiculous gender roles in the name of Christianity. What's next? Oh yeah, yoga. So ridiculous! I like your response to it. Keep it coming!

Anna Jordan said...

Omg. Mark Driscoll never ceases to make me roll my eyes and shake my head. You're correct in saying that he is consistently "thoughtless, bombastic, uninformed and frustrating." I doubt that he's ever been to a yoga class or has information about the manner in which the classes are conducted. As you know, I'm also one of those Christians that finds the spiritual aspects of yoga - the connections between my mind/body/spirit - bring me closer to God. I regularly enter a yoga class with a prayer or verse in mind that I meditate on throughout the class. I find yoga to be a very rich time of prayer and spiritual growth. I'm glad to know that the author of the Relevant article did disagree with Driscoll.

Loved the closing line of the article: "However, if you practice yoga with discernment and prayer, you can do exactly as Christ commanded the paralytic in the Gospel of Matthew: be healed, take up your mat and go home."

Josh Mann said...

I've had many similar Driscoll reactions. My favorite response to his and Al Mohler's unnuanced denunciation is from John Mark Reynold's blog found here:

Do you agree with his perspective or no?

Sara said...

So I am not one to comment on blogs, but this was so interesting I could not pass up the opportunity. Mark Driscoll, who I believe is well intentioned, seems to see things in black or white. I would argue, that much of the Christian life is lived in shades of grey. To say that the practice of Yoga=demon worship and that yoga=paganism essentially confuses the correlation of form and function. To participate in the form (ie: practice yoga) does not mean that the function for some (ie: hindu worship) is the function for all. That's essentially like saying that by allowing your children to hunt for easter eggs you are allowing them to celebrate the Assyrian fertility goddess (as noted in Relevant). Perhaps some people in Syria still see rabbits/eggs as representations of the fertility goddess, but no Cadbury-loving Evangelical, Christian would agree that this is what they are doing when their kids run around the backyard fighting for plastic eggs.

To say that practicing yoga is demon worship, excludes (as you well noted) the numerous spiritual/health benefits. I will concede that some yoga classes I have been at bend toward the mystical with chanting/song/chimes etc. However, I choose to participate in classes that focus more on the poses and choose intentions that align with my faith. Since, I doubt Mark has ever taken a class at his local rec center (as that could interfere with his Jon Eldridge-esque definition of manliness) I have a hard time even thoughtfully considering his point of view.


angela said...

beutiful blog...pls visit mine
and folhower...thanks and god bless

Shauna said...

Yes, exactly what you said. :)

Shawn said...

No like button, but I "Like" your view

cmjacobs said...

During my sophomore and Junior year of high school i had a bible teacher (i attend a Christian school) who made very black and white statements at times in such a way that completely turned me off to what he was saying. I sat in his class for two years and silently rebelled against what was being taught, only to encounter life and realize that much of what was said was truth cloaked in mis-communication. I would urge you to stop tearing down this figure. Because you are not in his congregation, stop this. You need not labor over this, it only causes broken unity in the body. Also i would like to address the person bashing John Elderidge with the same concern. simply because you do not agree with someone does not make you right and they wrong everytime. search your hearts and humble yourselves please.

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Anonymous said...

Laura, you are as vapid as your father.

See videos of Caryl Matrisciana's "Yoga Uncoiled" part 1, 2, 3 & 4 which you can view here at

Also, you can't "connect" to your imagined "god" by your own conjuring techniques. That is divination forbidden by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Learn about pantheism and panenthism at

Learn that Astrology has no merit by simply readinging anything. You are an embarassment when you post your Astroligical sign in your "about me". Shows the low brow nature of Fuller and your father's "preaching".