My Question: How do I respond to a ‘Christian’ who is also a yogi?

Hi everyone,
We have a lady in our church who professes to be a Christian and attends services on Sundays. She is also a yogi and takes people through eastern style meditation to find healing. She’s quite outspoken about her beliefs and will regularly be found ‘teaching’ people after a Sunday service how to find peace or healing according to her belief system - which she would always say involves Jesus somehow.

I’ve found that most of the people in our church have given up challenging her views, as she’s so adamant about what she believes. Recently she was telling a visitor to our church how she could find healing if she imagines her healing first. The yogi explained to the visitor that Jesus used his imagination in his healings of people. The yogi also spoke to me about how we can all find healing since we’re all perfect beings but we’ve become deceived by adverts and culture which has allowed ill health in. I wanted to try and draw out from her the biblical basis for these beliefs - after all, she claims to believe in the Bible - and her response was “Oh I used to think like you when I was younger, I used to be naive like you, but then I learned”. We were then interrupted by someone and I couldn’t take the conversation further.

My question is, are the others in my church right to not bother, or is there a way I can continue to engage with her that doesn’t end up in another fruitless conversation?

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Hi Allison -

Oh, do I feel your concerns - this is a very important conversation. I thought I may have something to share as I once privately spoke with a friend about the dangers of her practicing “Christian yoga” but there appears to be differences in the posturing of reception from my friend and this woman you are concerned for.

Moreover I want to be very careful how I reply and will seek that out.
Therefore, I’m replying here to follow the thread and discern whether or not what I have to share is applicable and helpful for you.

May the Lord be with you as you seek answers and for all of the replies in this thread!

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Hello, Very interesting situation. That is something the pastor and elders of your Church might speak to her about.
Matthew 6:6 came to mind when I started to read your question. Jesus often went off by himself to pray. Daily time alone with God in scripture reading and prayer is where we draw our inner strength. Will pray that whoever and whatever is said when speaking to her about this will speak to her heart and Glorify God. God is Good to All. Fred Proch

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Thank you, @fredproch, I read your reply just five minutes after reading a Bible study app also about Jesus taking time out to be with his Father and pray. I love it when God repeats what he’s trying to say to me! I think this sounds the wisest course to take, thank you for your response.

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Thank you, @JEturralde, I think you’re modelling exactly what I should do - to have a very careful response to the lady in my church. I don’t want to be ruled by fear or a sense of giving up, but I also don’t want to go head first into the wrong conversation. Thanks for your response.

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For what it’s worth: If I were the yogi I’d be most apt to dialog with folks who found my statements interesting and wanted to understand my perspective. Not that you yourself are considering becoming a convert of her yogi-ing, but you could be fascinated to want to understand how it is that she reckons the scripture to have certain meanings she extracts from it… If you take an interest in her (for real) then what would stop you from saying something like “Hey, I’d like to understand more about where you’re coming from on that… Does it make sense to try to catch you next week after the church service?.. Maybe pick it up where we left off with XYZ…?”
If she felt that you actually wanted to hear where she was coming from what would keep her from saying “Sure…”?
As long as you don’t allow her to railroad you into the role of acting like her “pupil” you could probably end up having a decent, thoughtful conversation.

Just sayin’… it might be possible for it to be that simple. :wink:

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@timotto yes, I’d like to think I could do that. I think there is a danger that she would want to make it a teacher-pupil balance within the conversation - I certainly felt that it was headed that way last time in the way she spoke to me (rather than the way I was asking her). However, I am genuinely interested in what she has to say and how she’s come to her conclusions. I’m absolutely open to continuing the conversation with her so will pray more about it and see how God leads.

Hello Allison,
Your concerns are recognized and well founded. I am reminded of Marianne Williamson and her belief system, meditating on something towards a particular end, describing it as channeling or something similar.

To paraphrase Ravi, speaking of all religions being superficially similar yet fundamentally different (my words), I would question her declaration of belief in Christ.

Eastern religions declare their belief in Christ the prophet - being human without deity - alongside others such as Depak Chopra, Bhagwan Razneesh, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, etc…

Biblically, I would begin with Isaiah 5:20 along with 1 Corinthians 15:33 and point to the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-20).

Personally Allison, I’m no expert. Just someone standing in the gap.
///
Definition of [expert] by Nicholas Butler (author, professor, Nobel Prize recipient):
“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.”

@Jer thank you, that is such an excellent point I’d not recognised - her understanding of Christ might not be the same as mine. I really like that as a conversation to have with her. It’s such a fundamental point to clarify before we can move onto anything else.

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Alison,

This is something we see more and more in the church and something that needs to be confronted as worldly thought rather than Biblical truth.

Challenge her on where these statement are supported in The Word. There is no union between God’s temple and idols, whether it’s yoga, meditation, horoscopes or any other activity/world view that teaches anything contradictory to God’s commands(2 Corinthians 6:14-16). It is possible she has wandered away(2 John 1:9-11) and does not need to be encouraged to continue down her current path but corrected and brought back to the only Truth that is Scripture.

I have confronted this in our church body and would be more than happy to support you in your efforts to help this lady become more confident in sharing The Gospel as it seems she is currently more comfortable and confident sharing a false world view .

In Christ,
Rob

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Hello Alison,

How is this conversation coming along? Have you had an opportunity to speak to her about the fundamentals of her beliefs? ◡̈

Thank you so much for raising up this concern and being so vested in the life of a fellow believer! (and lives of the others as well) This new age movement has crept into the life of the church quite subtly. To some extent, I believe there is some form of syncretism that is happening here: Yoga Meditation x Christian Healing.

I think the many helpful community members have already offered fundamental biblical defence against the practice. I am sensing some nuances here and would like to offer some questions/points of clarification.

  1. By and large, It would be useful to understanding the roots of how she came to the practice. I think there was an appeal that drew her. It would be great to understand in conversation why she is so attracted to the practice of yoga.
  2. I am also trying to understand if she believes that she sees Yoga as just a meditation style and not religiously loaded. (This is quite popular trend and this confusion/non-disclosure of roots has drawn many believers to see Yoga as a neutral activity) It’s actually the same for martial arts like Muay-Thai which involves religious meditation at a higher level. To which most believers would say, I just need to be not so involved, thus keeping religious affiliation low.

Hope this helps to setup a meaningful conversation of understanding and empathy!

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Thank you @robhenry15, I’m not sure if she’s wandered away, or whether she has always had a mixed belief system. I did ask her a while back which scripture she could use to support her views, but she turned this back on me making it seem I was naive and needed to learn more. At the same time, she never answered my question. In terms of encouraging her back to the full truth of the Bible, I think this requires one to one regular discipling. I will pray about this.

Hi @gideonren, thank you for your insights here. I think you’re spot on about syncretism here and it’s subtle entry into Christianity. Your questions made me reflect on the possible roots of this, and it made me think back to when I was younger. I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but not always walking in my faith. There was a time when I was pulled in by the idea of pagan magic. I never dabbled, but I read a bit and it was fascinating. I think that the fundamental thing for me was that I lacked understanding on God’s nature and power. I think I saw him as needing to be supplemented because his power alone was not sufficient. I wonder if this could be a possible root in this situation, which means the character and nature of God needs to be explored with her, including a look at his all sufficient love and power, his ultimate sacrifice in Jesus and his defeat of death. Applying all this to our lives now would be a really good way of discipling her. Thank you for causing me to reflect on those things.

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