In Christianity Today:

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.

It goes on from there.  More on Monday.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Oh, yikes, brother. This article may have been a case of not considering the CT audience. To wit – most evangelicals would consider an appeal to the writings of the Pope as a means of invalidating an argument, not validating it. And the yoga fooferah was a fooferah in part because nobody, at the beginning anyway, did the work of defining what “yoga” is, and who even gets to define it.

    The Pope speaks from the wrong foundation. The yoga argument also has foundation issues that have to be defined before you can even have the argument. Both examples might be good examples of the consequences of evangelicals having no biblically-examined theology of the body, but perhaps not as good an argument for developing one, directly.

    And the response to the piece probably also indicates another reason we don’t have one yet – any poor soul brave enough to attempt to call for one is going to get pooped on by the sheep. :)


    1. Rachael,

      Yeah, I knew the piece was going to be a stretch for the audience. However, they asked me to talk about JP2’s TOB as part of it, and my hope was that interested people would go pick up EV to get the full treatment after reading that piece.

      Totally agree about your point regarding yoga, as you know from reading EV. I’ll have more to say on this in the near future here, too. But before you say the “Pope speaks from the wrong foundation,” you might want to take a look at TOB. The remarkable thing about it (as a Protestant) is how biblically oriented it is and how relatively little he interacts with tradition. There’s some, as it goes along, but not nearly as much as I was expecting.



      1. It is amusing to me, and sad, that somebody should think interacting with the legacy of our fathers in faith is a handicap. I believe I was raised relatively well by my parents, and they by theirs. The idea of discarding all of that strikes me as senseless. How much more so with regards to the spiritual life.


  2. I had chronic back problems for about 20 years.

    Started yoga several years ago and 98% of those problems went away.

    So that’s cool.


  3. Matt, brother, I hope you are laughing at how the comment thread is turning out, and not hitting your head against a wall too hard. Really. This whole area is one where evangelicals expose their lack of thoughtfulness in their utterly predictable Pavlovian response to certain buzz words like “Pope” and “Yoga”.

    What I meant by my “foundation” comment was more to do with how his followers view him – as a literal mouthpiece for God. He won’t “chapter and verse” his writing because he doesn’t have to. Thus saith the Pope, and all that. Us evangelicals, though, we want all those Bible references neatly spelled out (extra points for using the ESV). My theory as to why that is?

    ((Whispering quietly))

    Without them, we don’t know he’s quoting from the Bible.

    But you’ve sold me on reading JP’s work – not to defend him so much, as to defend you. I very much want your work to get as big a readership as possible, but unfortunately, if I linked to this piece, I’d have my TRR friends (which I have many – I’m missional like that) soberly praying for my loss of discernment. Don’t hate me, okay? :)


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