Yoga and Christianity: Are they Compatible?

What is Yoga? What is yoga? For many in the West, yoga is simply a system of physical exercise, a means of strengthening the body, improving flexibility, and even healing or preventing a variety of bodily ailments. But if we inquire into the history and philosophy of yoga we discover that “much more than a system of physical exercise for health, Yoga is . . . [an] ancient path to spiritual growth.” It is a path enshrined in much of the sacred literature of India.{1} Thus, if we truly want a better understanding of yoga, we must dig beneath the surface and examine the historical roots of the subject. Before we begin digging, however, we must first understand what the term “yoga” actually means. “According to tradition, ‘yoga’ means ‘union,’ the union…of the finite ‘jiva’ (transitory self) with the infinite’…Brahman’ (eternal Self).”{2} “Brahman” is a term often used for the Hindu concept of “God,” or Ultimate Reality. It is an impersonal, divine substance that “pervades, envelops, and underlies everything.”{3} With this in mind, let’s briefly look at three key texts that will help us chart the origin and development of yoga within India. It appears that one can trace both the practice and goal of yoga all the way back to the Upanishads, probably written between 1000-500 B.C.{4} One Upanishad

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Is God a Moral Monster?

Are the charges made by the New Atheists a distorted representation of Old Testament ethics or is God a moral monster, as the New Atheists says He is? Introduction The God of the Bible is a good God who demonstrates His love for people by giving His Son for the salvation of those who believe (John 3:16). The New Atheists, however, think differently. They question God’s goodness by raising abundant complaints about Old Testament (OT) ethics. Richard Dawkins thinks that Yahweh is a moral monster: “What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh — and even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.” Yahweh’s commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is both “disgraceful” and tantamount to “child abuse and bullying.” Yahweh breaks into a “monumental rage whenever his chosen people flirted with a rival god,” resembling “nothing so much as sexual jealousy of the worst kind.” Add to this the killing of the Canaanites — an “ethnic cleansing” in which “bloodthirsty massacres” were carried out with “xenophobic relish.” Joshua’s destruction of Jericho is “morally indistinguishable from Hitler’s invasion of Poland,” or Saddam Hussein’s massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.” Beside all this,

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Abortion, A Biblical View

Sue Bohlin takes a hard look at abortion from a biblical perspective. Her Christian viewpoint focuses on the Bible’s perspective on the source and sanctity of life while understanding the emotions many women face. Why Abortion is So Volatile Abortion is one of the most divisive and controversial issues of our day. People generally have strong views about abortion. It is not a social issue of mere preference, but an issue about life and death. Abortion draws out the clashes between two divergent world views. The humanistic worldview says, “Man is the highest standard there is. You don’t answer to anyone, so do whatever you want.” The Christian worldview says, “We answer to God, and He has commanded us not to murder. We must always submit our desires and preferences to the authority of His word.” I believe that the real reason that we see such emotional, tenacious commitment to the availability of abortion goes even deeper than the issue of abortion: people want sexual freedom without consequences. Our culture has a definite agenda supporting any and all sexual expression. It’s difficult to find a new movie, or a successful TV show, or a popular song, that doesn’t embrace this view of sex. When the director of a Crisis Pregnancy Center in Dallas offered a school district a presentation supporting

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The Dark Underside of Abortion

Sue Bohlin looks at the common effects of an abortion on the women who chose it. From a biblical worldview perspective, it is not surprising that many women experience guild, shame and denial. Christ can bring forgiveness and healing for those who have taken this brutally wrong path in their past. Laura’s Story No matter how many times Laura{1} took the home pregnancy test, it kept showing up positive. She was pregnant, and seventeen years old. She’d gotten an A on her paper against abortion in school. Her parents would never understand, especially since her mother volunteered at the crisis pregnancy center! Her boyfriend was hot, but hardly husband material. He was more committed to skateboarding than to her. Laura had never felt more confused in her life. When she called her boyfriend to tell him she was pregnant, he just said, “That stinks. Well, I gotta go,” and he was gone. She carried her horrible secret for three weeks before finally telling her parents. Her father exploded: “What did I ever do to deserve this? Well, we’ll just have to get rid of it. It’s the best thing for everybody. You’re too young to be a mother.” When Laura’s eyes flooded with tears, he said, “You may hate me for a while, but I’m willing to take that risk.

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Christian Environmentalism

Is There An Environmental Problem? The news media are full of stories concerning environmental disasters of one kind or another, from global warming to endangered species to destruction of the rain forests to nuclear accidents. Some are real and some are imaginary, but it’s not hard to notice that the environmental issue receives very little attention in Christian circles. There are so many other significant issues that occupy our attention that we seem to think of the environment as somebody else’s issue. Many Christians are openly skeptical of the reality of any environmental crisis. It’s viewed as a liberal issue, or New Age propaganda, or just plain unimportant since this earth will be destroyed after the millennium. What we fail to realize is that Christians have a sacred responsibility to the earth and the creatures within it. The earth is being affected by humans in an unprecedented manner, and we do not know what the short or long term effects will be. Calvin DeWitt, in his book The Environment and the Christian,{1} lists seven degradations of the earth. First, land is being converted from wilderness to agricultural use and from agricultural use to urban areas at an ever-increasing rate. Some of these lands cannot be reclaimed at all, at least not in the near future. Second, as many as three

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Utilitarianism: The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Introduction You have probably heard a politician say he or she passed a piece of legislation because it did the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens. Perhaps you have heard someone justify their actions because it was for the greater good. In this article, we are going to talk about the philosophy behind such actions. The philosophy is known as utilitarianism. Although it is a long word, it is in common usage every day. It is the belief that the sole standard of morality is determined by its usefulness. Philosophers refer to it as a “teleological” system. The Greek word “telos” means end or goal. This means that this ethical system determines morality by the end result. Whereas Christian ethics are based on rules, utilitarianism is based on results. Utilitarianism began with the philosophies of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Utilitarianism gets its name from Bentham’s test question, “What is the use of it?” He conceived of the idea when he ran across the words “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” in Joseph Priestly’s Treatise of Government. Jeremy Bentham developed his ethical system around the idea of pleasure. He built it on ancient hedonism which pursued physical pleasure and avoided physical pain. According to Bentham, the most moral acts are those which maximize pleasure

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Four Views of Revelation

The Debate One of the most intriguing books of the Bible is the book of Revelation. The imagery of the cosmic battle in heaven and on earth makes it a fascinating book to study. However, much debate surrounds the proper interpretation of this apocalyptic work. Is this book a prophecy of future events yet to take place, or have the prophecies of this book been fulfilled? Two popular authors highlight the debate that continues in our present time. In his hit series Left Behind Tim LaHaye writes a fictional account based on his theological position that the events of Revelation will occur in the future. Popular radio talk show host Hank Hannegraaff responded by attacking the theology of LaHaye. In his book The Apocalypse Code, Hanagraaff asserts that the events of Revelation were largely fulfilled in 70 A. D. with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. He criticizes theologians like LaHaye for taking a hyper-literal approach to Revelation.1 The debate has raised some confusion among Christians as to why there is such a debate and how we should interpret the book of Revelation. The issues at the core of the debate between Hanagraaff and LaHaye are not new. Throughout church history, there have been four different views regarding the book of Revelation: the idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist view. The

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The Decline of a Nation – History and Christian Values

Kerby Anderson considers factors which may lead to the decline of this nation’s position as the only world super-power. He points out the relationship between moral and spiritual decline and the decline of society in general. We need to return to godly principles if we are to avoid a descent into irrelevance and depravity. Introduction Doomsayers for many years have been predicting the decline and fall of this country. And while many of these short-term predictions have proved inaccurate, there is some truth to the prevailing belief that this nation will fall like every great nation before it. Apart from revival and reformation, this nation is destined to decline. The problem with many of these doomsayers is that while their prognosis is right, their diagnosis is wrong. Yes, the future is bleak. But our problem is not ultimately political, economic, or social, as these doomsayers would have us believe. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation. Just as there are spiritual principles that influence the life of an individual, so there are political spiritual principles that govern the life of a nation. And though we may feel that these are obscure

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Critique of The Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse

Introduction Preterist comes from the two Latin words — praeter, beyond, and ire, to go, and therefore comes to look at a past action or state. Webster defines preterist as “n. 1. one whose chief interest and pleasure is in the past, 2. in theology, one who believes that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled.” Of course preterism is not confined to the Apocalypse; it also places a major emphasis on the Olivet discourse, particularly as it is recorded in Matthew 24-25. Thomas Ice sees three categories of preterists — mild, moderate and extreme. He states, “Mild preterism, unlike the other two forms, does not see prophecy concluding with the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.” Essentially it sees the Apocalypse fulfilled in the downfall of Israel as a nation and the overthrow of pagan Rome. Extreme preterists “. . . view themselves as ‘consistent preterists.” This “consistency” leads to the conclusion that the second coming occurred in A. D. 70. Therefore there will be no bodily resurrection; believers have already been spiritually resurrected and at death will go on to live eternally with spiritual bodies. Moderate preterism believes large blocks of New Testament prophecy were fulfilled in the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70, but they also hold to a future literal

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Middle East Uprisings in Light of Bible Prophecy

Introduction Rising conflict in the Middle East stirs within us a sense of worry as we see numerous areas of our lives affected by what transpires in the Middle East: rising oil prices, terrorist activity throughout the world, and the increasing power of hostile regimes bent on the destruction of Israel and America. However, it should also awaken our awareness of Bible prophecy and God’s activity in the world as we near the return of Christ. The uprisings in the Middle East today should capture our attention, for several nations involved in the conflict today will play key roles in the battles which will take place in the end times. My purpose in this article is to present a brief overview of the unrest occurring in the Middle East today and to explain their connection with Bible prophecy. Current Conflict in the Middle East Many of us are aware of the uprisings going on in the Middle East. The nations experiencing uprisings at this time are Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Several factors have led to these massive uprisings. First, there has been a long history of growing unrest against the corrupt regimes whose leadership has left the majority of their people in poverty while only a small upper class

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