For some time I have had very strong concerns about Christians naively participating in the activity of yoga. Just considering the obvious origins of this practice should be concerning, but due to the way it has been repackaged for westerners, yoga has become benign to most––just another “healthy” and “stress-reducing” option on the fitness plate from which to choose. This is far from the truth, but exactly the intention behind the deception.
At the same time it is surprising that so many believers are deceived by the practice of yoga that is easily creeping into evangelicalism, it’s not surprising when you consider the apathy and sleepiness that has stealthily crept into our church doors. It’s also not surprising when you study the scriptures and consider who the father of lies really is, and what his motives are. There is nothing he would love more than to entice naïve Christians into participating in dangerous activity that not only is antithetical to God’s Word through the worship of other deities, but is something that God commands against and decisively loathes. Why would we chance dishonoring the God who created us, who saved us, all in the name of exercise and health?
“Holy Yoga.” Complete and perfect oxymoron. Churches have sadly decided to throw a Christian term in with the eastern term and call it good. A repackaging job. Think about it. How can an activity whose name means ‘yoke or union with a Hindu god’ be holy? And yet, there are many, many churches who have bought into the idea that it’s just exercise, just stretching, that it won’t hurt anybody. So they offer classes so they can appeal to the growing appetite of their congregations, which in turn grows their numbers. Follow the apathy. Follow the naivety. Follow the money.
But in this evangelical climate, Christians like me have been warned time and again to keep opinions to themselves. “Don’t be unkind! Your convictions are your convictions! If it doesn’t bother your friend’s conscience, then don’t say anything.” But isn’t this just another lie from the pit to believe that we should keep the truth to ourselves? “Don’t be judgmental!” This is the typical line of argumentation and protest you’ll hear when saying anything contradictory to yoga. It’s an exact parroting of what Satan would say. To this I want to say, “Sorry… this is not my judgement, it’s God’s. Take it up with Him.”
How refreshing it was, then, to have found the book, The Shattering: An Encounter with Truth, by Jessica Smith. It seemed to underline, highlight, and give “meat,” per sé, to all of my concerns with dabbling into this dangerous practice. Jessica lived it. She embraced it for ten years. But God rescued her out of it, and she now is able to reach many with a very compelling and very beautifully written testimony of God’s grace and mercy to her.
It’s interesting to note that she grew up in a (“half”) Christian home, where her mom taught her to pray to God through Jesus. She learned how Jesus is God, and that He came to save us from our sins. But it’s even more interesting to note what started her on a slippery slope towards ecumenicalism was when she started questioning the Bible, picking only parts of it that fit into her mindset and belief system. Postmodernism. She “wondered if there was anything more to ‘truth’ than what was in there [the Bible].” (This instantly reminded me of Sarah Young’s testimony in the earlier versions of her dangerous book, Jesus Calling, where she "yearned for more." Sound familiar?) And then, as she opened herself up to the spiritual realm through mindfulness meditation, her world radically changed. Jessica searched for peace and love, and thought she found it through following and being mentored by yogis in India, becoming a certified yoga teacher and master level reiki energy healer. The slippery slope that started with her questioning ‘did God really say?’ (Genesis 3) landed her in the camp of the enemy—a slow and gradual descent into a complete and utter 180 from what her mom once taught her as a child. But remember this. It was gradual. It was slow. And this is how Satan works. Incrementally.
The parallels between her story and my research into the dangers of contemplative mysticism and contemplative prayer were amazing. In 2015, after discovering this had entered my own church, I started a hashtag campaign on Twitter deriving from my personal research, called “Say No to Contemplative,” (#SayNoToContemplative). Jessica’s story gives a personal account of what happens when somebody opens themself up to this deception, and documents the slow descent into unbelief—a perfect example of what happens to somebody who doesn't follow the warnings listed in over 200 tweets in this hashtag campaign. But Jessica doesn’t stop with just her gripping testimony. After she gives a beautiful account of how God rescued her from the grips of mysticism, she lays out a clear presentation of the gospel, and then answers the typical defensive and argumentative questions from yoga participants, complete with scripture to back her up. As she says,
“Yoga is not a stretch-and-tone class. Please understand this. It is an ancient, pagan, spiritual practice. Spirits have been associated with it and invoked by its practice for thousands of years… “There are very real spirits invoked by this practice. Period. They are being masked in today’s culture with a practice that presents itself as appealing, harmless, and even healthy. But the entire aim is to yoke the unsuspecting with the dark spiritual realm.”
The Shattering is such an important read for those involved or tempted to be involved in the dangerous practice of yoga. And for those who don’t believe they could ever be affected? It’s even more urgent. Step into her world and learn from someone who lived it.
Quick read. 156 pages. Highly recommend.