This was a lecture on the importance of the mind in the Christian life, delivered to the inaugural meeting of the Auckland branch of Thinking Matters on the 17th of March.
Thanks to Stuart McEwing and David Lindsey for making this available online.
April 6, 2009
This was a lecture on the importance of the mind in the Christian life, delivered to the inaugural meeting of the Auckland branch of Thinking Matters on the 17th of March.
Thanks to Stuart McEwing and David Lindsey for making this available online.
November 20, 2008
Dr Steve Kumar has spent much of his academic life studying questions about faith and religion. He is a leading New Zealand Christian apologist and gifted in presenting the historical, biblical and philosophical grounds for Christianity. He writes this with a deep conviction that in a world where truth is regarded as subjective and relative, the contemporary church must not neglect the role of reason and the need for a clear understanding of the Christian faith. Experience alone is not enough for a robust, lasting and effective Christianity.
Christianity is not just a matter of the heart, it is also a matter of the mind. The cliché, “What is mind? No matter! What is matter? Never mind! If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter,” may be amusing but the reality is that your mind matters to God. God has given us a mind to know Him, a heart to love Him and a will to serve Him. We are never called to surrender our hearts at the expense of our minds. To divorce the head from the heart is not a healthy spiritual experience. We are called not to remove our mind but to renew it.(1) Christian sociologist Os Guiness observes, “Anti-intellectualism is truly the refusal to love the Lord our God with all our minds as required by the first of Jesus’ commandments. God does not bypass the mind on the way to the heart. Our hearts cannot rejoice in faith if our minds are full of doubts, for the heart cannot believe what the mind rejects as false.” The great thinker St. Augustine declares, “For who cannot see that thinking is prior to believing? For no one believes anything unless he has first thought that it is to be believed.”
In our generation, it is not enough to know what we believe–we must know why we believe what we believe. Christian apologetics opens the window of our minds and reveals the wonder of God’s truth. It can give us the insight to expose the futility of human philosophy and the inadequacy of humanistic religion. It can assist us in confirming the reality of God’s truth. Apologetics can help us immensely in our battle for the truth. If Christianity is true, its truth can be shown to be true. Christian Apologetics is the art of explaining why Christianity is true. Apologetics is not apologising. Although the term is familiar to many, few understand its real meaning or purpose. Tragically, many dismiss it as an irrelevant intellectual exercise played by those who lack personal faith and commitment. It is even argued that apologetics consists of proving what you have never doubted by arguments you do not understand.
The unfortunate notion underlining these assumptions is that one must choose either a religion of faith or a religion of reason and no one can have it both ways. The either/or mindset is basically inadequate and unrealistic. By divorcing faith from reason, we not only make our faith unverifiable but also unbelievable. Contrary to popular opinion, Christianity is not a leap in the dark or a step into the unknown but an invitation into the light of the reasonable God.
Christian apologetics is a valuable tool which explains why Christians are Christians and why non-Christian, should become Christians. Apologetics can renew our mind and perform a useful service by helping us to use our mind rather than loose it. The task of apologetics is to communicate the truth of Christianity and to show that Christianity explains life and reality far more adequately than any other alternative belief system.
The best reason for accepting the Christian faith is because it is ultimately true. There are five good reasons why the ministry of apologetics is vital to the Church today.
1. It is Biblical
The entire Bible radiates with the light of apologetics. From Genesis to Revelation we read God’s truth communicated coherently. The first verse of the Bible affirms Theism, refutes Atheism, denies Pantheism and rejects Agnosticism. It does not merely assume creation but refutes the pagan views of origin. The Old Testament prophets frequently appealed to the facts of history, providence, prophecy and miracles to validate their message. The Bible commands us to give good reasons for believing in God. There is overwhelming Scriptural Support for the justification of apologetics.(2)
2. It is Logical
The Christian faith makes good sense. A house is as strong as its foundation. A faith without a foundation cannot stand the challenge of skepticism. The Princeton theologian B.B. Warfield declared, “Though faith is the gift of God, it does not in the least follow that the faith which God gives is an irrational faith.” God, who created humans with a mind and common sense, has also given us a sensible faith. If it makes sense to defend our freedom, family and country then should we not defend what is most precious and valuable to us–our faith? We value our faith not only by living it but also by defending it, as a faith worth believing is also worth defending. Logic and thinking play a fundamental part in our lives, for instance, we don’t break the logical Law of Non-contradiction without suffering serious consequences. We do not date cows or bicycles, or blindly eat anything that moves. If absurdity and contradictions are the essence of faith then insanity and lunacy should equally be embraced as an adequate expression of faith. Philosopher, John Locke, was right in stating:
If God gave us common sense, must we despise it in an area that is most vital to our lives?
By removing reason from faith one opens the door of deception and allows no possible ground for distinguishing truth from error, genuine faith from the counterfeit, and ultimately, reality from fantasy. It makes sense to have a faith that makes sense. Augustine was right in stating that, “A Christian is one who believes in thinking and thinks in believing.” Richard L. Purtill notes, “Reason, like every good thing, leads us ultimately to God. The better we reason the nearer we come to truth. In answering the question, “Why apologetics?” R.C. Sproul responds, “Because we are rational creatures. Because we are by nature rational, we must be approached with reasons.”
We must not fail to perceive the truth that a spiritual commitment without discernment is as disastrous as discernment without commitment. The flight from reason does not lead us to the height of revelation but to the death of truth, (1 Cor. 12:1-3, 14; 1 Thes. 5:21; 1 Jn 4).
3. It is Historical
From the very beginning of Christianity, believers have defended that Jesus Christ is God. Most of the New Testament books are apologetical in nature. The Gospel of Matthew was written to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. John clearly states his reason for writing his Gospel: “These things are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you might have life in his name,” (John 20:31). From the Old Testament prophets to Jesus Christ, the Apostles (Acts 14:8-18; 17:16-34; 24:5-21; 26:1-29), Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Origin Tertuilian, Athanasius, Augustine Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal, Thomas Reid, Joseph Butler, Jonathan Edwards, William Paley, John Henry Newman, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, A.E. Taylor, James Orr, G. K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, E.J. Carnell, James 0. Boswell, ER. Tennant, Elton Trueblood, Gordon H. Clark, Cornelius Van Til, F.A. Schaeffer, Bernard Ramm, E.L. Mascall, and many more have defended the faith consistently.
4. It is Practical
People have serious doubts about God, miracles, creation, etc. The secular world is full of people who think Christianity is not true. If we believe that Christianity is true then we have an obligation to communicate it as the truth. Since apologetics is giving a good reason for what we believe, we are called to practically help people to see the value of our faith. Frequently we meet people who ask tough questions: “If there is a God, why is there evil?” “If miracles are not possible, then why should we believe Christ was God?” There are good answers to these kinds of questions. Apologetics can remove obstacles to faith in God and give us the ground to trust God. It can dispel disturbing doubts which plague Christians and can create confidence and certainty, and at the same time it can challenge the indifferent and unbelieving to examine the faith. James Orr suggested, “A strong, stable religious life can be built on no other ground than that of intelligent conviction.” Apologetics can help us to think clearly about our faith and provide an objective ground for our subjective experience. The value of apologetics is evident from a letter that I received from a university graduate who was a former sceptic. She writes, “I would just like to encourage you in your ministry and tell you that your book Christianity for Skeptics made a big difference to my life. At one stage I doubted the truth of the Bible and the reality of God and your book was one thing which helped set me back on track. Thanks immensely.”
5. It Is Relevant
“Our generation is in a shopping mood for answers,” notes Os Guiness, in a time when our world is dominated by a variety of philosophies, competing belief systems, and objections to Christianity. Our proclamation in must be based not on subjectivity but on adequate evidence. Apologetics provides good reasons why Christianity is worthy of belief. Many people have lost their faith through the arguments of Atheism, Existentialism, Marxism and Mysticism. Philosopher William L. Craig notes, “As I speak in churches around the country, I constantly meet parents whose children have lost their faith because there was no one in church to answer their questions.” Non-Christian writers know the power of reasoning and arc using it to promote their causes. Reasoning and arguments can appeal to thinking minds who are looking for a tough-minded faith. Since evidence and arguments can alter one’s thinking, Christians should employ the principles of apologetics to graciously transform the thinking of the non-Christian to the reality of God’s truth. Michael Green states, “At a basic level, every person seeks an apologetic. A woman on the street the other day asked me, ‘Why does God allow my friend to be bedridden with arthritis?’ You’ve got to give a Christian apologetics there.” Apologetics will strengthen the faith of the believer and remove the doubts of the unbeliever.
(1) See Rom. 12:2; Is. 1:13; Luke 10:27; Matt. 22:27; Mark 12:30; 1 Pet. 1:13; 1 John 5:20.
(2) See 1 Pet. 3;15,16; Phil. 1:16,17; Titus 1:9; Acts 22:21; 25:16; 1 Cor. 9:3; Is 1:18 ; 3:13; Jer. 1:16; Hosea 4:1; Jude 3.
November 20, 2008
by Dr. Steve Kumar
Relativism is not a new belief. It is as ancient as the human race. It is not the wisdom of the mind but the error of the soul. Although relativism may appear to be sensible on the surface, it could only be maintained at the expense of reason. Relativism is an illusionary belief. Its view is internally incoherent and logically inconsistent. Alexander Solzhenitsvn was insightful when he said, “It is a terrible thing to be in a society where there is no law; it is equally terrible to live in a society where there are only lawyers.” Relativism is not only the enemy of truth but the enemy of the good.
The first flaw of relativism is that it begs the question. The relativist does not prove that relativism is true but merely assumes that it is true. This is arbitrary and invalid. One must demonstrate the soundness of one’s views before one invites others to embrace it. Relativism is presupposed to be true, presumed as a proven premise and used as an established truth in the process. What is the basis or the ground for relativism? To believe relativism is true one must accept the absolute laws of logic and rationality to qualify as a true belief but such laws are questioned under relativism, therefore relativism can never be regarded as true. Why should anyone accept relativism? As a theory relativism is not intellectually respectable or rational. It provides no logical criteria. In the light of relativism, no person (e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Judas) ever does anything wrong and therefore they could never be condemned. Consider the relativist’s dilemma: A mystical pantheist told a British officer in India, “My conscience tells me to burn a widow with the corpse of her husband.” The officer replied, “My conscience tells me to hang you if you do.” As evangelical philosopher Stuart C. Hackett notes, “If values are wholly relative to an individual valuer, there is no way of explaining how two persons can differ concerning an ethical question, or any other question, for that matter.” An unproved assumption is not worthy of belief. Seven hundred years before Christ the prophet Isaiah understood the error of relativism and pronounced judgment on those who regard evil as good and good as evil (Isaiah 5:20).
The second flaw of relativism is that it refutes itself. Truth by nature is non-contradictory. No theory is true if it falsifies itself. The analytical British philosopher Antony Flew rightly suggests, “To tolerate contradiction is to be indifferent to truth.” The trouble with relativism is that if it is true. it is false. Statements like, “There are no absolute truths!” “Everything is relative!” “Nothing is true!” are self refuting. These statements are grammatically sound but logically false. Take the statement, “A married bachelor drew a square circle on the blackboard that doesn’t exist.” They are deceptive statements. They break the very law they promote. The person who says, “Trust no one!” is in fact inviting you to trust him. Relativism is a false system because it promotes what it denies. Take the example of the existential professor who told his class, “There are no absolutes.” One of his students raised a thoughtful question, “Professor are you absolutely sure?” The professor was absolutely confused by the question.
Recently, a psychology student in Sydney who attended my lecture on relativism said, “Truth is subjective. We all perceive truth in our own way.” I asked her, “Is that really true?” She said, “Yes!” I informed her that if truth is truly perceivable then truth is not subjective. Furthermore if truth is totally subjective, how could she know what I know and how could she tell me what she knows? The fact that she disagrees passionately and is prepared to argue rationally indicates that the concept of relativism is not only meaningless but self-refuting. If a statement or position is self-contradictory then it is necessarily false. In the light of relativism it would be impossible to condemn cannibalism rape, racism, cruelty and other actions. The logician Richard Purtill from Western Washington State University correctly notes, “The relativistic view is incompatible with any moral objection.”
The third flaw of relativism is its own dogmatism. While relativists may argue that one must not be dogmatic or be an absolutist, yet relativists are equally dogmatic about relativism. They believe that relativism is absolutely true. Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark rightly observes, “Objections to dogmatism are always dogmatic, and relativism is always asserted absolutely.” Relativists do not succeed in giving up absolutes–they merely redefine truth subjectively and arbitrarily. When the relativist says, “There are no rules” or “There are no absolutes,” what transpires is not the rejection of dogma but the affirmation of another. What we often fail to see is the unspoken assumption, “(It’s a rule) there are no rules,” or “There are no absolutes (except this one).” Nobody is right (except myself). In the battle for truth relativism is presumed to be the truth without justifying its dogmatic claim. No relativist can escape the charges of dogmatism.
Since relativism begs the question and fails to provide a logical ground for belief and since its assumptions are contradictory and incoherent. wisdom calls us to reject it. Relativism leaves us in the ocean of subjectivity and leads us to the death of truth.
THE REALITY OF TRUTH
Truth is the light of God which reveals the true meaning of reality. The apostle John affirmed this point when he wrote about the logos of God, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,” (John 1:9).
Truth is fundamental. Without an objective standard of truth no individual can make a sensible choice in our world of ideas. It is the key that opens the door to the meaning of life. It is the fabric which holds our existence together and dives direction and purpose. Without it our existence is an endless repetition of triviality. Our struggle for existence would be as meaningful as blind man in the dark room who was looking for a black cat that wasn’t there.
An event from New York illustrates the point. During one cold night a drunkard was seen walking around a lamppost. A man stopped and asked what he was doing. The drunkard replied, “I am looking for the key to my house.” The man joined in the search but they found nothing. “Are you sure you lost it here?” the man enquired. “No! I lost it a block away,” “Then why are you searching here?” demanded the man. “Because there is enough light here.”
If God exists he holds the key to truth. The brilliant Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is regarded by many scholars as the finest Twentieth Century mind. While working on his masterpiece, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he came to an amazing conclusion: “Man doesn’t have sufficient perspective from within the world to build an external structure of truth and value.” From a human perspective truth is an impossible ideal but from a divine standpoint it is a reality. Without an objective absolute revelation from God humanity simply drowns in a meaningless sea of subjection. In a time when our culture is uncertain about the truth. When people believe that nothing is knowable, that no one can be sure of anything, we have something unique to communicate. Jesus Christ is the best reflection of God’s. In Him there is no fear of deception. We must first know the truth if we are to bring any reformation to our Society. As Tom Snydder concludes, “we must accurately perceive truth so that we can proceed righteously in truth.” In the light of our predicament Jesus Christ offers the remarkable solution, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
November 20, 2008
By Dr Steve Kumar
Possibly no other question has intrigued man more than the question of man’s origin: “How did life begin on earth?” The theory of evolution attempts to explain this, and enjoys remarkable popularity. In most schools and universities around the world, the theory of evolution is taught–not as a theory–but as a fact.
Scientist and philosopher Sir Julian Huxley proclaimed, “Darwin’s theory is no longer theory, but fact. No serious Scientist would deny that evolution has occurred, just as he would not deny that the earth goes round the sun.” Now to qualify as science, the theory should be provable by the scientific method–yet by the very standards scientists themselves choose to set, the theory of evolution does not qualify. Huxley’s statement indicates how emotional many scientists arc about the theory.
Today, among the high priests of biology, a quiet revolution is occurring–something not widely reported in the press. As Dr. Pierre Grasse, one of the world’s noted biologists, says: “Not withstanding the success they have had among certain biologists, philosophers, and sociologists, the explanatory doctrines of biological evolution do not stand up to objective in-depth criticism. They prove to be in conflict with reality or unable to solve the problem involved.”
We will now examine our major areas of the theory and discuss some of the problems involved.
Darwin’s theory relied heavily on the notion of probability. He was convinced that given enough time, small changes accumulating over time could account for the change of one species of animal to another. In fact, he staked his reputation on the theory that these chance changes, without an overall purpose or goal, were responsible for the formation of all the highly complex plants and animals. Thus, Darwin was basically saying that it was all a matter of probability.
Statistically speaking, it is true that there is always a chance of something happening, just like there is a chance of tossing a coin 10,000,000,000,000 times, and getting tails every time. However, the real question is not whether it is possible, but whether or not it is probable that it occurred.
Whilst Darwin claimed that, given enough time, it was possible that evolution happened, the famous astronomer Sir Frederic Hoylc said that there was not enough time for the chance evolution of the thousands of genes essential for life in animals. He said, “The probability that chance occurrence of random mutation could accidentally create the complex relationships experienced in genes could be likened to the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard would create a 747 Jumbo Jet.”
In other words, there is no chance of it happening. But The evolutionists respond that there is plenty of time for evolution to occur–around five billion years. No one would disagree that five billion years is a very long time, but is it long enough to account for the chance evolution of all the highly complex forms of life? The mathematicians answer with a decided “No!” For decades they have studied this problem, and each time they end up throwing their hands up in disbelief–they say that the probability of life occurring by chance evolution is virtually zero!
The cells that make up our body are staggeringly complex machines–each one contains myriads of different chemicals all working together perfectly. Mathematicians have calculated that the chance of this occurring through evolution is one chance in 10 with 78,000 zeros after it. To this type of evidence, the evolutionist just replies, “Give it enough time and it will happen.” But Alvert Szent Giorgyi, a Nobel Prise biochemist says that he just cannot accept this. He says “Random shuffling or bricks will never build a cathedral or a Greek temple, however long the time.” In other words, time is irrelevant; some things just cannot happen–no matter how long you have.
In the 1950s scientists reported they were successful in creating organic material from chemicals. They placed the important chemicals together, such as water, methane, ammonia, hydrogen, carbon, etc, and sparked them with electricity. This produced amino acids and other organic compounds, which arc the basic building blocks of life. “Aha!” said the evolutionists, “Here is proof that life was generated from non-life by chance.” Great comfort was taken in finally knowing where life began. But, if only the scientists had a bit of healthy skepticism, they would have realized that this experiment in no way explains life’s origin.
While it is true that the scientists did create some compounds it is not necessarily true that the conditions in the test-tube were exactly the same as it was on the earth at its beginning, and the compounds are exactly the ones that are vital for life.
Although these experiments seemed so convincing, careful examination has now shown they are absolutely of no value in explaining life’s origin. Scientists tell us that life cannot form where there is oxygen in the air. Why? Because oxygen oxidizes, or breaks things down. Just as oxygen and water causes iron to form rust, it also causes the amino acids and other organic compounds to decompose. Therefore, life must have formed where there was no oxygen.
But, there is now an insurmountable problem: oxygen makes up part of the sky called the ozone layer which shield us from the life-destroying radiation from the sun. Thus, there is a dilemma–the presence of oxygen would destroy the building-blocks of life, but its absence means that the sun’s radiation would destroy any life.
Is there a way around this? Why could not life have formed under water, thus solving the problem of oxygen? There are two insurmountable problems with this line of reasoning as well. First, evolutionists say that lightning provided the energy to make the compounds. But lightning cannot penetrate water deeply, therefore life could not start under water. Second, if lightning could penetrate the water and start life, the water itself would destroy the life by breaking the compounds down.
Thus, the much heralded experiments that “created life in a test tube” turn out to be absolutely no use scientifically when trying to solve the origin of life. Because of this Dr. G.A. Kerkut states that “it is a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that life started this way.”
Many or the classic arguments that have been used to support evolutionary theory are like malicious gossip–they are not true, but once in circulation they feed on themselves so that it is very difficult to challenge them. This is the cast with embryology, which is the study of the development of an embryo.
In 1866, Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist and philosopher, said that an embryo in its development passes through all the stages of its evolutionary ancestors. In other words, it exhibited parts of fish, reptiles, etc. This was an exciting theory and it was so popular that it is still in many textbooks today. However, Haeckel’s argument is a myth–there is not one prominent biologist in the world who is prepared to give it any credit whatsoever.
The evidence that evolutionists give is found in the gill slits of fish, which they say also appear in the human embryo at a certain time. They say this is proof That the embryo is passing through the fish stage on the way to becoming a mammal bird, or reptile. It is true that at a certain stage of development, there are a series of small grooves which look similar to the fish’s grooves (which later develop into its gills), but there the similarity ends. The fish gills open into the throat, but the human grooves form glands and parts of the ear. Other “examples” have been offered as evidence over the years, but each case has been completely discredited by leading embryologists.
Closely related to the embryo myth is another relating to the so-called “vestigal” or “remnant” organs. This says that humans have organs that are of absolutely no value and arc therefore the remains of organs once used in our evolutionary ancestors. Biologists listed 180 organs of the body that they thought were remnants from the past. Since then, experiments have demonstrated that each of these has an important function. For example, it is not uncommon to hear evolutionists say that the appendix is a remnant. However, it is now believed that the appendix performs an important function in fighting infection. It has been pointed out that man can function without an arm, an eye, a leg, or even a kidney, but this does not mean that they arc remnant organs.
Essential to evolutionary theory is that each of the changes that occur by chance must be of benefit to the animal. In other words, every change that occurs must help the individual to survive. Because changes only happened gradually, millions of animals would therefore have had to run around with only partly formed bodies–an absurd idea. This fact really concerned Darwin, but he stuck to his guns, even though he was never able to give a satisfactory answer.
The eye is a good example of this problem of natural selection. It is a tremendously complex system that works together perfectly, and is unmatched by anything we can produce artificially. Gertrude Himnelfarb goes directly to the problem: “Since the eye is obviously no use at all except in its final, complete form, how could natural selection know the initial stages of change would ultimately be useful, when those same stages served no useful purpose whatsoever by themselves?” Darwin admitted: “To suppose that the eye, with all of its inimitable ability for adjusting the focus for different distances, for adjusting for different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic abberation, could have been formed by natural selection, it seems, I freely confess, to be absurd in the highest possible degree.”
But the important point is that this example of the eye is only one of thousands of other complex systems of the body that utterly defy the idea of gradual development in evolution. In fact, virtually every system that works in living things work as a whole–the individual parts that make it up are of no value to the body by themselves. And yet, evolution says that each necessary part is formed gradually over time, and waits around until the next precisely needed part is formed. Natural selection looks good on paper but when exposed to the complex real world, the simplicity which made it look good in the beginning turns out to be its undoing.
The evidence against the Darwinian Theory of Evolution is now so overwhelming, that it is amazing to realize that the theory is still faithfully adhered to, and vigorously defended within many sectors of science. Arthur Koesticr, one the distinguished science writers of the 20th century, wonders why the theory continues to linger on. He says that, “The scientific community would rather continue to believe a bad theory is better than no theory. Consequently, they arc unable or unwilling to realize that the castle they are defending lies in ruins.”
The alternative: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth . . . ” may sound unscientific or religious to the secular scientist; but in view of the naturalistic alternative presented in the theory of evolution and the great gaps in logic and fact, perhaps the rationality of special creation ought to be more humbly considered.
November 20, 2008
by Dr Steve Kumar
Many people approach religion the way they approach food: “I like it because it satisfies my need.” “If it feels good do it.” “Try it and you will like it.” Religion is not a matter of food or feeling. We must not see religion as being in the line of a cafeteria picking a principle in one religion and value system from another. For example: Taking a carrot from Islam, a tomato from Judaism, a potato from Buddhism, some garlic from Hinduism, and trying to cook up a religious soup.
In a world of many religions the idea of a multi-religious soup appears attractive, but before we whet our spiritual appetite, remember that there are no religious cooks who have such a recipe. Whatever is being cooked and served by religious syncretists falls short of our need. Religious questions are too valuable to reduce to the level of human taste.
Religion is not like food–it is not a matter of taste but a matter of truth. It is not a matter of feeling but of facts. It is not how it makes you feel but whether it is true. It may sound impressive to say, “I believe because I have a burning in the heart,” or because “I have a shiver in my liver.” Feelings do not validate a belief.
1. ALL RELIGIONS ARE DIFFERENT
No truth is as dangerous as half truth:
He who says all religions are the same knows very little about religions. R.C. Sproul states, “That Jesus claimed to be God and Mohammed claimed to be a prophet is an essential difference. That Buddha was an atheist and Christ a theist is an essential difference. That Confucius died and Christ resurrected is an essential difference. That Jim Jones advocated suicide while Jesus preached patient endurance is a radical difference. That most religions teach salvation by good works while Christianity teaches salvation by grace is an essential difference. That Christianity features an atonement and a mediator who reconciles and redeems is an essential difference. That some men worship idols while others worship a transcendent God is an essential difference. The worship of Yahweh is a far cry from the worship of a cow.
Only the non-religious say all religions are the same. The World’s religions differ on:
For the Moslem, Mohammed is a prophet of God, for the Buddhist, Buddha is the path to Nirvana, and for the Hindu, Brahman is the invisible essence. But for the Christian Jesus Christ is not only the revelation of God but God himself.
2. ALL RELIGIONS CONTRADICT ONE ANOTHER
As we study world’s religions we discover that they are not only different but that they are contradictory. World religions give a confusing view of life and reality. A leading historian, after studying the World’s religions to determine what they have in common came to the following conclusion: belief in God–if there is a God, and life is worth living–sometimes.
The question is that if all religions are from God why do they all disagree? Why is there so much confusion? I agree with G. Bailey, “If all religions lead to God, how is it most of them, having been given a thousand years at least, haven’t yet arrived?” To say all religions are the same is: Not logical, not factual, and not honest.
What is the evidence that all religions are one? How do we know all religions are one? What is the basis for this belief? I spoke to a lady who said she believed in all religions. So I asked her, “Do you believe the Christian message that Jesus is God?” She said, “no.” She actually rejects Christianity but gives the impression that she is broad-minded. There is nothing like comparative religion to make a person comparatively religious! To reconcile the basic teachings of Jesus with those of Buddha would require the skill of a magician.
3. ONLY ONE RELIGION CAN BE TRUE
How can all religions be one when they contradict each other? Religious relativism which accepts all religions as equally true commits intellectual suicide. Where all views are right the word “right” loses all possible meaning. “Right” has meaning only in the context of wrong (true and false, positive versus negative, yes and no). When everything is right nothing can be wrong. When nothing can be wrong, nothing is right.
Ultimately religious relativism leads to the death of all religions. When a religion cannot be tested or falsified nothing true can be affirmed about that religion. Hence statements like, “All religions are true” are empty phrases which have no logical or empirical basis. One cannot hold to this view and be a serious thinker.
In a country of many religions we must respect the rights and the freedom of others to hold their view. Tolerance is a virtue which we must prize highly, but we must not, in the name of tolerance, compromise the truth by regarding all views as equally true. A world where two opposing or contradictory views are right is cosmic madness. Honesty and respect must dominate our search for truth but unity must never be achieved at the expense of truth. Truth would often require that we agree to disagree but one should always do so in love.
If all religions contradict one another there can be only two logical choices: either all of them are false, or only one of them can be true. The French philosopher Pascal was right: “I see a number of religions in conflict, and therefore all false, except one.”
Christianity is different from all other religions. There is no faith like the Christian faith. Billy Graham says it rightly, “There are many religions in the world, but only one Christianity, for only Christianity has a God who gave Himself for mankind. World religions attempt to reach up to God; Christianity Is God reaching down to man.” In world religions we have man’s answer to man’s problems but in Christianity we have God’s answer to man’s problems. Christianity is the story of the God who searches for man.
C.S. Lewis, the former atheist, expresses my conviction, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” Religion is man’s search for God; man’s effort to find God, Christianity is God’s solution to man’s dilemma. In religion man asks the questions but in Christianity man finds the answers.
Christianity says man is sick. Man has a problem–look around–look at the hatred, prejudice, murder, injustice, cruelty, greed, selfishness, envy. What will change human nature? Not education and not moral teaching but only the power of God. There is only one cure for the world’s sickness and that is the Gospel which is really God’s medicine for a sick world.
1. REMARKABLY UNIQUE?
What is so remarkable about the Christian faith? Why believe the Christian faith? What Is so special about it? Hinduism has the techniques of Yoga, Buddhism has the Eight-fold Path, Islam has the Five Pillars, Judaism has the Torah but Christianity offers a resurrected Saviour.
Christianity is remarkably different from all other religions. Take Buddha out of Buddhism and we will still have Buddhism; take Krishna out of Hinduism and we will still have Hinduism; take Mohammed out of Islam and we will still have Islam; take Confucius out of Confucianism and we will still have Confucianism, but take Christ out of Christianity and we will eliminate Christianity.
Christianity is not a system of ideas or speculations of a certain philosophy or a principle of ethics, but Christianity is a focus on a Person. The good news is that God has personally come to visit us in the unique historical space-time event of Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1 & 14 NIV)
I will never forget the occasion when I was asked to speak at the University of Calgary with James Erwin, the American astronaut who walked on the moon. The most moving statement he shared on that occasion was that, “The greatest event in history was not when man walked on the moon but when God walked on this earth.” That is the greatest event!
Christianity is not essentially a religion about God but a relationship with God. What we need is not just religion but reality. In all other religions the leaders pointed a way to God but Jesus pointed to Himself as God.
2. RELIABLY TRUE?
There is much evidence for the Christian faith. But the greatest evidence is the resurrection of Christ. There are three major facts which prove the resurrection:
A. The Empty Tomb
(i) The Jews never denied it.
(ii) The Roman guards saw it.
(iii) Six of Jesus disciples saw it.
(iv) Peter proclaimed it to 3000 people who could have refuted it.
According to D.H.Van Daalen, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds. Those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.” There are many reputable scholars who accept that the tomb was empty.
B. The Appearances of Christ
The facts demonstrate that on several occasions different individuals and groups saw Jesus alive after His death. He was seen not only by believers but also by sceptics, unbelievers and even His enemies. On one occasion He was seen by more than 500 people.
C. The Origin of the Christian Faith
The origin of the church proves the resurrection. What gave birth to the church? How did the church come about? Why did the church come into being? All the scholars agree that Christianity came into being because the disciples believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead.
Professor Moule of Cambridge University says, “The origin of Christianity must remain an unsolved enigma for any historian who refuses to take seriously the resurrection.” If the resurrection is true then we don’t have to speculate on the meaning of life. We have something concrete on which to base our trust and hope.
3. RELEVANT FOR ME?
Is the Christian faith relevant to me? How relevant is it in the context of my 21st Century lifestyle and existence? How does Christ handle the great questions of life here and now?
If Christianity is true then it must be relevant. Christ answers the question of history; He offers a solution to the problem of sin; He removes the burden of guilt; He releases us from the fear of death; He changes despair into hope and He provides power to live a victorious life with God.
Confucius saw the evil of life and said, “Duty!” Buddha saw the misery of man and said, “Meditate!” Mohammed saw the cruelty of life and said, “Fatalism!” Krishna saw the suffering of life and said, “Karma!” Jesus saw the agony of life and said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Christianity is not a set of views, not a system of ideas but a change of heart. It is a vital and dynamic relationship with a living Christ. As disciples of Christ we can affirm that without Christ we cannot live and with Him we cannot die.
November 20, 2008
By Dr. Steve Kumar
In a time of intellectual, moral and spiritual crisis the West is being influenced by a new movement which promises peace, prosperity and a New Age of Enlightenment. The message of the movement is radical and its solution is unconventional, but many are joining the bandwagon thinking it is the panacea to the human predicament. This new mind-shift is transforming Western values, culture and life-style. Foreign ideas and bizarre beliefs are moulding the minds of many people who are desperately seeking for answers.
This new view of reality, popularly termed “The New Age Thinking” is quickly dominating education, science, medicine. business, psychology. politics, religion. cinema, media and even the military. It is estimated that up to 60 million in America and 20 million in Europe believe in some form of New Age Movement. The growing influence of New Age thinking is evident in the great success of actress Shirley MacLaine’s books, Out On a Limb, and Dancing in the Light. Her autobiographical occult odyssey was aired by A.B.C. TV as a “Mini-series.” Millions were exposed to her spirituality and occultic practices. Observing the trend, Brooks Alexander of the Berkeley based Spiritual Counterfeits Projects comments, “The twilight is ending. Night is descending. And angels of light come dancing in the dark.”1
What really is the New Age Movement? Why are Westerners dabbling in it? What are its basic views of life and reality? Is the New Age Movement really new or an ancient religion cleverly dressed up in a modern suit? Are the New Age beliefs adequate? Do they make sense in the light of what thinkers through the centuries have upheld, namely rationality and commonsense?
The human heart cannot remain in a state of emptiness. People are made for something deeper than the physical. Disappointed by materialism and disillusioned by formal liberal Christianity, many are desperately searching for something more personal, intimate and fulfilling. To these empty hearts and uncertain minds the New Age prophets are promising peace, power and prosperity.
UNDERSTANDING THE NEW AGE
The New Age Movement is unlike any other movement the West has ever had. It has no single leader, no definite doctrine and it has no headquarters. The term “New Age Movement” covers a loosely-structured network of organisations and people who are united by common convictions and values. It is also known as New World Consciousness, New Orientalism, Cosmic Consciousness, Cosmic Humanism, The Aquarian Conspiracy, Mystical Humanism, Human Potential Movement and Holistic Health Movement. Although the label may differ, yet the basic convictions are the same. Westmont Sociologist, Dr. Ronald Enroth, suggests that the Movement is a very loose network of organizations, individuals, and philosophies that share a common world view, a common vision of humanity, and a common basis for hope and change.2 It is a new perception of reality, a move away from traditional western rational realism to the mystical oriental idealism.
Dr. F. LaGard Smith, Professor of Law at Pepperdine University and author of many books including Out on a Broken Limb, notes, “To understand the New Age Movement, you have to understand that we are talking about a world-view with completely new definitions of who man is, who God is, where we come from, and where we’re going. Understanding the New Age Movement requires a major thought shift whereby we’re looking at everything from a new perspective. The New Age Movement is a custom-made religion for each person. It doesn’t follow any of the traditional notions of churches, but it draws from Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Secularism and Selfism. Each person then mixes all that stuff together and arrives at a custom-made religion for him or herself.3
Russell Chandler, the best selling author of Understanding the New Age, points out, “People buy in at various levels. There are a of people who are New Age and don’t know it. There are a lot of people who borrow the world view and assumptions of the New Age. They wouldn’t label it New Age but that’s what it is.”4 The New Age specialist Douglas Groothuis rightly observes, “The New Age Movement is not simply another new cult; it has no one leader or unified organizational structure. It’s more of a creeping Influence that advocates a change in people’s thinking by returning to an ancient but appealing message.”5
Essentially the New Age Movement is a strange combination of Mysticism and Humanism. Borrowing a few ideas from Christianity, a technique from Hinduism and a dose of Buddhist Witchcraft, you can create your own personal religion. The New Age offers you a large cafeteria of religious goodies to choose from. As one writer puts it, “There’s something for everyone. Feel good about making lots of money. Feel good about having none at all, but most of all, feel good. Do it right and you can do anything you want. And there are a lot of people out there who want to show you how–for a price of course.”6 You can choose anything from astrology, biofeedback, clairvoyance. crystals, channelling, E.S.P., meditation, hypnosis, rebirthing, self-healing, visualization, witchcraft, yoga and others. According to Chandler, “It is a religion which appeals to those who want to be rich without working, smart without studying, and holy without giving up any vices.”7
Surprisingly the approach of the New Age appeals to many people living in the post-Christian West. A new convert to the Movement declares, “I once was a failure, struggling with bitterness and hurt, but now I am free. I can create my reality; I can do whatever I want; I have found the resources within to climb the mountain. No longer do I fear death, for I have discovered that it does not exist.”8 This type of testimony is frequently proclaimed by the New Agers. A New Zealand singer states, “It’s fantastic. Life in the New Age is really exciting, a wonderful thing to be involved in.”9
THE MESSAGE OF THE NEW AGE
At the heart of the New Age thinking is the belief that mankind is entering into a new millennium which will bring not global disaster but a new Spiritual awareness. As N.Z. Listener puts it, “Humankind has passed through the agricultural age, the industrial age and the communications age. Now we’re entering the consciousness-raising age.”10
The West has been dominated by science, rationality and technology, these they insist need to be brought together by spiritual and psychological progress. In order to achieve our highest potential we must move from our traditional dependence on the left brain, which they regard as our logical faculty and the “masculine” nature, and shift to the right brain, our “feminine”‘ nature which is the intuitive. By focusing deeply on our inner essences we will recover the ancient wisdom of our true self.
THE WISDOM OF THE NEW AGE
The fundamental assumption of the New Age is that all reality is fundamentally one. This assumption, technically called Monism, has its roots in Eastern and Greek philosophy. Ramakrishna used to say, “Reality is One, sages call it by various names.” Plotinus, the Greek mystic, proposed that the purpose of life is to be “One with the one, alone with the all.” All diversities are illusory and only exist in the finite realm. The mistake of the West is the rational division and separation which we maintain in our analysis. This division they believe is the root cause of our environmental exploitation, nuclear escalation and the reason for out alienation between humanity and creation. The wisdom that will lead us to paradise is that all is one. “You are God. Honest,” says Jack Underhill. “I know your driver’s license says differently, but what does the D.M.V. know?”11 Edgar D. Mitchell, a leading light of the Movement, states, “God sleeps in the minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals, and thinks in man.”12 This novel idea appears profound on the surface to many Westerners, but some hard thinking on the subject will disclose many of its shortcomings.
First, the Monistic teaching has a destructive effect in the East. Can the West expect anything better? Second, by assuming that all is one, are we not arrogantly elevating ourselves to the level of the Creator? It’s a hopeless assumption to maintain that man is the master of the world when in reality he can’t even create a blade of grass. If man is equal to God, what type of God is he? Man hates, kills, rapes, envies and destroys. Also, a God who needs reminding of his divinity and wisdom has neither of these. Third, there is no rational basis for Monism. The reality of human life demonstrates conclusively the obvious diversity of existence. Both man’s conscious experience and rational thinking provide sufficient evidence to reject the Monistic viewpoint.
One of the most striking features of the New Age Movement is its way of getting in touch with reality. The emphasis is not only that reality is one but that people achieve cosmic consciousness by means of meditation, visualisation, yoga, drugs, chanting, hypnosis, martial arts, sensory deprivation and others. The New Ager believes that it is through cosmic consciousness that we attain cosmic oneness. On the conscious level, man is separated from God, but in his essential essence he is one with God. His conscious sense deceives his real self as a separate being, but he must transform his conscious thinking by spiritual technology. Shirley MacLaine in her book, Dancing in the Light, says, “You are unlimited. You just don’t realise it.”13
New Age advocate Fritjof Capra describes his cosmic experience which altered his life view: “I saw the atoms of the elements and !hose of my body participating in the cosmic dance of energy; I felt its rhythm and I heard its sound, and at that moment I knew that this vas the Dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dancers worshipped by the Hindus.”14
The experience of cosmic consciousness is expressed by various terms including self-realisation, enlightenment, God-realisation, atonement, satori and Nirvana. This mystical experience produces the feeling of cosmic oneness where all distinctions of good/evil, male/female, reality/fantasy, light/dark and man/God disappears.
NEW AGE THINKING IS NOTHING NEW
These ideas only appear new to those who do not know their origin. The thinking of the New Age was first expressed by the serpent to our first parents in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). It is the lie of the serpent that man’s destiny and his salvation is within himself. Modern man finds the old lie gratifying. When a man does not stand for the truth he will fall for any lie. Modern man is no exception to the rule; he finds the message of the serpent appears to offer hope and power. It exalts man to the place of God, gives him a false sense of security and makes him believe the key is in his hands. This is a delusion.
The tragic experience of the New Age is graphically illustrated in the life of a young woman, Cindy Williams, who moved into the New Age to find hope after experiencing the trauma of divorce. Even though admitting that she was “cautious” during the first encounter she says her life has changed, the problems have vanished, and now she is seeking to get in touch with her true self. She is looking forward with great expectation to the promise of the New Age and says, “I’ve got my feet firmly planted on this illusion.”15
To think man is the master of his destiny is not only arrogant but madness. The facts of human experience and history provide more than sufficient evidence to dispel any possible notion of the divinity of man.
How many wars have we fought, how many crimes have we done, how many injustices have we committed? How could the New Age man not see the truth? Is it any wonder that the Scripture says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie,” (2 Thes. 2:10,11).
1. “Brooks Alexander: New Age Movement” by Ronald Enroth. Fundamentalist Journal, Feb. 1968, p. 49.
2. Ronald Enroth, ibid.
3. F. LaGard Smith, The Door, p. 18.
4. Russell Chandler, The Door, p. 7.
5. Douglas Grouthuis, The New Age Wave, Moody Monthly, 1985.
6. N.Z. Listener, September 23, 1989.
7. Russell Chandler, ibid., p.7.
8. Erwin Lutzer & John DeVries, Satan’s “Evangelistic” Strategy for this New Age, 1988.
9. N.Z. Listener, ibid.
11. Jack Underhill, “New Age Quiz,” Life Times Magazine, 6.
12. Edgar Mitchell, Bridging Science and Metaphysics in the 20th Century, 1983.
13. Shirley MacLaine, Dancing in the Light, 1985, p.133.
14. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, 1975, p.11.
15. Erwin Lutzer & John DeVries, ibid, p.49.
November 20, 2008
by Steve Kumar
An Eastern sage once said that he could write the biography of’ a Westerner in three words, “Hurry, worry and bury.” In our rush for successful living we often fill victim to tension and stress. In our crisis nothing sells better than a recipe for relaxation. In TV, sports, business and even in education yoga is promoted as a panacea for stress, health, success and peace. It is attractively packaged as an exercise for the body and cleverly presented as a science of the mind. The sales person for yoga tells us it has nothing to do with religion. What is the real truth?
The verdict of Professor Ruth Tucker, a leading authority on contemporary religious, should be noted, “The true religious nature of yoga is frequently disguised in the West, and individuals frequently practice the exercises without, they claim, becoming involved in the actual religion. But the two are deeply entwined and ought to be viewed in that light,” (Another Gospel, p. 386). Another authority, Professor Irving Hexham of Calgary University, in answer to the question “is yoga truly a religion?” declares that people who practice yoga, “gradually and imperceptibly begin to accept other concepts which involve definite religious convictions.” He argues that, “despite claims to the contrary . . . yoga cannot be practised in isolation from other Indian beliefs. The whole concept of yoga is based upon a carefully worked out theory of beliefs about the human condition. The terminology used to explain the practice itself involves acceptance of presuppositions with religious origins,” (Update, Sept. 1986, p.6). US. District Judge H. Curtis Meanor declared the practice of T. M. yoga “is religious in nature.” There are five reasons that one could propose to establish the religious nature of yoga.
REASONS WHY YOGA IS RELIGIOUS
1. The Origin of Yoga
The origin of yoga goes back to Hinduism. It is the outworking of Hindu religious metaphysics. In other words the Hindu perception of reality gave birth to the techniques of yoga. This notion is irrefutable as virtually all respectable scholars disciplined in the field would agree.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica states, “Yoga assumes the existence of God, who is the model for the aspiration to spiritual release.” (Vol. 12., p.846). Mary Ann Lind in her book, From Nirvana to the New Age insists, “Ask any Hindu living in a village in India and he will tell you that yoga is a very intrinsical part of his ancient religion.” (P. 74). She correctly points Out, “When we trace the origins of yoga, our search takes us to the ancient Hindu sacred text, especially to the Bhagavad Gita, in which the Hindu hero god, Lord Krishna, introduces yoga as a pathway to heaven,” (p.75). T. George Harris, editor-in-chief of Psychology Today, insists, “All the Eastern exercises grew out of religious roots, and all are designed to evoke specific religious experiences. The word yoga literally means yoked with God. ” (Dec. 1975).
2. The Meaning of Yoga
The very meaning of yoga confirms its religious element. The word (Sanskrit) yoga literally means “yoking” or “union.” The question is “union with what.” The consensus view is union with Brahman; the individual (Purusa) soul must unite with the cosmic being. According to Hindu scholars yoga is designed to reverse the process of evolution and get back- to the original cosmic stage. Since the mind dominates the body and causes the soul to experience pain and pleasure the mind must be mastered and emptied in order to reach its original stage. It is a method by which one brings self-redemption or self salvation. It would be meaningless to talk about union with nothing. According to Hinduism the answers to our problems and suffering, are found in yoga. It is the key to humanity’s liberation. In the practice of yoga, as professor Arindam Chakrabarti of University Delhi affirms, “A self can get back to its pure essence and stop suffering,” (The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p.355). Hindu thinkers have always understood yoga as the uniting of the individual with the cosmic force. The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy states, “The object of yoga is to isolate this eternal element (the soul) and to free it from implication in the material world” (Vol. 8, p.358). The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, explains, “Yoga is the discipline or yoke necessary for the pure subject to recognize itself, and separate itself from the empirical reality with which it is confused”
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary declares that yoga is, “A Hindu theistic(God) philosophy teaching the suppression of all activities of body, mind and will in order that the self may realise its distinction from them and attain liberation.” The Encyclopaedic Edition of Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary confirms that yoga is, “A Hindu system of mystical and ascetic philosophy which involves withdrawal from the world and abstract meditation on any object, as the Supreme Spirit with the purpose of identifying one’s consciousness with the object.”
3. The Practice of Yoga
When one practices yoga one is engaged in performing a religious ritual and activity that has its origin in Hinduism and is an essential practice of the religion. The Hindu text says, “Disciplined action, study of the self, and Surrender to the Lord, constitute the practice of yoga” (Yoga Sutra 11.1). Bruce Nicholls confirms, “Yoga has come to be universally practised by the religious sects of Hinduism, however much the metaphysical interpretations may vary” (p.148). The yoga physical postures (Asana) are specifically developed to control consciousness. It is meaningless to deny that an activity is nonreligious when its origin and practice are intrinsically Hindu. Redefining something and calling it nonreligious does not deny its essential nature. A rose with another name is still a rose. Yoga is central to Hinduism, without yoga Hinduism has no meaning. Trying to isolate yoga from Hinduism is like attempting to isolate fish from water. They are mutually dependent. You cannot have one without the other.
William Watson, author of A Concise Dictionary of Cults and Religions, states, “The practice of yoga, with its various postures and exercise, leads man to self liberation and god-realization,” (p.259). Ronald L. Carlson in his book, Transcendental Meditation: Relaxation or Religion, points out, “Yoga’s practical motive is to attain salvation or liberation through disciplined activity,” (p.41).
A leading authority in Hindu philosophy, Sarvaepalli Radhakrishum in his work, A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, confirms, “The special feature of yoga system is its practical discipline, by which the suppression of mental states is brought about through the practice of spiritual exercises” (p.453). Dr. Ruth Tucker, a research specialist on contemporary religions, points out, “Yoga is a Hindu system of mental and physical exercises, the goal of which is to separate the soul from the body and mind in order to release the soul from the endless cycle of reincarnation” (Another Gospel, p. 385).
Yoga is a central part of many pseudo-religious groups including Divine Light Mission, Hare Krishnas, Transcendental Meditation, Sri Chimnoy, Sathya Sai Baba, Theosophy, and Eckankar. Hindu gurus have long insisted the discipline of yoga is religious both in purpose and practice,
4. The Consensus of Scholars
Virtually all scholars who have specialised in the study of yoga unanimously agree that yoga is a spiritual activity. Even to attempt to justify the above assumption is as futile as trying to inform mode mind that our world is global. One only has to read standard texts on religion and encyclopaedias to see the truth. Hindu teachers, priests and philosophers including Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekenanda, Gandhi, Aurobino Ghose, Sai Baba, Bhagwan Rajneesk all agree on the religious nature of yoga. Even the most popular work The Encyclopedia of Mind, Magic & Mysteries by Francis X. King admits, “Many, perhaps most, Westerners tend to think of yoga as no more than an unusual type of culture, characterized by strange postures and breathing exercises. In reality this physical yoga–hatha yoga is vastly more complex than is generally appreciated, there being a great deal more to it than its purely physical component” (p. 194). In his insightful book, The Spirit of Hinduism, Dr. David Barnett notes, “Hatha yoga was not developed to stand on its own, but as a preparation for Raja yoga” (p.203).
Why Yoga Should Be Rejected in Schools
Introducing yoga to our schools is a subtle means of introducing Hinduism. It is politically wrong to use taxpayers funds to promote a religious practice in the name of education. This is essentially proselytising which clearly violates the stated purpose of neutrality claimed by educationalists. We believe in freedom of religion in New Zealand and if religion is to be kept away from schools then Hinduism should not be promoted in the name of creativity, arts, drama or even therapy in the fight of overwhelming evidence that yoga is religious. To promote it in schools is to impose Eastern religious systems and beliefs on our youth.
Yoga advocates must not ignore the warning of Julio Ruibal, a former yoga master and guru; his experience is most revealing. He states, “I became the youngest guru in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most advanced and powerful. Twice a week I taught yoga on television. Hatha Yoga sounds like a nice simple set of exercises; everyone thinks it is just gymnastics. I want to warn that it is just the beginning of a devilish trap. After I became an instructor in Hatha Yoga, my guru showed me that the only thing these exercises do is open your appetite for the occult. They are like marijuana; they usually lead you on to a drug that is worse and stronger, binding you so completely” (A Mirage from the East, p. 8). Yoga teacher R.L. Hittleman admits that in yoga, health benefits are secondary and that he used the health angle to hook Westerners on the Eastern metaphysical view. (Guide to Yoga Meditation, pp. 9-14).
It does not take too much reflection to understand the devastating consequence of the practice of yoga in the son of India. As researcher Dave Hunt points out, “Hinduism has turned India, in spite of its vast natural resources and manpower, into one of the poorest and most suffering countries on earth.” (Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust, p. 82). A sensible mind must ask the crucial question, What is the fruit of yoga? The test of the fruit is in the roots. If the teaching and practice of yoga has been such a miserable failure in the East would it help us any better in the West.