T.D. Jakes article on Washington Post addresses Yoga
The famous pastor quotes Lighthouse Trails as saying “Christian leaders are embracing practices and a new spirituality that borrows from Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy” but Jakes says yoga is OK if intent is right.
On April 16, 2007, Lighthouse Trails Research received a phone call from a student at Harvard University who was doing research on yoga being taught in the public schools. The student told us about a Washington Post article that quoted Lighthouse Trails. We later learned that the article on the Washington Post website was written by the popular pastor T. D. Jakes.
Jakes (named the “Most Influential Christian” in 2006) is pastor of the mega-church Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. The Washington Post article titled “Know What to Try and Why” addresses the growing topic of Christians practicing yoga. Jakes quotes Lighthouse Trails as saying that certain Christian leaders are:
… embracing practices and a new spirituality that borrows from Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy.
He lists Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, and Eugene Peterson as some whom we say are doing this. However, it is unsure why and ironic that Jakes has quoted Lighthouse Trails because then he turns around and condones Christians utilizing eastern practices.
Jakes quoted an article we wrote titled “Evangelical Leaders Promote New Age and Eastern Spiritual Practices” Interestingly, in his own article, Jakes rightly acknowledges Rick Warren’s promotion of eastern mysticism:
In Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life, he does encourage people to practice “breath prayers” by repeating words and phrases over and over in a mantra-style prayer, a practice that is similar to that found in Hindu yoga and Zen Buddhism.”
But Jakes seems to advocate Rick Warren’s position by stating:
In many cases yoga can be viewed as a quiet place where we individually meditate on God’s word and who that God is.
Jakes justifies doing this by saying:
I believe at the core of the debate is what your intentions are when one practices the exercises of yoga or when you meditate.
Ray Yungen elaborates on intent:
Practitioners of this method [meditation]believe that if the sacred words are Christian, you will get Christ-it is simply a matter of intent even though the method is identical to occult and Eastern practices.
So the question we as Christians must ask ourselves is, “Why not? Why shouldn’t we incorporate this mystical prayer practice into our lives?” The answer to this is actually found in Scripture. While certain instances in the Bible describe mystical experiences, I see no evidence anywhere of God sanctioning man-initiated mysticism. Legitimate mystical experiences were always initiated by God to certain individuals for certain revelations and were never based on a method for the altering of consciousness.
In Acts 11:5, Peter fell into a trance while in prayer. But it was God, not Peter, who initiated the trance and facilitated it. By definition, a mystic, on the other hand, is someone who uses rote methods in an attempt to tap into their inner divinity. Those who use these methods put themselves into a trance state outside of God’s sanction or protection and thus engage in an extremely dangerous approach.
Besides, nowhere in the Bible are such mystical practices prescribed. For instance, the Lord, for the purpose of teaching people a respect for His holiness and His plans, instated certain ceremonies for His people (especially in the Old Testament). Nonetheless, Scripture contains no reference in which God promoted mystical practices. The gifts of the Spirit spoken of in the New Testament were supernatural in nature but did not fall within the confines of mysticism. God bestowed spiritual gifts without the Christian practicing a method beforehand to get God’s response. (2)
T. D. Jakes is wrong when he says that as long as the intent is right, the practice doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, as perhaps the most popular pastor today, Jakes will mislead countless people in the wrong direction and will further help bring a mystical, interspiritual religion to the world at large.
Frankly, we are not sure why Jakes even mentioned Lighthouse Trails. But since he did, we wanted to take this opportunity to repeat the words of our article, from which T. D. Jakes quoted:
In what appears to be a sweeping phenomenon, Christian leaders are embracing practices and a new spirituality that borrows from Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy. The changes are taking place worldwide and involve many of the most popular evangelical leaders including Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, Tony Campolo, and Eugene Peterson … oh and add to that list … T. D. Jakes.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving [seducing] spirits and doctrines of demons. (I Timothy 4:1)