That’s the contention of Wynyard Baptist Church in Sydney, Australia which has banned its members from attending tai chi chuan classes.
The argument is simply that the discipline, with its relationship to Taoism and Buddhism, is incompatible with Christianity. One commenter responds to this Asia-Pacific News brief with the following:
Tai Chi promotes worship of “chi” and “shen” (energy and spirit). It involves emptying your mind, so as to be filled with these other “energies”, which are really harmful spirits or demons. […] I congratulate the Wynyard Baptist Church for taking a stand against pagan superstition and I wholeheartedly stand with them.
Now, if you’re a Western Buddhist, a Christian, and/or a tai chi practitioner, you’ve probably figured out that this stance doesn’t hold up, that all of these things can healthily complement one another. Too bad Wynyard’s congregation won’t get to learn for themselves—not least of all because the class was designed for the congregation’s seniors, in part to help them manage arthritis pain.
In a situation like this, the leaders of this particular organization obviously have nothing resembling compassion or open mindedness. Therefore; I would st let it go and pray for their enlightenment. Or at least someone there to see what's going on.
Rod Meade Sperry says
I absolutely understand this feeling, Robb, but: if we have all have the seed of compassion in us (and I believe we do), could it be that the right "turning words" could open Rev Morse's heart and mind?
I would hope so. I don't know if I have those words, though.
Equa Yona says
The first thing one would have to do is be Bible literate so that communication might be possible. Without knowing the Christian writings, there would be no hope of helping this person to understand. His is not an unusual stance for fundamentalist/evangelical Christians and in truth, even if you could pimp slap him with Bible verses until his head swam, he would be VERY unlikely to change his position. The basis for fundamentalism of any type is fear and it would only be by assuaging his neurotic and paranoid fear that he might open. The Bible is simply too contradictory a mish mash of potential proof texts to be of much help with this sort of theology.
Rod Meade Sperry says
Can one be "pimp-slapped" with a Bible verse? ; )
Pam Rubin says
Yes- "pimp slapped" may sound like a cute expression to the poster, but its a lived reality for a lot of women so please dont throw it around as a casual term – thanks
Rod Meade Sperry says
A fine point, Pam — I was sort of trying to say that without saying it. Thanks.
tai chi was made by god all things were made by god and no thing was made by the devil…a bad spirit can use things…any thing to kill….but thats wen u use ur own common scences….tai chi is the ultimate form of soul exercise….meditation is u freeing ur mind…but to wat? is the cause…of ur pain or ur blessing.yes i am jehova witness and tai chi yoga and other things…
Dale Lefevre says
What do I tell him? Nothing. Someone like won’t change his mind.
last power we all lookin for;how do i get them to do as i say?lol
Yes, you would need to use the Bible. Unfortunately, for every verse I could come up with, I am certain they could come up with a verse that could be interpreted as supporting their position. The best thing that I could offer would be that if you trust the Holy Spirit in people's hearts, why not trust Him to lead them away from things that are wrong? I would also ask the person who decided to make this rule if he had ever been to one of these meetings, experienced whether it had any benefits, and discovered if he could worship God while doing Tai Chi. What if he could? We can worship God doing all kinds of things that are not necessarily holy pursuits. It's up to us to make our lives worshipful and holy, regardless of what other people associated with our activities. And what if, through attending Tai Chi, he could bring something of God to the meeting with him? Why operate out of fear when we can operate out of love? "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
But really, the church has the authority in this situation. So unless their congregants disagree with what is being done and voice their disapproval, there is no reason for outsiders to try and change what church leadership does. They will just see it as opposition from the world, which basically shows them that they are on the right path.
Perhaps someone who leads the meetings for the elderly could write a compassionate letter that expresses how sorry they are that they will no longer be able to help the elderly deal with their arthritis. They may even be able to suggest some exercises that could be done at the church with hymns playing that could provide the same benefits. That may be the most compassionate thing to do. Send a packet of exercises or postures along with an explanation of how the help with circulation, flexibility and pain.
Equa Yona says
I couldn't agree with you more, empy. The pastor's argument about worshipping while doing Tai Chi would be that satan can present as an "angel of light". This verse has fostered more paranoia in fundamentalists than almost any other, They can find a demon in the most benign places imaginable. Your suggestion for providing exercises would be the most practical approach for sure. I speak as a former 'evangelical' pastor, though never so narrow as this fellow.
"if you could talk to Rev. Viv Morse, the church’s leader, what might you tell him to try to get him to reconsider his position?"
If he doesn't have a question then there is little to say to get him to reconsider, so I would only ask questions to see if any of them got him interested.
Some such questions might be,
"What makes you sure about that?"
"Are you interested in any other perspective?"
"What do you think about The Gospel of Thomas?"
"How do you define worship?"
"Do you think God hates bodies and the people who use Tai Chi to be one with body?"
"Does he know that 'Chi' is the same as 'Spirit' and that 'Tai Chi' the same as 'Holy Spirit'"?
That's just a few off the top of my tai chi.
Rod Meade Sperry says
these are all beautiful options!
Pam Rubin says
Harmful spirits, ghosts and demons are the magical display of mind. To know they are unreal illusions is very important – Milarepa
Cath Harkins says
Jesus would do tai chi if he had the chance
I am a Taoist Tai Chi instructor, and this situation is unfortunate as the practice of tai chi can provide a great deal of support, (body, mind and spirit), to people at all times, but especially as they age. However, this particular church is fear based, and I don't feel that there is much that we can do other than send loving kindness their way. I have taken Tai Chi classes from instructors who are MD's, and I have taught MD's and physiotherapists myself, and so I am aware that medical practitioners are increasingly sending their patients to tai chi classes, and hopefully this fear will, with time, disappear in the general public. Very few practitioners of Taoist Tai Chi are practicing Buddhists, and we are all encouraged to follow our own individual spiritual paths, even though Buddhist and Taoist practices are available for anyone who desires to learn more. Ironically, another instructor in our club, a devout Christian, once said that she has seen more Christian behaviour in our Tai Chi community than she has in her Christian community. Given that Taoist Tai Chi is dual cultivation, i.e. it's purpose is to both heal the body and tame the heart (cultivate a good heart), there is really nothing threatening in it to Christians.
What truly disturbs me though, is that a friend who attends a Buddhist meditation group, an established sangha, told me that they were discouraged from practicing Tai Chi, as it would interfere with their practice. Although he was quite clear on this, I can only hope that he somehow misunderstood what was being said. I have been a long time meditator, and the Buddhist philosophy is dear to my heart even though I don't exclusively follow any one spiritual path. I have always seen my practice of Taoist Tai Chi, moving meditation, as supportive and complementary to my sitting meditation practice, so the thought of this kind of fear based thinking in a Buddhist community, much less a Christian community, is truly sad.
SHAOLIN STUFF IS ANOTHER FORM…FOUCUS..AND ALL PATHS ARE LEADING TO THE SAME THING
Did you hear that the Catholic Church is now forbidding nuns at U.S. hospitals from using Reiki stress reduction and relaxation techniques because it is non-Christian? It's true.
The Japanese have an excellent saying "Do not use mind to analyses mind" "The sharpest sword cannot cut itself". It is for this reason that physical practises (dance, martial arts etc.) were devised back into pre history. The aim is to use the tangible body (that we can easily see and feel) to train the intangible mind. In this way, we can by pass intellectual dialogue that will get in the way of direct experience. Sadly that body and direct experience became increasingly taboo as Western Religion developed and felt it needed to control things.
I do believe the world at large is become more open in allowing personal exploration, but it is a long road back and some will always fight to retain the old guard on authority. This is the way of things As someone has already said…fear is what we should all guard against. Fear leads to irrational behaviour.