Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How we got the bible, The history often taken for granted.

The bible is the written word of God. It was written by fallible men under the inspiration of the holy spirit. It was written by the Church that Jesus founded on the rock of Peter (Matthew 16:18). The following are the approximate years that the new testament was written.

Matthew pre 70
Mark 55
Luke 59-63
John 85
Acts 63
Romans 57
1 Corinthians 55
2 Corinthians 55
Galatians 50
Ephesians 60
Philippians 61
Colossians 60
1 Thessalonians 48-49
2 Thessalonians 51-52
1 Timothy 64
2 Timothy 66
Titus 64
Philemon 60
Hebrews pre 70
James 48
1 Peter 64
2 Peter 66
1 John 90
2 John 90
3 John 90
Jude 65
Revelation 95

When I was a protestant it never crossed my mind on how the bible came into being. Back then I was in a religion of a book where the bible was the text book of Christian faith. Some protestants when asked how did the bible come into being there is not one answer that is the same. I have heard that the church in the different provinces came up with there own cannon of scripture and when they got together they found out that each province came up with the exact same cannon. Someone could say that the last apostle alive which was John could have made a collection of the writings for the Christians before he died. Someone could say there was just a consensus in the late first early second century that everyone agreed on what books were inspired. All of these are nice but none of them are historically accurate. If anyone read the writings of the early Christians they would read that they didn’t agree on what was inspired and what wasn’t.

The first church historian, Eusebius, circa 303-325ad, applied the term “Antilegomena” which is Greek that means disputed to the following books who some considered inspired and some did not: Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, the Apocalypse of John, and the Gospel according to the Hebrews: He writes:
"Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.”

So here we are in the early fourth century and there is not a definitive cannon of scripture. How could the early Christians have made it going by the bible alone when they didn’t even know what books belong in the bible? The answer is they didn’t. They were taught the faith by the Church and if you read the fathers of the Church in the early second century you will read that they were taught by a church with the authority of Jesus to speak in his name (Lk 10:16) and by common knowledge called it the Catholic Church. The reason the early church needed a cannon of scripture was so that they would not read anything but sacred scripture during mass. It was because of these disputes that Catholic Church Councils were called to decide what would be read in holy mass as inspired scripture. It took 4 Councils: The Council of Rome 382 ad, The Council of Hippo 392 ad, The Council of Carthage 397 ad, The Council of Carthage 419 ad. It was Catholic Church Councils because the Catholic Church was the only church around from the beginning and was the only church around until the 16th century when Protestantism was formed.

The "Damasine list", issued by Pope Damasus I at the Council of Rome 382 ad, is as follows:
[[[[[[It is likewise decreed: Now, indeed, we must treat of the divine Scriptures: what the universal Catholic Church accepts and what she must shun. The list of the Old Testament begins: Genesis, one book; Exodus, one book: Leviticus, one book;Numbers, one book; Deuteronomy, one book; Jesus Nave, one book; of Judges, one book; Ruth, one book; of Kings, four books [First and Second Books of Kings, Third and Fourth Books of Kings]; Paralipomenon, two books; One Hundred and Fifty Psalms, one book; of Solomon, three books: Proverbs, one book; Ecclesiastes, one book; Canticle of Canticles, one book; likewise, Wisdom, one book; Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), one book;
Likewise, the list of the Prophets: Isaiah, one book; Jeremias, one book; along with Cinoth, that is, his Lamentations; Ezechiel, one book; Daniel, one book; Osee, one book; Amos, one book; Micheas, one book; Joel, one book; Abdias, one book; Jonas, one book; Nahum, one book; Habacuc, one book; Sophonias, one book; Aggeus, one book; Zacharias, one book; Malachias, one book.
Likewise, the list of histories: Job, one book; Tobias, one book; Esdras, two books; Esther, one book; Judith, one book; of Maccabees, two books.
Likewise, the list of the Scriptures of the New and Eternal Testament, which the holy and Catholic Church receives: of the Gospels, one book according to Matthew, one book according to Mark, one book according to Luke, one book according to John. The Epistles of the Apostle Paul, fourteen in number: one to the Romans, one to the Corinthians [2 Corinthians is not mentioned], one to the Ephesians, two to the Thessalonians [First Epistle to the Thessalonians and Second Epistle to the Thessalonians], one to the Galatians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to Timothy [First Epistle to Timothy and Second Epistle to Timothy], one to Titus, one to Philemon, one to the Hebrews.
Likewise, one book of the Apocalypse of John. And the Acts of the Apostles, one book.
Likewise, the canonical Epistles, seven in number: of the Apostle Peter, two Epistles [First Epistle of Peter and Second Epistle of Peter]; of the Apostle James, one Epistle; of the Apostle John, one Epistle; of the other John, a Presbyter, two Epistles [Second Epistle of John and Third Epistle of John]; of the Apostle Jude the Zealot, one Epistle. Thus concludes the canon of the New Testament.
Likewise it is decreed: After the announcement of all of these prophetic and evangelic or as well as apostolic writings which we have listed above as Scriptures, on which, by the grace of God, the Catholic Church is founded, we have considered that it ought to be announced that although all the Catholic Churches spread abroad through the world comprise but one bridal chamber of Christ, nevertheless, the holy Roman Church has been placed at the forefront not by the conciliar decisions of other Churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall have bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall have loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.(Mt 16:18-19)"]]]]]]
Some of the old testament books are named as something different than what you are use to such as our 1 and 2 Kings are 3 and 4 Kings in their list and their 1 and 2 kings are our 1 and 2 Samuel. If you notice there are 7 books in the old testament that aren’t in the protestant bible. Those books include: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch.

[[[[The Council of Carthage 419 ad had those seven books also.
Canon 24.
That nothing be read in church besides the Canonical Scripture
Item, that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church under the name of divine Scripture.
But the Canonical Scriptures are as follows:
• Genesis.
• Exodus.
• Leviticus.
• Numbers.
• Deuteronomy.
• Joshua the Son of Nun.
• The Judges.
• Ruth.
• The Kings, iv. books.
• The Chronicles, ij. books.
• Job.
• The Psalter.
• The Five books of Solomon.
• The Twelve Books of the Prophets.
• Isaiah.
• Jeremiah.
• Ezechiel.
• Daniel.
• Tobit.
• Judith.
• Esther.
• Ezra, ij. books.
• Macchabees, ij. books.
o The New Testament.
 The Gospels, iv. books.
 The Acts of the Apostles, j. book.
 The Epistles of Paul, xiv.
 The Epistles of Peter, the Apostle, ij.
 The Epistles of John the Apostle, iij.
 The Epistles of James the Apostle, j.
 The Epistle of Jude the Apostle, j.
 The Revelation of John, j. book.
Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, Boniface, and to the other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in church. (Boniface was the pope at the time.)]]]]]

These seven books were in the Greek Septuagint which was the closest thing to an old testament bible for the Jews. It was translated around 250bc and was used by Jesus and the apostles. This is what St Cyril of Jerusalem says about the Septuagint written in 347ad.

St Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical Lecture 4 paragraph 34
"And when they had fulfilled the task in seventy-two days, he brought together all their translations, which they had made in different chambers without sending them one to another, and found that they agreed not only in the sense but even in words. For the process was no word-craft, nor contrivance of human devices: but the translation of the Divine Scriptures, spoken by the Holy Ghost, was of the Holy Ghost accomplished. "
One argument for these books not being included in the bible is that these books aren't in the Jewish canon. The Jews didn't have a fixed canon of scripture until around 100ad when some of the Rabis tried to reestablish the Sanhedrin and met in Jamnia. This gathering wasn’t a big council like the Church has. The Church gathers bishops from around the world to decide on important matters. The Sanhedrin was similar to our modern day Majesterium but the Sanhedrin’s authority passed away and was given to the Church by Jesus.So this decision by the Jews was made by those who rejected the gospel of Jesus.Another argument as to why these 7 books are not in the protestant bible is that the new testament writers don’t quote from them and that every old testament book is quoted from in the new testament. That is a desperate claim for sola scriptura that has no backing. For one there are many old testament books that are not quoted in the new testament like Joshua and Judges. New testament writers do in fact quote from some of these books. For example
Sirach 5:11-13 Be quick to hear, and be deliberate in answering. If you have understanding, answer your neighbor; but if not, put your hand on your mouth. Glory and dishonor come from speaking, and a man's tongue is his downfall
Jas 1:19 Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,
If this quoting in the new testament was the criteria for being inspired then the following examples would be inspired also. These non inspired writings were quoted from in the new testament.
The Life of Adam and Eve is quoted in 2 Corinthians 11:14
A line from the Book of Enoch is quoted in the Epistle of Jude (Jude 14–15) almost verbatim. The work is believed by most scholars[who?] to be pseudepigraphal, but the author of Jude cites them as if they are Enoch's own words. The book of Enoch is in the Ethiopian Bible. Other references to the Book of Enoch are 1 Peter 3:19-20, Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4.[23]
The Book of Jubilees is quoted in Romans 2:29, 9:24, 4:13
The first Epistle to Corinth referenced at 1 Corinthians 5:9
The Earlier Epistle to the Ephesians referenced at Ephesians 3:3-4
The Earlier Epistle of John referenced at 3John 1:9
Missing Epistle of Jude referenced in Jude 1:3
One thing that can prove scripture is indeed inspired by God is accurate fulfillment of prophecy. This is a minor criterion because Esther for example doesn’t have any prophecy or some books have prophecy yet to be fulfilled. So one could ask is there any prophecy in these 7 books in the catholic cannon of the old testament that are not in the protestant cannon. The answer is yes.

Wisdom 2:12-20 is a prophecy about Jesus.
Wisdom 2:12-20 12: "Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. 13: He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. 14: He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; 15: the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. 16: We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. 17: Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; 18: for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. 19: Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. 20: Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected."

Verse by verse of Wisdom 2
12 - Matthew 23:23,27-28,John 7:19-20
13 - John 8:55, John 3:18, John 5:25
14 - Matthew 9:4, Luke 6:7-11
15 - Matthew 15:1-6, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 5:21-26
16 - Lk 11:39-41, Luke 10:22
17-20 - Matthew 27:41-43

So there is with out a doubt this prophecy is about Jesus. These seven books excluded from the protestant cannon were once in the protestant bible. In the first edition of the King James version these books were included. The first time these books were excluded from a bible was in 1880s when the English Revised Version came out. So these books were considered inspired before the time of Christ and in all of Christian history but all of the sudden these books are considered by protestants to no longer be inspired 150 years ago. Now that doesn’t make sense to me.
The very first complete bible in Christian history was the Latin Vulgate. At the Council of Rome in 382 ad Pope Damasus I asked Jerome to translate the Hebrew, Greek, and to revise previous Latin translations into one Latin translation. Jerome was the best scholar at the time. Jerome completed this task in the year 405 ad. This first complete bible had those books.

So in conclusion it was the Catholic Church that wrote the New Testament, passed the faith on orally and in written form, with the authority of Jesus it declared what books would be in the bible, and kept the faith constant and unchanging for 2000 years.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The rapture?

I am sure that all of you have heard of, read or watched the “Left Behind Series”. The left behind series starts with what they call the rapture where all of the Christian faithful disappear and are taken to heaven. This being the start of a 7 year tribulation period which at the end of the seven years is the second coming of Christ. I hate to disappoint everyone looking forward to any type of rapture separate from the second coming but this idea of a rapture was invented by a British religious figure named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.
            A couple verses that people who hold this view use to support their position are.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
I Corinthians 15:51-53  Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
            Take a close look at these verses, particularly at the parts that talk about a trumpet being sounded, the coming of the lord and being caught up together. Now read the following 3 verses looking for the three things just mentioned.
Matthew 24:29-31“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Mark 13:24-27 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light;  the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.  And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
            Did you notice that when the trumpet is sounded, the people are gathered to Jesus at his coming and it is after the tribulation and at the second coming of Christ? Being caught up together with Jesus in the clouds is what they are calling the rapture but it is at the same time of the second coming not at some secret time before then. Remember Jesus said that he would return one last time not twice. It is also interesting to notice that 1 Cor 15:52 it says the rapture is suppose to take place at the “last trumpet” however we read in Revelation chapter 8-11 about 7 trumpets being blown during the great tribulation which is suppose to be after the rapture. How can the last trumpet be the first trumpet? Also if you look back to 1 Cor 15:51-53 and look at the next two verses (54, 55) notice what it says. 1 Cor 15:54-55 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"
It talks about death ending. When does death end? At the second coming. These verses contradict the dispensational theology because just after the pre tribulational rapture death just begins. It isn’t swallowed up in victory it is unleashed and will claim very many people.
In describing Jesus’ return, Paul combines imagery drawn from two sources. From biblical apocalyptic (e.g., Dan 7:13), he gets the coming on the clouds of heaven with the angelic trumpets. From his Greco-Roman experience, he gets the imagery of an arrival of a king on a state visit (in Greek, parousia); where a joyful multitude goes out to meet him on the road and accompany him back to the city. We even see this going out to meet the king on his return home in 1 Sam 30:21 where David’s soldiers go and meet David on his return.
One problem a pre trib view is that people apply distinctions inconsistently. For instance, they claim that parousia in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 refers to the rapture, but that the same word in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 describes the Second Coming.
Even Martha understood that the faithful would rise on the last day at the resurrection. Jesus doesn’t correct her and say you will rise in the rapture then seven years later you will be given your resurrection body.
John 11:23-24 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
Two more verses dispensationalist use to support a pre-trib rapture are Mt 24:37-39, Lk 17:26-30. 
Mt 24:37-39 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
Lk 17:26-30 As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot--they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all-- so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.
            If you look closely at these verses you will see that the second coming of Jesus will be like in the days of Noah and Lot. Read carefully in Matthew 24 to see who was taken and who was left. The dispensationalist says that like the rapture Noah was taken out and saved from destruction. Read the context it says that the people were eating and drinking and marrying and they did not know until the flood  came and swept them away. See who was taken here. It was the bad guys who were taken and Noah was left behind. The same is with Lot. Lot was left behind and the workers of iniquity were taken. That fits exactly with what Jesus said in Mt 13:37-43. 
Mt 13:37-43 He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
            Notice that the evildoers are taken first like weeds and the righteous are left. Another verse dispensationalist use is Lk 17:34-36. This is the famous verse that says one will be taken and the other left. If you ask the dispensationalist where they were taken, they will say to heaven of course but if you look at the very next verse (verse 37), the apostles ask Jesus where they are taken and Jesus’ answer doesn’t paint a rosy picture of heaven.
Lk 17:34-37 I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left." Then they asked him, "Where, Lord?" He said to them, "Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather."
            We see further evidence that Christians are on earth until the second coming in Dan 7:25 and Dan 8:24. In these verses Daniel talks about Christians being persecuted by the antichrist. According to a pre trib rapture view the Christians are taken out before the antichrist shows up. Jesus in Mt 24:9-24 mentions the antichrist persecuting the elect. In Rev 7:9-14 we see martyrs who came out of the tribulation period. In all of these verses the Christians should already be in heaven and there is no mention that these people are a remnant who came to faith after a rapture.
            So we see that both scripture and Church history show that the idea of a rapture separate from the second coming is not something we should be looking for.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The dangers of Yoga and its incompatibility with Christianity

Yoga helps me stay in shape and helps me relax. What’s wrong with that they say. Yoga goes much deeper than that. Yoga cannot be separated from Hindu mysticism no more than Jesus can be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

What yoga is from authorities of yoga.

One of the leading contemporary authorities on kundalini yoga is Gopi Krishna. In his article "The True Aim of Yoga," he says: "The aim of yoga is to achieve the state of unity or oneness with God, Brahman, [and] spiritual beings.
One of the most authoritative texts on yoga theory within the Hindu perspective is Pantajali's text on raja Yoga titled Yoga Sutras (e.g.,  596 ). In this text he puts forth the traditional eight "limbs," or parts, of yoga. These are defined within the context of a basic Hindu worldview (reincarnation, karma, and moksha, or liberation) and intended to support and reinforce Hindu beliefs. Each "limb" has a spiritual goal and together they form a unit. These eight limbs are:
Yama (self-control, restraints, devotion to the gods [e.g. Krishna] or the final impersonal God [e.g., Brahman]
Niyama (religious duties, prohibitions, observances)
Asana (proper postures for yoga practices; these represent the first stage in the isolation of consciousness and are vital components for "transcending the human condition" 601:54)
Pranayama (the control and directing of the breath and the alleged divine energy within the human body [prana] to promote health and spiritual [occult] consciousness and evolution)
Prayahara (sensory control or deprivation, i.e., withdrawal of the senses from attachment to external objects)
Dharana (deeper concentration, or mind control)
Dhyana (deep contemplation from occult meditation)
Samadhi (occult enlightenment or "God [Brahman] realization" i.e., "union" of the "individual" with God).
Because the eight steps are interdependent, the steps of "postures" and "breathing" cannot logically be separated from the others. Thus, the interdependence of all eight steps reveals why the physical exercises of yoga are designed to prepare the body for the spiritual (occult) changes that will allegedly help one realize godhood status.
Yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment that the postures (asana) of yoga and its breathing techniques (pranayama) are much more than just physical exercises: Again, we see that the control of the vital energy (prana) by way of breathing, like also asana, is not merely a physical exercise, but is accompanied by certain psychomental phenomena. In other words, all techniques falling under the heading of asana and pranayama as, for example, the mudras and bandhas [physical positions or symbolic bodily gestures utilizing pranayama and concentration for physical or spiritual purposes] of Hatha yoga, are psychosomatic exercises. This point, unfortunately, is little understood by Western practitioners
Actually, yoga practice is intended to validate occult yoga theory. And as noted, yoga theory teaches that everything is, in its true inner nature, divine - not only divine but ultimately equal to everything else - everything from God and the devil to the athlete and the AIDS virus.
Yoga theory also teaches that in their outer nature, everything is maya, or illusion. For example, only in his inner spirit is man divine; his "outer nature," of body and personality, are ultimately a delusion that separates him from awareness of his real inner divinity. Thus, another purpose of yoga must be to slowly dismantle the outer personality - man's illusory part - so the supposed impersonal divinity can progressively "emerge" from within his hidden divine consciousness
This is why people who practice yoga only for physical or mental health reasons are ultimately the victims of a confidence game. They are promised better health; little do they suspect the end goal of yoga is to destroy them as individuals. As yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller comment, yoga results in "a progressive dismantling of human personality ending in a complete abolition. With every step (anga) of Yoga, what we call 'man' is demolished a little more"
The concept of prana ("breath") is a key to the process. Pranayama refers to the knowledge and control of prana, or mystical energy, not merely to the control of one's physical breath  (979:592) . Prana is believed to be universal divine energy residing behind the material world (akasa). Prana is said to have five forms, and all energy is thoughy to be a manifestation of it.
According to Vivekananda, all occult manifestations are accomplished through yogic control of prana: We see in every country sects that attempted to control of prana. In this country there are mind healers, spiritualists, Christian Scientists, hypnotists, and so on. If we examine these different sects, we shall find at the back of each is the control of prana, whether they know it or not. If you boil all the theories down, the residuum will be that. It is one and the same force they are manipulating. Thus we see that pranayama includes all that is true even of spiritualism. Similarly, you will find that wherever any sect or body of people is trying to discover anything occult, mysterious, or hidden, they are really practicing some sort of yoga to control their prana. You will find that wherever there is any extraordinary display of power, it is the manipulation of prana. In other words, prana, God, and occult energy are all one and the same. The one who practices yogic breathing (pranayama) is by definition attempting to manipulate occult ("divine") energy.

Trying to separate the religious from the physical.

As we have seen the teachers of Hindu themselves have acknowledged that there is no way yoga can be separated from its religious base."[However], Hatha-yoga is 'one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism' and is at its roots religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially dangerous [spiritually] forms of Yoga. "The term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means 'to oppress.'... What the practice of hatha-yoga is designed to do is suppress the flow of psychic energies through these channels ["symbolic, or psychic, passages on either side of the spinal column"], thereby forcing the 'serpent power' or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power. Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that under grid it. This is an absolutely false belief "You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. 'The movements themselves become a form of meditation.' The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you ... intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! There is, by definition, no such thing as 'neutral' Yoga"
Even when yoga is practiced innocently, it can eventually produce dramatic occult transformation. "Personality changes can be brought about in Hatha Yoga by changing the body so that it influences the mind."
It is important to note that historically, in the east, advanced yoga practice was only permitted within narrowly defined parameters. Students practiced under the strict guidance of a yogi in controlled, slowly advancing stages in stress-free settings. Higher levels involving breath work and energy work were always reserved for those initiates successfully completing years of the purification which decreased the likelihood of problems.
            Now, even in all but the most rigorous ashrams in the west, advanced yogic practices are imparted at weekend or week-long getaways and some yoga teachers receive certifications after only months of study. To suggest that one can derive solely physical benefits from Yoga without being affected -- in some way -- by its inherently spiritual foundation is to miss the mark. Yoga is not primarily about limbering up the body; it is about using physical means to achieve a spiritual end. So the question of separating the physical from the spiritual in yoga is really a contradiction in terms. In fact, if one consults the massive amount of yoga material available, it becomes clear that yoga was never intended to have any physical benefits. Yoga is consistently presented as being primarily about actualizing one's spiritual potential, attaining "freedom," transcending the ego, and the like.

Consider a Biblical example:

1 Cor 10:18-20 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.

The meat sacrificed to the pagan idols was completely fine physically to eat yet Paul warns people not to eat it because of the underlying spiritual dimension.
Perhaps by analogy a Catholic may ask if it's possible to receive the Eucharist and not be participating in something religious. Or think of it another way. If an atheist takes and consumes a consecrated Host, could we validly maintain that has he not received the Body of Christ because he doesn't believe that that's what it is? Could we assert that he has merely "gone through the physical motions" of receiving but has not engaged in a spiritual activity? Technically speaking, the Eucharist has a spiritual reality independent of the receiver's beliefs, and I propose that the same is true for Yoga. Just as the Real Presence is contained within a consecrated Host whether or not someone believes it, so also does Yoga have a spiritual component that is real, whether or not it is the specific pursuit of the practitioner.
Donna Kocian, who is one who tries to combine Christianity and Hinduism says she wants to help people pause and find themselves in today’s frenetic world, “to pray within themselves, to pause, to reflect, to give thanks and to heal by yoga.” (Why do we need yoga to do that when we have Eucharistic Adoration, an opportunity to sit for as long as we want in the sacramental presence of the greatest healer who ever walked the earth?)
Kocian “Christianizes” her yoga class by incorporating Gospel readings and Christian music with yoga postures that are designed to give worship to any one of about 3 million Hindu gods. If this was possible, why couldn’t we just “Christianize” occult practices such as tarot cards and palm reading? How hard would it be to create a Christian deck of tarot cards and associate biblical prophecies with each one? And couldn’t we justify palm reading by saying that God created our bodies so when we read our palms, we’re just reading what God put there?
Bad side effects of yoga.

Consider the experience of Christina Grof, who, prior to her experience with yoga, was an average housewife with normal plans for her life. She took up yoga entirely without suspicion as a practice that would help her physically during her pregnancy. After all, there are widespread claims that "during pregnancy, yoga exercises are extremely beneficial and will keep you supple and relaxed." What Christian Grof got was far more. She found herself transformed from a "conservative suburban housewife" into a New Age leader by means of hatha yoga. All she had to do was "join a hatha yoga class for exercise" and the logical progression ensued.
            One example of the physical dangers of yoga was at common workplace where power yoga was offered at lunchtime for a quick pick-me-up. The yoga instructor recently had the class perform an exercise designed to stimulate the pituitary gland - and one of students did not sleep the entire following night. The dangers of any kind of yoga can be schizophrenia, mental disorders, include abuse of power, unconscious motivations of teachers and students, as well as the ignorance of the physiological and psychological effects of yoga.
Feuerstein and Bodian note that experiences made possible through yoga include “. . . lucid dreaming, out-of-body states, clairvoyance, and other psychic abilities, as well as ecstasies, mystical states and, at the apex of them all, enlightenment.” They go on to assert that “yoga is at home with all these mental states and mind-transcending realizations” Given these candid admissions by yoga masters that the development of psychic abilities is a virtually unavoidable result of practicing yoga — in fact, it is the very goal — the believing Christian is left with a serious moral and spiritual dilemma:  should he pursue an activity whose ultimate goal is to cultivate “powers” that God expressly condemns?  There’s no avoiding the fact that yoga can and does foster these abilities, and there’s no avoiding the fact that God tells us they are spiritually harmful to His children
Dave Hunt in his book “Yoga and the Body of Christ” makes a connection between the effects of LSD and other Psychedelic drugs introduced in the 1960s with yoga. The Central Intelligence Agency’s investigation into these drugs for possible military use experimented with more than eighty college campuses under various CIA code names, which popularized LSD to thousands of graduate students.
Under the influence of psychedelics, millions discovered another dimension of reality that surely was not physical. But as long as the “trip” lasted, the adventure was as real as the physical universe—or, seemingly, even more real. It only remained to be discovered that yoga would produce the same “trip” without drugs—and yoga took off as the new cure all. Hunt tells of his conversation with a mother. “I remember the mother of a 20-year-old telling me with some sense of relief and little concern,” “Our son used to be heavily into drugs; but thank God he isn’t using drugs anymore because he started practicing yoga. I don’t know what yoga is, but it can’t be bad if it got him off of drugs!”
“My reply must have shocked her”: “I’m glad to hear that your son no longer gets ‘high’ on drugs. I’m sorry to inform you, however, that he can get a lot ‘higher’ on yoga than on drugs. Drugs were the kindergarten of occultism—yoga is the graduate school!”
Hunt notes it is both logical and biblical that God would build protection within man to prevent a take-over of the human mind by any other mind. One could, however, voluntarily allow this to be done by willingly submitting to hypnosis. Moreover, deliberately entering an altered state, whether through drugs, hypnosis, or yoga, is giving permission to evil entities to take over, whether one realizes it or not.
Anthropologist Michael Harner wrote, “A shaman...enters an altered state of consciousness...to acquire...special, personal power, which is usually supplied by his guardian and helping spirits.” John Lilly, who invented the isolation tank (in which one floats in a sea of heavy salt water, completely isolated from sights or sounds of the world) that inspired the movie, Altered States , declared: “Some people call it ‘lucid dreaming.’ It’s a lot easier if you have a psychedelic [drug] in you, but a lot of people...can just meditate and go into these alternate realities....” There are many recorded accounts by those who have experienced similar adventures and “possession” while practicing yoga.
The staff at the Berean Call (an evangelical ministry) says “I have interviewed people who became demon possessed through yoga. The great yogis all warn of the grave dangers involved, even though at the same time they promote the alleged benefits. Yes, you could benefit physically from stretching your muscles, etc. However, the spiritual price you pay is not worth it. If you are interested in physical fitness, then practice exercises designed for that, not those designed specifically for achieving union with Brahman!”

Other health problems can be found here: http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=676#more-676

Christian Clergy on Yoga

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Yoga is Hindu and the practice imperils the souls of Christians who engage in it.

Fr. James Manjackal, a Catholic priest who was raised in a traditional Catholic family in India, states: “Yoga is not an elaborate system of physical exercises, it is a spiritual discipline purporting to lead the soul to Samadhi, the state in which the natural and divine become one. It is interesting to note that postures and breathing exercises often considered to be the whole of yoga in the west are steps three and four towards union with Brahman.”

The late Fr. John Hardon SJ also affirmed that yoga is not compatible with Catholicism. “Inner Hinduism or yoga professes pantheism which denies that there is only one Infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says that followers will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on Earth.”

Dr. John Ankerberg states in his article Innocent Yoga? “Regardless of the school or spiritual tradition, yoga practice tends to alter a person’s consciousness in an occult direction. Even when yoga is practiced innocently, it can eventually produce occult transformation.”
There are those who claim there is nothing wrong with practicing Yoga for exercise purposes only, but even the teachers of Hindu have stated that the philosophy and the practice of yoga are inseparable. From Johanna Michaelsen’s book “Like Lambs to the Slaughter” (pp 93-95) she states, “You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy… The movements themselves become a form of meditation.”

Exorcists on yoga.
The [UK] Daily Mail reported on May 24, 2008: posted this article:
Father Jeremy Davies, exorcist for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, says that activities such as yoga, massage therapy, reiki or even reading horoscopes could put people at risk from evil spirits.
In a new book, he also argues that people with promiscuous lifestyles could find themselves afflicted by demons.
And he says that the occult is closely linked to the scourges of ‘drugs, demonic music and pornography’ which are ‘destroying millions of young people in our time’.
The 73-year-old Catholic priest, who was appointed exorcist of the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1986, was a medical doctor before being ordained in 1974.
He has carried out thousands of exorcisms in London and in 1993 he set up the International Association of Exorcists with Fr Gabriel Amorth, the Pope’s top exorcist.
He adds that ‘perversions’ such as homosexuality, pornography and promiscuity are contributing to a growing sense of moral unease.
He writes: ‘Even heterosexual promiscuity is a perversion; and intercourse, which belongs in the sanctuary of married love, can become a pathway not only for disease but also for evil spirits...young people especially are vulnerable and we must do what we can to protect them.
‘The thin end of the wedge (soft drugs, yoga for relaxation, horoscopes just for fun and so on) is more dangerous than the thick end because it is more deceptive – an evil spirit tries to make his entry as unobtrusively as possible.
‘Beware of any claim to mediate beneficial energies (eg reiki), any courses that promise the peace that Christ promises (eg enneagrams), any alternative therapy with its roots in eastern religion (eg acupuncture).’
Fr Davies argues that occult practices such as magic, fortune-telling and holding seances to contact the spirits of the dead are ‘direct invitations to the Devil which he readily accepts’.
But the Oxford-educated priest, who is based in Luton, Bedfordshire, says there are different degrees of demonic influence, and the most extreme forms occur rarely.
THE appointment of a new exorcist by Sydney's Catholic Church precedes a warning by a senior clergyman that generation Y risks a dangerous fascination with the occult fuelled by the Twilight and Harry Potter series.
Julian Porteous, the auxiliary bishop of Sydney, warns that pursuing such ''alternative'' relaxation techniques as yoga, reiki massages and tai chi may encourage experimentation with ''deep and dark
spiritual ideas and traditions''

In an article published Nov 27 2011 from the Hindustan Times, New Delhi quotes Fr Gabriel Armoth who is the top Vatican exorcist. The article states: The controversial priest, who has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms in 25 years, declared: "Both seem innocuous but they deal with magic and that leads to evil.”Father Amorth said: "Yoga is the Devil's work. You think you are doing it to stretch your mind and body. "But it leads to oriental religions based on the false belief of reincarnation."

The Magesterium of the Catholic Church on Yoga
            In a 1989 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation (hereafter Aspects), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith focused on various Eastern spiritual practices and the legitimacy of their inclusion into the spiritual lives of Christians. In a footnote contained in Number 2, Aspects specifically states that "The expression 'eastern methods' is used to refer to methods which are inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism, such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation or Yoga." They said that yoga can "degenerate into a cult of the body" that debases Christian prayer. Further, the Church leaders cautioned, "The love of God, the sole object of Christian contemplation, is a reality which cannot be 'mastered' by any method or technique."
 So the Magisterium clearly has yoga in mind when addressing the issue of Christians using Eastern spiritual practices. It also affirms that bodily considerations (such as yoga's postures, for instance) can indeed impact us spiritually: "Human experience shows that the 'position and demeanor of the body' also have their influence on the recollection and dispositions of the spirit.

A Call to Vigilance Pastoral Instruction on the New Age by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Norberto Rivera Carrera wrote Jan 7, 1996 saying:
32. These practices were unquestionably born as spiritual disciplines or religious acts within traditional religions (as in the case of Zen, tai chi, and the many forms of yoga), or in sects or new religious movements (as in the case of transcendental meditation and dynamic meditation). At times an attempt is made to "christianize" these forms, as occurred, for example, with "centering prayer" and "focusing," but the result is always a hybrid form with slight gospel basis.
33. However much proponents insist that these techniques are valuable merely as methods, and imply no teaching contrary to Christianity, the techniques in themselves always involve serious drawbacks for a Christian:
a)       In their own context, the postures and exercises are designed for their specific religious purpose. They are, in themselves, steps for guiding the user towards an impersonal absolute. Even when they are carried out within a Christian atmosphere, the intrinsic meaning of these gestures remains intact.

In 2003 the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue released a document entitled Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life (hereafter Bearer). While the focus of this document is the New Age movement, we again find the subject of yoga included: "Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian Gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, yoga and so on" (#2.1).
Yoga, zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises lead to an experience of self-fulfillment or enlightenment. Peak-experiences (reliving one's birth, traveling
to the gates of death, biofeedback, dance and even drugs – anything which can
provoke an altered state of consciousness) are believed to lead to unity and
enlightenment. (#2.3.3)

Islam on Yoga.

In 2008 the leading Islamic council in Malaysia issued an edict prohibiting the country's Muslims from indulging in the practice of yoga. Abdul Husim  the Chairman said, "Yoga destroys a Muslim's faith." “There are other ways to get exercise. You can go cycling, swimming." If it can destroy a Muslim faith it can destroy a Christian one also.


Alternatives to yoga

PraiseMoves was developed by Laurette Willis, a Protestant and former Hatha yoga instructor who returned to the Lord after being convicted of her involvement in yoga. Here’s a link: http://praisemoves.com/christianalternative.htm
Other alternatives.