Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Can We Do "Tai Chi"?

Dr Alex Tang wrote a good discussion on "Christian and Tai Ji Quan" (Read the entire article here):

"There are Christians who believe that Christians should not involve themselves in all types of martial arts because these martial arts have their origin from the Eastern religious traditions (Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Animism). However there are other Christians who believe that it is possible to separate the physical aspects of the martial arts from their spiritual aspects. Then the physical aspects can be practiced as a form of exercise and for self-defense. One example is taiji quan, which can be, practiced by all age groups especially the elderly. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been many examples of the Christians taking a pagan festival, removing its spiritual contents and adopting it as a Christian festival. Notable examples is Christmas (worship of Saturn by Romans and Yule festival by the Scandinavians) and Sunday (Sun God Day).

For those Christians who believe it is possible to separate the physical and spiritual aspects of taiji and embrace the physical aspects as a form of exercise, I would offer the following guidelines:

(1) Regard the graceful rhythmic movements of taiji quan as physical exercise, as one would with aerobics. Remember that our bodies are temples of God (1 Corinthians 3:16) and we are to take good care of it.

(2) Meditate on the goodness of God as you go through the various movements. Do not leave your mind blank but use the time for Christian meditation and prayer. The Bible also teaches about the need to achieve balance in our body, mind and soul.

(3) Discuss your reservations with your instructor. Find out his or her view of taiji and whether the instructor regard taiji as purely a physical exercise or religious. Avoid instructors who regard taiji as religious exercise. See what is being taught in the advance classes. Some instructors only introduce religious meditation and instructions in the advanced classes. Learn from instructors who regard taiji quan as exercise.

(4) Avoid learning in dojo or hall that have a shrine. Traditional dojo is a place devoted to religious exercises watched over by the dojo’s spirits. Open spaces like a park would be an ideal place to practice taiji.

Conclusion

When Paul was teaching about food offered to idols, he is teaching in a culture similar to ours (Romans 14:14-18). He taught there is nothing wrong with eating food offered to idols as long as we are convinced that it is alright. What corrupt our soul is not what we eat but what is in our hearts. However, if by eating food offered to idols will stumble a fellow Christian, then we are to avoid it. It is the same with taiji quan. If we are convinced that we can benefit from it as a physical exercise, are aware of its spiritual snares and it does not stumble our brothers and sisters then we should practice it. Let us remind ourselves that our mandate is to redeem culture and the Holy Spirit who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world."

8 comments:

ddd said...

"Notable examples are [sic] Christmas (worship of Saturn by Romans and Yule festival by the Scandinavians) and Sunday (Sun God Day)."

You do know that some truly conservative Christians do not celebrate Christmas, don't you? Also, Sunday is not a pagan holy day which was adapted by Christians; that is totally false. Sunday is the day which Christ rose again from the dead (ie Easter Sunday), and thus the choosing of Sunday as the Lord's Day was done early on in the history of the Church.

The Hedonese said...

dr alex replied:

hi ddd,

Thank you for your comment. I am not aware that truly conservative Christians do not celebrate Christmas. I do know however, that the Greek Orthodox churches celebrate Christmas in January.

Those Christian historians that I have studied noted that the early church celebrate the Eucharist on Saturday. This was changed to Sunday by a degree of Emperor Constantine after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

ddd said...

Hello Dr. Alex,

actually I doubt your sources regarding the fact that Constantine has so much power to change the celebration of the Eucharist from Saturday to Sunday; that sounds more like Da Vinci fiction to me. The early church fathers certainly didn't see it that way. Also, unless you are willing to maintain that Easter was a Saturday instead of a Sunday, why should Christians start by celebrating the Eucharist and assembling on Saturday?

And no, I said that some more conservative churches do not celebrate Christmas. The Puritans were notable for not celebrating Christmas, for example.

John Quik said...

It seem that many principles in this article about Tai Chi can apply to Yoga. Personally, I believed stretching is good, no matter what the position.

It is possible that some pagan may first discovered long ago and associate with his religion.

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