Below are additional resources related to the sermon "Haunted: Pursuing the Paranormal"
Is it contradictory to observe Halloween and Christmas but discourage the practice of Yoga?
Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
For most people, Halloween looks nothing like its origin story. Halloween is a day for kids to dress up, get candy, and for adults to act like kids. For that reason, at James River Church we offer the October 31st Party on Halloween night. It’s an alternative to Halloween that does not glorify darkness but points people to the light of the gospel.
The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D., over 1,682 years ago. Some have said that the Christmas celebration is pagan because Jesus’ birth was not on December 25th and that this date is tied to pagan Roman worship instituted by Emperor Aurelius.
It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to redeem the day from traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival. By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced and changed the way the day was celebrated.
The difference between Yoga and Halloween/Christmas is:
A. The practice meditation in Yoga is often assisted by a mantra (the word mantra is mind, transport). Because Yoga is part of Hindu worship and religious practice, the mantras are often the names of Hindu gods. Therefore, the mantras are worship, which violates the 1st commandment (Exodus 20:3).
B. Also in Yoga, each position has a meaning. Yoga positions were designed with a pagan worship intent to open you up to demonic power. For example, the Sun Salutation is meant to greet the sun and is used as a way to celebrate and worship the Hindu sun god, Surya, who gives health and immortal life.
C. A person practicing yoga will seek to achieve a pure state of consciousness by chanting the sacred symbol “Ohm” (which is considered to be the voice of God). Meditation in yoga is consciousness of nothing. Meditation in Christianity is thinking about God’s Word and His goodness.
All of these reasons speak to the difference between Yoga and Halloween/Christmas. During Halloween and Christmas, we are not chanting the names of pagan gods, and we are not participating in actions that open us up to demonic influence and power.
Prominent Hindu academic, Professor Aseem Shukla, writing for the Hindu American Foundation:
Nearly 20 million people in the United States gather together routinely, fold their hands and utter the Hindu greeting of Namaste — the Divine in me bows to the same Divine in you. Then they close their eyes and focus their minds with chants of “Om,” the Hindu representation of the first and eternal vibration of creation. Arrayed in linear patterns, they stretch, bend, contort and control their respirations as a mentor calls out names of Hindu divinity linked to various postures: Natarajaasana (Lord Shiva) or Hanumanasana (Lord Hanuman) among many others. They chant their assigned “mantra of the month,” taken as they are from lines directly from the Vedas, Hinduism’s holiest scripture. Welcome to the practice of yoga in today’s western world.
The Meaning of Yoga: A Conversation with Stephanie Syman and Doug Groothuis
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary & Boyce College, has a conversation with yoga expert Stephanie Syman about the origins of yoga.
Yoga, A Brief History
David Gord White, Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara, gives an overview of the foundations of yoga.
The Subtle Body — Should Christians Practice Yoga?
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary & Boyce College, provides a brief, biblical response to yoga based on his podcast conversation with Stefanie Syman, the author of The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America.
How Should Christians Respond to Yoga?
An article from the Christian Research Institute on an appropriate Christian response to yoga.
The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, and Psychic Phenomena by Ron Rhodes
Ron Rhodes, respected and popular biblical scholar, tackles the truth about ghosts and those who say they communicate with them.
Unmasking the New Age by Douglas Groothuis
Douglas Groothuis explains how the New Age combines Eastern mysticism with Western optimism and why it has become so popular. His thorough, biblical analysis helps Christians know how to respond to this aggressive movement.