"..for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your devotion, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One to whom you show reverence without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: ... So Paul DEPARTED FROM THEIR MIDST. However, some men joined him and believed..." (Ac17:23,33-34)
A couple months ago a regular subscriber wrote to question whether it was right for a Christian to get back into Martial Arts to finish his studies towards his black belt. And in connection with a follow-up to that we briefly addressed the yin/yang; which if you read the above link, is related to Tae-Bo where they claim to have the "truth...from within" (yin); and of course their extreme physical workout is external (yang), empowered by the dragon (addressed in the Q/As). We concluded that, considering the spiritual/demonic origins and underpinnings, that a Christian would not embrace the martial arts.
Here is the Q/A with its follow-up:
Having grown up in Japan I recognized the bow/clap as something I had seen regularly that people would do at the temples and/or shrines. If they tossed their offering into the well, they would bow and clap. If they worshipped at the little shrines along-side the road, or wherever, they'd place the little rice cake at the shrine and would bow and clap.
I don't remember if it was that same evening, or we went back to visit....but I asked the teacher about that, and he (a westerner/American) said it was merely "showing respect" to the "Sensei" who had devised the course of study that they were using.
But again, having grown up in the culture...."showing respect" only requires -bowing-. The lower-in-station bows lower to one higher-in-station, who doesn't bow as lowly. (You know...like O'Bama was doing to all these heads-of-state after he took office) But showing respect does NOT include -clapping-. You know, like Abraham "bowed" on the occasion of Sarah's death and purchase of the burial cave. (Ge23:7,12) It doesn't say that he clapped....only, he bowed...which was the eastern protocol for respect. ...much as we 'shake hands' when meeting people and making business deals, etc.
Now, when we get to the crowning of Joash, it says that they "clapped their hands" and proclaimed "long live the king" (2Ki11:12) But by then, paganism had so overcome their mentalities. There was a regional worldly mentality that the king was like 'deity'. You know... just like the 'church' can't get the pagan "christ/mass" out of its mentality; so they have "christ/mass" services to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Of course now, as a kid I was never in situations to be in the presence of royalty or anything like that. But after the war, there was still the carry-over of showing undue respect to Americans (the conquerers), in the rural areas where we were mainly...but even in that I never saw (to my recollection) any clapping where it was person-on-person, that wasn't also a bowing to 'deity'.
Of course, I have not studied into karate, like yoga and such other things, where BY DEFINITION "yoga" -is- Hindu religion. I don't know if there is such a component to karate.
However, "Martial arts" as I understand it -includes- many different things, including karate. And from what I see depicted, for martial arts there -is- a 'religious' component. If you've ever watched Star Trek, you have seen Warf, Dax, and others do their martial arts exercises....and in those case there definitely -is- a "spirituality" of the eastern religions that they were promoting. They didn't want the God of the Bible, but they promoted the (as Isaiah says) -consecrations- "from the east".
So...if you get your 'belt', does that label you, before others from the art, as one who has received of this 'eastern' spirit?
I don't know -the- answer for 'you'. But these are the questions I would be searching out.
There was an ad on TV some years ago advertising the Martial Arts locally. They would depict a black-clad and white-clad individual facing off over an arched bridge, doing some karate/judo-like moves, and the one in white 'beat' the one in black...and they would close the ad with words something like, if I remember correctly, "release the power....temple kung-fu" Of course, does not "temple" indicate a 'religious' component.
Standing in the grocery store line today, the female ahead of me had the Japanese (hiragana) character "ka" tattooed on the back of her neck. I asked what "ka" stands for. She replied (it's been all day, now, I forget exactly) "strength" or "power". Her personality seemed like the sort that might be into martial arts. For her it was obviously more than just 'exercise' (if that's what it was). It was her (self-perceived) essence.
MARTIAL ARTS UPDATE (II):
Within the past week I happened upon a Q/A session on one of the local SDA channels. While there is much that is wrong with their theology, they often do say some astute things. The question of the moment was Martial Arts.
The fellow giving the answer seemed to have researched a bit. While we suggested an occult connection, this fellow defined it better. That martial arts includes embracing the yin/yang. According to the dictionary, yin/yang is the female/male balance. The fellow giving the answer said internal/external. Apparently the martial arts spend time in 'meditation'... that's the (internal) yin. And when they do their combat maneuvers, that's the (external) yang... and the yang receives its power from the dragon. Anybody who has seen even a little of oriental culture and art knows their proliferation of the dragon/serpent.
Re 20:2 And he laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
So... should a Christian participate?
If you're a Christian, reading this, you should now know the answer.
This is also like that other thing we have addressed, of which I was reminded just now in browsing the Spokane "Catalyst" Business magazine that comes to my shop... somebody in it mentioned about Yoga and yin/yang, as the complete package. Some "christians" propose to participate in the "non-Hindu" aspects of Yoga. That's like buying hamburger and eating the "non-meat" parts. Or for a Kosher person to not eat pork, but eating ham. Ham, unless specified as being "turkey" ham, -is- pork. Yoga, by definition, -is- Hindu. And now with this further information, it appears that martial arts -is- eastern religion. Like I quoted in the original commentary several years ago, from the TV commercial: "Release the Awesome Power of the Mind -- TEMPLE Kung Fu"
"Last year, after I began to realize how spiritual Taekwondo was while practicing forms in my basement as I prepared for a test, I quit. In the Taekwondo manual that my club gave to me about the history of Taekwondo and the organization that my club was a part of, were explanations of the inspiration for why the forms and the way of practicing them were designed the way they were. [vw:there was a link to an online video where he points out: notice the man's hands at the begining, it symbolises lifting up a log in budhist temple to ring the temple bell. Also, when the man yells or kyaps, he is releasing his ki from inside of his abdomen:] Again, they were based upon the occult yin and yang beliefs (the manual actually contained a description of the 'orgins' of the yin and yang before time began and a detailed chart explaining the symbolism of each form, which according to the book was based on the occultic book 1 Ching) Yes, forms (or poomsae) are designed to be spiritual, and at times I could sense it, which finally led to my quitting the club. Now, my club was truly not that spiritual as some are, but even so, I knew that I had to quit. What you write is the truth." [vw: edited a bit]
The one tells the other that there is 'Always going to be "opposition" to the "new ministry" they do as Martial "artists".' Those who are "shallow" (like yours truly and this ministry) have not "heard". (But he does not explain what this is that we "have not heard") We (shallow ones) are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and see God as being "small". Martial arts ministry is like being missionaries to another culture: with its dress, architecture, food, music, etc. A different culture does not equate with being "satanic". And that people like myself should contact those in the Martial Arts "ministries" to find out what's really going on...and stop proclaiming about what we don't know what we're talking about.
....words to that effect....
I found it interesting that the original Q/A was about "should Christians -participate-" in the martial arts? Which is what we answered. But this "minister" immediately jumped into "straw man" mode, condemning our "condemnation" of their "ministry". Well... we didn't condemn their "ministry", because "ministry" was not even addressed. However, since "ministry" has now been brought up by them, even if as a straw man, let's address it, shall we, and get into the topic of this article; light a match to the straw, and see what remains. (1Co3:13)
For those who say that "culture isn't demonic" let us be reminded of a 1999 study we did on "Bali and the pagan church" [link] Tourists go to visit, and the 'natives' do their cultural (pagan) dances. Tourists look at Bali's "art". Well, Bali doesn't have "art". Their artists/crafsmen who create the images do so as an act of 'worship' to their deities. What westerners call "art", is actually pagan demonic icons. They are objects of worship. Idols.
I've mentioned in the past from my experiences in professional music; I sang professionally with the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the Tudor Singers of Montreal, and in joint concerts whatever choir I was in also joined efforts with the Elmer Eisler Singers of Toronto; and some of the bigger productions in Montreal were conducted by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony. (I give this brief history from the late 70s early 80s, not to brag, but in presenting my 'credentials' for those who might insist I 'don't know what I'm talking about')
The staple of choral music is a high percentage catholic. You don't sing choral music very much before there is the performance of a Mass. And in case anybody balks at what the mass is, it is in worship of the sun. (See "Mary" and catholic sun worship. [link] Scroll down about 4 pages and notice all the icons to the sun. Notice the little 'flames' around the perimeter of the 'host' wafer)
A good many concerts in Montreal were in the area cathedrals (cathedral acoustics are great for choral singing), and so during free time I wandered around a bit, looking at all the statues. After a couple times doing that, it dawned on me that this "art" was in reality -IDOLS-. Every bit as much as Bali's carved icons.
So then, moving to the 'culture' of India and the east, we performed a work "Hymns from the Rig Veda" by Gustav Holst. While they had one selection, "Who is he? How shall we name him when we offer sacrifice?" which sounds a lot like Paul's "to the unknown god" What were they sacrificing? "...to thee a child we bring..." !!! "CULTURE"?
As a Christian should I have been doing professional music? In a pops concert in Vancouver, from Porgy and Bess, "It ain't necessarily so...the things that y'r li'ble to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so". I was still in my time of apostasy back then. I would -NOT- do it today!!!
During the final year we lived in Japan my dad did something which, in looking back on it now as an adult, I'm thinking he should have done years prior. I was ten, and there was never any discussion of what he did, nor why. As an adult, now, I know 'why' I would have done it. The mission owned a Japanese house that we lived in. It was traditional with the straw mat floors, paper sliding doors, etc. We took our shoes off when entering. According to the culture and laws of the land, my dad drove on the left side of the road. We (culturally) 'bowed' when meeting people and ate Japanese food with chopstix, and I would be sent on errands to buy tofu from the local store, where they dip the loaf out of the big vat and put it in your pan you take along for the purpose. I still remember the discomfort when coming to America, and I was motioned to enter the house first (without seeing somebody else do it and lead the way) feeling VERY AWKWARD leaving my shoes 'on' in the house. (Culturally, I -was- "Japanese")
In Japan, as I grew up, one thing I saw -everywhere-. Until I was old enough to know better, it was...just..."Japan". Culture. My "home". Everywhere you turn there were these stone statues and lanterns. And there was one in our front yard. It was there all the years, the whole time we were in Japan, living in that house. But one night (like Gideon destroying his father's idols to Baal in the dark of night?? Jdg6:25-27) my dad knocked over the image, and put its various pieces (it was made of sections that were stacked on top of each other) into the car and hauled them to several, various, separate remote places and buried them under the ground. (I remember it...those stones were quite heavy, and the car (48 Chevy) slung down pretty low, nearly bottoming out, with the load)
Until then, based on everything I had grown up seeing, that stone structure was "decoration". And if I wasn't a Christian, seeing Japan as a 'culture', the structures would be, merely, "the orient". But God said...
We have also addressed a comment by a choir director of a Bible college, that they seek to maintain "cultural sensitivity" in their music [link] and the concert I attended contained: hula dancing by a girl on an elevated platform, the choir danced shaking everything in sight (including the girls...you get the picture), the music was a cross of regae/rock styles, they performed a version of the catholic mass, etc.
LET IT NOT EVEN BE NAMED!!
Hezekiah and Josiah went around in rampages, knocking down idols and pagan groves. Of Hezekiah it was said...
Back in the 70s I used to have arguments with many who called themselves "christian", and was labelled by them, "judgmental", because I saw what God's Word says about holy living, and turning away from the world's ways...but they -WANTED- to live their carnal "lifestyles". So, naturally, if they are -living- a certain lifestyle, then what they claim to do in ministry and witness also embraces that same worldly carnal lifestyle. And lacking any other arguments that agree with the Bible, they come up with clever little expressions about "how big is your God?" If you look through a telescope the wrong way, your God is "little", but just -seeee- HOW BIG GOD IS when you embrace life all-inclusively in all its cultural aspects.
But what did Samuel say to Saul? Saul's disobedience was as WITCHCRAFT, and IDOLATRY.
What did Jesus commission the new Church? Did He anywhere command Believers to minister to the heathen through martial arts, going on "wife swap" shows, babbling with witch-doctor like shaman jibber-jabber and facilitate people to become demon possessed (and call it being "spirit-filled"), riding motorcycles and call it "ministry", or you-fill-in-the-blank?
"And He said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name to all nations, beginning out of Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things." (Lk24:46-47)
What is our "warfare"? It is against "rulers, against authorities, against the world’s rulers of the DARKNESS OF THIS AGE, against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS in the heavenlies." (Eph6:12) In those preparations Paul says nothing of: martial arts (that's flesh and blood which the warfare is NOT against), motorcycles, golf, sewing bees, yoga, concerts, you-fill-in-the-blank. It is all about...
Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation and the Word of God. (vs14-17) How is one saved? By riding motorcycles?
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn6:44)
"And when (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (Jn16:8)