A man named Michael has emailed taking us to task for our Journal article warning of the occult nature of tai chi, the slow exercise system which is becoming popular among the over 50s. The email states: ‘Regarding the item you published entitled 'Yoga wasn't bad enough. Now we have tai chi, as the dark supernatural continues to invade our exercise time' -- If anything can alienate someone like myself from Christianity it is this sort of well meaning but misguided and ill informed superstitious nonsense.
‘Around 200 million Chinese people practice Tai Chi every day. Countless millions of elderly practitioners maintain flexibility and good health.
‘There is no doubt in my mind that if you believe this benign activity is anti-Christian or flirting with “evil” you have misinterpreted the Bible's teachings.
‘My experience of Buddhist and Tai Chi teachings is one of acceptance of other people’s beliefs. The overriding message is one of compassion.’
Our response is: why should our view alienate this man from Christianity? I suspect he is already alienated, or else he would take the article seriously and do some research to find out if we have the true angle on tai chi.
If millions of Chinese practice tai chi, that does not make it right. Jesus said there was a narrow way and a broad way, and most people would take the broad way that leads to destruction.
As for ‘acceptance of other people’s beliefs’, there is such a thing as truth. Things are true or they are not. Christians speak the truth in love when they unmask lies. We accept other people, but not false beliefs. How can you accept all beliefs, many of which are totally contradictory? If a tai chi master moved in next door, we might well invite him in for a cup of coffee and a chat, but no way would we accept his beliefs as being true.
As for ‘the overriding message (of tai chi) is one of compassion’, I haven’t noticed that the Chinese have done much to help the poor or sick. It is the Christians, following the compassionate teachings of the Lord Jesus who have brought freedom to nations and relief to so many throughout the world. As journalists we have noticed repeatedly that it is always the Christians in the lead when the needy are in trouble.
China has been one of the very worst nations when it comes to accepting the gospel. From the time of Hudson Taylor until the present day, it is dangerous to be a follower of the Lord Jesus in China. Far from the compassion and tolerance you claim for Chinese philosophies, Christian beliefs are NOT accepted in China and never have been. Their beliefs, on the other hand, are completely tolerated in Christian countries.
The adherents of tai chi no doubt believe they are getting some benefit from the odd looking slow exercises. After all, any exercise is going to tone muscles. But why choose that way to tone your muscles? Why would anyone choose to do exercises which come from pagan religion, particularly one with roots in martial arts?
Tai chi comes from Taoism, with its belief in a universal energy called ‘chi’ inside everyone, with a yin and yang (male and female) force. This is completely foreign to Christianity, which is founded on belief in a Creator God who is also our Redeemer. He is not an energy system inside us or a mystical force in us and we do not have a yin or yang anything. Those pagan, anti-Christian concepts will do us no good in the long run, or even the short run!
Some who do tai chi apparently even believe they are healed of various ailments by the chi force. One thing I have noticed about the occult, and particularly occult healing, is that practitioners will sometimes be healed, or appear to be healed, of some ailment, and will tell people about it, and perhaps gain more adherents.
Then, perhaps a few months later, the person who was healed will be stricken with something a whole lot worse, and that will be incurable. This is typical of Satanic deception – lure the punters in with something that seems good; then when you have them dangling on the hook, play with them for a while, and then reel them in. Don’t forget – Satan comes not as an ugly snake, but disguised as an angel of light. The occult is dangerous; I would say deadly.
As for Chinese philosophies, those same philosophies have not been strong enough to free the one billion Chinese of the tyranny of Communism. Christianity has freed a large part of the world. But many Chinese Christians (some estimate millions) are in labor camps. One we know of, after his release, told of his quota of 4,000 light bulbs, which he had to produce every day in a forced labor factory. If his quota was not met, he said he had to spread his legs, bend over, have his hands tied to a pole attached to his spread feet, and then endure a terrible beating.
The Wonders of Communism. Perhaps the jailers went home and did a bit of tai chi to get in touch with their inner selves. Tai chi has done nothing for China. Jesus came so that we would know the truth, and the truth would set us free, as indeed it has!
And as for exercise in general, as it happens I have just got back from exercising in the gym of our local sports centre. While there I listen to Chuck Smith's Through the Bible series on my MP3 player (Walkman). You can download Chuck's teachings on his Calvary Chapel website. He took his church through the whole Bible, and the talks will just inspire you and teach you many things you didn't know.
Exercising is so boring, but listening to Chuck expound the books of the Bible makes the time fly by! And at the end of it, I know more than I did at the start. What a joy it is, learning more about God's great book, the Bible.
You can download all of Chuck's Through the Bible series free on the web, and put it on an MP3 (they are much cheaper than ipods). Vernon McGee, of course, also has an excellent series going through the entire Bible, on ttb.org, and I used to listen to him, and probably will again. Ron Matsen also has an excellent teaching series free on the web.
So, forget the tai chi, and sign up for the gym, taking your MP3 player with you, loaded up with the truth of the Bible. Or just listen at home free and do some exercises on your own. Or you can put some praise music on to fill your mind with something good while you exercise. You do not need an ancient Chinese martial arts tai chi system to tone up your muscles!
Finally, Michael, I hope you will think again about all this, and ask Almighty God to show you the truth, not only about tai chi, but about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and our need to have our sins forgiven. No amount of imaginary chi is going to help us when we stand before the Judge of all the earth. I urge you to submit your life to Jesus Christ this very day, ask for your sins to be forgiven, and start daily Bible reading to get to know the truth.
Getting back to tai chi, a good website to look at is http://www.gotquestions.org/Tai-Chi-Christian.html