Are Some Traditional Ideas Actually Religious?

Dear BPCWAians, Last week, we looked at a show that portrayed itself as a cultural art performance, but was actually organised by Falun Dafa and was intended to propound a religious motivation and message. We briefly mentioned some of the underlying religious concepts. We will discuss this area a bit more this week. It is necessary because many of such concepts, which are expressed in different forms in various Eastern religions, are actually familiar ideas to many of us. Hence, we might even unconsciously adopt them. What are truly traditional ideas, and what has religious undertones? We must be able to differentiate and be watchful to ensure that wrong beliefs do not deceitfully influence our thinking and practices as Christians.

Some Eastern religions and philosophical beliefs include:

  1. Though there may be a belief in spirits, there is also at the same time a divine essence and some energy in every human being that can be harnessed and developed. If we manage to do so, we can address health and mood imbalances. Because of this concept of forces and energies (see point 3), they typically do not believe in a unique, personal, Supreme God who is the sole Creator, and who gives and sustains all life.
  2. The aim or purpose of man is a continual refining towards enlightenment. Sometimes, this enlightenment is also what they term as “salvation” or “spiritual perfection”. Along the way, there are several spiritual levels to which the practitioner is believed to attain. There is a focus on moral improvements though the underlying philosophy is religious in nature still.
  3. There is the belief in “Qi” which is energy in heavens, earth, and humans. There are also other forms of energy forces such as “Yin and Yang”. Some believe that Yin and Yang come from the Great Ultimate “taiji” which underlies Taijiquan, the Chinese meditation and health practice. For simplicity, these forces are like a kind of vital life giving and healing energy cum spiritual forces that can be “increased”, used and harmonised.

Can Christians hold on to these beliefs? Some readers may be thinking “What is wrong with it? After all, these propound moral values and emphasise the need for one to be virtuous. We can just ignore the religious principles under it and just reap benefits from them.” However, we must be careful as Christians not to “blend” these religious overtones into our way of thinking, beliefs and actions. We cannot halt between 2 opinions… or hide behind a “no opinion.” Either the God of the Bible is true and we follow Him wholly as the sole Giver and Sustainer of all life, or if we choose to hold on to a view of mystical forces that goes against the Bible, then we desert our Lord and call Him a liar. So, we must see what the Bible says about these beliefs:

  1. Deut 4:39 leaves no doubt that there is only one Supreme Being. “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” All glory is due to Jehovah alone, because everything else is Created by Him. On the other hand, after Adam’s fall and all of mankind with him, everyone became totally depraved without exception. There is no spark of divinity in sinful man. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10- 12). Romans 3:23 leaves no doubt that no one has a “spark of divinity” within, because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And none can become better through meditation, nor develop powers to heal.
  2. The Bible tells us we cannot refine our spirituality and reach salvation. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and only the blood of Jesus Christ his Son can cleanse us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7). We must be born again to see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3, 7) and this is “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God.” (1 Pet 1:23) We are saved by grace “through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8, 9)
  3. The Bible tells us that the Supreme Lord our God (and not some kind of “Qi” force) created everything, gives life and energy, and sustains all, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible… all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). The mystical ideas of impersonal energies and life-forces that improve man and enable healing go against Christ, because “in him was life” (Jn 1:4). The adoption of a “qi” and “taiji” force rejects the idea of a Supreme Eternal Immortal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

Romans 1:21-22 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Let us not be fooled. Let us give God the glory due to His Name instead of giving it to Qi and Yin and Yang.

Yours in our Lord’s service