Those of you interested in engaging with the concept of Chi and the related disciplines of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Martial Arts, Fung Shui and so forth, would be well advised to read Christian Guideposts on Chi: An Evangelical Assessment of Chi and Related Activities by Brett Yardley. Here are a few comments I found worthy of consideration:
It is unfortunate that at this stage some Christians have attempted to dispense with the entire notion of ch’i as wholly incompatible with Christianity simply due to its eastern origins. Yet, this is an overly simplistic type of reasoning, since to belittle and reject all eastern thought solely by pointing out its source is a genetic fallacy. Christians will do well to remember that Judaism and Christianity, despite the unfortunate label of being “Western Religions,” were in fact born in the east amongst eastern people.
In general, Christians can relate to the overall summary of [Traditional Chinese Medicine’s] pragmatic methods of “all things in moderation.” In fact [Traditional Chinese Medicine’s] push to moderate one’s lifestyle, control sexual urges, and caring for one’s body (which Paul refers to as a temple of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 6:18), are in line with a Christian worldview. However, embracing the philosophical awareness and wisdom that [Traditional Chinese Medicine] is supposed to provide for personal wellness should be considered suspect since the Christian’s personal well-being and wisdom should come from their relationship with Christ.
So long as Christians still abstain from the divination practices of Feng Shui, taking this definition would free users to see Feng Shui as nothing more than an aesthetic art form
No, detachment is not enough; we must go on to attachment. The detachment from the confusion all around us is in order to have a richer attachment to God. Christian meditation leads us to inner wholeness necessary to give ourselves to God freely.
As a result, the “soft” side of martial arts dealing with inner development often includes harmony with and controlling ch’i, as opposed to the “hard” side including physical conditioning and strikes.
As previously mentioned, the use and definition of ch’i neither fits any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, nor acts in way that would serve the ministries of the church.
According to the Japanese Catholic Theologian Yohji Inoue, the foundation of Western thinking is “substance” (object) while Japanese thinking is “the field which envelopes substances.”
2 thoughts on “Christian Guideposts on Chi”
Interesting, as always, Matt. Read the referenced paper…also interesting, but had some things that didn’t sit right with me. I think there is a middle way between the extremes of understanding ch’i that continues to elude…and I’m not able yet to fully articulate it.
There are parts of creation and reality that are predictable–such that they are known as laws…but there are also forces that interrupt the laws. These forces are not well understood and are often not dealt with well because they are seen as outside the senses and cannot be explained by the laws.
I think there is much to be said about a greater sense of humility and mystery being necessary when humans go about trying to understand life and the universe and all. Too often we want to tie things up neatly that cannot be neatly tied. We need to learn to hold knowledge more loosely and bear with the Spirit while we are still learning…some things are yet beyond our ability to know. We must be patient and sit with the uncertainty. Some things we may never understand until the new Heaven and Earth are revealed….
Thanks for providing so much important perspective as we all journey toward deeper understanding of God and all that exists.
Yes, sometimes we have to sit with the tension of not knowing everything in full. Could chi be said to be the Spirit of the Creator moving within creation, however impersonally understood from a pantheist viewpoint? Could chi be understood as unyet understood powers within the creation and the soul of humanity? I am inclined towards the former but it is messy. Part of the difficulty arises in that pantheists do not distinguish between the Creator and the creation as monotheists do. Yet, as messy as it is, I think this is a more constructive approach than (a) demonizing it a priori or (b) rejecting for a lack of a scientific explaination, for that is indeed a double edge sword.