Is the Concept of Chi Compatible with Christianity?
America has always been a nation regarded for its tolerance of various religious perspectives. While most citizens still identify themselves with some form of Christianity, it is undoubtedly obvious that eastern religious teaching is making striking advances in this country. Taoism (also spelled Daoism) is among those religions. Its adherents are still mostly found in Far Eastern countries such as China, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Singapore where its temples are found. Current approximations are that several hundred million people exercise some system of Taoism, with approximately 20 to 30 million on the Chinese mainland.
One of the questions some are asking regards the concept of Chi. Chi (also spelled ch’i or qi) is understood to be “the energy force that gives life to all things." Taoism teaches that there are great spiritual and health benefits to be gained by cultivating and enhancing the individual’s inner chi. A variety of both spiritual and physical disciplines help accomplish this in a person’s life. Practices such as meditation, exercise, and various techniques are encouraged. In traditional Chinese medicine, treatments like acupuncture, and certain martial arts such as Tai Chi are also promoted. Taoism teaches that the ultimate purpose for its adherents is that of balancing and heightening one’s chi on various levels. The focus is physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. On the surface this may not appear to be unhealthy. Some even argue that such principles are taught in the Holy Bible.
So, is there compatibility in chi and the instructions frequently prescribed in the Bible? By definition alone, the concept of chi is thoroughly discordant with the Christian faith. The focus of life and energy are altogether unalike. A rudimentary teaching of Christianity is that Jehovah God created all things through His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:1, John 1:1–4, Revelation 4:11). God is the source of life. Furthermore, through Jesus, all things found in creation are sustained (Psalm 147:9 , Colossians 1:16–17).
Proponents contend that chi is simply an alternate word for the “life” that God breathed into Adam (Genesis 2:7). Substituting the term chi into the Christian worldview in untenable because of the fundamental philosophy behind chi (Taoism). It is at odds with Christianity. The Taoist’s concept of the divine is relative, each person having their respective definition of what “god” is. Furthermore, Taoism teaches that each definition is absolutely acceptable. There is not a right or wrong concept. To the converse in the Christian faith, God is not defined by people’s ideas or acuities. The Bible teaches that all understanding of God, however limited it might be, comes from the Almighty Himself (Jeremiah 29:13–14). God describes Himself as immeasurable. Such a knowledge reaches beyond any hope of comprehensive human understanding. Still, He has disclosed particular truths about Himself, and makes it possible for humans to know Him on a personal level. Christianity presents Jesus Christ as the exclusive way to a real relationship with God (John 14:5–7).
It is also important to realize that chi cannot be separated from the spiritual realm. When a person enters this domain, they either encounter God or demonic power. It was for this very reason that God placed prohibitions on his people when it came to participating in such occult practices. This was for their own protection; participating in the banned practices would have placed them in contact with spiritually lethal influences (Deuteronomy 18:9–13).
While chi may seem innocent on the surface, a closer evaluation of the particulars in this practice warrant the Christian disassociates with the concept and disciplines of this ancient religion.