Question: "Is the idea of chi compatible with the Christian faith?"
Answer: Chi (also spelled ch’i or qi) can be defined as “the energy force that gives life to all things.” The idea of chi comes from Taoism, which teaches that there are spiritual and health benefits to developing and strengthening one’s inner chi. This is done through meditation, exercise, and other techniques. Traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and some martial arts like Tai Chi have an ultimate purpose of balancing and enhancing one’s chi on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.
By definition alone, the idea of chi is not compatible with the Christian faith. A foundational doctrine of Christianity is that God created all things through Jesus (see Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1–4). It is God who gives life, and by God, through Jesus, all things are sustained (see Psalm 147:9 and Colossians 1:16–17).
Some may argue that chi is just a different term for the “life” that God breathed into Adam (Genesis 2:7). But we can’t transplant the term chi into the Christian faith because the philosophy behind chi (Taoism) is also incompatible with Christianity. For example, the Taoist view of “God” is that each person has his or her own definition of what “god” is, and each definition is perfectly acceptable—neither right nor wrong. In the Christian faith, God is not defined by people’s perceptions. Rather, He reveals who He is to us (see Jeremiah 29:13–14). While God is infinite and beyond full human understanding, He has revealed certain things about Himself and is able to be known personally. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the only way to a real relationship with God (see John 14:5–7).
The idea of chi cannot be separated from the spiritual realm. When one engages with the spiritual realm, he or she will either encounter God or the demonic. In the Old Testament, God forbade Israel to engage in certain occult practices. This was for their own protection; the forbidden practices would have put them in contact with demonic forces (see Deuteronomy 18:9–13).
Seemingly innocent practices, like trying to balance or strengthen one’s chi, may in fact produce some perceived benefits—or at least no “bad” effects—but if those practices are not in line with a biblical worldview, then they are to be avoided. Chi is a counterfeit of the kind of life offered by Christ (see John 10:10).<