Churches across the U.S. are starting marital-arts ministries and also raising questions about the limits of using secular activities to draw converts and new members.
The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 28) reports that the growth of karate and similar martial arts groups in churches has helped bring the unchurched teenagers to Christian services. Such ministries as Kicks for Christ and the Gospel Martial Arts Union attracting are gaining members among both clergy and laypeople.
But the trend is facing a barrage of criticism from evangelical theologians and others, who claim that encouraging martial arts goes against the Christian injunction to turn the other cheek. Other critics cite the Eastern spiritual techniques and concepts that are part of many martial arts exercises. But most Christian karate instructors remove any non-Christian practices and even see such self-defense training as being in line with warrior images in the Bible.