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Tuesday
Nov182014

Theological Term of the Week

religious syncretism
The incorporation of different and sometimes conflicting practices and beliefs from one religion into another religion, forming a hybrid religion that is fundamentally different than the original one.

  • Syncretism in the Bible: 

    Thus says the LORD, “Go, buy a potter’s earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind … . (Jeremiah 19:1-5 ESV)

    For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace… .

    You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:1-4, 7-9 ESV)

    Syncretism is a very unfortunate phenomenon, particularly within Christianity, for it inevitably changes the Gospel, the heart of our understanding of God and His desire for our salvation. Christianity’s basic tenets must not be changed, for Jesus made it very clear that salvation and relationship with God only come through Him: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: What is religious syncretism?
  2. Compelling Truth: What is syncretism?
  3. Claude Marriotini: Syncretism in the Old TestamentReligious Syncretism in Israel and JudahReligious Syncretism in Israel and Judah IIReligious Syncretism in Israel and Judah III.
  4. Brian Schwertley: Syncretized Religion, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (audio).

Related terms:

Filed under Isms

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