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The Irony of Christian Syncretism

Many Christians argue that syncretism is a problem for believers today.  Blending Christian and non-Christian practices is a bad move.  For instance, Denny Burk recently argued that Christians should not observe Ramadan with Muslims and he called out Richard Mouw and Brian McLaren for doing so.

In line with Burk, I want to briefly describe a few more syncretistic practices that good evangelicals should be wary of.

1.       If you are a follower of Christ and you gather in a Church, then you are engaging in a syncretistic practice that blends Christian, Jewish, and Greco-Roman paganism.

2.       If you are a follower of Christ and your circle of faith is divided into a priestly class and a lay class, then you are engaging in a syncretistic practice that blends Christian, Jewish, and Greco-Roman paganism.

3.       If you are a follower of Christ and the same person (or set of persons) preaches a sermon in a pulpit to an audience, then you are engaging in a syncretistic practice that blends Christian, Jewish, and Greco-Roman paganism.

4.       If you are a follower of Christ and you and your family wear you “Sunday’s best” to Church and your pastor wears a special uniform (a dark suit) to preach, then you are engaging in a syncretistic practice that blends Christian, Jewish, Greco-Roman paganism, and contemporary Anglo cultural practices.

5.       If you are a follower of Christ and you tithe, then you are engaging in a syncretistic practice that blends Christian and Jewish practices.

If you know any followers of Christ who engage in any of the above practices, then please alert them to their syncretistic character.  As Burk says, it is inappropriate for Christians to blend their faith practices with other religious practices.  It shows impiety.   

**For all of the above information on Christian practices I drew from Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity? New York: Barna, 2008.

 

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Comments

Re: The Irony of Christian Syncretism

The writer makes some valid points about syncretism. Mankind has a tendency to take the obvious from the Bible and ad his two cents worth to every issue. Do you think that God’s thoughts on churches of worship included gigantic structures like we have today in many denominations? casino online

Re: The Irony of Christian Syncretism

Mark….I think God’s thoughts on churches of worship include 2+ people gathering together with the desire to be a part of the kingdom of God. I see no problem with the megachurches (although I do have issues with some of the high profile christian leaders).  

If we have the heart to seek out God, he will meet us in any place we go.  

Re: The Irony of Christian Syncretism

That people don’t generally see a problem with megachurches (or any built structure called a church) is the ironic point I was trying to get at.  Built structures called churches are a great example of pagan and Christian traditions mixing together—and yet no one complains about syncretism.  Those that do complain about syncretism complain only in regards to traditions like Yoga and Ramadan fasting where Christians might partake.  How come?  Why is the complaining so selective?  I would venture to guess that it is because the initial act of syncretism happened so long ago, when Christians adopted the pagan practice of building, meeting, and maintaining a structure, that it has become common sense for followers of God to meet in structures called churches.  How else could a church be without a structure, the skeptical traditionalist might ask?   

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