Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Syncretism by definition is the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief ex. Religion.

Flashback to the time of Moses. He was an old man now and already knew that he would not go into the promise land with God's people because of his disobedience when he struck the rock. He soon dies and God raises up Joshua as Moses' successor. He shows the people that He is with Joshua just as He was with Moses. We see in Judges 1:27-36 that Israel did not complete the conquering of the land of Canaan. They instead put some of the people to forced labor or allowed them to live in the land. After Joshua died we see in Judges 2 that they did evil in the sight of the Lord by worshipping Baals. As Israel ages and goes through ups and downs we see the mixing of cult practices. Cult practices meaning any religious practices a belief system has (not to be confused with occult). When God made the covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai He forbade them from doing certain things. In return He would be their God and they would be His people. He would lead, provide, and protect them and doing anything else needed. All He required was obedience. As we see, Israel began to disobey and break their part of God's covenant with them. They first didn't destroy all the people in Canaan and all their idol's/god's. This eventually led to the cohabitation (unequally yoked???) of God's people and pagan's. They lived, worked, and played amongst each other. Israel eventually begins to ignore God and worship foreign god's or baal's. Over time we see the development of a syncrotistic society. They worship God with their mouths, and even the required offerings, but their hearts were far from Him. They would oppress the poor and the foriegners, they committed open adultery amongst themselves, and even had homosexual relationships throughout their history. What does God do? He pulls His favor from them. He quits guiding them, no longer provides for them, and allows their enemies, the very ones they were supposed to have destroyed when they first entered the land, to oppress them and then others would eventually conquer them. They broke the covenant that God had made with them and they suffered the curses that came as a result of this violation.

Fast forward to the present. Syncretism, how does it apply to us? We can look at many things in our lives that we celebrate or are just common practices that have roots in pagan practices. Bear with me while I list a few examples. If you take for example Christmas. It falls around the same time as the winter solstice which in the N. Hemisphere occurs on Dec. 21. Many early peoples would celebrate the death of the falling son and the birth of the rising son. For a pretty good history on the winter solstice go here: http://www.religioustolerance.org/winter_solstice.htm. You'll find that many of the things Christians do in celebration of Christmas are well rooted in other pagan traditions that were blended together by emperor Aurelian around 270-275 A.D. The giving of gifts, decorating pine trees, holly, and a whole slew of others that are found on the link above. Paul B. Made a good point that I was disenchanted to agree with, but now have had a change of heart. Check it out. It's titled "Purity in Wedding Practices" and can be found at:http://www.paulbeaulieu.blogspot.com/. We celebrate many other holidays and do many other practices that have roots in pagan traditions, and if anybody takes the time to search this out I think they will come to a similar conclusion.

So, what to do. I'm not suggesting that we abolish celebrations or weddings, birthdays, gift giving and the like, but that we do them in the proper context and we weed out the things that are rooted in the world. Is that extreme? Yes. Do we serve an extreme God? Yes. Is He faithful and just to forgive? Yes, but as Paul said that doesn't mean that we should continue sinning so that His grace may abound. I know that right away people will begin to think that my view is legalistic. I encourage you not to make a judgment call on what I write, but check out the links above, search out the history on some of the things we as Christians do, and find out what the Bible has to say about such things. I'm all for offering alternatives to worldly practices, as long as they do not conflict with scripture and are not rooted in worldly practices that traditionally have connection with the worship or glorification of things or people other than Jesus. Celebrating the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, and other things are fine. The thing that I believe that is important is that we abstain from mixing in things that are of the world and have paganistic roots. The giving of gifts is a wonderful thing, but not when it is generally done around certain times of year and because that is the "thing" to do. There should be no time of year for this gesture, but should be done out of love for each other and as an expression of the love that Jesus has shown us. Whether material or immaterial is irrelevant.

The devil's advocate in me argues that all these things are an issue of the heart and even though they have paganistic roots, they are innocent in nature. None the less God forbade the Israelites from practicing or even wearing things that the pagans used in their cult practices. Por ejemplo: The mixing of two types of cloth in the old testament. This does not apply to us today, but in that time pagan cultures would mix two types of cloth together to symbolize the mating of the god's and the mating of the god's was supposed to bring agricultural abundance and blessing. This is why it was forbidden. There are no existing cultures that do this today as far as we know so it's not something that would apply to God's people (us). However there are things that we could apply that same logic to.

I find it interesting that ancient cultures had meaning behind most of the things they did. Even their names were important. In today's "civilized" western culture we have lost meaning in most of the things we do. Names are simply a tag that someone wears until they die, rather than an extention of who they are. Many if not most of the things we do during celebrations are simply traditions that we carry on. Why? Why not, I did it as a kid, it was kinda fun, don't want my kids to miss out. Maybe it's time to stop and think about why we do certain things and the meaning behind them. To take some time and search out the history behind our practices to find out if they are truly innocent and if we should indeed just go with the flow and never rock the boat.

Lord, give me wisdom, and understanding regarding the issue of syncretism and how and where it is rooted in my life. You are a jealous God who wants all of me, not just part of me. I don't want to withhold any part of my life from You. Search my heart and reveal the areas in my life that I've merely taken as harmless tradition and help me to change them. If I am reading into things to much and the enemy is trying to pull me away from you by binding me in legalism, then rebuke these things and set me straight. However, if this is indeed You telling me it's time to return completely to You and to reject anything that has roots in the cult practices of other religions or worldly traditions, than continue to reveal more truth to me. Lord I love You and only You. I seek Your will on these things, let Your kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven, and let Your will be done.

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