Oil and Water

by baldilocks

I learned a new word today: syncretism.

Syncretism[…] is the mixing of Christianity with something else such that they become a different gospel. Syncretism can take place with a positive-thinking gospel, a nationalist emphasis, or emerging culture. Syncretism happens more than we might know.


When anything is added to the message of the gospel, the uniqueness and sufficiency of Christ is compromised and another gospel can be created that is, well, actually not the gospel. In this, obscurantism and syncretism are closely related, each leading to the creation of a false gospel.

Syncretism can be most easily seen when two or more starkly contrasting religions are mixed. Around the world, examples are readily available where Christ has been preached in places with long and various religious traditions. In many cases, pieces and parts of the traditional religion will remain while Christ is added to the mix.

[Notes: Obscurantism is defined in the article and I spell-checked the excerpt.]

I was already familiar with the concept, but did not know it had a specific name. Of course, the practice is almost as old as the Church itself. An example: when European Christians were conquering and Christianizing the New World, Africa and Asia, they often bound up Christianity with things European. A specific example: when my father was growing up in Kenya—then known as British East Africa—native children had to have a “Christian” name–meaning a European given name–to attend schools run by the British.

These days, we see this type of heresy—this syncretism–taking on other guises: [insert ethnic group here] Liberation Theologies, Chrislam, and such. The Enemy is busy!

At any rate, I love being able to assign a word to a known concept.baldilocks

(Thanks to D.B. Harrison)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!