Syncretism in America – Part One

There are many definitions out there of syncretism as it relates to religion.  Van Rheenen describes it as “the blending of Christian beliefs and practices with those of the dominant culture so that Christianity loses its distinctive nature and speaks with voice reflective of its culture”[1].  Perhaps the simplest definition can be found in the Meridian Webster dictionary as “the combination of different forms of belief or practice”.  American Christians are embracing the current prevalent values of American culture by becoming more individualistic, politically correct and “tolerant” of other cultures and religions.  As a result, the very essence of Evangelical Christianity is being diluted because of adopted beliefs and practices of various other religions.

Individualism

Today’s Christians have bought into the “American dream” – work hard to buy yourself a nice house, a nice car, go on lavish vacations and buy yourself all the things that your heart desires.  This is not to say that it is wrong to work hard and reward oneself; but today’s Christians are more focused on material things and their social status than they are on the things of God.  Many American Christians have put aside their Bibles and God’s commandments because they do not have time for them, it’s time consuming.  They have to work 60 hours a week to pay for all the things they think will make them happy, forgetting that as fallen human beings we have unlimited wants.  There is no amount of money in the world that will buy all the things the human heart desires.

Contentment only comes from God; and to reach it one must have a close relationship with Jesus Christ and trust in Him completely to be sufficient and provide for all of our needs.  We have allowed secularism, what the world says, to come into our churches and our homes and dictate how we must spend our time and money.  Many Christians today do not tithe or give sacrificially because all of their income is tied up in a big mortgage, a big car payment or credit card debt.  Christians have become so consumed with self that while their hearts break for those in need they struggle to give up some luxuries in order to help the poor and needy.  For the same reason many are unable, or unwilling, to invest in the Kingdom by giving to missions or giving of time to reach others in the name of Christ. 

Political Correctness

Political correctness has also worked itself into the lives of many Christians.  They have become so consumed with seeking acceptance that they struggle to take a stand in what they believe in.  This is something I am guilty of, I am sad to say.  I believe that many Christians, like me, struggle to share their faith with others because we do not want to offend them.  I know in my heart that I am supposed to go forth and spread God’s word and tell others about the saving grace that Jesus gives.  At the same time, I fear bonds and relationships may be broken because of my stance for Christ.  It is much easier to share with a stranger than a friend or family member.  This of course is a matter of obedience and we end up disobeying God because we put ourselves first (individualism) and the need to respect other’s beliefs and thoughts.  This disobedience keeps people from coming to know who God is and the gift of grace that He freely offers.  Our disobedience is keeping people from hearing about Christ and condemning them to eternal damnation.

It is not popular to be a Jesus follower and it is not popular to speak of Jesus as the only way to heaven.  Because we want to be “popular” we compromise our beliefs and God’s commandments for the sake of political correctness.  “The politically correct climate that has been forged, insists that whatever people choose to believe is, indeed, correct and good – at least for them!”[2]


                   [1] Gailyn Van Rheenen, “Contextualization and Syncretism: Navigating Cultural Currents” (William Carey Library, 2006), 163

                   [2] Dave  Miller, Pluralism, Multiculturalism, Syncretism, and America. (www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2310).

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About Bárbara

I am a Christ follower, wife, mother, missionary, and Online Instructor for LU Online teaching Introduction to Missions. My family and I serve at Living Bread Ministries; planting churches among the desperately poor in South America. I have an MA in Intercultural Studies from LBTS. My passion is to see the Lord Jesus worshiped among the poor and needy and to see lives transformed by the power of the Gospel.
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One Response to Syncretism in America – Part One

  1. Ellie says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you! It really spoke to me. It is so true in our nation and it breaks my heart. Thank you for speaking out and sharing this! Keep up the good work!
    God bless you!

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