Syncretism in the Modern Church

It happened in the Old Testament when people tried mixing paganism with God's Word. And it's happening today!

When we read about God’s people in the Old Testament, we wonder how they could reject God's loving protection and follow the pagan practices of the nations around them (e.g., 2 Kings 17:7-17).

We usually think of paganism as something obvious, but Satan subtly draws us into his pagan lies (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 2 Corinthians 4:4).

I imagine the Israelites thought they could enjoy some pagan practices without being affected. Perhaps they renamed them and redefined them to make them sound more biblical. But paganism can't be sanctified. It captures hearts, minds, and souls.

When they started, I doubt any of them imagined that one day they'd be sacrificing their children on pagan altars. 
Similarly, many people today who were raised in Christian homes are seeking to combine culture with Christianity. This is called syncretism, and there are obvious examples such as yoga and less obvious examples such as the teachings of secular psychology.

That's why 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (see below) so strongly commands us to reject anything that draws us away from God's truth and purposes (1 John 2:15-17).

Professing Christians daily decide whether to stand firm or compromise our faith, knowing that syncretism will make us more popular with the world (John 15:18-25). Each day we choose whom we will serve in little ways and in big ways (Joshua 24:14-15).

"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:12-13).

There are many forms of syncretism, and I encourage you to read Something You Might Not Recognize as Pagan to hear about one of the most serious examples. 

But in this devotion, let me highlight two that are currently affecting the faith of Christians. These beliefs/practices don't always destroy a person's faith, but they always damage it. The concepts behind them would have been easily recognized as pagan in centuries past, but syncretism blinds people to the truth and eventually leads them to have a strong loyalty to the practice/belief.
I am always amazed at the anger and ungodly attitudes I encounter from professing Christians when pointing out the errors in yoga and Boundaries. I see how thoroughly these false practices can capture people's hearts as surely as Baal worship captured hearts in Old Testament times. 

Please note that one yoga quote and one Boundaries quote below come from someone who promotes these false teachings, but their statements serve as a warning to Christians.

Yoga: See the Bible Love Notes Collection Examining Yoga Biblically.

“The growing acceptance of yoga points to the retreat of biblical Christianity in the culture.” Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (source)
A Hindu explains that yoga will corrupt Christian faith:
“Hinduism is the soul of yoga ‘based as it is on Hindu Scripture and developed by Hindu sages. Yoga opens up new and more refined states of mind, and to understand them one needs to believe in and understand the Hindu way of looking at God.… A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.’” Sannyasin Arumugaswami, managing editor of Hinduism Today (source)

Secular psychology, specifically Boundaries teachings: See the Bible Love Notes collection Are Boundaries Biblical?

“A huge amount of Scripture is quoted throughout Boundaries, and thus it appears to the undiscerning reader that the conclusions of the authors are biblically sound. Unfortunately, interpretations of Scripture are bent to fit preconceived psychological theories.” (Christian Discernment)
Even though he uses and misuses multiple Scriptures in his teachings called Boundaries, this is Henry Cloud's attitude:
“Looking for answers that work, and not finding them in the church, [many Christians] turn to psychology. Often psychological methods succeed, and hurting people find relief.… As a Christian, a psychologist, and a fellow struggler…I have tried the ‘standard’ Christian answers for others and myself and have come to Job’s conclusion: they are worthless medicine.” (source)

Cloud admits his beliefs are built on “clinical psychodynamic ego psychology and Object Relations theory” which originate in unbiblical Freudian teachings. (source)
2 Corinthians 6:14-18: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

It happened in the Old Testament when people tried mixing paganism with God's Word. And it's happening today!

Bible Love Notes

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