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Featured Is Christianity a syncretic religion?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by adrian009, Sep 30, 2020.

?
  1. Yes

    10 vote(s)
    43.5%
  2. No

    5 vote(s)
    21.7%
  3. Syncretic to a minor degree

    5 vote(s)
    21.7%
  4. Syncretic to a major degree

    1 vote(s)
    4.3%
  5. I don't know

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. This poll does not reflect my thinking

    2 vote(s)
    8.7%
  1. adrian009

    adrian009 Veteran Member
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    I'm trying to better understand the concept of religious syncretism. The term is often used pejoratively where adherents of one faith are accused of blending two incompatible religious ideologies.

    Christianity for example is founded on the Teachings of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts and elaborated by the apostles. These Gospel accounts and Apostolic letters form the basis of the Christian 'New Testament.' However Christians also use most of the Hebrew Bible which includes the central sacred scriptures of Judaism. These works are called the 'Old Testament', a term that has derogatory connotations as this book is viewed by many Christians as having been superseded by the New Testament (Hebrews 8:13). Of course this doesn't sit well with adherents of Judaism who reject the idea their Covenant with the God of Abraham has been superseded by the Covenant allegedly established through Jesus. Further, aspects of Christian theology such as the Divinity of Christ, the Sonship of Christ, the triune nature of God and the fulfilment of prophecies in the Hebrew Bible, are perceived as being in contradiction to what Judaism teaches.

    Wikipedia addresses the issue of religious syncretism generally, and an issue for Abrahamic Faiths specifically:

    Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions. It is contrasted by the idea of multiple religious belonging and polytheism, respectively.

    This can occur for many reasons, and the latter scenario happens quite commonly in areas where multiple religious traditions exist in proximity and function actively in the culture, or when a culture is conquered, and the conquerors bring their religious beliefs with them, but do not succeed in entirely eradicating the old beliefs or, especially, practices.

    Religions may have syncretic elements to their beliefs or history, but adherents of so-labeled systems often frown on applying the label, especially adherents who belong to "revealed" religious systems, such as the
    Abrahamic religions, or any system that exhibits an exclusivist approach. Such adherents sometimes see syncretism as a betrayal of their pure truth. By this reasoning, adding an incompatible belief corrupts the original religion, rendering it no longer true. Indeed, critics of a specific syncretistic trend may sometimes use the word "syncretism" as a disparaging epithet, as a charge implying that those who seek to incorporate a new view, belief, or practice into a religious system actually distort the original faith. The consequence, according to Keith Ferdinando, is a fatal compromise of the dominant religion's integrity. Non-exclusivist systems of belief, on the other hand, may feel quite free to incorporate other traditions into their own.

    Religious syncretism - Wikipedia

    So what is religious syncretism to you and should the phrase be used in regards Christianity? Thanks for your considered thoughts.
     
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  2. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein Veteran Member
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    If Christianity is syncretic, then so is Judaism and all other religions, as all religions stem from more than one source. Judaism itself is a redaction of earlier Canaanite polytheism.
     
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  3. Tambourine

    Tambourine Well-Known Member

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    Well, yes.

    I think the roots of Christianity in Late Roman philosophy in particular are often understated. There is a lot of Gnosis and Platonism in early Christian theology, which becomes even more apparent if one takes a look at some of the apocryphical texts.
     
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  4. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    Uhh, depends on the Christian, I suppose?
     
  5. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    Given that the date of Jesus' birth is unknown, I believe it's generally accepted that December 25th was chosen in a syncretic reason. And I've read that Christianity accepts some syncretic additions when indigenous people are converted.
     
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  6. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium अहं ब्रह्मास्मि
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    If we use the most basic terms of 'syncretic,' then yes, it is.

    However, for all intents and purposes of present day religion, it is no more syncretic than any other post-proto-semitic or post Vedic dharmic religion.
     
  7. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    Well, the culture from which it sprouted was an intentionally syncretic one: the blending of Jewish and Greek cultures - Jewish Hellenism.
     
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  8. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    I definitely think that Christianity is the syncretized combination of Judaism and Greco-Roman paganism.

    Jesus was originally billed as Messiah. The Messiah was clearly described by Jewish tradition as a human, Anointed by God, to rescue the Israelites from a pagan foreign power, such as Rome. The Messiah would return Judea to it's rightful place as a sovereign nation.
    Then Jesus got executed for treason. Judea and it's culture continued going down the tubes, eventually being destroyed by Roman military power. Jesus clearly wasn't the Messiah, by Jewish standards.
    Or, at least, God didn't think so.
    That was good enough for the Jews.

    But, over time, a new legend of The Christ was invented. One that included pagan concepts like demigod and resurrection and divine pantheon.
    No devout Jew was buying this stuff. But the morals and ethics were cutting edge, for the day. Pagans found it very attractive, especially the lower class ones who could take solace in the promises without actually having to do anything but Believe.

    And so Judaism was combined with Greco-Roman paganism to form a formidable new religious "tradition". A few centuries later a struggling Roman warlord found it convenient and threw his considerable weight behind it.

    I don't know how much more syncretic a religion can get.


    Except maybe Muhammad syncretizing Judaism, Christianity, and whatever you call ancient Arabic into Islam. Then setting it into poetry, so nobody has to actually read it. That was a stroke of brilliance.
    Tom
     
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  9. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein Veteran Member
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    Actually, ancient Christians were extremely strict and could easily put almost all the modern ones to shame in the harshness of their penances and restrictions. It was seen as a mark of great holiness to suffer for Jesus. You should read about early Christian ascetics and martyrs. They sound like escapees from the loony bin.
     
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  10. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    Really? You know this?

    How ancient are you talking about? 1st century Christians still expecting Jesus's Return at any moment? Or 4th century Christians writing the Creed in Constantine's plush Nicean villa?

    There's still Christian folks doing that. But most of them don't live here in Christendom.
    Tom
     
  11. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein Veteran Member
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    Have you read anything at all about the Church Fathers and early Christian monasticism (you've never heard of St. Anthony the Great?)? This isn't some secret.
     
  12. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    Yeah,
    I've also read that Trump isn't a politician. He's a plain talking, straight shooting, super successful businessman.
    I don't believe everything I read, especially not when the author has a clear agenda.
    Tom
     
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  13. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein Veteran Member
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    History and reference books? Their own writings? I don't know what to say to you.
     
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  14. DagonVarunaMitraApolloZan

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    Do you think his plush villa accommodated the majority of Christians? Neither were the majority like the Desert Fathers. I think that the majority of Christians for most of history were probably relatively poor people who were pretty strict but not entirely ascetic, nor were the vast majority of anyone ever the ancient 1% or whatever, but were people who scarcely knew the contents of the Bible, had only heard things here and there and from their own families, and believed in Jesus in a more mystical and magical way, and this sort of Christianity, where people go about their business but are mainly pretty strict and worship Jesus as God or God in some fashion persisted until just very recently, where Christianity seems to mean almost nothing at all now and people do whatever. In the past, it was generally thought that people should be virgin until married or marry who they lose their virginity to, and there was a period or various periods of resistance towards images and idols which would pop up, otherwise they largely worshipped towards images and idols of magically powerful figures, there was a very big chunk of magical relic and saint focus, but mainly people were having children and sex and marrying within their Christian communities. Muslims came along and were similarly for the most part the same sort of poor people doing their usual things, and between these various factions they all seemed to practice their religions somewhat similarly, and the Muslims were influential for their perceived piety or devotedness at the time or used sometimes as examples to shame Christians who were regularly being shamed for impiety. The same sort of predators that exist today also existed in Christianity and would use their authority or rank to enact their abuses upon those who feared and respected them even more than they might today possibly. The vast majority of Christian history probably had illiterate people who were not familiar with the contents of the Bible, and just knew a little, basically that Jesus was God who came to Earth and is their savior who also has Saints and Angels who specialize in certain things and have some influence and are working with God or have God's attention and are closer to God and helpers, and so they would pray to God and these others and that was pretty much their religion. There was also some degree of almost Muslim styled worship at times at least by some of the people but that increasingly fell out of favor until now where it is very rare and exclusive or uncommon. The Christian populace had very little say overall in the theological debates, nor did they often hear all the details of such which are known more today than they probably were by the general and busy public in the past. I think what I wrote there might be a reasonably accurate assessment of how one could expect popular Christianity to be.
     
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  15. rational experiences

    rational experiences Well-Known Member

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    As the theme is human inferred.

    Science being the discussion in a theo (God) sophist use of worded meanings.

    Words as a human history used by natural humans first, to speak about all other natural bodies first.

    The term God sophism, a cunning contrivance using words.

    Then there is human science, as based on thought/worded concepts first. Thought by a thinker, for humans, for formulas, for designs and for machines and human controlled machine reactions.

    Humans apply scientific studies, which include geology of One O God the Earth, and archaeology of God O the one Earth body. To conclude, yes science by male choice done before, and tried to speak on behalf of natural.

    Science by prophetic mathematical worded inferences hurt life and the natural planet upon which we lived.

    And the history Egyptian culture was new scientific theist. Owned the culture, and the technology and were as scientists proven wrong.

    The Christian Revelations of prophetic mathematical and cosmological studies quoted, future destruction about O the one Earth body/heavens. It occurred.

    Was not natural to the Earth but the natural Earth O one body was changed.

    So it was both spiritually, for natural life continuance discussed and given the teaching term consciousness. To be aware and seen.

    versus.

    Taught scientific ancient proven wrong theories/pyramid and Temples.

    Therefore it was quoted to be a revelation or what had been revealed as compared to just theories/design by humans, machines built by humans causes as a rational human past teaching, about Creation and bodies in creation, including self human and our nature.
     
  16. DagonVarunaMitraApolloZan

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    I voted No. I think they were mainly hostile to mixing, even if they really did (just like everyone else). I think if they were syncretic, they might have been more alright with including more openly elements from their neighboring religions and sects, but instead they were pretty hostile to these and liked to separate themselves out from the others, which created tensions and issues.

    They made the other religions to be evil, and syncretic religions I'm not sure if the ones known as syncretic officially are known to call the things they combine as evil on their own. They say the Greco-Roman stuff was wrong, evil, lies, demonic, and would not include any of it openly, and they rejected everyone else who popped up or was before them too for the most part, being maybe a little more accepting eventually of Plato and Aristotle and stuff possibly, but barely, overall they were a religion almost formed from looking at others and saying how they are not or should not be like them, and thought of the Jews as also bad guys, pretty much everyone as bad guys, and other Christian variant sects as bad guys, until the dominant variants became increasingly powerful and prominent by various means.

    I don't recall syncretic religions or syncretism really being like that, but instead to try to openly add a variety of things in, not even in a hidden way but accepting for example Buddha and Krishna and maybe saying like both are right and included etc. Islam is possibly more syncretic than Christianity, but really isn't quite, and even Sikhism can be called Syncretic but isn't really, I'd say a better use of the term Syncretic isn't that ideas were used from other religions or included or added on to, but that various entities or ideologies were accepted almost entirely and combined or added in as acceptable or acceptable in their own right or in combination with other things or are other things as well.

    For example, someone might say, Zeus is Thor and Jupiter, and so syncretize and say all these are one and the same, or say that Zeus and Thor and Jupiter are three different beings, all real, and all acceptable to worship each, individually, together, or whatever. I don't know, that is how the word works more for me in my imagination, and I expect it to be more overt about it if it wants to take the title of syncretic, whereas the others all take from things pre-existing them, but don't seem to really always admit to being accepting of most things or things entirely how they were, like even Islam rejects the mainstream Christian ideas while accepting Jesus as a messenger of God they reject all the basic Christian ideas like Jesus was God, died and resurrected, etc.
     
    #16 DagonVarunaMitraApolloZan, Sep 30, 2020
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  17. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    Your posts remind me of Cubist paintings.

    Little glimpses of reality, but depiction isn't the point. The meaning is what the viewer brings to it, the painter doesn't make assertions with inherent meaning.
    Tom
     
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  18. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    Absolutely. Christianity is not about culture, is about the message Jesus taught.
    It preaches cultural universalism as Hellenism did.
    Unlike the other two Abrahamic religions, Christianity, doesn't focus on the Us / Them contraposition.

    At the Catechism School there is no mention of the Christians / Non-Christians contraposition.

    The world is divided into the Wicked and the Just (Matthew, 13:49 KJV).
    And the Just can be of any religion...not only Christians...and it is explained in the parable of the good Samaritan. The Foreigner was good, unlike the wounded man's countrymen.:)
     
    #18 Estro Felino, Sep 30, 2020
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  19. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Not sure it is possible to use the term in a manner which is neither pejorative or patronising. The term should probably be avoided as it's not a word that enriches any discussion and can easily be avoided anyway.

    Some people seem to think that religions should emerge fully formed from a vacuum with a distinct identity and clearly identified and doctrinally pure believers. Thus, if they share anything in common with other belief systems then this is 'plagiarism' or 'syncretism' rather than simply reflecting the time and the place they emerged. Usually this comes with the insinuation that there is a cackling villain rubbing his hands together at duping the masses with this monumental fraud.

    While the idea seems to be pervasive in popular culture, this is another aspect of religious history where pop culture and secular scholarship differ greatly (like many such tropes, its origin was actually in Protestant anti-Catholic polemic).

    There are 3 or so competing explanations, no definitive answer or consensus though.
     
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  20. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson Well-Known Member

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    That's a very broad brush that you painted that with.
    I am the adopted son of a Lutheran minister and his wife.
    My wife is a naturalized citizen, whose parents brought the family from a small town in Mexico to the U.S. in 1959.
    My wife and all members of the newly-immigrated family were Roman Catholics.
    I met my wife in 1978, when I was 30 and she was 24.
    One of my fond memories of our early years together is when my wife first introduced me to her family. She explained to her parents that I was Christian, not Catholic. :D To ease my transition into the family, I converted formally and officially to Catholicism.
    Bottom line: Many Catholics have focused on the Us/Them contraposition; and some still do.
     
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