Friday, August 21, 2009


I've been reading this book A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren. I know I haven't read it before, yet I came across a passage in the book that I KNOW I have read previously.

It was probably an excerpt on some blog post I read or in another book a long time ago. I know that I've read it, because I've mulled it over in my head for many years. It's actually the first thing I think of whenever the topic of syncretism comes up. I'll post the excerpt in a later post...this one will be too long already.

Syncretism has come to be known as a dirty word. Syncretism is (more of less) the blending of two or more aspects together that would generally be assumed to be opposed to one another. For example, syncretism in the Bible involves such awesome practices as Jews going to 'worship' at the Baal altars through Judges, Chronicles & Kings and other books probably. Baal altars were not awesome places, unless you're into opiate induced worship experiences, forced prostitution and child sacrifices. Hmmm.

So syncretism has become the theological buzz phrase that means "THE WORST FORM OF IDOLATRY YOU COULD HAVE!!1!!" Syncretism is more viewed as 'sneaky idolatry.' That is, idolatry that works its way into "true" worship to a point that you don't even realize that you're worshiping an idol. ZOMG!! In an effort to curtail idolatry, I believe that we have launched a battle against syncretism that has been taken way too far. Like most battles.

Syncretism is now used in the context of "You can't do that, it's syncretism!" Such as hanging a cross and a dreamcatcher from a rear-view mirrow. Or displaying a Christmas tree and a festivus pole during the advent season. (Good news by the way....the adopting of a Christmas tree is also syncretism, but we don't care about that.)


This same fear of syncretism and idolatry is (in my mind) what fuels such vehement backlash against "contemporary" elements, methods and systems being utilized by the church. Sometimes we think that by adding aspects of our culture into worship, we begin to worship these aspects themselves and by that we begin to worship our culture.

Personally, I don't make that leap. I enjoy contemporary elements in worship. Lights, haze, video, and other theatrical elements help to improve a worship me at least. Atmosphere is very important, methods are important, elements are important. And no, i'm not 'worshiping' those elements. And no, those elements existing does not mean that we're truly 'worshiping' our culture as opposed to worshiping God.

Sorry, it doesn't. Nothing to fight here, please move along.

We don't need to replace our culture with "God's culture"....whatever the crap that is. I think of this often when confronted with the Christian "brand." You know, how there is Christian music, Christian movies, Christian television, Christian radio, Christian t-shirts, Christian jeans, Christian clothing of all kinds, Christian coffee mugs, Christian jewelry, Christian clocks, Christian bumper stickers and many Christian stores you can go to purchase these things.

I hope that one day I can drive a Christian car with a Christian stereo in it to play my Christian music on while wearing my Christian apparel...and my sweet Christian sunglasses of course. I'll also probably put up a Christian bumper sticker (or 30) on the back of it. So that people will really want to know who that Jesus guy is who wants people to dress up and act like a douche. Because THAT is the kind of guy that I want to know, oh yeah!!


Jesus didn't die for us so we could create a "Christian" brand to slap onto everything. His purpose wasn't to take our culture 2000 years later and demand that we turn it from the "dangerous secular culture.....boooooooo" into a "Christian" culture. Posting "Christian" up over everything does not remove sin from a culture. You can't condemn something and cover it up hoping it'll go away. That's not productive. Jesus says no thank you.

He came not to drive culture from the people, but the sin from the culture. He came not to condemn our culture, but to redeem it.