Syncretism


The Webster's dictionary defines syncretism as the combination of different forms of beliefs or practice. From a very early date, the Christian church had to struggle with various interpretations of its faith which seemed to many to endanger a crucial aspect of that faith. Converts were coming to Christianity from several different religious and cultural backgrounds. As was to be expected, these various origins influenced their interpretation of Christianity.

At the same time other religious movements were taking important elements of the Christian faith and incorporating them into their systems. For example in the Pancaratra literature (around 5th c AD) we find five manifestations of God - para, vyüha, vibhava, arca and antaryämi. The para is the highest form of God in the highest heaven and this is similar to God the Father. Next in the vyüha and vibhava manifestations we have both the Incarnation and the deification of man. The avatar concept which is syncretised from the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ fits in these manifestations. In the arca manifestation God condescends to live in an idol and as antaryämi God resides in the hearts of His people.1 In these manifestations we see the earlier idolatry and worship of men which was prevalent in India, syncretised with the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Was this sufficient to call them Christian? Where was the line to be drawn between true Christianity and what was in fact a different religious with Christian elements?

This problem faced the early Church since quite clearly, that line could not be drawn a priori, for those who were eventually considered heretics did not work outside the Christian community, but rather counted themselves as faithful Christians attempting to explain the gospel in terms that their contemporaries might understand. Also, those who were eventually declared orthodox did not agree on all matters, and therefore a contemporary observer would have had great difficulty in distinguishing them claiming to be the correct understanding of Christianity.

The Church today is faced with the same problem, and most of the confusion arises since there is a lack of systematic understanding of the Bible. Scholars who decipher iconography (sculptures) will tell us that early Christianity in India was corrupted just as Christianity in Europe was corrupted by syncretism and idolatry. When God's children deviate from Him, it always leads to bondage. This principle is seen in the nation of Israel and never changes. In India, the deviation of His people from His ways led to the bondage and slavery of the Caste system.

References

1 Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Susmita Pande, Books and Books, New Delhi, 1982.

Loading

New
Click Here for complete research in PDF format

|Home Page|

Pride of the Pantheon

|Salvation in the Major World Religions|

Development of Religion and Worship in India
|Aryans| |Avatar| |Bhagavad Gita| |Brahmin Samaj Circular| |Brahmana & Sramana| |Casteism in India's Society| |Cycle of Birth| |Distortion of History| |Early Buddhism| |Early Civilizations| |Evidence in the Indian Scripts| |Hinduism| |Indus Valley Civilization| |Islam| |Jainism| |Mahayana Buddhism| |Monism| |RSS Circular| |Significance of Sanskrit| |Syncretism| |Trade Relations of South India from 1st c. AD| |Varnashrama Dharma| |Vedic Religion, Vegetarian or Non-vegetarian?| |Vishwa Hindu Parishad| |Voices in India|
|View of a Certain Brahmin in Singapore| |Response to a Brahmin from Singapore|

The Christian, the Bible and the Church
|The Mark of a Christian|
|A Warning| |Apostasy in the Early Church| |Development of Papal Power| |New Age Movement| |Nun's Nightmare| |Reformation Movement| |Reliability of the Bible| |Restoration Movement| |Rise of Denominations| |Spiritual Mapping| |Spread of Denominations| |Staines Martyrdom| |Standing in the Gap| |The Early Church|
|Issues for Christians & Missions to Think About|

Violations of Human Rights
|A Pogrom| |Anjana Mishra's Story| |Brahmin Samaj Circular| |Communal Harmony| |Communalism //s (Coimbatore & Mumbai)| |Hindutva| |Hindutva Politics| |Nun's Nightmare| |PUCL Report| |RSS Circular| |Signs of our Times| |Staines Martyrdom| |Taproot of Racism| |Terrorism in Tamil Nadu| |Vishwa Hindu Parishad| |VHP and Charity| |Web of Terror| |Voices in India|

Is Conversion Violence on Hindus and Hinduism?

Mr. M. V. Kamath's Challenge in Times of India
Can missionaries work in a place like the Brahmin-dominated ward of Mylapore in Chennai?

Recent Strategies of Communal Forces in India
|Vedic Valley Theory| |Holes in Vedic Valley Theory|
|Conversion is Violence on Hindus| |Religion by free choice|
|Is the Pope a Hindu?|
|Horseplay at Harappa|

A Bible Prophecy Concerning America?
|Is America, the Great Whore in Revelation?|

The Urgent Need of the Hour
|Stand in the Gap| |Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare|

Visitor's Response
|1| |2| |3| |4| |5| |6| |7|
|View of a Certain Brahmin in Singapore| |Response to a Brahmin from Singapore|

Last Days Harvest Ministries

appiusforum@alum.MIT.edu