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My sister loves reading her daily horoscope and is always posting it on her #Farcebook page. A friend of mine on Facebook also posts a daily religious statue or amulet along with a prayer or request for money (and if you like her post and believe it will come true, you'll received a monetary gift from God). Not. God is not a magical genie who grants your every desire, friends.
Many of my dear #Filipino#friends and #family are considerably steeped in #superstition and weave their awkward belief systems into their daily lives. Things like wearing a St. Christopher medallion or worshipping a statue in their backyards are just a couple of heretical practices that come to mind.
These people nevertheless all have something in common: they claim to be Christians. What they fail to understand is that what they are practicing is religious syncretism, an affront to the One true God, manifested in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is sinful behavior and heresy that leads to eternal damnation.
Don't take Merriam-Webster's diluted definition as gospel, as it is a watered down secular approach that inadequately defines the word. Syncretism is properly defined thus: "...the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief.” This is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines the term.
In our context syncretism is the mixing of various religious beliefs into one new system. It is based on the inclinations of men and women, as opposed to what is the clear standard found in the biblical Scriptures.
Looking back at the first century church in Colossae, we observe a church rife with religious syncretism. In fact, it permeated all over the then world. The Apostle Paul spoke harshly and adamantly (but in the spirit of love) about the perils and evils of religious syncretism to the church at Colossae (and other churches).
I like Paul. He speaks the truth in love and is ever unafraid to combat heresy. We should as well. Much of the old world was rife with superstitions. Pagan worship was the norm. This is also true today. As believers, we should remind those who practice religious syncretism of the centrality and superiority of Christ over all things.
The background of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) is interesting. People feared the spirit world of their own making. Animism, the belief that spirits dwelled in objects, was not unusual. But we know that animals have no souls. They are not rational creatures as much as we love them.
As a result, people believed that spirits lived where roads met (crossroads), believed in the 12 Zodiac signs (constellations), believed their dead ancestors were spirits that remained in the world, believed in apparitions (ghosts), used magic charms and amulets to ward off these spirits, and had all manner of superstitions pervading their daily lives. They lived in fear.
What a mess! And guess what, friends, these beliefs hold fast today. Indeed, there are modern parallels we can and should identify as religious syncretism.
These consist of the above-mentioned horoscopes and amulets, Saint Christopher medals, voodoo, new age beliefs, superstitions, Mariology (worship of a female deity), pagan symbolism, new revelations from dreams and visions, alleged new revelations from the likes of from Joseph Smith's heretical Book of Mormon, the worship of angels, as well as religious festivals that have nothing to do with the reality regarding truth, as found in the Bible, just to name some of the heresies.
We use jealousy far different that of God's jealousy. We refer to it as being envious of a person(s) who have something we do not possess. But God is jealous. Wait, jealousy is a sin you say, and again that God cannot sin, and you're right.
But God is jealous only when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him. Big difference, friends. After all, He is the Creator of all things.
We read: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:4-5).
Any form of religious syncretism is not harmonious with biblical Christianity. Indeed, any modification to biblical law and the clear principles for the purpose of an alleged improved religion is heresy and should never be practiced.
We should all be reminded that the church is the Israel of the Bible, comprised of Jews and Gentiles who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness of sins) and who have followed Him who alone saves.
Do you practice syncretism? Have you allowed any other belief system to blend in with Christianity? If so, ditch it like you would a dirty mask during the pandemic. And repent. Ask for forgiveness. Refrain from heresy. God is a jealous God and any belief system outside of Christianity has placed you on the dark path to perdition.