Syncretism. What is it? The definition given syncretism
by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: "1) the combination of different
forms of belief or practice" and
"2) the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms". 1 The Roman Catholic Church has been using the methodology of syncretism by including the gods of the nations since it's beginning.
The early church of the Third Century which became the Catholic Church began by including pagan beliefs into the doctrines of that movement. They began to include Greek ideas into their theology early on.
"One early Christian writer of the 2nd and early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria, demonstrated the assimilation of Greek thought in writing: "Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ... the philosophy of the Greeks... contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human... even upon those spiritual objects." 2Augustine also said he learned the "invisible things" from the Greeks.
Augustine of Hippo, who ultimately systematized Christian philosophy, wrote in the late 4th and early 5th century: "But when I read those books of the Platonists I was taught by them to seek incorporeal truth, so I saw your 'invisible things, understood by the things that are made'. 3Here are some ways in which the Catholic Church syncretized elements from other religions, particularly from Babylon and Egypt.
The Church of RomeThis is only a cursory look at the syncretistic practices of the Roman Catholic Church. They continued to use this methodology in their mission work to plant churches around the world. It was a brilliant technique from a purely pragmatic point of view, though not from a Biblical one. They would go into new areas, find out what gods the local people reverenced, and then find ways to incorporate them into their worship and festivals. They would rename local deities and make them "saints" so that they could be prayed to. Their church building technique was the ultimate in "seeker friendly" evangelism, sans the Gospel and sound doctrine of course. One example is from Oaxaca, Mexico.
Hislop considers the Church of Rome during the start of Catholicism and into the Dark Ages. The symbol of the Church of Rome became the woman with a cross in her left hand, and a cup in her right. It was said that "the whole world is her seat." During the Dark Ages, the Bible was sealed and unknown to the common man. People were forced to believe like the church believed. The priests reserved the right of teaching the faith, and the clergy sold dispositions of the true faith of Christianity. They practiced celibacy and priest craft, and held a mysterious power of dominion over the faith. Some did not even realize that they had simply adopted the pagan customs of the ancient mystery religions. It is not difficult to see how some of the traditions of these ancient gods carried over into Christian Rome. Even in the first century, poems confused the story of the divine father, mother, and son with the story of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. In Japan, Spain, and India, there were legends of three-headed gods which some confused with the trinity of the Godhead. In many lands, mother-worship prevailed and was supported by citing Genesis 3:15 as proof that the mother would bruise the heel of Satan, and that she indeed had power over him. The Messiah is sometimes seen as only a mediator between the goddess and mankind, instead of as a savior.
A primary example of the analogies drawn between the Babylonian mystery religions and Roman Catholicism is the practice of incorporating certain well-kept secrets that are available to only a select few. Rome insured that the common man was studiously kept in the dark, as did Babylon. Throughout the years, Catholicism has become known for a priesthood which seems to include only members of the clergy. By discouraging the reading of the Bible in the common language of the people, the church has also discouraged personal Bible study among its non-clergy members. This in turn has tended to teach the laypersons to become very dependent upon the clergy for Bible truths, and even for access to God. This hardly seems in step with the priesthood of the believer (1 Peter 2:5,9), where we are all encouraged to enter into the mind of God through His revealed Word.
Even the confessional had its roots in Babylon. All the people were required to make secret confessions to the priest in a prescribed form, if they were to be admitted, or initiated, into the "mysteries" of their religion. They were commanded to keep secret about these mysteries. Later, the Church of Rome began requiring the same type of confession for admission to the sacraments. Even the symbol of the Halo of Madonna was originated in Babylon as a disk symbol of the sun god.
In Pagan Rome, March 25th was a holiday celebrating the annunciation of the virgin, in honor of Cybele, the mother of the Babylonian messiah. Consequently, on the Pope's calendar, March 25th is Lady Day, the day to observe the miraculous conception and annunciation of the virgin Mary. Since the birthdays of the two respective messiahs is the same, one might expect that the day of their conception might be celebrated exactly nine months before their birth.
The Feast of the Nativity of St. John
The next point of interest on the Papal Calendar is June 24th, midsummer day, The Feast of the Nativity of St. John. In ancient Babylon, June 24th had commemorated the Festival of Tammuz, which celebrated his death and resurrection (during June, the month of Tammuz). Hislop writes, "When the papacy sent its emissaries over Europe, towards the end of the sixth century, to gather in the pagans into its fold, this festival was found in high favor in many countries... the famous advice of Pope Gregory I, that by all means they should meet the Pagans half-way, and so bring them into the Roman Church." So, to appease the Pagans, this festival was adopted by the church, but they did not want to use the name Tammuz, and there was no event of Christ's life to commemorate in June. Therefore, they contrived the scheme to celebrate this holiday as the birth of John the Baptist, since it conveniently coincided with a date six months prior to the celebration of the birth of Christ. Also, the name that the Babylonians used for Tammuz after he had been slain was Oannes. Conveniently, the name John, or Joannes, therefore satisfied both the Christians and the Pagans. In France and Ireland, this festival was celebrated with huge bonfires of purifying fire, across which children were thrown. This coincided with the Babylonian ritual in Jeremiah 32:35 which tells of the children being passed through the fire to the god Moloch.
Other Holy Days
The worship of Holy week with the sepulcher and the cross of fire coincide with the ancient festival of Sturn.
The date of October 7th on the Papal calendar is set apart to be observed in honor of St. Bacchus the Martyr, the martyr of the fire worshippers
October 9th is the festival of St. Dionysius (and St. Eleuther and St. Rustic). Dionysius was also known as St. Denys, the patron saint of Paris who was beheaded and is said to have carried his head in his hands to his grave. This festival was abolished in 1789, but somewhat revived in the 20th century. The origin of this Christian myth was also from Nimrod, who was said to have been beheaded and worshipped. This led to the famous statues in Rome of the man holding his head in his hands.
The Feast of the Assumption is observed by the Catholic church on August 15th to honor the virgin Mary as the omnipotent goddess who was perfect on earth and now resides in heaven. In Babylon, Bacchus rescued his mother in hell and took her to heaven. The Chinese also celebrate a feast in August, in honor of a mother. The Holy Virgin in ancient times was the wife of Pluto, the god of hell. She experienced the immaculate conception and was absolutely immaculate. In Rome, Madonna and her child are honored in the form of graven image statues.
Catholicism holds that water baptism is an initiating ordinance and an absolute necessity for salvation. In Babylon, baptism was required before any instruction of the mysteries could be received. It provided the necessary washing and purifying. In Pagan Mexico, baptismal regeneration coincided with the worship of Wodan, the father of humanity, from whom evolved the name Wodansday (Wednesday). In Rome, a Pagan exorcism used water baptism with the use of salt, spittle, anointing oil, the sign of the cross, and holy water (consecrated salt water into which a burning torch was placed for purification). As part of excommunication, this phrase is used, "May the Holy Ghost who suffered for us in baptism curse him." Semaramis was known as a dove, a holy spirit incarnate, who passed through water when she was overcome by her enemies, and she took refuge in the water.
Another common doctrine shared by ancient Babylonians and Catholicism is the doctrine of justification by works. Merits and demerits are measured in the balance of God's justice by Anubis, the god of the scales, in ancient Babylon, and by St. Michael, the Archangel, in Catholicism. The priests were the judges, and the people had to pay to compensate for their demerits. This led to the "fear of the scales" in the Catholic Church, as well as to the practice of absolution by paying indulgences Like Moloch, the god of barbaric blood, in ancient Babylon, Greece, Rome, Egypt, Assyria, and Phonecia, Catholicism claimed that God was not satisfied without groans and sighs, lacerations of the flesh, tortures of the body, and penances including whippings and scourges. It was common practice for Catholics to crawl on their bare knees over sharp rocks in order to pay for their displeasing of God. This is one of the things that Martin Luther found so revolting about the Catholic Church. The Flagellants would even publicly scourge themselves. From the first to the third centuries, Christianity recognized this practice as purely Pagan.
In the Catholic Church, the Mass is heralded as the transubstantiation, or unbloody sacrifice, where small, thin, round wafers are eaten. The Babylonians worshipped Baal in the same way, using the small, thin, round wafers as a symbol of the sun god. The letters on the wafer, I.H.S., supposedly stand for Iesus Hominum Salvator, Jesus the Savior of Men, but in Babylon, they stood for Isis Horus, Seb, the mother, the child, and the father of the gods (the Egyptian trinity).
The practice of extreme unction, when death is visibly at the very door, originated in Babylon as an anointing for the last journey into the mysteries.
Purgatory and prayers for the dead have served both ancient Babylon and Catholicism as a special cleansing with a payment which was extorted to protect the payer from the purgation of fire.
Rome is famous for its long idol processions in which images are carried on men's shoulders, priests are adorned in gorgeous dresses, monks and nuns wear various habits, flying banners are displayed, and instrumental music is played. The same was true for Babylon. Also, the clothing and crowning of images in Rome originated with ancient Egypt, Nimrod, and the Queen of Troy.
Rome uses rags or bones of saints to commemorate their deified heroes, as did Babylon. Both also artificially multiplied many fake relics for profit.
The rosary and prayer beads of Catholicism are pagan practices used in Mexico, Tibet, China, and Greece, as well as by Hindus and Pagan Rome. This began as the Rosary of the Sacred Heart in Babylon and Egypt, where the heart was a sacred symbol of Osiris when he was reborn and appeared as Harpocrates, or the infant divinity, born in the arms of his mother Isis. The rosary still resembles a human heart. Also, Cupid originated in Pompeii as a boyish divinity. He was a fair, full, fleshy boy in fine and sportive action, usually portrayed tossing back a heart. Thus the god of the heart, or the god of love was worshipped. The bow and arrows were used to identify him with his father, the mighty hunter Nimrod. Taking aim with his gold-tipped arrows at the hearts of mankind, he was immortalized. The ancients deified Venus and Cupid as the Catholics do Madonna and child.
Lamps or wax candles of fire were used by the ancients in sun worship. The Catholic church uses candles at mass and at Easter, even in the daylight, although this practice was not started until the fourth century.
The Sign of the Cross
The Catholic sign of the cross originated in Babylon as a grand charm before prayer which drew the initial of the name Tammuz, Tau, or T. This same T can be found on the garments of Catholic priests. The Vestal Virgins of Pagan Rome and the nuns of Catholicism wore it on their necklaces. Bacchus wore a headband covered with crosses. The Buddhists wear them today. The cross was considered a divine tree, the tree of the gods, the tree of life and knowledge, and the product of whatever is good and desirable. In Catholicism, the cross is also called the tree of life, "hail, O cross, triumphant wood, true salvation of the world. . ." It is viewed as the only hope to increase righteousness and pardon offenses. Tammuz used the mistletoe tree to heal the sick. When Constantine came along, he declared popularized the X for Christ instead of the T for the cross, so again both Christians and pagans were satisfied.
The Sovereign Pontiff
Catholicism view the Pope as the sovereign pontiff, the representative of divinity on earth, the infallible, who's laws cannot be revoked, as was the case with Esther during the times of the Medes and the Persians. The pope is addressed as "Your Holiness," and his slipper is often kissed. He holds the keys of Janus and Cybele (on his robe), Peter's keys to heaven, although Peter was probably never in Rome. History has confused the Pagan statue of Jupiter with Peter. It is curious that the title of the high priest of Babylon was pronounced "Peter." He was the grand interpreter, Roma.
The College of Cardinals
Rome's College of Cardinals coincides with the Babylonian Council of Pontiffs and the Pagan College of Pontiffs. The word "Cardinal" comes from the word "cardo" which meant hinge. Janus, the god of doors and hinges, Patulcius and Clusius, was the opener and the shutter, controlling the door of heaven. Peter's chair, similar to that of Hercules and Mohammad, is where the ancients were carried in pomp and state in Egypt. Janus was the incarnation of Noah, half man and half fish. The Pontifical crosier corresponds to the magic of Nimrod.
The celibacy of the catholic priesthood corresponds with the practice of Pagan Rome (Daniel 11:36).
The clerical tonsure, a circular haircut around the temples, used at ordination ceremonies was started by Peter of the Mystery Gods. Head shaving was a ritual in Egypt, India, and China.
Monks and nuns maintain perpetual virginity, and are often isolated in convents and monasteries. The same was true in Tibet, Japan, Scandinavia, Pagan Rome, and even with the American Indians, although most modern confinement is only temporary, while in ancient times, it was permanent. 4
... Much scholarship on Latin American indigenous theology identifies in the fusion of progressive Catholicism and indigenous “popular” belief systems and practices, a powerful transformative catalyst for a profound political conscientization and empowerment of indigenous people. 5The New Syncretism
With these historical facts as a background, and again I have only presented a few as a representation of Catholic practices that have been going on for centuries, let's now turn to the "new" version of syncretism in movements like the WCGIP, Emergent Church, etc.
The WGCIP uses as it's source materials certain books such as Don Richardson's "Eternity In Their Hearts", Daniel Kikawa's "Perpetuated In Righteousness" books by Richard Twiss and others. I had the occasion to help research the bibliographies of those books for Mike Oppenheimer's new articles on WGCIP teachings. I then found out that a major source they both used was a Catholic priest named Wilhelm Schmidt. I began to investigate other sources and was shocked to discover that a number of their sources were quite dubious. They picked some of the more controversial authors with a number of ideas that were not mainstream in Protestantism but had been mainstream for centuries in Catholicism. That they would quote such people and base their ideas on their conjectures illustrates just how far afield their ideas and beliefs are.
So here are just some of the people from sources they quote as justification for their ideas in these books.
Daniel Kikawa – Perpetuated in Righteousness
Wilhelm Schmidt, The Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 268; p. 271, 273, 275-276Here are just a few of the religious backgrounds of some of the authors of books cited in Don Richardson's book.
Catholic: Wilhelm Schmidt was born in Hoerde near Dortmund in 1868. He joined the Steyler missionaries (SVD) at early age. After finishing school in 1888 he studied Theology. Schmidt was ordained a priest in 1892. (http://www.germananthropology.com/short-portrait/wilhelm-schmidt/301)
Abraham Fornander, Acct. Poly. Race, vol. 1, 22-23, p.40, p. 44, p. 55, 56, 57, 58, 60,61, 62,63,65, 66. p. 68; vol. 1, pp. 70-71, p. 7
79-83,p.85 82, 83-85 86-87 vol. 1, , pp. 91, 96-97; 98-99, p.100-101; 160,162 pp. 118-119, 129, 209, 212, 215,vol. 1, pp. 181-185p.214-217, 218 ; 225-235; Abraham Fornander, Acct. Poly. Race, vol. 1, p. 55; Acct. Poly. Race, vol. 2, p. 6, 8 ibid., p. 132-133; Abraham Fornander, Acct. Poly. Race, vol. 3, p. 132; Abraham Fornander, Memoirs of Bishop Museum, vol. VI, p. 269
Catholic: Abraham Fornander's bio is here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Fornander) He had issues with the American Protestant missionaries: The first of these goals won him the increasing animosity of American Protestant missionaries, who saw his attempt at even-handedness as disguised prejudice. By July 1870, their opposition had become great enough to replace Fornander as Inspector General. … Uppsala had initially been chartered through a papal bull. Uppsala's bull, which granted the university its corporate rights, was issued by Pope Sixtus IV in 1477, and established a number of provisions.
Kepelino, Kepelino's Traditions of Hawaii, p. 32, 34. 38, 40,42, 48 pp. 68-74; The Kumulipo, pp. 7-8 p. 181 pp. 176-177
Native Hawaiian religion and Catholicism: Kepelino, like native Hawaiian historians Malo, Kamakau, and Papa I'i, worked in the mid-19th century to record Hawaiian historical, cultural, and religious knowledge for future generations. Born around 1830 to Kanekapolei, a daughter of Kamehameha, and Namiki, a descendant of the priestly lineage of Pa'ao, he received a Catholic education and was actively engaged in writing for the Catholic press during his youth. (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kepelinos-traditions-of-hawaii-martha-beckwith/1101704705?ean=9781581780628)
Joseph Ernest Renan, The History of the People of Israel, p. 70
Catholic: Joseph Ernest Renan was given a scholarship in 1838 by F A. Dupanloup to join the seminary of St.-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet at Paris. Through the study of German theology, historical criticism, and Semitic languages he came to doubt the truth of Christianity. These doubts led him in 1845 to leave the seminary of St. Sulpice. (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/rena)
Don Richardson – Eternity In Their Hearts (1st edition)
Schmidt, Dr. Wilhelm, Primitive Religion, Translated by Joseph Abierl, St. Louis: R. Herder, 1939There are many more dubious authors that Kikawa and Richardson used as the basis for their wildly unbiblical theses on indigenous missiology. The point I am highlighting is that many of them were Catholics, not the least of which was Wilhelm Schmidt whom they both cite. Many of the authors they draw from harken back to Schmidt's ideas such as the following:
Catholic: Wilhelm Schmidt was born in Hoerde near Dortmund in 1868. He joined the Steyler missionaries (SVD) at early age. After finishing school in 1888 he studied Theology. Schmidt was ordained a priest in 1892. (http://www.germananthropology.com/short-portrait/wilhelm-schmidt/301)
Marshall W. Murphree, Christianity and the Shona, 1969
United Methodist: Marshall W. Murphree Review of the book "Christianity and the Shona" here (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1971.73.6.02a00470/pdf) published by London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1525/aa.1971.73.6.02a00470/pdf) This study of religion in a Rhodesian tribe is based on Dr Murphree's continuous field work in the Shona community from 1962-4. It is thus more than an examination of the impact of Christian ideas on a traditional religion. The author's thesis is that there were factors in the indigenous religious system of the Shona which allowed them to assimilate Christianity as a viable alternative form of religion, and there is therefore an emphasis on the historical factors involved in the contemporary sociological situation, which the author is also concerned to analyse. (http://www.wheelersbooks.com.au/books/9781859738597-christianity-and-the-shona/#desc) The author was engaged in missionary work in Rhodesia for many years. He subsequently studied anthropology at the London School of Economics and this book is a revised and rewritten version of his doctoral thesis. His dual approach adds an extra dimension to his description of a community undergoing marked social change. Dr Murphree is a lecturer in anthropology at the University College of Rhodesia. (http://www.wheelersbooks.com.au/books/9781859738597-christianity-and-the-shona/#desc) At Old Mutare, Marshall W. Murphree, a product of the mission center and chairman of the World Conservation Unit, expressed his delight and humility at giving the centennial lecture for United Methodism in Zimbabwe.
Spencer J. Palmer, Korea and Christianity, 1967
Mormon: Spencer J. Palmer, Korea and Christianity, Spencer John Palmer (October 4, 1927 – November 27, 2000) was a chronicler of the development of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Asia as well as a major player in these developments. He was a historian of Korea, a scholar of comparative world religions, and wrote many books on these and related topics. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spencer_J._Palmer)
Edward Burnett Tyler, Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization, 1865
Quaker: Edward Burnett Tyler, Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilization, Tylor is representative of cultural evolutionism. In his works Primitive Culture and Anthropology, he defined the context of the scientific study of anthropology, based on the evolutionary theories of Charles Lyell. He believed that there was a functional basis for the development of society and religion, which he determined was universal. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Burnett_Tylor) Tylor’s ideology is best described in his most famous work, the two-volume Primitive Culture. The first volume, The Origins of Culture, deals with ethnography including social evolution, linguistics, and myth. The second volume, Religion in Primitive Culture, deals mainly with his interpretation of animism. Fundamental to understanding Tylor’s ideology is his negative feelings towards religion, and especially Christianity. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Burnett_Tylor) Tylor perceived the modern religious belief in God as a “survival” of primitive ignorance.  He claimed the contemporary belief in God to be a survival, because science could explain the phenomena previously justified by religion. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Burnett_Tylor) Tylor
From 1912 to his death in 1954, Schmidt published his 12-volume Der Ursprung der Gottesidee (The Origin of the Idea of God). There he explained his theory of primitive monotheism, the belief that primitive religion among almost all tribal peoples began with an essentially monotheistic concept of a high god — usually a sky god — who was a benevolent creator. Schmidt theorized that human beings believed in a God who was the First Cause of all things and Ruler of Heaven and Earth before men and women began to worship a number of gods:In my article called "Monotheism" in Ancient Cultures is virtually non-existent by Sandy Simpson, 7/22/13 7 I prove that this is not true. The monotheistic worship of God was present in the line of Adam to Noah and after the flood on through to Abraham, but the Ancient World before the flood was destroyed because of the lack of the worship and obedience to Elohim and at Babel the idea of polytheism and animism was created and brought to the rest of the world, which is abundantly evident in even the most ancient cultures after Babel. The idea that the oldest religions were monotheistic has now metastasized into the teaching in the WCGIP that God has always been worshipped in all cultures, that God created cultures and put in them knowledge of Himself through their religious rituals, and that the people at Babel fanned out from there bringing with them the knowledge and worship of the true God, if by many other names. All of these teachings are wrong."Schmidt suggested that there had been a primitive monotheism before men and women had started to worship a number of gods. Originally they had acknowledge only one Supreme Deity, who had created the world and governed human affairs from afar." (Armstrong, Karen A History of God p. 3) 6
(1) God has not always been worshipped in all cultures, in fact has not been worshipped in any cultures apart from Israel. The Bible states over and over that the Gentiles "do not know God".
Gal. 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.(2) God did not create any cultures except Israel to whom He gave the Law. The new cultures that came out of Babel because God confused their languages began creating their own traditions and religions, which were based on the worship of Nimrod and Semaramis, a male and female deity constituting both polytheism and animism (the worship of created things).
1 Cor. 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Rom. 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
1 Thess. 4:5 ...not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God...
Ephesians 2:12-13 ...remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
2 Thess. 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
(3) The people of Babel brought their new false religion all over the world, continuing to reject God as they did at Babel, therefore they no longer knew God, in fact they were "without hope and without God in the world". You can read many articles on this subject in our book "Idolatry In Their Hearts". 8
The teachings of the WCGIP and their source materials by people like Richardson and Kikawa constitute a new radical syncretism that is leading to the one world false religion of "the woman who rides the beast" (Rev. 17:6-8).
1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/syncretism
2 - Clement of Alexandria. Miscellanies 6. 8 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Paganism#cite_note-4)
3 - Augustine of Hippo. Confessions 7. 20 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Paganism#cite_note-5)
4 - Pagan Influence Upon Roman Catholicism by Owen Weber 2009 (http://www.christiandataresources.com/pagancatholicism.htm)
5 - Decolonization and the Politics of Syncretism: The Catholic Church, Indigenous Theology and Cultural Autonomy in Oaxaca, Mexico by Kristin Norget, McGill University Montreal, Quebec, Canada (http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=internationaleducation)
6 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Schmidt_%28linguist%29
7 - http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/monotheisminancientcultures.html
8 - http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/idolatrybook.html