I have become deeply troubled by a movement within Christian churches who are seeking “Unity,” and to searching for “common” denominators between various belief systems. If you give me a moment, I want to show you why this is so dangerous.
Joshua was unable to lead Israel to a total and complete conquest of Israel and in that example, we find evidence of what is happening in our churches today. You see, the Hebrews felt it was easier to make treaties with the various Canaanite tribes instead of driving them out of the land or destroying them (which is what the Lord instructed them to do). Since they preferred “getting along,” it became Israel‘s Achilles heel.
Israel entered the land the Lord had promised to give them, and they quickly began to think that having the Canaanites as their neighbors and finding ways to live in peace with them was much easier. As Christians we can probably understand that. Isn’t that somthing we are supposed to do? Aren’t we called to simply live a peaceful life, without turmoil or conflicts with the world around us? Well, the problem is that Yahweh told them to “Conquer and destroy.” not to play nice with them.
You see, compromise and tolerance were their words-of-the-day, too. The 12 tribes lost any enthusiasm to finish what they had started and never completed the conquest of Canaan. The result of that decision is the root of troubles we witness in the Middle East today.
Because of their lax attitude, there were mixed marriages between Hebrews and Canaanites, and it became quite a normal and accepted arrangement; but because of the way societies operate, this meant that there had to be a compromise or a clash over the issue of whose god would be preeminent in that blended family, Yehoveh or one of the Ba’al gods. As you can probably imagine, this made family situations pretty tense at times. That would be like a devout Catholic marrying a die-hard protestant. Whoa! Or how about a “Flaming Liberal” marrying someone who is to the “Right” of Ronald Reagan. How could they live in a peaceful marriage?
In the case of the Israelites and the Canaanites, you have two widely different cultures mixing, and the results were not good. The process is called syncretism, which comes from the word synchronize and we all generally understand that to synchronize something is “to make two or more things operate simultaneously or in a coordinated way.”
In other words, they were attempting to reconcile two different moral or religious systems and mold them into something else, yet retain elements of both which would be reasonably acceptable for everybody. Folks, when it comes to religion, that means that somebody‘s god was going have to take an inferior position and the other person’s god was going to take a superior position — but both were retained. As you can imagine, problems arose.
What usually happens is that quietly and naturally over time, slowly and without much deliberation, fanfare or overt intent, people began to “go with the flow.” One moment Yehoveh is your only god and you give Him your full devotion; but then you marry a Canaanite who worships the Ba‘als and a few years later you suddenly look up to realize that not only is Yehoveh no longer your only god, He holds an equal or inferior position to another god. What was sin before, is no longer sin. A little more time passes and now the blending becomes cemented and a whole new system has been created and nobody will questions whether it is right or wrong. You won’t even remember how it happened, and it won’t matter, because it simply became irrelevant or lost to history.
I hope this is causing the wheels to turn in your minds right about now. The church has been engaged in this kind of “blending” for centuries. This happened in the early church history when they blended the pagan religions of the gentiles with the Messianic religion of the Jews. What resulted was the Roman Church in the West and the Orthodox Church in the East. The progress of Christian mixing and blending with the world‘s cultures eventually passed the tipping point and now in practically every aspect of our faith has become diluted and weakened. Opinions regarding marriage, divorce, co-habitation, adultery, abortion, criminal activity, and more recently, sexual orientation is nearly indistinguishable between Believers and non-Believers. When one believer does stand up against this evaporation of our faith, they are branded as being a “narrow-minded bigot.”
Of course, because we have continued to blend The Church with the culture and behavior around us, it is the unbelieving world that has won out. This is the nature of blending, of combing two forces, that should be enemies with each other. The Interfaith Movement is advancing the “blending” of religious systems like a virulent cancer in our time. Yet it is being touted and admired by many of the top Christian and Jewish leaders (and naturally the top secular leaders) all over the globe.
What was originally intended to harmonize Christian doctrines among the thousands of denominations (to foster unity) is now attempting to harmonize Islam with Christianity, and those faiths with the Oriental mystical religions. For those of you who are undecided as to whether or not the Interfaith ideal is a good or a bad thing, let me remind you that the God-principle which under grids the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation is dividing, electing, and separating.
The Lord has continually demonstrated distinctions between His people and those who are not His people. He carefully defined which were which and He demands that those distinctions be maintained.
The academic word used is syncretism, and when we are discussing the issue of faith, it is referring to dissolution of whatever distinctions we have that separate us. It is also the term for reversing that God-principle of dividing, electing, and separating. Syncretism is what Yahweh attempted to destroy when he separated Abraham from his family; Isaac from his brothers; the tribe of Levi from the other 11 tribes, on and on until finally, His Ecclesia was selected and divided from the rest of the world. These are the ones who were “chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, people who belong to God. Chosen to tell the excellent qualities of God, who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light ” (I Peter 2:9)
As Believers we know that the world is evil. We know that we are not called to be part of it and to endure and walk firm in our service. I believe the enemy is even attempting to “divide and conquer” the Church, and his two primary weapons seem to be Islam, and what they have labeled, “Sexual Orientation.” That last one is a phrase that includes many types of sins.
Syncretism, this blending and merging with the values and views of the world was the downfall of Israel and remains the same for us within Christianity. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, please begin to pray. The test isn’t to simply agree on an intellectual level, but to act on that agreement.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.