While my dad was well educated and enjoyed academic pursuits, he would sometimes give a person a hard time for using unnecessarily large words. “Two dollar words” he called them. In his wisdom, he understood that often ‘less is more.’
Today is not such a day. Today, we pull out a ‘two dollar word’ because nothing else will precisely fit.
I give you,
syn·cre·tism : [sing-kri-tiz-uhm, sin-]
1610–20; < Neo-Latin syncretismus < Greek synkrētismós union of Cretans, i.e., a united front of two opposing parties against a common foe, derivative of synkrēt ( ízein ) to syncretize + -ismos -ism
From childhood, those who are raised in christendom are taught to wag their finger and ‘tsk, tsk, tsk’ at ‘those fickle Israelites’ for having the audacity to make a golden calf. In fact, they did it at the base of Mt. Sinai within view of the fire and smoke! In the previous couple months they had seen wonders in Egypt, enjoyed miraculous salvation, and been provided for with manna and quail. They had just been given the commandments, had clearly heard them and were in great awe of their Elohim (God). How could they be so fickle?
If we go back and look at the text carefully we will find something very interesting!
In spite of violating clear commands, they thought they were doing rightly! I kid you not. This wasn’t a blatant rebellion in their eyes. They were just doing what they thought best… and in that is the problem. Man’s wisdom. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
After Moshe had been on the mountain for some time, nearly forty days if I recall, the sons of Israel began to get antsy. With their trust in him, rather than their Deliverer, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Notice that it is the preachers, er, Levites that are complicit in appeasing the people.
Aharon leads the charge by collecting an offering of gold and fashions the molten calf. He then declares, “This is your elohim (supreme godhead!) who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
The audacity! But it gets better! He went on to ‘build an altar before it’ and proclaim, “tomorrow is a feast to Yahweh!” Seriously, he actually calls it by the name of the eternally self-existing El! “Yahweh.”
I think we wrongly believe that Aharon made some wild radical departure from the faith of his fathers and wandered into pagan idolatry, but the text reveals something far more sinister.
Aharon led the people in syncretism.
Let’s go back and reread the first part of our definition and absorb the gravity of what is happening. Syncretism is “the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.”
Aharon is overseeing the mixing of truth and falsehood. It is carefully crafted to have elements of truth mixed with some error in order to appease the people and maintain position of power and authority, the Commandments be damned.
Notice that everything about the whole event is in keeping with the Word of Yahweh except the minor detail of a graven image. The god they are worshipping is named Yahweh. They build an altar to it and offer “burnt offerings and peace offerings.”. They have a feast.
Syncretism is the mixing of truth and falsehood. Yahweh calls this an abomination!
Simply, Yahweh is very precise throughout His Word to tell us exactly how He wants to be worshipped. Adding to or taking away from His Word, particularly when mixing pagan practices, is utterly detestable in His sight. It is a vile and detestable thing to the living Elohim.
The ‘golden calf incident’ is not alone in Scripture as an example of detestable syncretism. In fact, both the House of Israel and the house of Judah went on to perfect this model.
While the Bible is full of examples of worship on the high places and in the groves, etc, there are a number of very specific examples of syncretism.
In I Kings 12: 25-33 we see Jeroboam specifically altering the time and place of worship and feasts for no other reason than to protect his own power base and perpetuate the division wrought in the kingdom. Just a few generations later, Elijah had a showdown with the very descendants of this syncretistic mix of the things of Yahweh and paganism. Later, the woman at the well relates to Yeshua this enduring division in form or practice of worship that was so detestable to Yahweh that was still going on in Samaria.
Judah was not exempt. You remember the serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness? Apparently, so did Judah, because they kept the icon in the Temple and burned incense to it for nearly 1000 years before Hezekiah broke it to pieces. What was it doing in the Temple?? When had Yahweh ever said anything about keeping it and making it into an icon of worship? Syncretism. Melding false pagan practices with the true worship of the living Elohim.
Ezekiel relates multiple “abominations” in a single chapter. Sun god worship within the temple courts, idol worship within the elder’s homes, worship of Tammuz by the women, etc… Syncretism. Remember, they are doing this within the temple, between the altar and the courts. This is a melding of pagan practices and the ways of the Eternal El.
It is interesting to note in our definition that the origin of the word can be chased back to the Greek ‘synkretismos’ meaning, union of Cretans. The idea pictured is uniting two opposing parties against a common foe.
Brilliant, and an exact image of how we find so much syncretism within the religion known as Christianity.
A cursory study of ‘church history’ will reveal that the Roman Catholic Church, much like Jeroboam, is the result of using the powerful elixir of syncretism to appease pagans and Christians while garnering wealth and authority and the subjugation of all things “Jewish.” Now, those who know history well will view this as overly simplistic since the formalization of the RCC happened well after Jerusalem was destroyed, but follow me here.
Even the Apostle Paul was in a continuous running battle with Greek gnostics who were already infiltrating the sect called The Way to co-opt it for their own twisted purposes. Within a century of Yeshua’s death the race was on in earnest to separate The Way from any vestige of Hebrew root while filling the void with altered pagan customs. By the time of Constantine, the Roman bishops were renaming ancient pagan holidays and ‘christianizing them’ (the definition of syncretism!) to suit their own lusts for wealth, control and power.
Don’t believe me? Go do a web search for pagan ties between Easter and the fertility goddess Ostare with variants including: Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos. Any of those are easily traced back into Babylonian pagan fertility rites complete with bunnies, dyed eggs, ham, etc…
Okay, so that wasn’t so fun. Maybe just an anomaly… Try a similar search for pagan ties between Christmas and saturnalia. Watch out because this ancient festival that predates Yeshua by 1000+ years includes such trappings as evergreens, late December observance, gifts, a tree, mistletoe, etc…
As believers in ‘Jesus,’ we like to think we have it all together. It comes as a shock to find that in fact there is MUCH syncretism within our own doctrines and traditions. Still, if we worship an Elohim that is unchanging, the same yesterday, today and forever, and His Word is Truth, then, we should be anxious to root out any and all falsehood in our worship. Particularly those parts that have clear pagan origins that are an abomination as described in Deuteronomy 12:29-32.
Syncretism is something we must abhor as much as our Creator does. It is a vile, detestable affront to Yahweh’s specified manner of worship.
Here are a couple videos with a wealth of information supporting the charge that the church is steeped in syncretism.
We live in incredible times, prophetically! Yahweh is preparing to judge the earth and judgment always begins at the house of the Lord. Revelation 18 has a stern warning against drinking from the fount of syncretism.
I pray that you will be shocked awake and run, not walk, away from falsehood and toward the true worship of the Living Elohim.