Just Jesus or No Jesus!

The country of Liberia struggled through two terrible civil wars that spanned roughly 20 years. Though all war is terrible, these conflicts were particularly violent and featured some of the most heinous acts of cruelty one can imagine.

Cannibalism was common and it was often perpetrated by child soldiers.  Strangely enough these child soldiers were often dressed in womens’ clothing, a well traveled picture shows a teenagers shooting an AK47 at his foes while in a pink tutu.  They were looking to protect themselves from bullets.  Strength was obtained through terrible acts against their foes and survival guaranteed through magic and sorcery.  It was like the country descended into madness and reverted back a thousand years.

Yet, according to census numbers, over 85 percent of the population of Liberia would call themselves Christian. Christians who ended up murdering, eating and torturing their enemies while dressed like a fairy?  How does this make sense?  How does this happen? How does a country with a large majority Christian population descend so quickly into acts and practices that that the Lord would find abhorrent?

One need only understand the effect of syncretism on a faith to see how this descent makes perfect sense and how this danger lurks in our cultures today.

Syncretism is the mixing of aspects of two or more different cultures or belief systems and attempting to reconcile aspects of both. For our purposes, religious syncretism is mixing Christianity, the following of Jesus, with any other faith or system of belief. While we as Christians do well to study and understand other faiths for the purpose of evangelism or apologetics, think Paul at Mar’s Hill, the mixing of Jesus and any other belief system is impossible and wrong.

Adding anything to the life and teachings of Jesus and Biblical truth simply creates heresy. Jesus plus anything is not the real Jesus. We cannot create a new mixed together faith without abandoning the old. If we abandon Jesus, then we have no Holy Spirit and we are just on our own.  We are just left blind and in darkness with a Christian sounding theme park.

The loss of a pure faith can be seen very clearly in the case of Liberia.  Though there was a strong Christian presence in the country, there was also a strong tribal and cultural connection with animism, traditional tribal religion and as a result what the Bible refers to as sorcery or witchcraft that the culture never departed from completely. The occult was accepted alongside Christianity and mixed together to form a belief system that would on one hand claim to follow Christ, but on the other revere the “bush spirits” and accept the shaman as a holy man.  Rather than see the clear and stark difference between the darkness of shamanism and the light of Christ, the culture accepted both and as a result chose darkness and did not have Jesus in their lives.

God does not share space with anyone, particularly with the Baal’s or Molec’s of this world. When faced with a terrible and evil situation that the world thrust upon them, many in Liberia did not have Jesus to trust upon, but a man made religion that called itself Christianity but was far from it. It therefore made perfect sense to wear a wedding dress into battle in order to ward off bullets or to consume a foe while claiming a Christian Faith as their religious soup accepted both. 

While civil wars are not breaking out in New York City and ethnic cleansing is not going to occur in Topeka, the danger of syncretism is no less real for the American church.

When John Q. Public in Takoma mixes Jesus with post-modern thought, it results in Jesus being removed from the situation.

The country of Liberia struggled through two terrible civil wars that spanned roughly 20 years. Though all war is terrible, these conflicts were particularly violent and featured some of the most heinous acts of cruelty one can imagine. Cannibalism was common and it was often perpetrated by child soldiers dressed in womens’ clothing looking to protect themselves from bullets or strengthen themselves through acts of witchcraft. Yet, according to census numbers, over 85 percent of the population of Liberia would call themselves Christian. How does this happen? How does a country with a large majority Christian population descend so quickly into acts and practices that that the Lord would find abhorrent. One need only understand the effect of syncretism on a faith to see how this descent makes perfect sense and how this danger lurks in our cultures today.

Syncretism is the mixing of aspects of two or more different cultures or belief systems and attempting to reconcile aspects of both. For our purposes, religious syncretism is mixing Christianity, the following of Jesus, with any other faith or system of belief. While we as Christians would do well to study and understand other faiths for the purpose of evangelism or apologetics, think Paul at Mar’s Hill, the mixing of Jesus and any other belief system is impossible and wrong. Adding anything to the life and teachings of Jesus and Biblical truth simply creates heresy. Jesus plus anything is not the real Jesus. We cannot created a new mixed together faith without abandoning the old and if we abandon Jesus, than we are just left blind and in darkness.

When one mixes Jesus with post-modern thought, the real Jesus is removed from the situation.  There may be no child soldiers in tutus but Jesus ends up a wishy washy good guy whose words can be brought up when convenient , thou shall not judge me, but can be discarded when they touch anything difficult.

Jesus as the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life gets watered down to one of the ways, one of the truths and one of the lives and it makes perfect sense because their religious soup allows it.

Jesus came to His people and defined Himself in great detail in the Bible for His people.  Adding anything to His definitions leaves one with something  that is just not Jesus.

 

 

 

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