St. Paul Warns the Colossians on Syncretism

The religion of Colossae at the time was the Hellenistic worship of Zeus, Aphrodite, etc. However, the Colossians were also into astrology and maintained an openness to non-pagan religions, including Judaism. Paul had learned that this mentality had infiltrated the young Christian church there and charges them:

So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ (Col. 2: 6-8).

Let no one, then, pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath (vs. 16).

If you died with Christ to the elemental powers of the world, why do you submit to regulations as if you were still living in the world? “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all things destined to perish with use; they accord with human precepts and teachings (vs. 20-22).

Continue reading “St. Paul Warns the Colossians on Syncretism”

The Danger of Religious Pluralism

four-religionsDistinct from syncretism, which reflects the blending of elements of unrelated faiths, pluralism affirms that different religions offer alternate paths to the same god, or to salvation. I once heard a priest use the analogy of a group of siblings, representing different religions, arguing with each other over who father loves most. Dad, representing God, then walks in on the quarreling kids and assures them that he loves them all equally.

It’s one thing for members of different religions to engage in dialogue as a means of promoting peace, but quite another to disregard their disparate and competing claims to the truth and declare them equally valid. It’s intellectual anarchy, like insisting that 2+2=5. The danger is that it crosses a line after which one’s own religion is unavoidably diminished in value. Continue reading “The Danger of Religious Pluralism”