Syncretism or Synergism

Religious Syncretism

The fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices. Instances of religious syncretism—as, for example, Gnosticism (a religious dualistic system that incorporated elements from the Oriental mystery religions), Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious philosophical concepts—were particularly prevalent during the Hellenistic period (c. 300 bc–c. ad 300). The fusion of cultures that was effected by the conquest of Alexander the Great (4th century bc), his successors, and the Roman Empire tended to bring together a variety of religious and philosophical views that resulted in a strong tendency toward religious syncretism. Orthodox Christianity, although influenced by other religions, generally looked negatively upon these syncretistic movements.
The Catholic Church also condemns this type of “all religions are equal” mentality; calling it indifferentism.

The Pharaoh was considered to be the son of God by the ancient Egyptians.

There are just too many parallels here. Once Horus was in the realm of the dead he had to hunt down and kill all other first born in the place of the dead, there by proving himself to Osiris. Also, when crossing the “Sea of Reeds” in the underworld, the soul required the service of a god to provide a ferryboat for crossing. However, the alternate means for crossing was a “parting of the water.” (J. Towers,“the Red Sea”, Near Eastern Studies 18, 1959,p.152n.19) As he moved through the Reeds Sea he also conducted a baptismal ceremony to purify him of his uncleanness.[Passover Parable 1991, Voice of, Larry D. Harper, P.6]

God is intentionally using a form of parallelism here, and it seems to be a much bigger reason than religious syncretism. He is trying to speak to the Israel people in a language they will understand. Since Israel had been living as slaves in Egypt for 400 year, they had assimilated a lot of their culture-including religion. This is also much more than God’s mimicry of Pharaoh’s burial procession. God is drawing a word picture, a parallelism, a parabolic pantomime (to borrow a phrase from Larry Harper)

Who is God’s firstborn son? If we look at the Bible in Exodus 4:22-23 we see the Lord calls Israel His first-born son. And when Pharaoh refuses to release them, God says He will kill Egypt’s firstborn sons. Israel in the Old Testament is a picture of the Church in the New Testament. As Israel is God’s son in O.T. imagery; so too in the N.T. the Church is viewed as the body of Christ. Therefore, the true Israel must be Christ himself.

A better word would be “Synergism,” which means: the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. We are called, as Christians, to be all things to all people, in hopes that we should win some. In past centuries, this is what I think the Catholic Church did with the pagan religions. They accepted some of their forms and redefined them in Christian terms. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we do not compromise the truth.

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