Unlike previous posts, this will be more reflective in nature and written from my current experience (I am currently in Uganda).
So, I just had an amazing lunch discussing the dangers of syncretism (the blending of two opposing belief systems) with a few pastors and teachers in Uganda. I was marveling at how these African men were lamenting that people think every illness or affliction has a spiritual or demonic problem. They went on to tell me that this form of syncretism is a significant problem in Uganda, because the region has such a deep rooted sense of Animism (the belief that spirits are in everything). The result is people are too quick to blame things upon the spiritual world and refusing to acknowledge any personal responsibility. These men suggested the best remedy is to teach a more complete teaching of biblical truth, namely that there are consequences to sin that man must bear and there are some things that are just a result of living in a fallen world.
The irony of this is how often I have taught (in a North American context) that we need to be cautious of syncretism in that we blend biblical truth with naturalism (a belief in only material things). The result is in the West such syncretism often does not acknowledge the reality of spiritual beings or spiritual causes for the events/problems in life. The events and problems of life always have a natural or physical explanation. The problem here is obvious, the Bible certainly seems to teach that there are many problems and issues in life that are a direct result of spiritual realities that Westerners just ignore or explain away. So I have been encouraging people in the West to consider the spiritual realities so clearly evidenced in Scripture, and to be open to the possibility of spiritual causation for many events in life.
Upon voicing the condition of the Western world, these African pastors chuckled at the unmistakable irony. After a few moments one of these men said, well this is just evidence that we need each other…perhaps we should hold some sort of global symposium where we can all learn from each other.
That does sound nice, doesn’t it?