Submitted by Pastor Michael Frisbee
Written by Reverend Mark Hunnemann
My apologies to everyone on the late submission, but I was wrestling between writing my own article, or sharing this excellent article below by my co-host, Reverend Mark Hunnemann. We are tackling this subject on our show this Saturday, April 14th, at 7 PM EST.
(View promo video here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2ERmpSdXNs )
You can watch our show at http://www.theparanormalchristian.com .
In the coming weeks, we will have author Thomas Smith, “Something Stirs” on April 21st, and author, pastor, motivational speaker, and chaplain for the Seattle Seahawks Dr. Karl I. Payne, “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance” on April 28th. In May, we will be covering a range of subjects and then in June, visiting book authors again.
I hope you will enjoy Reverend Mark’s article below.
MUSINGS ON SYNCRETISM by Reverend Mark Hunnemann
Recently on The Paranormal Christian Kristine McGuire was our featured guest, and she was fabulous! A former witch, Kristine attempted to blend witchcraft with Christianity; a process known as syncretism. So, the heart of syncretism is the blending of a non-biblical belief with Christianity..Obviously, witchcraft and Christianity don't and can't mix, but there are many others who mix some elements of witchcraft in their approach to the paranormal and demonology. In fact, syncretism in the paranormal community is at a all-time high. Numerous other beliefs have crept into people's thinking that have been added to the bible. In effect, it is the opposite of sola scriptura (the bible alone). Though we will be focusing on the paranormal community, syncretism can be found all over the place, including the church. In fact, I want to start there because it explains why so few pastors are even aware of the supernatural...in any meaningful way. One more initial point: we will categorize the different syncretism options into occult and non-occult beliefs.
If only my head were a pool of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered. (Jer.9:1) Unless you have the eyes to see (a biblical worldview), then the supernatural slaughter going on across America will be dimly, if at all, seen. My heart is breaking because of a call I got an hour ago...or is it the double case in a neighboring town I’m currently immersed in....or maybe the constant concern for Christians who are ill-equipped to deal with the supernatural darkness in their homes...or...and so on. This newsletter is NOT entertainment or cool ideas. I am a broken man in many ways, and I plead with you to think hard about the ideas we will be discussing.
Why is the church so dismissive of the recent explosion of interest in the supernatural? What is odd is that even denominations that historically have stressed the Holy Spirit and spiritual warfare in general, are asleep when it comes to the nuclear explosion of interest in the paranormal.. Let me state this loud and clear: not every pastor is asleep; there are some fine preachers who are quite attuned. But, sadly, they are the exception..
What has blinded the church, and is our first example of non-occultic syncretism, is physicalism. What is that? There is nothing wrong with the physical; that is part of God's creation.(Gen.1:31) But physicalism is the belief that the physical world is all there is. Now, no bible believing pastor is going to say that the physical or material word is all there is, but when they ignore or downplay the reality of the supernatural, then they have become practical physicalists. That is, they are acting as if the physical is all there is. Too few sermons speak clearly and unambiguously about our battle with a supernatural foe. I have a blog entitled The Bible and Ghosts; But how many sermons were preached in the last ten years in American churches on the topic of the bible and ghosts? Very, very few. Hence, the average Christian is abysmally ignorant of Satan's schemes and left non-discerning when it comes to supernatural evil. The syncretism of physical-ism and the church has been catastrophic. My heart breaks for those Christians who, at this very moment, are consciously co-existing with pure evil because they think it is "Aunt Agnes".
The second non-occultic syncretism belief is scientism. This is perhaps the most prevalent -ism plaguing Christians in the paranormal community. Again, science is wonderful, but when you add the ism it spells syncretism. It is foolish to think that the soul and the supernatural realm can be put under a microscope. Am I saying not to use science on investigations? A thousand times NO! (I have to be brief) The issue is: what is the intellectual starting point for paranormal research...is it science or the bible? If you are a Christian and you answer "science" then you have mixed a nefarious blend of scientism.
Third non-occultic syncretism belief is what I call phenomenal-ism. We study the phenomena, but when the primary means of identifying entities in the paranormal realm is based on their appearance, then we again become naive. Phenomenology is something seen discussed on paranormal seminars, but what it means is the study of things as they appear. Ask many folks how to determine if something is demonic, and they will give a litany of certain things that will appear in some fashion. The problem is that if a demon appears as an angel of light, then phenomenalism will miss it every time. I realize this may sound kind of technical and dry to some, but this where it is at folks. If you add appearance to the bible as the means of identifying supernatural reality, then you have created a cauldron of syncretism.
Fourth non-occultic syncretism is pragmatism. There is nothing wrong and everything right in being pragmatic; this is merely recognizing the need for things to work. The statement ""A” works because it is true" is consistent with the bible, but if you say ""A" is true because it works” then that is pragmatism; an un-biblical view of truth rampant in the paranormal community. If the primary means of determining if a paranormal theory is true is if it works, instead of if it is consistent with the bible, then the door to syncretistic darkness has opened. The difference between the above two statements may seem like playing with words, but it is anything but play...it is deadly serious. The bible works because it is true, and NOT vice versa (the bible is true because it works).When we place ourselves as the arbiters of truth based on what we think works, then God help us. Of course truth works...that is what real, objective truth does! It works...it correspond to reality. When we posit theories based primarily on the basis of our conviction that it works, then we have fallen prey to pragmatism. We, and what we think works, should not be the primary criterion for determining paranormal truth..That is placing our autonomous reason in judgment over the bible. and it creates another intoxicating syncretism brew.
One more ism which is a non-occultic syncretism is relativism and subjectivism. Maybe a decade ago, Dr Allen Bloom wrote The Closing of the American Mind. In it professor Bloom states that one thing he knows to be certainly true is that 95 percent of the incoming freshman will have fully embraced relativism and subjectivism. This is the belief that truth is not objective and it varies from person to person. Like all the other -isms above, these two are like invisible pollutants in the air that we breathe. More accurately would be the water a goldfish swims in unthinkingly. Even bible believing Christians have been bitten by these two -ism bugs. Christians in the paranormal community must be aware of and resist these demonic distortions of the nature of truth. The bible is true truth, and it has trans-generational and trans-cultural inerrant authority. How else can we explain the wholesale ignoring of Deut. 18? I am convinced that this "soft" view of truth has hamstrung Christians from being salt and light in the paranormal community.
When it comes to occultic examples of syncretism they are legion (pun intended).We mentioned witchcraft at the outset, and it is frightful how common aspects of witchery have infiltrated the beliefs and methodologies in the paranormal community. Practices as common as smudging are rooted in the occult. As a Christian, what is your biblical text in support of the alleged efficacy of burning sage to dispel demonic spirits or to merely cleanse an area? Does this not diminish the sole sufficiency of the work of Christ...and does it not denigrate His singular honor and dignity? The increased use of Christian psychics and mediums is surely syncretism of the worst kind. Rituals and beliefs borrowed from magick are too numerous to mention, but Christians are embracing them in the demonology field. That must stop because it is detestable to God.(Deut. 18) (the reason I keep quoting from this text is because, according to principles of sound hermeneutics, it should be our primary text)
A professing Christian that I have tried to help, had an erotic relationship with Michael Jackson, or his alleged ghost as are many women. Sadly, he/it won't leave her alone now, all day at work, and then at home, she is constantly being massaged or touched somewhere on her body. She has become a bundle of frayed nerves, and to relax she has incorporated what even she calls New Age relaxation therapy. The key, she says, to becoming whole again is for her to change her vibrational frequency. Today it is all about energy vibration, isn't it? Once again, this woman told me she knows it is not biblical, but she does it because it works (pragmatism) for awhile. Vibrations, meditation, visualization, energy transfer, quantum jumping, hypnosis, divine consciousness, EVP collection, paganism, neo-Gnosticism, goddess, obtaining Christ consciousness; all of these and many more may fall under the expansive umbrella of New Age occultic beliefs and practices. When you add any, or a combination of them to the bible then it is syncretism.
Syncretism is like being married and telling your spouse that you are also being intimate with another person. That is how the bible views syncretism; He considers it spiritual adultery. Our Lord is deeply grieved when we try to add anything to the finished work of Christ. Please note this...we are Christians first....husbands/wives. Paranormal investigator, US citizen (and so on) are a distant second or third. The gospel according to Jesus is one in which we count the cost of discipleship; we become ever vigilant against any syncretism knocking on the door of our hearts. Where and how have you succumbed to any form of syncretism?