We recently shared about George, an evangelist in Kenya, who is using GoodSeed tools to teach pastors and bishops about a Gospel of faith and grace. Some might be surprised to hear that this is needed in a nation with so many missionaries and churches. Syncretism–the mixing of different beliefs–has always been a major problem in missions and the church.
In teaching my own children about syncretism, I explained that many people think it is a form of addition, like 10 + 1 = 11: Biblical truth plus one other “truth” equals more truth.
The reality is more like 10 + (-1) = 9. Tacking on unbiblical “truth” usually ends up taking away from biblical truths.
Pastor George wrote last week about his experiences after sharing the Gospel with hundreds of pastors:
“We’ve found that, when teaching believers, you never know what and where the gaps exist in people’s minds. But when you teach from Creation to Christ, most of those gaps get filled in. Then you have true understanding, and an understood gospel is a powerful gospel.
Yesterday at our Pastors conference, several Pastors were surprised at the Biblical worldview of life after death … It became a major point of questions. Many of them not only strongly believe but also preach that when people die they turn into spirits and they hover around watching their families and often torment their families if they were evil. They believe that the evil dead turn to nyawawa. They have sermons about those who died poor, barren, single, sick, etc coming back as jochiende to inflict those pains on others that they are angry at…
In African traditional religion, every tribe has their own worldviews regarding origins, life, death, and the afterlife. Our worldviews teach us that we have the living, the dead, the living-dead, the ancestors, and that we have a relationship with these dead, living-dead, and ancestors. We are to respect them lest we hurt their feelings and invoke their wrath. We have rain makers, magicians, and other spiritists who can mediate between us and these evil spirit relatives.
Some people come to Christ with these concepts and they become pastors. Their idea of a pastor is just like the magician and spiritist mediator between the living and the spirits. So people need to give them money or property … to get deliverance from demonic harassment.
Syncretism is always harder to see in your own culture but obvious for someone from outside. From North America, we can clearly see it in churches in other lands, but sometimes people from outside the Western culture visit North American churches and are shocked by what they see added in here.
Solid and foundational Bible teaching is so necessary, and we are thankful to play a small part.
Together with you for the Gospel,
Troy & Naomi