Contextualization vs Syncretism

There have been some interesting discussions about Celtic Christianity and ChristoPaganism on another forum I participate in and I thought I would republish some of my own comments here:

I concur … that Messianic Judaism is not a good analogy [for understanding ChristoPaganism]. It is very important to distinguish between
‘syncretism’ and ‘contextualization’ here.

‘Contextualization’ is the process of inculturating Christianity into new cultural contexts such that the original substance is translated into indigenous styles. Celtic Christianity is an example of this.

‘Syncretism’ is a more haphazard blending of the substance and styles of two or more religions such than a brand new religion is created.
Christo-Paganism is an example of this.

When Christian missionaries speak of ‘messianic Judaism’ or ‘messianic Islam’, they are basically referring to Christians engaging in deep level contextualization, so deep that at first glance the followers may not even seem Christian as you’d normally recognize it. But when you look deeper Christ is at the core of everything. In this respect I would quite happily accept the label of ‘messianic New Ager’ or ‘messianic Occultist’ amongst those who understood the term, though in truth this sort of language is generally reserved for the deepest forms of contextualization. I can’t claim to go quite that deep, though I do prefer to call myself ‘an initiate of the Jesus mysteries’ to ‘a Christian’ if the truth be known. Basically you find this most often in countries where persecution follows ‘overt’ conversion or where people have deep aversion to ‘Christianity’ as they understand it.

Syncretism usually results in the opposite, forms of religion that might look superficially Christian, or partly Christian, but when examined closer turn out to be nothing of the sort. Voudou is another example comparable to Christo-Paganism, though in that case it’s African gods who adopt ‘saintly’ personas rather than the god and goddess assuming Jesus and Mary personas.

In short, Celtic Christianity and Christo-Paganism do share some superficial affinities – they both deeply engage with Pagan culture, emphasize nature, embrace symbol, etc, etc. But at the core they are fundamentally different.

Celtic Christianity was a sort of ‘messianic Paganism’ for lack of a better term. You will note that while Celtic Christianity embraces the circle symbol, the cross is never limited by its circumference.

For some examples of Christo-Paganism see:

The Christian Witch Course This is an introductory course with a broad overview of topics. Special focus placed on Christo Wicca and Christian Witchcraft as they are the more popular Christo Eclectic paths.

Perelandra on Earth  The personal website of a ‘Christian Baptist Mystic Wiccan’ who has attained the First Degree of Clergy within the Correllian Tradition.

Christian Craft A gathering place for the Magical Christian and the Eccentric Witch.

To Witch Via the Truth: A Christian Witch’s Story Testimony of a ‘Christian Witch.’

The Christian Witchery Page This page … is for the person who is asking the question, ‘How do -I- become a Christian Witch?’

The Christian Witch ‘This site began as a personal religious journal. My goal was to find open-minded individuals with similar beliefs and to let the world know that it is possible to incorporate aspects of multiple religions into your own personal religion. I named the site “The Christian Witch” because the first two religions that I drew elements from to combine were Christianity (the religion I grew up with) and Witchcraft (the first non-Christian religion I studied in depth).’

Christian Wicca Various articles written by a ChristoPagan author.

Shekinah Moon ‘I started this blog as a means to explore my search for occult awareness while being a Christian. And this blog is a reflection of that broad search in the land of occult sciences.’

Christian Witchcraft ‘I am a Christian and I am a Witch. Here you find articles to help you begin your Christian magick path, a few poems that I feel really represent ideas that are valuable to the magick Christian, and a list of quotes I have collected from books and the internet. There is a Book of Shadows which explains about the tools of the Craft.’


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