Christo-paganism is more common that you think

Many people think of Christo-Paganism as an odd offshoot of Neo-Paganism, but it is far more common than that. Here is what Christian anthropologist Paul Hiebert had to say about syncretism and Christo-Paganism in Understanding Folk Religion: A Christian Response to Popular Beliefs and Practices:


The danger in responding to folk religions is not so much heresy as it is syncretism — combining elements of Christianity with folk beliefs and practices in such a way that the gospel loses its integrity and message. The problem here is not with old religious beliefs, but with the underlying assumptions on which they are built. The gospel must not only change beliefs, but also transform worldviews, otherwise the new beliefs will be reinterpreted in terms of the old worldviews. The result is Christo-paganism. One important area needing transformation is that of the magical mentality that dominates most folk religions. If this is not challenged, Christianity will be seen as a new and superior magic. This magical tendency is not restricted to traditional religionists. It is just below the surface in all fallen human beings. Magic makes them gods because it gives them control over nature, supernatural powers, and even God, through the practice of the proper rites. This was the experience of Simon (Acts 8:9–24) the magician who, seeing the miracles of Philip, Peter, and John, wanted to buy their kind of power with money. Peter severely rebuked him for his old magical worldview. Simon repented, but he had learned a hard lesson—the gospel cannot be reinterpreted in other worldviews. It brings with it its own worldview that supersedes all others. Magic is the opposite of Christianity. In magic humans are in control. In Christianity they are called to submit unconditionally to God and his will. The difference between the two is not in practice. It is in attitude. Magic is formulaic and mechanistic. Christianity is based on worship and relationships. Prayer is magic if supplicants believe they must say the right things in right tone of voice accompanied by certain right actions to be assured of the right answers. It is worship when they kneel before God and cast their cares on him. The difference is often subtle. Christians can begin to pray seeking God’s help, but, when the answer is delayed, unconsciously begin to become coercive in their attitudes. They can read Scripture to learn and grow, or to gain merit that earns them their desires. Some carry Bibles in their pockets, confident that these, like amulets, will protect them from harm. Engaging worldviews is not only the task of new Christians in non-Christian contexts. The danger of becoming captive to non-Christian worldviews is as great or greater among followers of Christ who live in the West where Christian assumptions still often dominate. They are in danger of reinterpreting the gospel in terms of their own cultural categories—of equating it with Western civilisation, material prosperity, individualism, human rights, and freedom.

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