Given the tenor of some of my theological background, the word "syncretism" is still something that gets me a little excited. While I don't really believe that there is some "pure," non-incarnate form of the good news about Jesus (since it hinges on the fact of the Incarnation itself!), we could all do with a lot more suspicion regarding how we understand truth. The good news about Jesus had an original "host culture," and if we want to talk about "truth," we need to figure it out in some kind of dialogue with the other cultures that have received the message. So in kind of simplistic terms, say that some folks in Africa, Asia, and America recieve the Christian message. Each of these groups start working out what faithful apprenticeship to Jesus and witness to his saving work looks like in their particular setting. Each of these little groups will have some different emphases, concerns, and even diverse theories of knowledge as they talk about knowing God. If you want to get at what a "core" truth might be, those groups need to get together and see what kind of common language they can come up with.
There's a little saying about catholicity that tries to encapsulate what it ultimately means: "only the whole Church knows the whole Truth." "Always, everywhere, by all." The second bit is called the "Vincentian Canon," and you can read my limited reflection on it here.
What brought this on? Well, oddly enough, I think folks are far more sensitive to other peoples' "syncretism" than their own. Ryan reminded me of this after I asked him to reflect a little on that word and the transmission of the Christian faith into the Lakota culture. Check out his recent post on a wake, and resulting reflections on syncretism:
Syncretism and [T](p?)EC(usa??)
Wakantanka and Christian Syncretism
Meanwhile, Steven Harris has written a thoughtful reflection on his time at theological college. It's a particularly helpful read for those of you who might be studying theology, and who have also come from particularly... excitable... ecclesial settings. It's a little long, but certainly worthwhile!
Josh takes a very different tack:
"Don't let anybody fool you: Divinity School does not prepare you for a Post-Apocalyptic wasteland."Well, crap.
Peter White is on an archeological dig at Tel Dan, Israel, and is posting some interesting reflections.
I've promoted Noakes again. With the LDS folks turning up the heat on their "Mormons are Christians too" campaign, I think it's important to pull out all the stops. Noakes shall be the Primate of All Idaho and Metropolitan of the entire Pacific Northwest, with a special Apostolate to the Other Religion headquartered in neighboring Utah.
He may now copy the haughty dfmsT(p)EC[usa] practice of signing his name with two (+) signs.
Oh, and check out David Brandt's blog. He writes a lot about things that evangelicals like (such as Mark Driscoll, blech!) and seems to be a Baptist. This might round out some of you critters. I recommend him because he seems moderate, intelligent, and well-spoken (written?). And he has the good taste to link to me. In addition, his blog design is very attractive, so it's worth it just to wander over and be impressed.