I write this having just returned from my vacation. This year, Kathy and I did something we have never done before: we joined two other couples and went on a two-week adventure in Peru. We travelled to Cusco, the heart of what used to be the Incan Empire before the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed it. From there, we went to the famous ruins of Machu Picchu. Finally, we went to the Amazon, travelling up river on a boat and staying in a hut in the middle of the jungle.
In short, we had an adventure! But I never think of anything – vacations included – as a time when I won’t learn, grow, deepen and reflect upon my life in Christ. This vacation was no different. At the very outset, we met our guide who took us to the ruins of the Inca Temple of Sacsayhuaman. There, we watched as he opened his water bottle and poured out water on the ground as a libation to “mother earth.” We soon learned of the Inca “Sun god,” and it became apparent that our guide was a Roman Catholic who also honoured the Inca deities. I found this fascinating, and asked our guide about this combination. He said he had discussed the matter with his priest, who had no objection.
I wondered if our guide was misrepresenting his priest until we toured the Catholic churches in Cusco. There, we not only found the traditional Catholic altars and icons, but, fascinatingly, a number of symbols honouring Inca spirituality. Clearly, our guide was reflecting the theology of the local catholic churches.
As we travelled the country, we observed European tourists venerating Inca spiritual sites. The syncretism clearly went far beyond the Peruvian borders. We also had an opportunity to join a missionary couple for supper. Their testimony was exactly in line with what we had already seen. They said a great majority of the Peruvian Catholic community had simply incorporated the Christian faith alongside the long history of pagan spirituality that had long been a part of that country. Rather than radical conversion to Christ, Christ was placed alongside other spiritualities, forming an ever-evolving mix of diverse religious expressions.
When I came home, I read an article from the Gospel Coalition website about the practice polyamory – the practice of being sexually and romantically involved with more than one person at the same time. The article in question was about a man who was arguing for polyamory from Scripture and from Christian theology. The argument here is for a Christian acceptance of polyamory based on the consent of one’s marriage partner, hailing it as courageous. The woman in the article complains that it has been difficult to find spiritual leaders who both accept her feelings as natural and respect her deep faith in Christ.
Just having come back from Peru, this article seemed clear. The spirit of syncretism is as alive in North America as it is in Peru. The unconverted, deceitful human heart passionately hates pure devotion to Christ. It demands Christ along with those things that oppose Christ. It assumes it really is possible to love God and mammon. It tells itself we can worship Christ and bow in the temple of Baal.
Consider 1 Corinthians 10:21: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”