Chapter III:20: Against Religious Syncretism, Part 1

But, as Religion requires such a Confession, so true Religion refuses Mixture with False Religion, either in the same Men, 1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 6:24; 22:37, or in the same body of the Church, Titus 3:10; 2 John 10; Revelation 2:14, 15, with practice also teaching this, in Paul’s delivery of Hymenæus and Philetus[1] to Satan, 1 Timothy 1:20.

Whence Syncretism ought to be condemned, which Greek noun, Συγκρητισμὸς/Syncretism, our AUTHOR best explains in his Compendio; teaching that by this name taken from the Cretans, rising against their common enemies with their civil contentions set aside, A Fraternal Concord arises in the communion of the same Church, with certain contentions, having been or about to be put to rest, not withstanding. Of course, that that has been wont to be called συγκρητισμὸν/syncretism PLUTARCH[2] observes, setting forth this example of the Cretans for imitation, in his book περὶ Φιλαδελφίας, opera, tome 2, page 490, Μιμούμενος αὐτὸ γοῦν τῶν Κρητῶν, οἱ πολλάκις στασιάζοντες ἀλλήλοις καὶ πολεμοῦντες, ἔξωθεν ἐπιόντων πολεμίων διελύοντο καὶ συνίσταντο· καὶ τοῦτο ἦν ὁ καλούμενος ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν συνκρητισμός, that is, imitating, at least, that example of Cretans, who, though they often quarreled among themselves with factions and intestine wars, with an external enemy invading, joined together, with their contention set aside; and this it was which they called Syncretism: see ERASMUS’ Adagia, page 45.

But, says our AUTHOR, there is to be a condemnation of Syncretism, α. Universal of all Christians or of those professing the Christian faith, which he deduces as a conclusion from what immediately precedes. This sort of Universal Syncretism of Christians, even with those that among Christians are devoted to Idolatry, is urged by Stephanus Curcellæus in his Præfatione Operum Episcopii, ** 4 versa and following, against whom HOORNBEECK disputes in his Summa Controversiarum, book VIII, pages 459-467; and by the Remonstrants in various places, since they are willing freely to enter into a Syncretism with whatever sects of Christians, with only our assembly treated as an exception. For, whatever mutual Tolerance the Remonstrants may urge and demand from the Counter-Remonstrants: they were attacking the doctrine of the Counter-Remonstrants in such fierce ways that those entering into a Syncretism with the latter had been impious; see TRIGLAND’S Kerckelycke Geschiedenissen, chapter 4, page 759. Concerning that spirit of the Remonstrants, inclined to Syncretism with whatever sect of Christians, with our only excepted, see the Præfationem Confessionis Remonstrantium, d. 1 versa, 2; Censuram hujus Præfationis, g. 2, n. 21, 22, h, n. 24, i. 4, n. 34; Apologiam pro Præfatione Confessionis, pages 10b, 11, 18b, 19; TRIGLAND’S Præfationem Antapologiæ, ***** 3b; and his Apologiam pro Præfatione Censuræ, pages 10, 11: and compare what things TRIGLAND sets in opposition in Antapologia, chapter LIII, pages 669, 670, after Censuram Confessionis Remonstrantium. In a manner not altogether dissimilar, those called Boreelists[3] by our author think that it is not able to be said with certainty what the Fundamental Articles or Errors are, that all Churches are gathered in the Tolerance of God, among whom there is to be a fraternal coming together, until there might be a certainty concerning the necessary parts by the gift of infallibility: that, in the meantime, only the authority of the Scripture is to be believed, and that there is to be a pressing forward in the study of piety: see SPANHEIM’s Disputation III de Articulis Fundamentalibus, § 1, opera, tome 3, column 1296. While impure Mystics, advancing even further, introduce the confusion of all Religions; indeed, they desire a universal Religion to be allowed, in which all sects might be able to be saved, Jews and Pagans equally with Christians, even if nothing concerning Christ be known to them, if only they possess Love. Unto which Universal Syncretism of Religions the Herrnhuters are also inclined, who, on the other hand, condemn as Sodom, Babel, established by the Devil, etc., all sects that adhere to a specific confession of Faith; and admit unto society only those that are devoted to this one:[4] see VOGET’S[5] de Theologia Pseudo-mystica, § XV, page 20, § XXI, pages 26-31; KULENKAMP’S[6] de Enthusiasmo der Hernhutharum, part I, pages 10, 11, 53-60. With respect to the Mystics, add CREMER’S[7] Catenam Euangelicam Ethicam, published in Dutch on 2 Peter 1:6, pages 399, 400, 416, likewise on verse 7, pages 538-540, 543, 547-550, and also on verse 8, part III, pages 33, 34.

[1] See 2 Timothy 2:17.

[2] Mestrius Plutarchus (c. 46-127) was a Greek historian.

[3] The Collegiants were an association of Arminians and Anabaptists, formed in 1619, in the midst of the Arminian conflict in the Netherlands. Adam Boreel, a former Dutch Reformed minister, was a founder of the College at Amsterdam.

[4] In 1722, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf began receiving Protestant refugees from Bohemia and Moravia, and allowing them to settle on his land in eastern Germany and to build the village of Herrnhut. The refugees came from diverse religious and theological backgrounds, and initially there was conflict. Peace was restored as the members of the community committed themselves to a community discipline, emphasizing love over against creed.

[5] Albertus Voget (1695-1771) was a Dutch Reformed Pastor and Theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Groningen (1727-1735), and at Utrecht (1735-1771).

[6] Gerardus Kulenkamp (1700-1775) was a Dutch Reformed minister, serving in Amsterdam. He wrote polemical treatises against the Moravians and the Mennonites.

[7] Bernard Sebastian Cremer (1683-1750) was a Reformed theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Harderwijk (1717-1750).

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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