16 July 2009

Synchroblog on Syncretism

There is a synchroblog on syncretism this month. Syncretism is mixing up two (or more) religions to make another religion that is different from those that went to make it up. It is not quite the same as borrowing elements from other religions, and nor is it quite the same as what the Russians call dvoeverie -- practising two or more religions side-by-side. But actually the synchroblog posts deal with all three.

You may find the posts here:

And then there is this post The Deacon's Bench: Buying into the "Prosperity Gospel", which seems not unrelated.


James Higham said...

Too theological for me, this one.

Yewtree said...

Interesting. I did a whole essay on this for my MA course, and identified four possible modes of practising more than one religion (naturally I cited your 2003 article about inculturation).

* Dvoeverie
* Syncretism
* Inculturation
* Coinherence

Coinherence is where two religions that both make sense to the practitioner are followed side-by-side. In the case of Corless and other Christo-Buddhists, this seems to be because of the similarity of the two faiths. Corless holds the two traditions in a creative tension, an internal dialogue. This may sound superficially similar to dvoeverie, but in dvoeverie there is said to be little or no interaction between the two faiths in the mind of the practitioner, whereas in coinherence practice, the two are held in dialogue.

Steve Hayes said...


Good point, and a useful distinction -- thanks.

bigbluemeanie said...

I have been thinking about this for the past week and was wondering if Christianity, at least at around 30 CE, can be classified as a Syncretic belief?

A community of Jews who started practising a divergent set of beliefs...

Steve Hayes said...


I don't think so. Both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism developed from Second-Temple Judaism, so they were two religions diverging from one, whereas syncretism is two different religions that were different to start with merging into one.

A better example of syncretism might be Afro-Caribbean religions, where people taken as slaves from differnt parts of Africa merged their own beliefs with each other and, in some cases, with Christianity.


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