Combating Syncretism (Acts 4:12)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, ESV)

The first time I confronted this, I was a church planter and pastor in Savannah Georgia. A person came to our worship service and afterwards told me that she was a Buddhist Christian. For her it was more than just holding to some Buddhist philosophies. It was that good Buddhists should be able to be saved, just as any devout religious person, regardless of the religion in which they chose to participate. This type of view comes under the title of religious syncretism.

There is a growing movement in the world towards this religious syncretism. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile or unite different or opposing principles, practices, or parties. This has manifested itself in a belief that all religions provide a way to salvation. This would include such religions as Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, and yes Christianity. Unfortunately, even some professing Christians and so-called Christian organizations are sliding down this slippery slope.

The Bible is absolutely clear on this. There is only one way of salvation. Peter declared it, “there is salvation in no one else.” Jesus is the only way to the Father. Jesus declared this same truth.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6, AV)

No man means, no man. No one comes to the Father, none is saved, apart from Jesus. The Scriptures are clear. It is by faith in Christ alone that one is justified before God.

What do we do about the growing trends towards religious syncretism? First, we must educate those who claim to be Christians, but lean towards this heretical view. Christians cannot hold to views that all religions are a means to salvation for there is only one Savior who paid the penalty of men’s sin and offers salvation by grace.

Second, we must not work cooperatively with religious groups who do not hold to the basic orthodox tenets of the Christian faith. Since the ultimate goal of ministry is to glorify God and fulfill the Great Commission, participation with these groups compromises the message and provides a confusing message to other Christians and unbelievers alike.

Yes, these steps are strong, but I can find no indication in the Bible that we should move towards syncretism. I can find no examples of such by the biblical church in the New Testament. The message of the New Testament is very clear. Jesus is the only God and Savior.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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