Smorgasbord: a wide range of something; a variety
New Oxford American Dictionary
Scandinavians are known for their generous hospitality and smorgasbords–buffets ladened with a variety of delicious foods. Christianity in American has become much like one of these smorgasbords–a bit of something meant to please everyone.
The paragraphs below come from my daily devotionals and contain words of warning for us all. While many make resolutions for the New Year which then become quickly discarded, we would be wise to diligently seek out and remove the sin of syncretism from our midst. We teeter on the same cliff’s edge as the northern kingdom of Israel and may endure its fate if we do not change our ways.
The Great Commandment
One of the problems many people have with understanding the history of Israel, the northern kingdom, after its separation from Judah in Rehoboam’s day is their failure to understand Israel’s sin, syncretism. Syncretism means trying to combine things which are alien, such as Christianity and humanism.
Israel never formally renounced the worship of the Lord. In fact, to the last the nation believed that it was a covenant people worshipping God the Lord. In reality, what they had done was to absorb everything from Baalism that appealed to them, so that, in the name of the Lord, they were worshipping a god who was the creation of their imagination. Their idea of serving God was to absorb every religious idea which to them seemed attractive. Because they forgot that man as a sinner finds attractive things which cater to his sin, they failed to see that they were in fact creating a religion in their own fallen image rather than conforming themselves to the Lord. As a result, God sent them into captivity and destroyed the Kingdom. There was more hope for Judah, because Judah was usually either hot or cold, either strong in the faith or openly apostate. Our Lord makes clear His hatred of lukewarmness (Rev. 3:14ff.), and Israel was always lukewarm.
The churches today are very much like old Israel, syncretistic. Too often, we get, not Christianity from the pulpit, but a smorgasbord of assorted religious ideas. All this adds up to the word of man, not the Word of God. “The word of truth” (Ephesians 1:13) cannot be diluted without ceasing to be the truth.
I once met a very pleasant man, whose pleasantness soon began to look suspiciously empty. What does he stand for?” I asked someone who knew him well. The answer was briefly put: “For everything, and for nothing.” That answer sums up what syncretism leads to: it stands for nothing. Our Lord tells us that the first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, with all our being (Matthew 22:36-38). No syncretist can keep that law.
“A Word in Season,” Volume 4, pg. 110-111
Chalcedon/Ross House Books