Truth for Today

More Truth for Today articles from past issues of the Presbyterian Standard are available online here.

Old Truths for a New Age (5)

Rev. Brian Garrard

Continued from the previous issue. A significant feature of the New Age movement is the development of religious syncretism. As Christians we need to be aware of this for it is a clear challenge to the uniqueness of the gospel we believe and preach. Here Mr Garrard describes syncretism.

First published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue 24, October-December 2001.

One World?

HIGH on the agenda of the New Age is one global world order achieved by having a world government, aided and abetted by syncretism. By this we mean the unity of all religions under one head and spiritual leader.

"Imagine" sang John Lennon, "No religion..."

This encapsulates New Age thinking at this point. It was surely well planned that the United Nations funded the simultaneous playing of his song on thousands of radio stations at the anniversary of his death.(1)

The pressure is on to remove the sovereign right of nations to exist. What is meant by a state that is said to be independent and sovereign? One writer has put it this way: "a nation is independent when it is self-governing. Those nations which are self-governing and operating a multi-party parliamentary democracy can be described as being independent, and their citizens are free. To these states, the adjective 'sovereign' can be applied."(2)

God has made the nations and he alone gives them sovereignty. There is no greater judgement inflicted upon a country than to lose its sovereign power. To Nebuchadnezzar of old the divine voice proclaimed: "Thy kingdom is departed from thee" (Dan. 4:31). There is also a great emphasis upon ecumenism, with its desire to see the unity of all 'christian' churches. This movement now appears to be increasingly swallowed up by the Inter-Faith movement as the New Age enters the church.(3) This mix of all religions, including christianity, can be called Pluralism, but it is probably more accurate to talk in terms of Syncretism, where attempts are made to combine and harmonise christianity with non-christian ideas. Arnold Toynbee believed (rightly in our view) that a mark of culture's last stage was not decay but rather syncretism. This can be seen all too well in the history of Israel. When she turned to the gods of the heathen nations around her and mixed such adoration with the worship of God, she was punished with terrible judgements.

For all its talk of toleration, the New Age Inter-Faith movement is not prepared to co-exist with biblical Christianity. Perhaps a time is coming when true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be called upon to make great sacrifices for their faith.

Syncretism is no Solution to the World's Problems

Indeed, it is our contention that the different world religions, humanism and apostate christianity, have been largely the cause of the dilemma facing the planet. If this seems to be a harsh indictment remember a few points:

1. We are faced with a rejection of the true God (as revealed in Scripture). The New Age insists that God is the world, creation and ourselves.

2. The insistence that Christ and the Holy Spirit are not definite Persons but in reality the world and human beings. Again, all this flies in the face of divine revelation.

3. The rejection of all God-given external authority. Every man doing what is right in his or her own eyes and thus refusing to acknowledge that God's Law has any claim upon them.

4. The denial of the existence of sin, therefore man is not regarded as responsible for sin and so is 'let off the hook'.

5. The rejection of the Bible's account of creation and the acceptance of evolution. The results of such belief are all around us. The most disturbing aspect to all this is the scorn and ridicule that is heaped upon 'creationists' by the professing church!

6. The refusal to take God's remedy for sin (the Lord Jesus Christ) and the attempt to arrogantly save ourselves.

7. The removal of much (if not all) of God's revealed truth as found in the Bible and the replacement in many cases with so-called 'truth' of our own devising.

8. Turning away from the world view and world order that God sets out in his Scriptures of Truth.

9. Despising the so-called 'protestant work ethic'. "Work and labour of themselves are never held to be evil, but rather are thought of as man's natural occupation in the world. Even in the state of innocency man as the apex of creation, the representative of all creation before God (Genesis 2:15ff), was given work to perform as part of his normal existence. This is contrary to much modern thinking which adopts the attitude that man should avoid work as something evil and to be avoided if it is at all possible."(4)

10. Fatalism, mixed with a belief in re-incarnation which often prevents true endeavour and progress. The Apostle Paul summed up our present situation very well in Romans chapter 1. In verse 21 he speaks about the world becoming "vain in their imaginations" and their foolish hearts being darkened. He continues (v.22): "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." The result is seen in verses 24, 26 and 28. Twice we read: "God gave them up" and then (v.28) "God gave them over...." He left them to sin and to become blinded to himself and his truth. This is a serious matter, for if God dealt with the world in Paul's day on such a basis, what of today? If God should give over modern society to sin and it's own folly, we are in a terrible predicament. May it please the Lord of heaven not to turn his back upon us and be silent, but to come again and have mercy!

Syncretism can never save the World from its Problems

The world's problems are due to sin, and sin, if not treated aright, is a terminal condition.

Imagine someone desperately sick and surrounded by various people who all have different remedies. After a while, confusion abounds and the patient dies. Here is a clear picture of our present state. The world is sick and none of the remedies are doing any lasting good, but making a bad situation worse.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about syncretism is the mix of good and bad, truth and error. A little arsenic in the food may have little effect in the short-term, but after a while it builds up in the body and the results are deadly. The soul is a vulnerable part of the human frame. It does not take long for error to corrupt and destroy this fragile and immortal substance inside us.

Syncretism can never provide a Saviour from Sin

In fact, syncretism only confuses matters by presenting us with other saviours or even denying the existence of sin as understood in the Scriptures. In this case, no saviour is needed and we are able to deliver ourselves from present problems.

In total contrast to all this reasoning, God has constituted his beloved Son as the only Saviour of men. "This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:11,12).

When the apostles began preaching the gospel, it was in a world completely opposed to the message of salvation. Their preaching was unequivocal and many of the believers paid with their lives. Yet we are called to proclaim the same exclusive message as they. 'Inclusivism' must have no part in our message or methods. Even so, there will be a price to be paid.


1. Nations come and go in the providence of God. We know not what will become of the countries in Europe as well as our own. The future is in God's hands.

2. This we do know: the church of God goes on forever and nothing will destroy her for God himself dwells with his people.

3. All the same, it is no time to slumber. We must maintain an uncompromised and distinctive gospel testimony.

4. Where there have been defections, believers and churches must return to biblical Christianity.

5. Let God's people continue to pray, witness to their Lord and go on serving him.

6. Take fresh heart. The Lord has overcome his foes and the ultimate victory belongs to him.

(To be continued, D.V.)


1. Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back, p.10, Note 1.

2. Adrian Hilton, The Principality and Power of Europe, Dorchester House Publications, p.58.

3. See: The Inter-Faith Movement by Herbert J Pollitt, Banner of Truth Trust. Chapter five is particularly revealing, as well as disturbing.

4. W. Stanford Reid in Baker's Dictionary of Theology, 1979 edition. See the entry under 'Work'.