Philosophical and Theological Responses to Syncretism

Beyond the Mirage of Pure Religion

Theological and Philosophical Responses to Syncretism: Beyond the Mirage of Pure Religion by Patrik Fridlund and Mika Vähäkangas (eds.) starts from the observation that there is a substantial gap between religions’ self-understanding and the empirical results of religious studies concerning religious blending. Even in theology of religion, one often portrays religions as if they were entities fundamentally separate from each other. The aims of this book are to elaborate theologically the consequences of syncretism to Christian faith and of syncretism to philosophy. By creating a critical interchange between theological, philosophical and empirical approaches to religion, this book challenges the conventional views of purity of religions prevailing in theology and philosophy as well as proposes theological and philosophical ways forward.

Contributors are: Jonas Adelin, Stephen Bevans, Gavin d’Costa, Patrik Fridlund, Lotta Gammelin, Elizabeth Harris, Jerker Karlsson, Paul Linjamaa, Kang-San Tan, Mika Vähäkangas.

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Patrik Fridlund, Ph.D. (2007), Lund University, Sweden, is Reader in Philosophy of Religion at Lund University, Sweden. He has published widely on issues related to religious plurality and articles on Derrida and Lévinas. Co-editor of Plural Voices. Intradisciplinary Perspectives on Interreligious Issues (Peeters, 2009).

Mika Vähäkangas, Th.D. (1998), University of Helsinki, Finland, is Professor of Mission Studies and Ecumenics at Lund University, Sweden. He has published widely on African Christianity and mission studies including In Search for Foundations for African Catholicism (Brill, 1999).


1 Syncretism as the Theoretical Foundation of Religious Studies
Jerker Karlsson

2 Gnosticism as Inherently Syncretistic? Identity Constructions Among Ancient Christians and Protestant Apologetes
Paul Linjamaa

3 Responding to Syncretism
Patrik Fridlund

4 Theo-Logical Positions vis-à-vis Syncretism
Mika Vähäkangas

5 Fair or Foul? Contextual Theology, Syncretism and the Criteria for Orthodoxy
Stephen Bevans

6 Assessing Catholic – Buddhist ‘Dual-Belonging’ in the Light of the Catholic Magisterium
Gavin D’Costa

7 Khrist Bhaktas and the Reconstruction of Syncretism
Jonas Adelin Jørgensen

8 ‘We Are In-Between’ – Syncretism and Making Sense of Empirical Data
Lotta Gammelin

9 Is Dual Religious Belonging Syncretistic? An Evangelical and Missiological Perspective
Kang-San Tan

10 Syncretism or Inclusivist Subordination? An Exploration into the Dynamics of Inter-Religious Cooperation
Elizabeth J. Harris