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Syncretism

The mixture of various systems of thought; a union of opposites on the basis of what they hold in common. Syncretism is to be distinguished from eclecticism* in that the latter results in a new system, whereas the elements in a syncretizing process still retain their old character. Syncretism can also be thought of as an attempt to distinguish between essential and non- or less-essential elements in a religion or philosophy. More specifically, the name is given to a movement in the Lutheran Church in the seventeenth century led by individuals such as Georg Calixtus* in the direction of interconfessional union coupled with a protest against what was regarded as dogmatic rigidity in Lutheran and Reformed churches. The interconfessional and, sometimes, interfaith emphasis of the modern ecumenical movement bespeaks the strong syncretist current in it.