Syncretism at the Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne
The Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne has recently installed an artwork promoting a permanent Welcome to Country. But rather than contain the prescribed words commonly said at Australian community events, the six panels depict the pantheistic creation stories of the Kulin people. What’s more, they are strategically placed so that worshippers are confronted with its message immediately upon their entry into the building.
Significantly, according to the ABC: “The panels also include an image of the wedge-tailed eagle Bundjil, the creator spirit for the Kulin people.” Andreas Loewe, the Dean of Melbourne’s Anglican cathedral went on to further emphasise, “It’s [Bundjil] able to speak and talk and interact and exchange”.
All of which means that the Bundjil spirit of the Kulin people is seen as a continuing spiritual entity. For a fuller explanation, as to what this First Nation’s creation story means, see the following amateur video.
Most conservative Christians will immediately understand the theological problem with the above art installation—especially in an Anglican Cathedral—promoting Aboriginal pantheism alongside Biblical spirituality. The Bible proclaims an exclusive message that not only is Jesus is the only way to God (i.e. John 14:6; Acts 4:12) but that all other religious beliefs and practices are forms of idolatry (Romans 1:18-25).
Ezekiel 8-10 in particular, is a powerful example as to how the LORD views the worship of idols, especially when it is presented within His temple (i.e. place of worship). It explicitly provokes Him to jealousy (Ezek. 8:3), and results not only in judgment upon His people (Ezek. 9) but also the departure of the Glory of His presence (Ezek. 10).
While the New Testament declares that there are no longer any special buildings or places from which we should worship God (John 4:21-24), the practice of idolatry is still expressing forbidden and we are warned will result in God’s wrath (e.g. Colossians 3:5-6). In particular, we are clearly warned to not go back to the “elemental spiritual forces” (Greek, stoicheia) of this world, for we have been given fullness in Christ (i.e. Col. 3:8-10).
First Nation’s religion is clearly panentheistic and thus, antithetical to Christian spirituality. The Bible reveals LORD God has being distinct from what He has made. What’s more, it also unambiguously declares that He alone made and sustains it (i.e. Hebrews 1:1-3).
Recent events at the Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne though, show the inherent danger of adopting indigenous protocols which inherently competes with the truth of the Gospel. And as such, such syncretistic practices should have no place.
– Mark Powell