McDonagh, like Boff
, is critical of the church's slow embrace of environmental issues and notes that the church, like the major financial institutions, is going to have to learn to live within ecological limits and promote sustainable rather than inequitable religious, economic and political systems.
A basic premise for the inculturation of the faith in a religious system involves the much-discussed distinction between faith and religion, as it was proclaimed and upheld by Karl Barth, by Paul Tillich, and later by liberationist theologians, especially Leonardo Boff.
Leonardo Boff, in his controversial Church: Charism and Power, has adopted the position that syncretism is an authentically human phenomenon, and is potentially an incarnational reality symbolizing "the catholicity of Catholicism.
Boff is far from uncritical of naive syncretistic practices.
Echoing Harnack, whom he cites in a footnote but with whom he differs on the point, Boff understands Christianity as one huge syncretism.
Boff shows an appreciation of the tension between Catholic and Protestant thinkers: the belief in divine transcendence on the Protestant side, and the more Catholic concern to render the divine present.
I suggest that Boff s criteria for discernment of legitimate syncretism should serve as provisional criteria for facilitating the insertion of the gospel within cultural systems.
Boff is cautious in stating what essential Christianity is: certainly it is a way of life grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, in whose life God is active as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
From this discussion, Boff emerges with four fundamental criteria for true syncretism: (1) Scripture, which already presents a purification within Judaism and primitive Christianity; (2) Christian praxis supported by the traditions of the universal Church; (3) the decisions of episcopal synods; and (4) "the tradition of the prophets and of Jesus in the defense of human freedom and spontaneity in the cultural universe.