Religious syncretism is usually seen as the intermingling of two religious systems to the extent that the uniqueness of a specific religion is compromised. It is thus understood as missiologically negative. This article attemps to view this from another - and more positive - angle. Here we show how the process of inculturation, the "incarnation" of the gospel within a culture is not much different from the process we term "positive syncretism". It is also possible that the process could veer off in a negative direction. This process therefore remains a formidable challenge to mission in the sense that while there are always new cultural worlds to be penetrated by the gospel, the process cannot be controlled by any "outsiders". This theory is applied and tested by looking at the phenomenon of African Independent Churches, and a simple two-dimensional model is developed as illustration of a typology.