Historiosophical and geosophical aspects of radical expansion of protestantism in latin america


As a result of modem colonization. Clrristianitj has reached all continents. Latin America has become a Catholic continent, while North America lias been more religiously diverse. In the second half of the twentieth CeiiUirj-. Protestantism quickly spread from the Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande, and the number of its followers is constantly growing. Among the Protestant denominations in modem Latin America dominate the most radical evangelical forms, especially pentecostalism. The current stereotype Latino - the Catholic is changing. Protestantism is the fastest growing kind of Cliristianitj today. Religious criteria may be the basis for a new geopolitical regionalization of the world. There are four basic units: Disenchantment Disenchantment World. World of Islam. World of Dliarma and Global South.


Two years ago, 500 years passed from 31.10.1517, in which Martin Luther arrived at the door of the church in Witttemberg 95 also against indulgences. This date is considered a symbolic beginning of the Reformation. In a short time Protestant ideas spread over large parts of Europe. When Christopher Columbus discovered America, western Europe was still a religious unity and recognized the authorities of the pope residing in Rome. A quarter of a century later Protestantism began its march in Europe and soon after on other continents.

Modern colonization carried out by European countries has spread Christianity throughout the whole of the Earth. The symbol of this may be Christopher Columbus's first discovered island in the Bahamas Archipelago of San Salvador in honor of the Savior. The New World (land discovered in early modern times: both Americas and Australia) has been almost completely Christianised. Historically, it was the second great expansion of Christianity after the Christianization of the Mediterranean basin in late antiquity. Islam, which geographically separated Christian Europe and Ethiopia in the early Middle Generation, was itself surrounded by Christianity from the south. The new Christianized lands were essentially according to the dominant religion among colonizers. According to this rule, Latin America has become a Catholic continent, areas of the United States, Canada and the Antilles, depending on the colonizer, place of emigration of settlers and historical circumstances, were dominated by Protestantism, Catholicism, exceptionally by other, not necessarily Christian denominations (eg Judaism religions originating in Asia). It should also be remembered that the areas of the North - East Pacific coast from the Bering Strait to Fort Ross near San Francisco were colonized in the 18th and 19th centuries by representatives of the third branch of Christianity - followers of the Russian Orthodoxy.

The processes that have been taking place since the mid-twentieth century in Latin America have changed this fixed picture of religious spatial order in a direction that nobody has ever expected. Protestantism usually associated with the Nordic countries, the American Cotton Belt or the eastern and northern Lander of Germany quickly spread from Tierra del Fuego to Rio Grande, and the number of its followers is constantly growing. As a result of the progressive protestantization of Latin America, the stereotype of the Latin American - Catholic has collapsed.

European and North American Protestantism - geographical relation

The analysis of the geographic aspect of the great religious change that is currently taking place in Latin America should begin with a reminder of the most important facts about the evolution of Protestantism in North America. In the field of mutual interactions of religion, relations between colonies and metropolises in both parts of America were different.

The first faith of the Europeans they brought to the American continent was Scandinavian paganism. The Vikings at the end of the tenth century reached Greenland, and in the early eleventh century to Newfoundland and other places on the Atlantic coast of North America. In the Ilth century, the Christianization of Iceland and Greenland took place. During the Great Reformation, Iceland adopted Lutheranism, but the Scandinavian population of Greenland died out in the fifteenth century without seeing the revolutionary changes that took place within Western Christianity in the next century. The colonization of the largest island of the world took place in the early 18th century, when for two centuries it had already been a Danish property. It is significant that the apostle of modern Greenland Norwegian Hans Egede in 1721 landed on the island without realizing that the local Vikings died 300 years ago. He was expecting meetings with Catholics who were to be unaware of the changes that took place in Christianity during the Reformation. Thus, the first inhabitants of Greenland in modern times were Protestants.

However, in the area of the contemporary United States and Canada, at the dawn of European colonization, Catholicism overtook Protestantism. Already in 1497, Italian in the British service, John Cabot reached Labrador and Newfoundland, well before the independence of the Anglican church in 1534. In 1512, the Spaniards landed in Florida, which was colonized in the sixties of the sixteenth century, and in 1540 they reached New Mexico. Frenchman Jacques Cartier in 1534 and in the following years circumnavigated Eastern Canada.

After Catholics Protestants came to North America. In 1585, the English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island off the coast of Virginia, but the settlement did not survive, and the settlers were lost. In 1607, Jamestown was also established in contemporary Virginia. In 1620, the Mayflower arrived on the Mayflower desert and settled in Plymouth in what is now Massachusetts in New England, and soon more settlements were established there. Over time, Protestantism in the American areas north and east of the Spanish possessions gained an advantage over Catholicism. Exceptions included areas colonized by the French-speaking population in Canada and Louisiana.

The discovery and colonization of North America were of propaganda significance in Protestant circles. The fact that America was discovered more or less at the same time as the beginning of the reformation of many Protestants was not a coincidence, but a providence consecration. The possibility of settling a new continent was interpreted in the spirit of millenarianism, and thus waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The New World presented itself as a new land on which one could begin a new life and where eschatological dreams would be realized.

Living faith in the millennium among American colonists meant that in America they were expecting the near coming of the Kingdom of God. Traveling along New England in 1614, John Smith called it New Eden, and Maryland reminded a man named George Alsop "earthly paradise". Another traveler named Georgia "Future paradise", which was confirmed by its location on the same latitude as Palestine. For American General Edward Johnson, Massachusetts was the place where "the Lord created a new heaven and a new Earth," (Eliade, 1973: 264-265) and the Boston Puritan John Cotton compared this state to paradise. More than ten years before the outbreak of the American Revolution, later president John Adams wrote: "I have always considered America's colonies as the first step on the road to fulfilling the great plan and project of Providence, regarding the ignorance of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slave part of the genus human on the entire Earth." (Arendt, 1963: 21). Over time, purely religious beliefs have been supplemented with a political element. Messianism no longer referred to a single state or region, but to the whole country. His secularization found expression in the program of Obvious Destiny, the Destiny Manifesto, which initiated the speech of John L. O'Sullivan in 1845 (Merk F., Merkk L.B., 1963: 24-60).

Thus, geographical space played an important role in the creation of millenarian religious visions. There was a specific geographical relation between Protestantism in Europe and North America. The American colonies were a refuge for the followers of radical forms of Protestantism, persecuted on the European continent by the great post-reformation churches associated with the state. North America, especially the United States, was the site of a "second" (radical) reformation. Her "products" - numerous small denominations (in comparison with the big Protestant churches that were created in Europe in the 16th century) - were shaped and consolidated in America, often to return to the Old Continent. As it turns out, Europe was not the only place where the ideas of radical North American Protestantism resounded. In the second half of the twentieth century, they also successfully traveled south to Latin America.

Iberian and Latin American Catholicism

The history of Spain was marked by 1492, which, apart from the date of the fall of Constantinople or the beginning of the Reformation, is considered the conventional end of the Middle Ages. The events that took place then - the demise of the Emirate of Granada, the expulsion of Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Catholicism, and above all the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, strengthened both the Iberian Catholic church and the monarchy.

And yet Spain and Portugal, despite their leading role in the exploration of new lands, remained the most "medieval" part of early modem Europe, in the sense of preservation of the dominant influence of Catholicism on social, political and economic life and the survivals of feudalism. Also the history of Latin America is a story of the ongoing struggle of the spirit of the so-understood "Middle Ages" with the spirit of modem civilization (Molenda, 2010:12). It is significant that, just as Protestantism ended the Middle Ages in Europe, it appears in Latin America in the postmodern period, ending the old era of Ibero-American culture and civilization.

Catholicism that came to America was the Catholicism of the Reconquista and the Inquisition. He came across Protestantism on the European continent and rejected him. Ferdynand II and Izabela I created an inquisition in 1480, which had different purposes than the traditional Inquisition. The medieval inquisition was focused on the fight against heretical movements, such as Walden’s and Katherine, Spanish on the study of the truth of the conversions OfMuslims and Jews. As it turned out, it was also her fight against Protestantism. In 1558, secret Lutheran communities were discovered in Seville and Valladolid, which were brutally abolished. Lutherans were treated in a much more radical way than in the case of morps and marranas, converts, often forced, from Islam and Judaism (Kamen, 2005: 83- 100).

Although the actions of the Inquisition in the Latin American colonies were much milder than in the European metropolis, Protestantism did not develop there on a wider scale. The pressure of the Catholic church and secular power strongly limited the influence of the Reformation, which appeared in the 16th century. Protestantism in Latin America developed in completely different conditions than in North America. His followers for many years were persecuted by the Catholic Church and the Spanish authorities, and later by the authorities of some states that gained independence. The history of Latin American independent states is the history of complicated and changing relations between the Catholic Church and secular power.

Persecution of the Church alternated with periods of peaceful coexistence of power and religion. For example, in Chile, during the liberation struggle and after independence in 1818, the clergy was divided between royalists and supporters of independence. The constitution of 1833 not only granted Catholicism status as a state religion but it forbade the practice of any other religions. The gradual loosening of these restrictions took place from the mid - nineteenth century. In the second half of the twentieth century, during the socialist rule (1970-1973) and the right - wing junta (1973-1990) the attitude of the Chilean Church to the current power was not unambiguous either (Smith, 1982). In the case of Brazil, at the moment of gaining independence in 1822, the rights of religious minorities were confirmed, while maintaining the dominance of Catholicism as a state religion (Lloyd Mecham, 1966: 262- 264). Even more complicated in this respect was the history of Mexico, in which the periods of secularization and persecution of the Catholic Church followed periods of his domination. In general, it can be assumed that periods of hostile relations between Catholicism and secular power favored the development OfProtestant denominations.

Religious differences between North America and Latin America should be analyzed in a broader social, cultural, political and economic context. The feudal system of the Latin American countries was hardly susceptible to rapid social and political changes. The state had a much greater impact on social life and the economy than in the case of the United States and Canada. Typical of the first three centuries of colonial Latin America, the encomienda system under the monarch's supervision was at first similar to slavery, then to serfdom, to give rise to great Iatifundia in its further evolution. It was modeled on the mechanisms of exploitation of the conquered Muslim and Jewish population during the reconquista period, and thus had a medieval origin.

The cultural business model based on tradition, strong family ties and paternalism deviated from its much more liberal counterpart from the North (Gesteland, 2000: 198-199). Often contrasted North American spontaneous, short - lived gold fever remaining under state control, lasting for centuries the exploitation of silver in the Bolivian Potosi. The classics of economic history include the analysis of the problem of the poor development of capitalism in Argentina, although the natural conditions were as favorable there as in the north of the New World (Landes, 2005: 350-377). Even South American reductions, Indian settlements organized by the Jesuit order took other forms than in some respects North American falansters. They were long - term undertakings that were very successful in the civilization of the Indians, as opposed to the ephemeral, financially ending experimental Falanster from the United States, founded by such socialists as Albert Brisbane and Horace Greeley (Caraman, 1976).

The Latin American Catholic church functioned for four centuries in the absence of other Christian competition. He represented practically the only religion, and thus shaped social and cultural attitudes in a monopolistic manner. The idea of tolerance was not known, because it was not needed. In large areas, Catholicism was able to dominate and displace the original religions. The conversion of the Indians from the very beginning of the conquest was massive. In 1531, on the Tepayec hill within the city limits of Mexico City, Our Lady appeared to Aztec Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, which gave birth to the Marian cult in Guadeloupe. As a result of the revelation, the Indians converted en masse, and five million Indians were baptized in five years. It is significant that the revelation took place only 12 years after the appearance of Hernan Cortes in this area (Brading, 2001). The metaphor of tsunami or typhoon, so readily used to describe the contemporary mass conversion of Latin American people to radical Protestantism, can be successfully used to describe the conversion oflndians to Christianity in the sixteenth century.

So, religiously and culturally, Latin America was much more connected to the Catholic and Iberian traditions than to North America. Contrary to appearances, the Protestantisation of this continent does not change this regularity.

Late modernity and geography - a religious revolution in the Antipodes

Between the Tierra del Fuego and the Rio Grande there is a religious change ending the long - lasting Roman Catholicism that began in the 16th century. Radical Protestants (Evangelicals), and especially Pentecostals, are the fastest growing Christian group in the modem world. The dynamics of their quantitative development can be compared only with the development of Islam (Zielinski, 2013).

Today (2017), the list of the first 10 countries in the world in terms of the number of Protestants includes (in brackets the number in millions): 1. The United States (160); 2. Nigeria (60); 3. China (58); 4. Brazil (41); 5. South Africa (37); 6. Great Britain (34); 7. Democratic Republic of the Congo (32); 8. Germany (29); 9. Kenya (24); 10. India (19) (Countries..., 2017). This list includes all continents except Oceania, whose absence is caused by the small population of its constituent states. Nevertheless, both in Australia and New Zealand, Protestant denominations come first in terms of the number of believers. Even such general statistics show that the modem range of this branch of Christianity far exceeds the areas traditionally considered Protestant.

There are 239 million Protestants in the Americas, which is 27.1% of the population of these continents and 40.3% of all Protestants in the world. Protestants also constitute 16.2% of the population of Europe, 18.1% of Africa, 1.6% of Asia and 43.7% of Oceania (Protestantism..., 2017). It is significant that Protestantism "moves" from Europe and North America to other continents. In 1900, the top ten in terms of the number of protestants were 8 European and two North American. As predicted by Patrick Johnstone in 2050, in addition to the United States, these will be African, Asian and South American countries. This group will lack a representative of the cradle OfProtestantism, Europe. Protestants will be more than half of all Christians (Johnstone, 2011: 110).

In 2013 Protestants accounted for over 10% of the population in the following Latin American countries: Honduras (41%), Guatemala (40%), Nicaragua (40%), El Salvador (36%), Brazil (26%), Costa Rica (25%), Dominican Republic (23%), Panama (19%), Venezuela (17%), Chile (17%), Pem (17%), Bolivia (16%), Umguay (15%), Argentina (15%), Ecuador ( 13%), Colombia (13%). The largest percentage of Protestants, therefore, is characterized by populations of Central American countries, but in the case of none of them, their number has not yet exceeded the number of Catholics (Religion..., 2014).

The dynamic development of Latin American Protestantism, and especially radical evangelicalism, has been going on since the turn of the 1940s and 1950s. Ifthis tendency is not reversed or slowed down, in the middle of this century its followers will become the majority of the Romanesque languages of America. The same fate awaits other regions of the south of the Earth, especially Trans-Saharan Africa. Will the aftermath of the Evangelical Revolution be changes in other areas of life (social, economic)? This question raises the problem of the relationship of religion with other forms of human activity, especially economy.

As already mentioned, the new religious spatial order does not emerge as a result of migration or conquest, and even with a small share of missionary movement. Protestant ideas are subject to limited diffusion in these relatively small mobile populations. This is an unusual phenomenon in the globalizing and "shrinking" world today. This situation is - if it can be used - "non - geographic". And yet one can find out here the emergence of a new geographic order. Above all, it should be taken into account that Protestantism, and especially its radical forms, develop on the periphery of European civilization and, at the same time, of the original Protestantism.


The above mentioned role of North America as the religious periphery of the Great Reformation. This continent was a place of escape from persecution and development of radical forms of Protestantism. The role of the periphery in the history of religion is well known. On the periphery there are usually heretical religions, persecuted, for whom the followers do not have a place in the "religious center". Nestorianism, the early - medieval Christological heresy initiated by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius in the fifth century, spread to large areas of Asia as far as China. Russian Old Believers, who did not recognize the liturgical reforms OfPatriarch Nikon in the 1750s, escaped persecution into hard -to - reach regions of Russia and abroad, where they founded their estates. The followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) emigrated to the West of the United States in the direction of present-day Utah in the mid-nineteenth century as a result of pressure from a negatively oriented American society.

However, the peripherality of Latin American Protestantism, as well as African and Asian, is a peripherality of a different kind. It is not the result of an escape from persecution or searching for the perfect place on Earth. It is connected with the processes of postmodernism and globalization. A set of no causes (eg the influence of missionaries from the United States, inculturation, attractiveness for marginal groups) cannot fully explain it. The evolution of society is accompanied by the evolution of Christianity, it is difficult to determine what is the cause and what results. Latin America is at a certain stage of economic development and at some stage of the demographic transition. Demand for Protestantism stems from the historical and geographical place in which it found itself. Radical Protestantism turned out to be the religion best suited to the new historical circumstances. Thus, it wins "market competition" also on the macro scale, the entire continent.



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Year: 2019
Category: Biology