Twenty years ago the churches in Latin America were viewed as playing a major role in resisting military dictatorships and in developing new revolutionary social models. Recently, attention has shifted to the remarkable growth of Latin American Pentecostal churches. In Brazil, Chile, Guatemala and elsewhere, as many Protestants as Catholics may be in church on any given weekend.
For general readers this is the best available book on the Christian response to the Holocaust. It is ideal for use in churches, seminaries, colleges and universities. But if the intended readership is nonspecialist, the contributors are not.
Mexico’s popular culture is Catholic, but its politics and state are secular. Vast majorities demonstrate both immense respect for the Roman Catholic Church and firm opposition to the political involvement of religious leaders or symbols. During the recent presidential campaign, Vicente Fox Quesada raised hackles by waving the flag of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
In the early 16th century, Martin Luther, assisted by enterprising printers unhandicapped by copyright laws, swamped the market with five pamphlets for every one put out by his Catholic opponents. Other Protestant writers poured out their own flood of sermons, treatises, polemics and devotional writings. For more than three decades Protestants dominated the recently invented printing press.
The woman sitting next to me on a five-hour bus ride from Puebla to Oaxaca, Mexico, opened her Bible to the “Segunda Epístola de San Pedro Apóstol”—2 Peter. The “1” of the first chapter was circled and various verses were underlined. This was a well-used Bible. I asked, “¿Es cristiana?” She nodded and immediately asked if I was.
Things seemed to be going smoothly on the ecumenical front at the beginning of the new millennium. Among many church-unity and church-amity signs was the year-ago burying of the hatchet by Catholics and Lutherans over the once-divisive subject of justification by grace through faith. True, the parties left the hatchet-handle partly exposed, since there still is some work ahead.
Two years after Anglican and Roman Catholic priests and theologians said they had reached a common understanding on the Virgin Mary, there’s still something about the Catholic doctrine of Mary that doesn’t sit right with some Anglicans.
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