Evangelism and Apostasy

Evangelism and Apostasy: The Evolution and Impact of Evangelicals in Modern Mexico

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Evangelism and Apostasy
    Book Description:

    Highlighting the demographic, social, and political character of the Evangelical movement in the 1980s and 1990s, Bowen pays particular attention to conversion processes, commitment mechanisms, schisms, and distinctive beliefs. He also considers the controversial issues of religious persecution and American missionary influence.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6584-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    Dramatic, recent, pervasive – these are the qualities frequently attributed to the growth of Protestantism in Latin America today. David Martin subtitles his highly regarded bookTongues of Fire: The Explosion of Protestantism in Latin America.David Stoll asksIs Latin America Turning Protestant?Although any predictions of Catholicism’s demise would still be premature, the growth potential of Protestantism is the theme that underlies the following effort to describe, analyse, and assess the Evangelical or Protestant world in modern-day Mexico.

    Before the nineteenth century the Catholic church throughout Latin America held a carefully guarded monopoly, in law and in fact, tolerating...

  6. 2 Historical Background
    (pp. 23-51)

    The entrance and subsequent evolution of the Evangelical tradition in Mexico was most decisively determined by indigenous forces. Protestantism was, of course, first established elsewhere. American missionaries then came to control the organizational structures of the Evangelical movement for many years. Neither can we ignore the pervasive economic, political, and cultural influence of the United States, which has invaded Mexico on three occasions in the last two centuries and so shapes modern Mexican sensibilities and conditions. Nevertheless, it was political and religious conflicts internal to Mexico that led some to seek a religious alternative to Catholicism. It was the struggles...

  7. 3 Gains and Losses: The Last Twenty Years
    (pp. 52-75)

    Whether one uses the disorganization or the deprivation approach to sectarian growth, Mexico in the 1970s and 1980s appeared to be an ideal breeding-ground for Evangelical advance. Discontent and uprootedness pervaded the lives of an ever greater swath of ordinary Mexicans. Inclinations to religious innovation were then fuelled by the continuing institutional difficulties of the Catholic Church in reaching out, personally and directly, to its ever expanding flock. After outlining this background to modern-day Mexico, I examine the extent of Evangelical growth over the last twenty years by looking at the census and the data I collected in the forty-three...

  8. 4 Conversion and Evangelism
    (pp. 76-101)

    Evangelism and conversion have long been the central preoccupations of Mexican Evangelicals. They take as a fundamental tenet of their faith the biblical injunction to preach the gospel to all nations. This “Great Commission” is one of the reasons they describe themselves as “Evangelicos” or “Gospellers.” The distinctive conversionist orientation of Evangelicals, which is so evident in the high growth potential and baptismal rates outlined in the preceding chapter, is described in the following pages. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to an analysis of who is being drawn to this new faith and why.

    For the moment the...

  9. 5 The Evangelical World-View
    (pp. 102-130)

    In any account of a community one is always confronted with the issue of whether to begin detailed description with its organizational and structural aspects or with its characteristic beliefs, values, and world-view. Current sociological fashion emphasizes the former structural traits on the grounds that political and economic interests are the primary determinants of human behaviour. I see no value in taking a general stand on this issue, but in the specific case of a religious movement, where the primary goal of salvation is so clearly cast in non-material terms, the beliefs and values of Evangelicals are especially important in...

  10. 6 Community Life
    (pp. 131-163)

    The bulk of Mexican Evangelical religious life is enacted in local congregations. Two contradictory aspects of this small world soon became apparent during my research visits. On the one hand there was much evidence of brotherhood and mutual support, but so too were there many signs of lack of co-operation, of schism, and of great resistance to efforts at local, regional, interdenominational, and national co-operation. In exploring why this is so, I pay particular attention to the social background, activities, career needs, and lay expectations of the pastors, who were the leaders of the Evangelical world. Here our concern is...

  11. 7 The Missionaries
    (pp. 164-182)

    The previous chapter’s treatment of Evangelical organization and leadership raised the contentious issue of the degree to which foreign missionaries, above all Americans, control the Evangelical world. Controversy stems from the common Catholic charge that the leadership, energy, and financial support for Evangelical churches comes from abroad. The clear implication is that Evangelical growth would slow and probably reverse if it had to rely exclusively on the energy, leadership, and commitment of Mexican Evangelicals. A recent Catholic denunciation, reported in a prominent national newspaper, claimed that Evangelicals were directly run by the American government, “from which they receive monthly money...

  12. 8 Societal Links: El Mundo
    (pp. 183-216)

    Just as the flesh or worldly pleasures have been seen as sinful and the Spirit or relations with the supernatural as holy, so in the Evangelical world have the confines of church and Christian community been regarded as the right and proper place for believers. The outside world, by contrast, has been seen as Satan’s terrain, tempting, corrupting, and dangerous. From this stems the exclusivist, world-rejecting propensity of Evangelicals. It in turn engenders the charge that they have been politically passive and therefore the unwitting supporters of corrupt, worldly regimes. Yet this is far from the whole story. Evangelicals have...

  13. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 217-230)

    Driven by the “Great Commission,” the themes of evangelism, outreach, and growth have long been the central preoccupation of Mexican Evangelicals. By their own lights, the degree to which they succeed in growing is the essential criterion by which they should be judged. My review in the Introduction of sectarian theorizing and of Evangelicals elsewhere in Latin America touches on a variety of issues, but there too I argue that the long-term significance of Evangelicals hinges on their capacity for sustained growth. Questions about American domination or the political ramifications of Evangelical allegiance deserve our attention, but their implications for...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 231-256)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-266)
  16. Index
    (pp. 267-270)