Power Pentecostalisms

The ‘non-Catholic’ Latin American church is going full steam ahead—but are we on the right track?

The most prominent item in many Latin American churches is a drum set. Many congregations spend over an hour standing and singing (often songs written by church members) before the sermon. Lively worship and other Pentecostal characteristics (speaking in tongues, prophesying, and healing) have become part of most non-Catholic Christian churches in Latin America. Many of these, often called “neo-Pentecostal,” are self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating without any historical connection to classical Pentecostalism.

Despite their similarities, these churches are not unified. Some experts say non-Catholic Christianity in Latin America is best described as “neo-Pentecostalisms”—plural.

Two general interpretations have emerged for the exponential growth of these non-Catholic churches: Some uncritically see this as a movement of the Spirit, bringing people by the hundreds of thousands to the foot of the Cross, making them true sons and daughters of God and of the Reformation. Others see the massive movement in clear continuity with popular Catholic religiosity and indigenous traditions, having nothing to do with Protestantism.

Indeed, the neo-Pentecostalisms may be based on neither Protestant nor Catholic core doctrine, but on a convergence of popular Catholic religiosity with popular Protestant religiosity. In that case, we are likely witnessing a new form of post-, neo-Christianity.

Sounds like an offshoot of Episcopalianism to me.

Angelicans> Methodist> Holiness> Pentecostals?

Only if the “track” leads back to Rome.

However, these excerpts are somewhat amusing:

Some descriptions of neo-Pentecostalism are puzzling. For example, Latin American church historian Arturo Piedra argues that non-Catholic Christianity in Latin America is evangelical and neo-Protestant. But when he details a new movement called “apostles and prophets” in these churches, he says this is a kind of injerto (“grafting”) done by people who have no knowledge of or respect for “the principles of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.”

. . . .

Like Argentine Methodist theologian José Míguez Bonino, Piedra holds that there is a weak historical connection between Latin American Protestantism and the Protestant tradition, as there is little or no emphasis on sola gratia, sola Scriptura, or justification by faith alone. Sadly, the apostles and prophets are not teaching the central message of the gospel, but a gospel of prosperity.

. . . .

The TV channel Enlace (owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network) has become “a true magisterium” beyond denominational beliefs and practices.

And more follows. It’s a good example of the chaos that ensues when historically Catholic peoples cut their moorings from the Church - you get some sort of strange “hybrid,” that seems to be a little bit of everything, where anything goes. That the Protestant theologians and historians quoted in the article seem to be clueless as to why things have gone awry makes the article all the more amusing - they seem to hit on the problem, then seem to call for some kind of “better Protestantism” as a solution.

I’ll close my comment with this quote:

A sound church should aspire to be evangelical, biblical, and historical—and there are such churches in Latin America.

There is such church in Latin America in particular. It has been there since colonial times, and many brave missionaries lost their lives spreading its Word in the remote, tribal, jungle areas. It is called the “Catholic Church.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.