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It is widely recognized that the majority of Christians in the world today live in the Southern hemisphere. Along with Christianity gaining a new geographical center, theology, too, is moving south. If you are wondering where your pastor will get his ideas in a decade or two, you might look to Latin America, where the non-Catholic church is growing—often without any connection to historical Protestantism. (Eastern Orthodoxy is not included here in the term non-Catholic.) Church historian Andrew Walls calls Latin America a place of "theological ferment." With hardly any Christendom left to speak of, the future of Christianity is wide open for new and unexpected developments.

National and international Christian tv channels, radio stations, and books testify to the numbers. Sociologist Paul Freston found that Protestants in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil, and Chile make up about one-third of the population. The large number of people these churches convert to Christianity leads some analysts to regard Latin American Pentecostalism as having "revolutionary potential" and an immense capacity to bring hope, a new form of democracy, and solutions to many Latin American problems.

But while Latin American evangelicalism is important for the future of democracy, it's not enough to look at the sociology of this burgeoning church. We also need to examine the theology that is moving south. Will a gospel-centered Christianity prevail? The answer gives us cause for both celebration and concern.

Neither Catholic nor Protestant

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 ...

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In the Magazine

August 2009

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