WILTON M. NELSON

Modern church history offers no more dramatic upsurge of evangelical forces than the phenomenal growth of the Protestant community in Latin America. Already it has passed the ten million mark, with 90 per cent of this growth within the last thirty-five years.

This is the picture gleaned from three recent publications dealing with the subject: C. W. Taylor and W. T. Coggins, Protestant Missions in Latin America, A Statistical Survey, Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, Washington, 1961 (see “Books in Review”); H. W. Coxill and K. Grubb, World Christian Handbook, 1962 Edition, World Dominion Press, London, 1962; and W. S. Rycroft and M. M. Clemmer, A Statistical Study of Latin America, Office of Research of the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations of the United Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., New York, 1961.

At far as we know, in 1800 there was not a single Protestant or evangelical—the two terms are used almost synonymously—in the lands south of the Rio Grande. This part of the world had been colonized by nations, particularly Spain, which were the worst enemies of the Protestant Reformation. King Philip II of Spain in 1569 established the “Holy Inquisition” to crush and to keep out “heresy.” His morbid fear and hatred of Protestantism provoked him to extend this hideous and blighting institution into the New World in a network of tribunals and subsidiary courts.

During the first decades of the nineteenth century the colonials threw off the Spanish-Portuguese political yoke, thereby removing the main obstacle for the entrance of non-Roman Christianity. Protestants were painfully slow in taking advantage of the new situation, however. At first only the Bible societies seemed to sense the need; they ...

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