In the midst of the region’s economic and political upheaval, God may be creating nothing less than a new Reformation.
The Pope is concerned. In the aftermath of his second visit to Brazil, his eleventh to Latin America, it is clear that he doesn’t pull people in as he used to. In Brazil—supposedly the most Catholic nation in the world—the usual throngs just did not materialize: for one scheduled event, 500,000 people were expected, but only 100,000 showed up. In contrast, on the morning of the Pope’s arrival, 200,000 evangelicals packed a soccer stadium for a rally sponsored by a local church, underscoring the fact that over a half-million Brazilians are leaving the Catholic church for evangelical churches each year.
A tidal wave of change is sweeping Latin America and transforming the face of an entire continent. Two recent books (David Martin’s Tongues of Fire and David Stoll’s Is Latin America Turning Protestant?) have created a stir by telling the story almost everyone else missed. While the press and religious establishment focused on the drama of liberation theology and its potential to bring the church back to the people, evangelical churches were proliferating at a staggering rate among the poor.
In nearly every nation in the region, the number of Protestants has increased significantly. According to Patrick Johnstone of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, the number of evangelicals has tripled regionwide in the past 25 years and in some countries has even sextupled. Stoll extrapolates from these numbers: “If it triples again over the next 25 years, by 2010 evangelicals will be a third of the population. At that point even slowed growth would soon make Protestants a majority in Latin America.” According to Brazilian ...1
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