Chapter 5: Between Pentecostalism and the Crisis of Denominationalism, by Paul Freston

In the Power of the Spirit
by Dennis A. Smith and B.F. Gutierrez (eds.)

Chapter 5: Between Pentecostalism and the Crisis of Denominationalism, by Paul Freston

Paul Feston is a graduate in Latin American studies from Cambridge University and received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Campinas. He is a researcher and author of numerous books and articles in English and Portuguese in the sociology of religion, among them his doctoral thesis: Protestantes e Política no Brasil: Da Constituinte ao Impeachment. After residing in Brazil for 19 years, Dr. Freston has recently (1996) returned to Cambridge for two years as a visiting professor. This document first appeared in THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT, Edited by Benjamin F. Gutierrez & Dennis A. Smith, published in 1996 by PC(USA)WMD AIPRAL/CELEP, pp. 195-211.

Pentecostals and historic Protestants: the global picture

Studies of Protestantism in Latin America generally make a basic distinction between Pentecostals and historic Protestants, the latter being non-Pentecostals in churches of immigrant (Lutheran) or missionary (Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist) origin. The nomenclature makes less and less sense as time goes by; while younger than their historic brethren, the Pentecostals have been installed in Latin America since 1909. At first, the going was hard. Signs of rapid growth in parts of the region (Chile and Brazil) only date from the 1950s. But by the 1980s there was almost generalized growth, as well as a new relationship to public life in a few countries (notably Guatemala, Brazil and Peru). It is now possible to talk of a region-wide phenomenon, "Pentecostalism in Latin America."

The precarious statistics available give an idea of its importance. Protestants (historics and Pentecostals) now constitute about 10% of the Latin American population, or some 45 to 50 million people. Brazil, about 15% Protestant, leads the way in absolute numbers (25 million). Chile, the other long-standing mass Protestantism in the region, is somewhat higher in percentage terms; Guatemala and El Salvador may now be higher still. Pentecostals make up at least 60% of all Latin American Protestants (being a much higher percentage in Chile, and much lower in the Andean countries).

Some comparative data give an idea of the relative importance of Latin American Protestantism. Brazil now has the second largest community of practicing Protestants in the world, behind only the United States. One Brazilian denomination alone (the Assemblies of God) has more members than all the Christian churches in Great Britain put together. Only some peripheral regions of Europe (Scotland, Northern Ireland, Western Norway) have a higher percentage attendance at Protestant churches than Brazil.

Protestant growth rates seem to be accelerating in Brazil and Chile, although they may have peaked in Central America. Not surprisingly, Pentecostalism has now replaced the Catholic Base Ecclesial Communities (CEBs) as the academically fashionable subject of research in the sociology of Latin American religion. A survey carried out in Greater Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (Fernandes 1992) discovered that an average of one new Protestant church was registered per weekday. The number of Protestant places of worship now exceeds that of Catholics in the city as a whole; in the very poorest districts, the ratio rises to almost seven to one. The survey concludes that Protestantism is an "option of the poor," in a reference to the less successful Catholic "option for the poor." The needier the district, the higher the percentage of Protestants: according to a 1988 survey, nearly 20% in the poorest areas of Greater Rio versus 6% in the rich South Zone.

The Rio survey also found that 61% of Protestant churches are Pentecostal, a percentage which increases daily: 91% of new churches registered are Pentecostal. Of the 52 largest denominations in Greater Rio, 37 are of Brazilian origin, virtually all Pentecostal. We can thus conclude that Protestant (and especially Pentecostal) religion is a national, popular and rapidly growing phenomenon.

Towards a History of Brazilian Pentecostalism

Although the study of this vast Brazilian Pentecostal community has advanced rapidly in recent years, little attention has been paid to its overall historical development. This may betray an unconscious belittling: since the Pentecostals are not historic Protestants, they must have no history worth studying! In fact, they have had a dynamic relationship to Brazilian society and culture in their more than 80 years of existence.

One can characterize the history of the main Brazilian Pentecostal churches in terms of three "waves" of institutional creation (Freston 1994a, 1994b, 1994c and 1995a). The first wave dates from the 1910s, when the Christian Congregation and the Assemblies of God arrived. This wave corresponds to the Pentecostal movement's origin in the Los Angeles revival of 1906 and its rapid international expansion by means of American missionaries in contact with events at home (as in Chile), and the many immigrants in the USA in contact with their homelands (like the Swedes who founded the Brazilian Assemblies of God) and with countrymen elsewhere (such as the Italian who founded the Christian Congregation among Italians in São Paulo). The initial reception, however, was limited.

The second wave corresponds to the beginnings of rapid growth in the 1950s. Urbanization and mass society, especially in São Paulo, facilitated new forms of Pentecostalism. New churches used enterprising methods, galvanizing Pentecostalism's relationship to society. The Foursquare Gospel Church imported a new model from California, the birthplace of modern mass media: the use of circus tents to take the message outside the churches; emphasis on divine healing; a relaxation of behavioral taboos and greater adaptation to the sensitivities of consumer society. But the Foursquare Gospel Church was soon overtaken by an innovative nationalist version, the Evangelical Pentecostal Church "Brazil for Christ," which took the Pentecostal message into secular spaces such as cinemas and stadiums, besides making the first large-scale use of radio and even a short-lived incursion into television.

The third wave started after the authoritarian modernization of the country by the military regime. The now overwhelmingly urban population was feeling the effects of the waning of the "economic miracle," and nowhere more so than in the former capital, Rio de Janeiro, beset by violence and economic decadence. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (now the fastest-growing, most politically powerful, and most controversial Protestant church in the country) and similar smaller groups, often referred to as "neo-Pentecostal," once again updated Pentecostalism's relationship to Brazilian society.

The concept of waves emphasizes Pentecostalism's versatility in theology, liturgy and ethics. Although older groups can and do evolve over time, newer ones are freer to innovate, both by adaptation to recent changes in society and culture and by greater boldness in delving into the country's religious tradition in a search for more efficient communication. The latter practice can be regarded positively as "contextualization" or negatively as "syncretism" (a common Protestant accusation against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God); in any case, the Universal Church's success has a lot to do with its capacity to build effective bridges linking it both to what is most traditional and religious and to what is most modern and secular in Brazilian culture.

Pentecostalism and the Mass Media

Brazil would seem to be the world's second largest producer of evangelical television programs. Several characteristics of its Protestant community help to account for this: the doctrinal emphasis (more favorable to the use of impersonal means of communication than sacramental traditions); the evangelistic imperative; and the impulse towards alternative socialization, creating a range of cultural activities parallel to those of the larger society. Entry into the media is facilitated by the relatively open and market-oriented media system in Brazil, by the high rate of national production of television programs in general, and by the breach between the secular culture industry and the Catholic Church.

Radio still dominates Protestant use of the media in Brazil. Several Pentecostal churches of the second and third waves have made it a central part of their strategy. Other Pentecostal churches and some historic ones have used it moderately. The use of television is more limited but still important. There have been two main experiences of Protestant ownership of channels. The current president of the Brazilian Baptist Convention had a short-lived and unsuccessful experience in the 1980s; and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has, since 1989, owned the fifth- largest network in the country, "TV Record."

Large-scale Protestant use of television dates from the late 1970s, when the medium already reached the vast majority of the population. In the 1980s, it followed the same course as Brazilian television in general: nationalization of the programs. By the early 1990s, foreign evangelical programs had disappeared. Although Pat Robertson had returned by the mid-1990s, Brazilian evangelical television remained overwhelmingly national. It was also heavily Pentecostal: about three quarters of the 25 or so programs aired weekly in Rio or São Paulo are Pentecostal. Pentecostals alone make more use of television than all the other religions put together. While definitely not the most technically developed segment of national television, the Pentecostals are certainly the poorest sector of the population to produce their own programs.

The contribution of the evangelical mass media to rapid church growth in Brazil is uncertain. In the United States, televangelism is a reflection more than a cause of a large evangelical community. In Brazil, the Protestant media may be somewhat more efficacious evangelistically; but they also, and primarily, have important internal functions, fortifying the self-image of an expanding minority, structuring the Protestant (and especially Pentecostal) field and providing a way into politics.

Pentecostal Politics

Pentecostals were virtually absent from electoral and parliamentary politics until after Brazil's return to democracy in 1985. Since then, several leading Pentecostal churches have elected official candidates to congress. About 40 members of Pentecostal churches have held seats in congress in the last few years. The majority of these have been official candidates of the Assemblies of God and of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Most Pentecostal and some historic Protestant congressmen have had links with the electronic media, either as presenters of programs or as owners of stations. In the 1994 elections, the federal deputy with by far the largest vote in the state of Rio de Janeiro was the owner of evangelical radio stations. He himself has a very nebulous relationship with the churches (he seems in fact to have invented an ecclesiastical affiliation for himself), but his media power has enabled him to make alliances with many pastors and become famous in the vast Pentecostal community.

Official candidates of Pentecostal churches are typically one or more of the following: men who have achieved prominence in the church as itinerant evangelists, singers, or media presenters; sons and sons-in-law of head pastors; and Pentecostal businessmen who reach accords with their ecclesiastical leaders.

We cannot go into detail here regarding the reasons for the politicization of Pentecostalism in Brazil (see Freston 1993 and 1994d). Suffice it to say that the main beneficiaries of this corporate politics have been the church leaders themselves. The upward social mobility of their families has been furthered, their public status advanced, their ecclesiastical positions strengthened and their projects financed. Unlike the historic churches, with their traditions, middle-class clientele and professional and bureaucratic standards, the Pentecostal field is, by comparison, young, fast-expanding, popular and sectarian. (When in italics, sect/sectarian and denomination always bear their non-pejorative, sociology-of-religion meaning. As an ideal type, denomination signifies a body that sees itself as one among many expressions of the true church. The sect rejects the dominant religion and preaches voluntary affiliation and independence from the state; leadership is established by charismatic criteria, with little or no formal training; the faithful generally come from the lower classes, and are expected to show a high level of group participation and theological consensus; their lives are rigorously controlled by the leaders, who expect separation from the "world." Primitive Christianity was sectarian). Pentecostal pastors often suffer from a double status contradiction: as holders of a de facto power which is not legitimated by sectarian ideology (which tends to be egalitarian and anti-clerical); and as leaders in the church but marginalized by society (Wilson 1959). These contradictions are not new, but they become more acute as Pentecostalism grows. More importantly, it becomes possible to attenuate them. Going into politics, or sending in a relative or protegé, can reduce tensions and help professionalize one's religious field. The public connection helps internal structuring, strengthening positions and organizations. Politics also helps access to the media, another powerful way of establishing leadership in the evangelical world.

Like all sects which are not geographically isolated, Pentecostals oscillate between their own status system and society's. Although "despising the world," they often accept "worldly" opinions about themselves when favorable. That is why many Pentecostal leaders value so highly the freedom of the city and other symbolic honors to their persons and activities. But politics also gives access to more concrete resources which help to structure this vast popular religious field whose rapid expansion is always producing new leaders anxious to strengthen their positions.

Protestant and especially Pentecostal politicians have acquired a reputation for conservatism, moralism, time-serving, and (in some cases) corruption. In all the scandals which have rocked Brazilian politics in recent years, Protestants have been involved: not only politicians but also denominational leaders, charities and organizations claiming to speak in the name of all evangelicals. This political activity, together with the money-raising activities of the newer churches, has badly damaged the public image of the Protestant community.

On the other hand, at the micro level, there has been a more positive re-evaluation of the cultural effects of the Pentecostal phenomenon by sociologists and social analysts. After a phase in which analyses were dominated by former Protestant or liberal Protestant academics who emphasized its alienating character, a new generation of non-Protestant scholars has nuanced the picture. Now, for the anthropologist John Burdick (1993), Pentecostalism's supposed "alienation" is precisely the source of effective changes because it creates transformative communities that break with normal social identities. It therefore has greater appeal than the CEBs for the poorest of the poor, for women, for young people and for blacks. For the anthropologist Elizabeth Brusco (1993), evangelical religion confronts machismo more effectively than feminism does. Despite its patriarchal rhetoric, it resocializes men away from the destructive patterns of machismo and redefines male aspirations to coincide with their wives'. For another anthropologist, Luiz Eduardo Soares (1993), Pentecostalism represents the emergence of a new egalitarian society. In its "aggressive" posture towards popular spiritism, it rejects the complacent tolerance typical of the traditional hierarchical social order. "It is the purified religious language of warring Pentecostalism which is making our modernizing revolution."

Political scientist Aspásia Camargo says that evangelical religion points to the birth of a true civil society in Brazil (Folha de São Paulo, 1/ 27/95). Rubem César Fernandes, a prominent anthropologist of religion, says the evangelicals are currently the movement which speaks of a radical change of life in the most convincing way. In an interview in the main Brazilian news magazine in 1994, an influential leader of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) was asked whether there was anything vibrant in the shanties except drug-dealing and violence. The evangelicals, he replied. In modern Rio, they are the alternative to the drug-traffic, the main resistance movement in terms of the forging of identity, values and respect for the force of the community. "It is time we stopped viewing the pastors in jacket and tie who go and preach the Bible in public squares as depoliticized imbeciles" (Veja, 26/10/94). Or as the well-known author of a book on Rio says: "More than the police, the courts, the Catholic Church, the family or the schools, [the evangelicals] are the counterculture to drugs....Who knows, they may be doing beforehand what the Roman church did too late, after the empire had fallen: the conversion of the barbarians" (Ventura). 1994).

The Situation of the Historic Churches in Brazil

Pentecostals are now (1995) probably about two-thirds of all Protestants in Brazil, but this numerical predominance is recent. The only census figures which distinguish between "traditional" (i.e., historic) and "Pentecostal" Protestants are from 1980 (the religious results of the 1991 census are still not available). In that year, historicals (51%) were still just ahead of Pentecostals; due to differences in age structure, the historical advantage (54.4%) was greater among the adult population. An important factor in this was the (largely nominal) Lutheran population in the South, the state of Espirito Santo, and parts of the new agricultural frontier in the North-west. Rondonia is the most Protestant state in the country, being the only case where the two types of Brazilian popular Protestantism (Lutheran and Pentecostal) coincide geographically. Non-immigrant historicals are strongest where Baptists and/or Presbyterians managed to create a weak form of popular Protestantism. Such is the case in the border region between Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, where many towns were founded by Presbyterians. Even today, the region (due to economic stagnation and the church's educational institutions) is a source of pastoral vocations for the Presbyterian Church of Brazil.

Historic Protestantism in Latin America, says David Martin (1990:230), "provided a vehicle of autonomy and advancement for some sections of the middle class, conspicuously so in Brazil . . .This Protestant seed came with its flowerpot - 'the world view, the ethos and the ideology of the . . . expanding capitalist countries'. . . .The whole Protestant style remained remote from the largely illiterate millions." Sociologically, the historic churches are denominations, with all the usual implications of greater individual freedom, weaker community life, and less ascetic rigor, in comparison with the Pentecostal sects. From the 1960s, Pentecostalizing ("charismatic") schisms arise in all the historic churches. But rather than the descent of the historic churches to the Brazilian masses, these represent the ascent and adaptation of Pentecostal phenomena to new social levels.

Historic Protestantism arrived in Brazil in the mid-nineteenth century, along with other foreign currents such as Kardecist spiritism and Comtist positivism. The latter currents were transformed in Brazil into mystical religions. Protestantism also found its mystical version, Pentecostalism, but only 50 years later and by means of separate institutions. Of all the imported currents of the period, Protestantism was the exception to the rule, in that it was introduced (and, in its initial development, controlled) by foreigners. It could have been different.

Protestantism could have entered Brazil as it had entered Northern Europe, by means of a reformation of the national church. There were Jansenist and royalist tendencies among the clergy favorable to such a move; in the 1830s, several attempts were made in Parliament to separate the Brazilian church from Rome. The first Protestant "project" for Brazil (by American Methodists in the 1830s and 1840s) was a national reformation, in which the political desire for a breach with Rome would be supplemented by a reform of doctrine and practice stimulated by ample distribution of the Scriptures.

A second possibility was that Protestantism would enter Brazil as spiritism and positivism did: in the "baggage" of Brazilians returning from abroad who would then spread it autonomously. The problem was that intellectual contacts were much stronger with France than with the Protestant countries. A third possibility was that missionaries would limit themselves to founding autonomous congregations of new converts. The first Brazilian ordained to the Protestant (Presbyterian) ministry, the former priest, José Manoel da Conceição, seems to have dreamed of this possibility. "He did not desire the establishment of a transplanted Protestant church but a movement of reformation.. . which would lead to the creation of a Brazilian evangelical Christianity rooted in popular tradition and habits" (Ribeiro 1979:206). We can speculate that Conceição, once disabused of the idea of reforming the national church, would have supported this solution, leaving an indelible mark on nascent Brazilian Protestantism (greater understanding of popular religiosity; Franciscan simplicity of life free of bourgeois tendencies; a mystical spirituality closer to the Latin heritage).

What happened, of course, was the transplanting of foreign denominations, or more specifically an insertion of the "American pattern" of religious organization into a Brazil still marked by the traditional "Latin pattern." According to Martin (1978), the "American pattern" is of generalized denominationalism, with no established church but an almost unlimited pluralism associated with a popular and almost universal religious culture. Religion itself is not seen as politically problematic. In the "Latin pattern," on the other hand, religion is monolithic and allied to the state, making it politically problematic.

This "American pattern" of exuberant Protestant denominationalism, separate from the state but forming almost a cultural establishment, was brought to Brazil specifically by sectors marked by two recent historical experiences: the colonization of the American frontier and Southern slavery. Not surprisingly, the missionaries did not find it easy to relate to a secularized intellectual elite formed in the "Latin pattern." As Erasmo Braga, one of the few Brazilian Protestant leaders capable of such a dialogue, recognized, "Brazilian Protestantism is on the one hand too Anglo-Saxon and on the other hand too ignorant to impress the intellectuals . . . The cultured class should be reached by a literature closer to that of French Protestantism . . . to take advantage of the prestige of French culture" (in Ferreira 1975:137,59).

Although the historic churches invested heavily in schools to reach the elites, the result in conversions was negligible. Nine members of the 1934 Constituent Assembly were alumni of the Presbyterian Mackenzie Institute, but not one of them was a Protestant. Another disappointing result was the inability to win or even to produce intellectuals. Frontier pragmatism was ill-equipped to create an intelligentsia capable of gaining the respect, much less the allegiance, of intellectuals trained in the "Latin pattern." The siege mentality, the suspicion of aesthetic values and the foreignness of the denominational solution led to the creation of an illustrious list of lapsed Protestants.

Richard Niebuhr showed how, in the North American context, even the old territorial churches tended to become more democratic (1929:205). In Brazil, on the other hand, even democratic denominations became more authoritarian. The clearest example of this is the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB).

The IPB paid for its early success in rural Brazil. Even today, a third of its members are from the "Zona da Mata" region of Minas Gerais and Espiriro Santo. In São Paulo and Paraná as well, the church grew on the agricultural frontier and acquired a strong rural ethos. Not surprisingly, the IPB went through a severe crisis in urban regions in the 1950s and 1960s. This questioning led to a reaction, which preceded but was later emboldened by the military coup of 1964, and consisted of internal repression, manipulation of the electoral system, and isolation from international Presbyterian networks.

The crisis of the IPB, previously the leading Protestant church in Brazil in social and intellectual influence, seriously weakened the historic churches' contribution to Brazilian Protestantism (especially through the virtual abandonment, after 1964, of the main trans-denominational organ, the Evangelical Confederation) and increased Pentecostal isolation. The IPB thus lost its chance to supply the leadership for Protestantism's new public relationship with Brazilian society in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, the IPB operates an elitist model of pastoral training (four or five years in full-time residential seminaries), but without the investment and academic seriousness which characterize the Catholic equivalent, and without the Catholic advantages of social prestige and/or access to the masses to compensate for the lack of secular qualifications. At a time when secular educational possibilities were mushrooming, the IPB chose the worst possible route. It neither freed itself from the elitist model (which had previously attracted capable people because it meant social mobility, but no longer does so) nor took the model seriously in the context of modern Brazilian society (which would mean raising the academic level and integration into the university world).

The other main Presbyterian denomination, the Independent Presbyterian Church (IPI), has followed a somewhat different route. In sociological and political terms, it is half-way between the IPB and the more (at the top) left-leaning and ecumenical Methodist Church. With a much poorer geographical distribution (heavily concentrated in São Paulo and Paraná), the IPI went through a weak form of the IPB's ecclesiastical repression in the 1960s and 1970s. But from 1981, during the military regime's "opening," it also began a cautious ecumenical opening, besides investing heavily in theological education and accepting theological pluralism in the seminaries. The result was a weak version of the schism between leadership and grassroots which characterizes the Methodists.

The relative (or in some cases absolute) numerical stagnation of the historic churches has a lot to do with Catholic changes since Vatican II, which allowed greater internal pluralism and thus discouraged conversion to Protestantism. Another factor is urbanization, which has made the middle classes either more secularized or more attracted to privatized forms of (often esoteric) religion without dogmas or communitarian demands. Where historic churches do grow, it is often due to their charismatic sectors.

Charismatic renewal began in Brazil's historic churches before the parallel Catholic phenomenon. Being initially repulsed, there were schisms in all the main historic denominations between the mid-1960s and early 1970s. The charismatic offshoots have placed Pentecostal phenomena in a new format (more orderly and less taboo-ridden) which is more acceptable to the middle class.

However, the charismatic denominations which resulted from these schisms have been less successful than expected. Recent Protestant expansion in the middle class has been mainly due to the independent charismatic "communities" (whether totally autonomous or joined together in networks). Although these are not as important as in Central America (where they make up the major part of middle- and upper-class Protestantism), they have made a significant impact in Brazil since the late 1980s. They are part of an international trend which mirrors post-modern tendencies in which the large traditional denominations lose much of their importance. In middle class Brazil, as in the developed West in general, denominationalism itself is in decline. As Grace Davie (1994) says, people "believe without belonging; " religious practice (Christian or not) goes on without the controlling presence of large religious organizations. Although one has to be cautious of translating such Western tendencies into the Brazilian context, there would seem to be a case for viewing the pulverization of middle-class Protestantism partly in this light.

Pentecostalized Historicals and Historicized Pentecostals

For some years, it was fashionable among analysts of Latin American Protestantism to say that the historicals had no future. They were supposedly destined to be squeezed out of existence by the Pentecostal explosion on the one hand and by renewed post-Vatican II and post-Medellin Catholicism on the other. In fact, the internal evolution of the Catholic Church has been quite different from that envisioned in the wake of the Vatican Council, and all measures tried have been ineffective in stopping Catholic losses. The Charismatic Renewal has gained ground as a possible Catholic answer to the Pentecostals, but its effectiveness is largely among the middle class. As such, it is one more strong competitor for the historic Protestant churches.

As for the Pentecostal explosion, it has, of course, led to a progressive increase in the Pentecostal percentage of the Protestant field, but not to an absolute decline of historic Protestants. In addition, as the vast majority of both the older and newer Pentecostal churches see themselves as part of a broader community of evangélicos which includes their historic brethren, the latter have been able to bask in some of the reflected glory of Pentecostal growth. Greater social and political visibility has led to a multiplication of projects to unify the Protestant field and address areas of national life previously distant from Pentecostal concerns. This has opened up space for a contribution from historicals, based on their middle-class cultural capital if on nothing else.

Historicals thus still have an important role, especially perhaps in Brazil where they are older and more firmly rooted than in many parts of the region. At this moment of Protestant arrival at public visibility, there are new demands that historic Protestants are best equipped to meet, such as recovering the history of broader Protestant experience in politics, having well-qualified lay people in various roles related to the wider mission of the church and developing theological reflection on all the new questions which Pentecostals had previously thought irrelevant. The new questions and controversies caused by Pentecostals' public presence will oblige them, albeit grudgingly, to rethink the sense of omnicompetence that usually characterizes sectarian mentality. Although Wallis says that sects tend not to concede the possibility of a non-member having any valid view on their structure or behavior (1979:211), the new public responsibilities of Brazilian Pentecostals (perhaps unequalled in the history of Christian sects) may lead them to discover that they can learn from sympathetic non-members about the world and about their own role in it. A sect cannot take on a wider role without attracting qualified people for a whole range of new tasks.

Much will depend, however, on historic Protestants' attitudes. Non- Protestant academics are now often more comprehending and less elitist in their view of Pentecostalism than are historic Protestant thinkers. Too often, the latter have imagined they were a cultured elite bringing light to their benighted brethren. Recent studies of Pentecostalism should be read to overcome elitist prejudices (Burdick, Mariz, Ireland, Antoniazzi et al, Garrard-Burnett & Stoll eds., Boudewijnse ed., Freston, Martin, Stoll, Soares, Fernandes...). Historic churches and individual historic leaders must adapt to the new reality of the religious field in Latin America: a market situation in which institutional loyalties are precarious, middle-class denominationalism is in decline and the Protestant community is overwhelmingly Pentecostal. But the adaptation must be a theologically consistent one, not mere sociological opportunism. The historic churches' intention should not be to duplicate Pentecostalism but to complement it. It is not easy to be a multi-class church in a religious market situation, as Catholic attempts to confront Pentecostalism show. Hierarchical and elitist tendencies almost always win out in such a church, making it difficult to be really popular (i.e., tuned in to the popular classes). A flow of recent sociological literature on the relative failure of the CEBs as compared to Pentecostal success is instructive reading for all historic Protestants (see Burdick, Hewitt, Teixeira et al. . .). A true multi-class church would need several forms of pastoral formation, appropriate for different social con- texts, without any trace of hierarchical ranking among them.

It is probably time to revise our traditional image of the Protestant field in Latin America. Although it is still useful to employ the "Pentecostal" and "historic" terminology, these should be seen not as two watertight compartments but as ideal types at the two extremes of a continuum on which most real cases are a highly variable and creative mix. Not only that, but all denominations and individuals are in fact in constant movement along the continuum. This movement is in both directions: towards a Pentecostalization of historic Protestantism and a historicization of Pentecostalism.

The Pentecostalization of the historic churches is fairly well known and illustrates Pentecostalism's capacity not only to grow but to influence other groups inside and outside the religious field. In a study of the 1994 general elections in Brazil (Freston 1995b), I point out that Afro-Brazilian religious leaders now wish to present official candidates because the evangélicos do so; that some left-wing candidates now imitate the right by apparently opportunist affiliations to evangelical churches; and that some historic denominations try to copy elements of post-1986 Pentecostal politics, creating ecclesiastical spaces for candidates belonging to the denomination to present their views (Methodists), taking pains to stress how many Presbyterians were elected (IPB), and even attempting to officialize candidacies (IPI).

Recent studies of Argentina's fast-growing Protestant field have stressed not only its Pentecostalization, such as the diffusion in historic circles of Pentecostal forms of worship and theological themes such as healing, prosperity and "spiritual warfare" (Wynarczyk et al. 1995), but also the growing interaction and development of a genuine pan-evangelical allegiance. This is not just a question of uniform practices, but of a shared identity, common goals and unifying public figures. In this sense, it resembles the "new social movements" in Latin America. Of course, there are divisions, as in all the social movements; but "unity" is precisely the word used by evangélicos themselves to speak of their common efforts (Marostica 1994).

In the Brazilian case, the multiplication of para-church organizations since the 1960s and of pan-Protestant representative entities in the last decade has not only hastened the declining importance of middle-class denominationalism (intellectual leadership and reforming initiatives stemming increasingly from para-church circles peopled mainly by historicals but with some Pentecostal penetration). They have also greatly increased the transit between historic and Pentecostal tendencies. In addition, evangelical television programs have popularized models of preaching and worship beyond denominational boundaries. The greater visibility for Protestants as a whole in Brazil also means that denominations can no longer live in such isolation: the public image of evangélicos affects all sectors and the desire for power leads to alliances which overlook denominational polemics.

A parallel tendency is the historicization of the Pentecostal field. Sociology of religion is familiar with the phenomenon of the evolution of the sects towards denominational forms (Niebuhr 1929). This is not as automatic and uniform a tendency as Niebuhr detected in the North American context, but it alerts us to the fact that historic Protestantism can have a role beyond the borders of the denominations with which it is usually associated. For many reasons (passage of time and, especially, of generations; social pressure; political expediency; upward social mobility of membership; intra-Pentecostal rivalry, especially between older and younger churches), sectors of Pentecostalism begin to adopt more historic theologies and practices. An interesting recent example in Brazil is the rivalry between the Evangelical Association (AEVB), led by Pastor Caio Fábio, and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, led by Bishop Edir Macedo. Faced with the media's "discovery" of Caio in 1994 as the "anti-Bishop Macedo," and the sympathetic coverage they have given to Caio's social projects in the dramatic social scenario of Rio de Janeiro, Macedo perceived that he also needed to invest heavily in social projects. Thus, whatever the motives, the competition which characterizes the new religious market and the new Protestant public visibility can have a cross-fertilizing effect.

Caio Fábio can be seen as a paradigmatic figure of the new Protestant moment in Brazil: a charismatic leader (in the sociological sense) of elitist social origin, but self-taught because of a youth spent in the drug culture; a Presbyterian pastor (IPB) with charismatic tendencies (in the theological sense) and a broad acceptance in both historic and Pentecostal fields; head of his own parachurch organization and presenter of his own television program. The AEVB's capacity to remain the major pan-Protestant unifying entity, despite being besieged by Bishop Macedo's National Council of Pastors (CNPB), depends heavily on Caio. Although the AEVB has many Pentecostals in it, the space for historic perspectives in the new Protestant field also hinges very much on the AEVB's survival, which in turn hinges on Caio's willingness to depersonalize its workings and create a greater density of theological and practical interchange.

The new challenges facing Brazilian Protestantism also require a creative theological response. A merely pragmatic and piecemeal union of Pentecostal and historic elements will not produce a healthy integration or orient a project for Latin America's mushrooming Protestant community.

In 1994, 1 was invited to attend a study meeting of theologians and social scientists connected with the progressive wing of the Catholic Church. In several moments, the desire was expressed for a synthesis capable of uniting the best in the Base Communities and the best in Pentecostalism. I expressed sympathy with this project, but added that it demanded a new theological basis firm enough really to integrate the desired elements and not merely juxtapose them. I suggested a key element in this might be eschatology: the Biblical vision of the resurrection of the body and the New Earth gives meaning to our individual lives and to our participation in public life. Death, which takes us out of history before the end, appears to make these mutually exclusive options. But the dichotomy of public and private worlds is healed in the New Jerusalem, the consummation of public history and the end of each soul's journey.

The same emphasis may be fruitful in the historic-Pentecostal dialogue. In addition, the recovery of what can be called, in a broad sense, the Protestant ethic, is vital at this moment in Brazilian Protestantism. By Protestant ethic, I refer to three things. Firstly, the classic reformed view that revelation has to do with the whole of life and that, in Niebuhr's (1951) phrase, Christ is the transformer of culture. Secondly, the classic Protestant attitude towards work and worldly goods, summed up in diligence and frugality, which sees work as having a positive finality in fulfillment of the will of God, and consumption as being controlled by criteria which differ from those of the surrounding society. Thirdly, the biblical worldview which underlay the development of modern science: a desacralized view of the natural world and an ethical rather than ritualistic approach to life within it.

This ethic has been largely lost or seriously attenuated in Brazilian Protestantism (see the conclusion to Freston 1994e). Instead of the active ethic of social transformation, we have, on the one hand, the passive and legalistic ethic of the good functionary, and on the other hand, the triumphalism of "dominion theology" which dreams of a divine right of evangelicals to temporal power. Instead of the ethic of diligent work and frugal consumption, we have "the theology of prosperity" and its ideal of rapid enrichment by ritual means. And instead of the desacralized worldview which contributed to science and to the ethical treatment of problems, we have the modern version of "spiritual warfare" with its return to a pagan view of the world. If the recovery of this historic Protestant ethic is vital at this moment of unprecedented numerical presence, public visibility, and social responsibility, then the historic churches, and above all those that lay claim to the Reformed heritage, must first of all rediscover their own past and apply it creatively to the Latin American present.


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