Global Gospel

An Introduction to Christianity on Five Continents

Materials available for professors by request only


4. Latin America

Discussion Questions

  1. Violence and military conquest played a large role in the Christianization of Latin America, a role that many Christians of the time thought was perfectly proper. One sixteenth-century author even suggested that “terror” was a useful tool in scattering the “darkness of error.” Can violence ever serve the goals of the gospel? What responsibilities (if any) do Christians today have for the violent acts of Christians in the past?

  2. Christians in colonial Latin America were often divided by race. To what degree are racial divisions still evident in Christianity? Is race consciousness something to overcome—should Christians strive to be race blind in how they think and live—or is race consciousness needed in order to confront the racial differences that still exist within Christianity?

  3. In the early twentieth century, many Protestant churches were hesitant to send missionaries to Latin America because the region was already Christian, though predominantly Catholic. More recently some Pentecostal churches in Latin America have tried explicitly to “convert” their Catholic neighbors. Should Christians from one tradition ever actively seek to convert people away from other Christian traditions? If so, are there any rules of engagement that should shape or limit such activity?

  4. Liberation theologians believe that Christianity is inherently political: Christians are either for or against the poor. How much is Christianity political and how much is it purely personal? If Christianity is (or should be) political, what are the most important political issues to address? Liberation theologians (and the current Pope Francis) put economic justice at the top of the list. What is at the top of your list?

  5. The Virgin of Guadalupe (along with many other images or statues of Mary) plays a significant role in Latin American Catholic faith. Some Protestants and Pentecostals see this as a form of idol worship. What do you think about this dimension of Latin American Catholicism?