Christian Science Monitor: Wealth gospel propels poor Guatemalans (Part 1)
As church lights dim across the US and Europe, Christian houses of worship are opening every day in Latin America. The majority of the new churches are Pentecostal, an expressive evangelical creed that emphasizes individual “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” In a three-part series from Guatemala, Brazil, and Colombia, the Monitor shows how Pentecostals – who now make up nearly 15 percent of Latin America's population – are bringing a fresh, can-do approach to some of the once staunchly Catholic region's most stubborn social ills: poverty, violence, and gender inequality.
Guatemala City - Doris Cuxun will never forget the words that shook her out of a daze one Sunday morning during a service at Showers of Grace, a Neo-Pentecostal megachurch here. "Who here wants to own your own business? Lift your hand!" the pastor hollered.
"I want to, I want to," she whispered amid the dancing and chanting.
"Me? My own beauty parlor?" she thought to herself giddily, incredulously. Could a woman who had grown up in a house made of wood and tin sheeting somehow build a successful business?
A year later, her answer is clear. "God opened the door for me," she says unequivocally while rolling pastel pink paint on the walls of her new salon located next to one of the most upscale malls in Guatemala City.
Like so many here, Ms. Cuxun was born Roman Catholic. Like so many today, she converted to Pentecostalism, a Protestant Christ-ian faith that is sweeping the religious landscape worldwide. ...
Christian Century did some articles back in July about the prosperity gospel in Africa. Richard Mouw wrote an excellent blog post inspired by these articles. In it wrote about the "exlcuded middle" when it comes to practical theology:
What I would add to this wise counsel is that we need to do the theological homework that will address these concerns more effectively. For me, the case was put in a challenging manner by my former colleague, the late Paul Hiebert, who published an important essay, “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle,” in the early 1980s in the journal Missiology. Hiebert recounted his experience as a missionary anthropologist with recent converts to Christianity in a village culture in India. When these folks would face difficult challenges relating to fertility, family crises, or economic threats, they would often turn to the shaman for help. Hiebert realized that he did not have the theological resources to address their practical concerns. He had a “high” theology of God, salvation, and human destiny. He also had a scientific grasp of empirical reality. But he was lost when dealing with a middle range of issues: How can I avoid accidents? How can I win my husband back? Who can help me deal with my child’s illness? How can I find enough food for our next meal?
This is the theological “excluded middle” that my own theology does not know how to address. Yet for many people in the world, those are the most important issues in their lives. Much of what goes into “prosperity preaching” makes me nervous theologically. But until the rest of us learn how better to address “the middle range,” I for one will refrain from attacking.