Brazilian Pentecostals: Church Growth Endangered by Socialist Embrace
By Julio Severo
The Associated Press published a curious report on Brazil this week. The report said,
Pentecostalism was once seen as a major threat to Brazil’s Catholic Church. Pentecostal churches, many of them founded by U.S. evangelicals, saw their membership double to more than 12 percent of the country’s population over the 1990s, with about half of the congregants estimated to be former Catholics.
During the 1990s, Brazil’s economy suffered from hyperinflation and other woes, and Pentecostal churches aggressively recruited in the slums and poor outskirts of Brazil’s cities by offering nuts-and-bolts self-improvement advice as well as Christian ministry.
Since 2003, however, Pentecostal churches have seen growth slow. The percentage of Brazilians calling themselves Pentecostals edged up from 12.5 percent of the population to 13.3 percent.
Fascinatingly, 2003 is the date when former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva began his pro-abortion and pro-sodomy administration.
In the past, Lula and his socialism were seen as “demonic” by Pentecostals. In their turn, Pentecostals were seen as “radicals” by Protestants.
Yet, by the efforts of a former Presbyterian superstar minister, who worked to make Lula and his ideology pleasant to evangelicals, Pentecostals began to do what some major Protestant (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.) leaders had been doing for decades: to march at the Marxist tune.
Protestant churches in this march are basically stagnant, numerically and spiritually. Unsurprisingly, Pentecostal churches began to suffer a slow grow after deciding to march with Protestants.
In the 2002 presidential election, for the first time in the Protestant history in Brazil, 500 major traditional Protestant, Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal leaders joined hands to elect Lula.
The former Presbyterian superstar? Since his progressive work in the 1990s to lead Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals to follow Theology of Integral Mission (the Protestant variant of the Marxist Liberation Theology), he has been leading a disgraced life. His former glory collapsed after the financial and sexual scandals destroyed his marriage and ministry in the late 1990s.
Yet, his moral collapse happened too late to save at least Pentecostal and neo-Pentecostal churches from his progressive ideas embraced by Protestants. Pentecostals were mesmerized by his persuasive, progressive intellectual arguments, which brought ideological growth, but no spiritual growth. They forgot Apostle Paul’s words,
“My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4 ESV)
Enticed by the arguments of the Presbyterian superstar, many Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals stopped seeing Lula, his party and socialism as “demonic”.
The consequences were just appalling. The socialist ideology and policies that Lula and his comrades injected in the Brazilian State have experienced extraordinary growth, while Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals have seen slow growth.
|Socialism: dead end for the church
Is there any compatibility between Christianity and socialism? Churches that adhere to it give up its growth to it.
The AP report was unable to recognize it, but 2003 is an unforgettable date in the Brazilian history. It was the year that Lula began to rule with his radical politically-correct agenda of homosexuality and abortion. It was the year that began the slow growth of Pentecostals.
Socialism is a religion. It requires you, your family, your pocket, your health, your children, their health, their education, your view, your dreams, etc.
Anytime any Christian group adheres to it, it gets weaker and socialism gets stronger.
Brazilian Pentecostals had plenty of opportunities to learn it from the tragic liberal experience of progressive Catholics and many of their Protestant brothers, especially the former Presbyterian superstar, but they did not want.
Now, they have no choice: they will learn it from their own sins.