Bernando Campos. De la Reforma Protestante a la Pentecostalidad de la Iglesia: Debate sobre el Pentecostalismo en América Latin

Bernando Campos. De la Reforma Protestante a la Pentecostalidad de la Iglesia: Debate sobre el Pentecostalismo en América Latina. Quito: Ediciones Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias, 1997, pp.112, $5.00. The Pentecostal churches in Latin America were the first to take membership in the World Council of Churches and many member churches from this largest family of Latin American churches are members of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). This volume, published by CLAI, is a theological view of the Church and its call to unity. Grounded in a historically and sociologically informed analysis, the book takes account of Pentecostalism and its relation to the theology and history of the Church, especially in relationship to classical Protestantism. While the author does not develop the significance of this study for Pentecostal relations to Catholicism or Orthodoxy, he specifically notes that these relationships are on the horizon of his thinking and can be developed with further analysis. The book presents a fascinating theological thesis which is neither the normal approach of the classical Pentecostal churches and their theologians, nor the received wisdom of the modern ecumenical movement and its Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox participants. Campos presses Pentecostals to look behind their historical expressions and their emergence as a twentieth century movement to a catholicity articulated as a “pentecostalidad,” a term that refers to the pneumatiological basis for the Church and the Spirit dimension of ecclesiology. His thesis is that the .Pentecostal movement is only a moment, a kairos, in the pentecostalidad of the Christian Church; it therefore can become an ecumenical common dimension which deepens the unity of the Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Pentecostal churches. In this sense, the book challenges Pentecostal churches to deepen their catholicity, historical consciousness, and ecumenical engagement and challenges other ecumenical churches to seek a more conscious openness to the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives and in their Pentecostal fellow Christians. The volume is divided into three sections, with an introduction from the General Secretary of CLAI. Campos sketches out his hypothesis in brief form, indicating his own recognition that the positions suggested admit of much more thorough treatment. As an outline for debate and discussion, the volume opens some important doors. The first chapter contrasts the two dimensions of the sixteenth century Reformation, the “official” Anglican, Lutheran, and Calvinist magisterial Reformation whose hallmark is continuity with historic Christianity, grounded in the continuity of Scripture and what was seen as the essentials of the Tradition. The so called “Radical Reformation” includes the Mennonites and a host of other sixteenth-century spirit-filled movements, characterized by adult baptism, separation out from the state, a disciplined gathered community, and special appreciation of the Holy Spirit’s action in the believer. Significantly, this treatment suggests that Pentecostals can best see their antecedents in the theology of the radical reformers and that the ecumenical movement will do well to attend more intentionally to these pneumatological dimensions of Christian history. The second chapter attends more specifically to the function of Pentecostalism in Latin America. It outlines the complexity of religion in Latin American, where Pentecostalism is the largest religious community outside of the Catholic Church. Yet as a movement it does not present a common theological or institutional expression. Nonetheless, all of the Protestant churches in Latin America have received significant influences from the culture and popular religiosity of Pentecostalism. The success of Pentecostalism is attributable, in part, to the importance of popular religious forms in Catholicism. Campos presents several nonreductive hypotheses that can help account for the success of Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement in Latin America. He outlines the details of Pentecostal ideology and presents an explanation for the diversity of Christian groups as a religious division of labor. The final chapter of Pentecostalism and ecumenism presents his analysis of Pentecostal history in Latin America, its potential contribution to the vision of Church unity, the difficulties of Pentecostalism in ecumenical engagement, his own hypotheses for a theological basis for pentecostalidad as a contribution to ecumenical ecclesiology, and his analysis of approaches to religious pluralism in Latin America. In this very ambitious contribution to the discussion of Christian hermeneutics, Latin American history, and the theology of the Church, the author provides some very clear and succinct hypotheses, grounded in a biblical analysis of “early catholicism,” recurrent pneumatological themes in Christian history, and a systematic analysis of catholicity and epistemology in the context of pentecostalidad. His periodization of Pentecostal history in Latin America, the changed Catholic and classical Protestant environment, and the prospects for the future are most interesting and will need to be tested by scholars from a variety of disciplines and confessions. As brief as this volume is, it provides a context for debating major biblical, historical, confessional and sociological themes in Latin America ecumenism. We can be grateful for CLAI in producing this volume and in staging this debate which will no doubt remain essential for Catholic, Protestant, and ecumenical theological reflection for a long time to come. While the ecumenical movement may be fragile in the Hispanic American and Latin American communities, Pentecostal and Catholic, the future is common and analysis of where the Gospel is speaking and leading are essential if Christians are to be attentive to the Spirit’s movement in their churches. This volume will certainly give many readers access to the discussion at this stage in our pilgrimage together. Brother Jeffrey Gros, FSC