Pope Francis arrives in the Latin American country of Colombia today and will return to Rome on Monday, September 11th. As the article below points out, one of the major reasons for the trip is to attempt to shore up the beleaguered Catholic church in South America. Catholics in the region are exiting their churches in droves and joining “evangelical” fellowships. The article reports that only 4 percent of the Latin American population identified as non-Catholic Christians in 1970, but today that number has grown to 20 percent.
Unfortunately, a very large proportion of the non-Catholic churches springing up in Latin America are of the “health and wealth,” “name it and claim it,” prosperity gospel variety, where the Gospel is minimized and it’s all about acquiring enough “faith” to get a Rolex and well-equipped sports car and live like one of the “King’s kids.” Pew Research reports that 82 percent of the “Protestants” in Colombia believe “God will grant wealth and good health to believers who have enough faith.” Many Catholic churches have added charismatic-style worship services in an attempt to copy the prosperity gospelers and stanch the exodus but with little success.
Pope’s trip to Colombia unlikely to stem flight from pews
Below is an excellent article from the Gospel Coalition about evangelization efforts in Colombia. The article is very informative in regards to the nuts and bolts of spreading the Gospel and discipling new believers in that particular country, but I do have a concern. The article mentions that a couple of book titles being translated and offered to folks in Colombia were written by Gospel Coalition co-founder, Tim Keller. However, Keller openly embraces Catholicism as a Christian entity (see here) and has propagated aspects of Catholic contemplative prayer and mysticism at his church. So if a Colombian Roman Catholic reads the books by Keller and does a little research on Keller’s views on Catholicism, he or she may say to themselves, “I guess I don’t see a need to leave the Catholic church because Tim Keller thinks it’s just fine.” This is the kind of ecumenical confusion caused by some evangelical leaders.
The Gospel in Colombia