Pentecostals and Evangelicals in Venezuela: Consolidating Gains, Moving in New Directions
This chapter provides a comparative evaluation of the unique reality of Pentecostalism in contemporary Venezuela. The evangelicals of Venezuela and of contemporary Latin America in general may be classified among the Calvinist or radical streams of reformed Christianity. At the same time that modernizing Catholicism appeared to be fighting a small-scale holy war against folk Catholicism and its beliefs in interventionist spirits, saints, and demons, nature religions and Pentecostal Christianity were expanding dramatically. The traditional evangelical organization that most resembles the Pentecostals in dynamism is the Baptists. The solidary ties characteristic of the close-knit church group, reinforced by the pressing needs of the members for such a network, easily combine to produce a highly communitarian organization. This character explains much of the remarkable development of evangelicals during periods of extreme economic and social crisis and accounts for much of their appeal.