Book Review: Christianity in Latin America

Mu-tien Chiou

González, Justo L. & González, Ondina E. Christianity in Latin America: A History. Cambridge University Press, 2008, 344 pages.

9780521681926

I. Thesis Statement

Justo González’s previous work of Historia del Cristianismo (1st ed. 1978, 2nd ed.. 1994) has been the seminary textbook for Latin America seminary students’ church history class, a considerable part of that book has been dedicated to the local development of Christianity in Latin America throughout the colonial encounter to its present era. Now for English readers Christianity in Latin America: A History, coauthored by the same writer and his niece Ondina González, visiting professor of Agnes Scott College and Emory University and an independent scholar, has become an indispensable companion to have a panoramic view of the heterogeneous natures of Christian faith presented in the Hispanic continent. According to the authors’ view as historians, the arrival of Christianity did not only coerce and exploit but also refashioned and enriched the land of Latin America (p.i). Likewise, Christianity identity and practices have also been challenged and changed to a great extent as they sought contextualization across the Atlantic, manifested above all in the flourish of liberation theology and Pentecostalism. Now through its immigration and global communication, it has been the first time for centuries that this influence is world-widely seen.

II. Chapter Summary

For historical reasons, a great part of the book is spent recounting the conquest and fall of the Roman Catholic Church. Following a roughly chronological order, the first chapter commences with an overview of the pre-Columbian Aztecs, Mayas and the Incas, as well as history of the medieval Iberia Peninsula. While the united Spanish monarchs enabled its expansion oversea, the high religiosity of the pre-Columbian civilization led the indigenous people think of this encounter in terms of destined doom. Chapters 2-5 address the efforts of conversion after the conquest of the new continent. The Spanish crown has exerted paternalistic control over religious matters in the new conquered land. The significant presence of its officials and conquistadors assured the king more power than the pope in the shaping of Catholic faith on their colonies. As is exemplified in the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, when the Europe itself was going through the Reformation, recalcitrant prelates and clergymen were simply replaced with those more amenable to the protestant Bourbons’ wishes. However, it has been proved that neither the king nor the pope could prevent the Christian faith in Latin America from taking its local roots. Outside the institutional church, there were folk version and syncretism of Catholic faith that are commonly known as « popular religiosity » in the Latin America. On the other hand, it would be hard for the Christian conscience of those missionaries/prelates who outreached to the oppressed and impoverished to keep tolerating the atrocities of colonialist exploitation. Their resistance, taking forms in theological reflection and social action, has midwived the independent movement of Hispanic colonies, hence the rise of liberal governments in the 19th century. Chapter 6 depicts various collective endeavors in search for relevance of Christianity to the new era, as the increasingly secularized societies eventually decentralized the institutional church and move it from master to servant (1930-1960).

chavez_telesur (Venezuela’s President Chavez Tells Pope to Apologize to Indigenous Peoples)

Chapters 7-8 are specifically dedicated to the historical expansion of Protestantism in Latin America through missionaries and immigrants, who had initially been welcomed by the liberal government to facilitate its progressivism agenda in the 19th century. Unfortunately, the denominational protestant churches that had entered the continent and grown under the auspices of such liberalism soon lost their uniqueness and niche, as the 20th century Latin America sees much of itself both in the rise of autochthonous Pentecostalism and in the growth of the culturally re-meshed post-Medellin/Vatican RCC. These become respective the theme of topic in ch.10 and ch.9. In addition, the authors have made a special note here on liberation theology and recognize its global impact as resulted from a genuine theological reflection of the situation. The concluding chapter of 11 reminds us again about the dialectical relationships and tensions within and between each of these movements despite their share in the broad designation of « Christianity » and despite other common clues this book as an introductory survey has attempted to generalize.

III. Personal ResponseLocationWHLatinAmerica

Reading this book has been a sharp learning experience. The authors have organized their materials very well, given its vast attempted coverage in time and geography. Despite very occasional typos and foreign phraseologies, from this book English reader will definitely benefit a lot by gleaning insight of historical facts of Latin American church. It makes much more sense to me now as to why the independent Chinese churches tend to be so disconnected with each other, and as to how the contextualizing work should keep being done in the future. So far we have not seen a Christianity in China: A History or any of its equivalents written in English on the book market, and I anticipate the positive impact of Gonzalez & Gonzalez’s work should provide incentive and model for such a significant project.

IV. A Reflection Based upon Other Course Material

In the end of The Next Christendom, Dr. Philip Jenkins expressed his concerns about the rapid expansion of Christianity in the southern hemisphere that would lead to mega-scale conflicts between the north and the south or of Christians against Muslims. Gonzalez & Gonzalez’s book address the former concern by noticing « the flattening world » formed by the growth of mutual immigration across continents and global economy, as well as, more specifically, the indebtedness found in the situational aspects of contemporary ecclesial reflections to liberation theology. Just like the authors put in the wrap-up paragraph of this book, the history of Latin American Christianity, « which until recently may have been an appendix or a marginal note to the history of Christianity », now has been inextricably intertwined into that history and deserves study by whoever is going to understand his/her Christianity identity (310).

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Book Review on Christianity reborn: the global expansion of Evangelicalism in the twentieth century

A Book Review on Christianity reborn: the global expansion of Evangelicalism in the twentieth century

Christianity_Reborn_edited_by_Don_Lewis (Cover photo: Five Chinese evangelists in Harbin, China, in 1931)

Product Details

  • Author: Lewis, Donald, ed.
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Wm.B. Eerdman’s Publishing (May 15 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802824838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802824837
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 2.3 cm

I. Thesis Statement

Christianity reborn is one of the most inspiring volumes of the Studies in the history of Christian mission series, which is dedicated to qualitative analysis of global evangelical expansion. As the editor of this book, Donald M. Lewis, professor of church history at Regent College, suggests that evangelicalism as an influential phenomenon has been miserably neglected in Western academia, though virtually it along with Roman Catholicism and Islam can claim the status today of a global faith.

This superb compilation thus collects ten essays in an effort to counteract the false opinions that 1) Evangelical Christianity is a spent force after Victorian era and that 2) it would certainly dwindled after the dismantling of western colonization on the surface of the earth (1-2). The majority of the articles originates from a consultation of the Currents in World Christianity Project (CWC) at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, in July 1999. Each adds to the cumulative weight that highlights the momentousness of Pentecostalism and the indigenousness of faith as the crucial factors to evangelicalism’s success throughout the non-western world.

map_world_religions (World distribution of Evangelical Christianity; click here for bigger picture.)

II. Summary of Flow of Ideas

Christianity Reborn is divided into five sections: the initial three chapters compose the first section as a prelude, focusing on the historical background of the rise of evangelicalism. The foci of second, third, and fourth sections are geographically narrowed down, offering studies of China, India, the South Pacific, West and Southern Africa, and Latin America. The final section summarily presents a global survey about the viability of evangelical Christianity to create multiplicity of faith communities suited to a variety of ethnic, racial, and geographical locations.

W. R. Ward’s opening study discusses Bebbington’s fourfold characterization of evangelicalism as distinguished by conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism, yet further proposes that among 18th century reform leaders the eschatological hope for better times, which later turned out to « evangelical empiricism » as they escaped what came to be seen as mysticism’s « blind alley » (30), should what qualifies the evangelical movement a breakthrough from the common orthodoxy of the day.

MarkNoll2(Caption: Mark Noll, born in 1946, is Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. A progressive evangelical Christian scholar, he was named by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential American evangelicals in 2005. His main academic concern is the interaction of Christianity and culture in 18th- and 19th-century Anglo-American societies. After many years of teaching at Wheaton College, Noll joined the history department of the University of Notre Dame as the Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History. He earned his B.A. in English at Wheaton, M.A. in Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a Ph.D. in American religious history at Vanderbilt University.)

Mark A. Noll’s article examines the systematic dispatch of missionary as crucial factor of evangelicalism’s worldwide expansion in the 19th century (through the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1792 to the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910). By offering case studies, he laments the fact that the elevation of power over principle has made evangelical missionaries conspirator of slave trade and brutal colonization. However, there are unintended consequences caused by missionary movement as the confrontation also led to renewal of indigenous culture.

This observation is confirmed by Brian Stanley’ study, which focuses on the landmark Edinburgh World Missionary Conference. Noting that many projections cast in the meeting was indeed fulfilled, primarily about the fruitful growth of oversea missions, though carried out in alternative forms.

Philip Yuen-sang Leung triggers the second section by describing metaphorically the church development in China from 1949 to 1999. Survived and revived over the persecution, the church divided into two camps with Three-Self Patriotic church like Martha and with the underground church like Mary. The opposition recently has been softened a lot as Martha managed to imitate Mary little by little (p. 107).

Frykenberg’s article, unfortunately, paints a contrasting picture in which tragic misunderstanding led to radical opposition against Christianity by local mobs. Poignant is the remark of a converted Sikh: « Indians do need the Water of Life, but not the European cup. »[1]

Chapters by Jehu Hanciles and Marthinus Daneel on Africa offer fascinating insights into Pentecostal growth in the region. While Hanciles focuses on the tension between African Initiated Churches and the Pentecostal population which underwent a boom in the 1970s and 1980s, Daneel tends to be more willingly making them a match by pointing out their common historical root as results of Christian mission. The final chapter in the fourth section is a fine survey on Latin American Pentecostalism conducted by freston0819_webPaul Freston. His special insights include that « churches which grow most owe little to international missions » (250) and that Latin American Pentecostalism encroaches upon Catholic territory from where institutional Catholicism is weak yet society itself is fundamentally religious (p. 254). As is summarized by Martin at the final chapter, evangelical Christianity is both a manifestation of and a powerful response to modernity, which links the despised peripheries of the North Atlantic to the rest of the world (293).

(Caption: Professor of Sociology at Calvin College, Paul Freston is first-ever holder of the Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Christian Perspectives on Political, Social and Economic Thought. Paul Freston is one of the world’s leading experts on Latin American evangelical Christianity. He is a native of England who graduated from Cambridge University, with a B.A. degree emphasizing in Latin American Studies. He received his Masters degree in history from Cambridge, a second Master degree from Regent College in British Columbia, his Ph.D. degree from University of Campinas [Brazial] in sociology and did his post-doctoral work at Oxford University.)

III. Personal Response

This is an excellent volume. Each contributor is an outstanding contemporary scholar with his own expertise. Though the compiler regret of not taking in the phenomenal outcome of evangelical movement in South Korea and in southeast Asia, the overall contribution is remarkable. Understandable is the comment that « any who are tempted to doubt the viability of the evangelical movement should read this book »[2]. However, while some chapters tend to be friendly to common people who simply want to take a look at the currents of evangelical Christianity, there are parts academically obstacular for beginners. For example, Ward’s chapter, « Evangelical Identity in the Eighteenth Century, » goes on so quickly and assumes an abundant literacy of readers on its history. Noll’s and Freston’s essays are so well researched on ostensibly mutual-contradicting facts that it requires reading more than once to get the clear meta-narratives.

IV. Reflection Based upon Other Course Material

In comparison to Jenkins’ the Next Christendom, Christianity reborn definitely refelcts more detail on regional developments since it represents efforts of eleven scholars, many of whom have multicultural background (though only one article virtually originates from non-Western scholar: Yuan-sang Leung of Hong Kong). While both works are making « conversion » and « indigenization » their theological key terms, I believe « salvation » and « truth » shall also be put into our future agenda about world Christianity.

Cover of
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PS.1 It has been said that solely the ch. 2 and ch.9 wiould be worth the entre book. I add ch.1 as a result of my partiality.


[1] Bebbington, David W. « Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century. » Studies in World Christianity 11, no. 1 (2005): 144.

[2] Hedlund, Roger E. « Christianity Reborn: The Global Expansion of Evangelicalism in the Twentieth Century. » Missiology 33, no. 3 (2005): 351.

[文摘] 重新界定美國的宗教

重新界定美國的宗教(Redefining Religion in America)

文/Mary Rourke
譯者/佚名

 

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Fast-rising faiths, hybrid traditions are broadening the country’s spiritual life beyond old-line Christianity.

隨著新來的移民群體不斷將自己的宗教信仰帶到美國,並且隨著美國人日甚一日地尋求表達自己信念的全新混合方式,美國的宗教狀況正在發生著根本的變化。

美國幾乎是悄無聲息地經歷著本世紀以來最為劇烈的變革。有著悠久的猶太教與基督教(Judeo-Christian)傳統的美國,如今正迅速成為世界上最具宗教多樣性的國家。芝加哥大學(University of Chicago)宗教哲學教授保羅‧格里菲思(Paul Griffiths)說:「美國人信奉的宗教種類比世界上任何地方都要多。」美國當前至少有200個教派,而且其數量還在不斷增加。

這種狀況可能會像十九世紀中葉羅馬天主教(Roman Catholic Church)的興起一樣有著深遠的影響。外來移民、人口流動、異族通婚以及對於我們某些最古老的宗教習俗的幻滅帶來了這種變化,並且這一變化正在重新塑造這個國家。

美國目前是大約400萬穆斯林(Muslims)的家園,這個數字是1970年的4倍。其中近一半人是非洲裔美國人。按照這個增長速度,到2000年,伊斯蘭教(Islam)將有可能超過猶太教(Judaism),猶太教人數目前已經固定在550萬人。有200萬人聲稱自己是佛教教徒,這個數字比1970年增加了9倍。印度教教徒(Hindus)在同一時期從10萬人增加到95萬人;錫克教徒(Sikhs)則已經從1,000人增加到22萬人。

在二十世紀的最後25年間,美國發展最快的宗教派別是五旬節教派(Pentecostal)、摩門教(Mormon)、耶和華見證人(Jehovah’s Witnesses)教派。那些曾經僅在美國南方農村或西部偏遠地區盛行的宗教,如今已超過原先主流基督教教派(Protestant)的影響,長老會(Presbyterians)、聖公會(Episcopalians)、聯合衛理公會(United Methodists)等基督教各派的信徒人數正不斷下降當中。

若非近來亞洲移民的到來,聯合衛理公會和美國長老會還將可能蒙受更大的損失。 目前,朝鮮裔美國人占了聯合衛理公會以及美國長老會信徒比例分別將近1%以及2%。

羅馬天主教(Roman Catholicism)在美國有6,000萬信徒,依然是美國最大的教派,但教徒人數增長的內容也主要是外來移民。拉丁美洲人占天主教教徒人數的30%以上。同時,美國第二大教派、教徒人數達1,600萬的南方浸信會(Southern Baptist Convention),其外來族群信徒──特別是亞裔和拉美裔信徒,人數增長了50%以上,達到了約300萬。

然而,這一切與跨宗派超級教會(interdenominational mega-church)相比都相形見絀,它的出現對美國最古老的宗教體系構成了最為嚴峻的挑戰。1970年,跨教派超級教會只有10個,現在則增加到近400個。其中加州佔了79個,是數量最多的州。加州大學聖塔芭芭拉分校(UC Santa Barbara)宗教學教授韋德‧克拉克‧魯夫(Wade Clark Roof)說:「那些固守傳統路線的教派——我指長老會、聖公會和聯合循道會——不會很快消失,但其主導地位不會持久,傳統路線會靠邊站。宗教發展的方向是遠離歷史和信條,最終形成一種通用的宗教形式。」

【探索的一代】

蒙莉莎‧拉特(Melissa Latt)是一名聖公會教徒,與丈夫結婚時轉信猶太教。她現在有時候參加一個印第安人婦女權益宣傳組織。聖誕節到來時她會同丈夫一道裝點聖誕樹。他們過逾越節(Passover)而不過復活節(Easter)。每到星期五傍晚他們都點燃安息日(Shabbat)蠟燭,然後才進晚餐。

拉特說:「我並不是真正信仰這個教,重要的是那些傳統。」拉特如今年約35、36歲,視自己為一名「精神探索者」,並自認與官僚化、制式化的教會和猶太教堂格格不入。她說:「我認為根本沒有什麼宗教信仰。精神生活來自心靈。」

由於美國的精神生活受到如此眾多新的因素影響,越來越多美國人開始根據自己的需要精心「調製」自己的信仰。這些人雖為數不多,但這土生土長的革新方法正對美國的宗教信仰造成極其巨大的影響。

將猶太教與印第安傳統合二為一的做法可能顯得非同尋常,但其他宗教融合的現象正變得司空見慣。例如,當前已有數百萬主流基督教和天主教信徒會定期參加五旬節教會的禮拜儀式。

魯夫是最先發現此一趨勢的人之一,他將拉特這樣的精神探索者稱之為「探索的一代」。他說,這些人感興趣的與其說是宗教教條,毋寧說是精神體驗。「宗教正統與人們慣常的信仰和信仰表達方式之間存在著巨大差距。這種差距正在日益增大,二者之間的界限已不可同日而語。」

這些現代精神探索者行為方式異乎尋常,從而使其成為一場激烈爭論的焦點。這場爭論可謂觸及了美國宗教性質的核心問題:究竟這波精神探索的潮流只是曇花一現,或將成為滄海桑田的巨變?這種探索除了精神上的孤芳自賞之外,是否還有其他深奧的內涵?傳統宗教應當相時而變,還是應當奮力抗爭?

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芝加哥大學的美國宗教歷史學家馬丁‧馬蒂說(Martin Marty):「過去,人們常常到死都一直信仰著他們出生時所歸屬的宗教。現在,人們選購貨物的自由度要大得多。」過去,改宗歸信的人要背負著數典忘祖的心靈負擔;現在,這種忠貞所具有的份量已大不如從前。馬蒂把美國的宗教生活比喻為一座精神市場。

另一些學者認為這種比喻對一種深刻的變化過於輕描淡寫。哈佛大學的戴安娜‧埃可強烈反對選購貨物這種比喻。「美國正變成一個由眾多傳統所塑造的國家。」她說。

羅傑‧卡梅涅茨(Rodger Kamenetz)代表了這種宗教混合的新現象。他於1995年撰寫了一部名為《端坐蓮花座的猶太人》(The Jew in the Lotus)的回憶錄,此書使他成為了佛教與猶太教合一(JuBu)的主要代言人。卡梅涅茨目前擔任路易西安那州立大學巴吞魯日分校(Louisiana State University Baton Rouge)猶太學專業主任。他在1990年長途跋涉到喜瑪拉雅山脈(the Himalayas)去深入研究佛教。卡梅涅茨目前仍然過猶太教節日,但他不屬於任何一所猶太教會堂,並且聲稱自己不信仰任何一種教派。

卡梅涅茨說:「恪守虔誠信念的人不必抱有許多信仰。如果宗教的傳統信仰可將人們帶到上帝之所在,那麼問題將變成:眼下這一傳統信仰是不是通向天國的捷徑?」

然而,混合宗教這一概念會使許多人為之不快,因其忽視了各種信仰體系之間所存在的根本矛盾。歸根到底,猶太教信奉一個上帝,而佛教不信奉任何上帝;基督教鼓吹人的生、死和復活,印度教宣講輪回轉世之說。

德州達拉斯神學院(Dallas Theological Seminary)神學系主任拉尼爾·伯恩斯(Lanier Burns)說:「受到威脅的是宗教派別的本質特徵。基督是基督教的核心之所在。如果放棄基督這個核心信仰,基督徒就不能稱為基督徒了。選擇是自己作出的,後果也應當由自己承擔。」

這一爭論的範圍遠遠超出了學術界。猶太教內部也已經出現了強烈的反應。許多猶太人對開始憂心其宗教特徵的延續,於是正統派猶太教(Orthodoxy)吸引了許多35歲以下的猶太人。

猶太裔美國人中有10%到15%是正統派猶太教徒,他們拒絕與本教派以外的人結婚,就連與猶太教改革派(Reform)或保守猶太教教徒(Conservative Jews)通婚都遭到反對。

據估計,一些強烈認同其出生時所皈依的宗教,卻不屬於任何教派或猶太教堂的人,已構成美國發展最為迅速的宗教群體。人口學家稱他們為「獨立者」(independent),這個詞也用來指未參加任何政黨的登記選民。最近進行的一項蓋洛普民意測驗表明,96%的美國人信仰上帝,98%的美國人定期禱告,但只有29%的美國人每週參加宗教儀式。

馬蒂說:「獨立者人數極其龐大。他們可能會非常篤信自己的教派,並會為之據理力爭,但他們只把教堂看成是召集有著共同精神追求的人們形成社團的一種手段。」

就在這種宗教復興的浪潮之中,或許是為了與其分庭抗禮,無神論正在蓬勃興起。如今有近100萬美國人說自己不相信上帝。這個數字幾乎是30年前的五倍。

儘管無神論一詞的含義始終如一,但其指導思想卻正在發生變化。無神論往日的旗手們——馬克思(Karl Marx)、佛洛依德(Sigmund Freud)、尼采(Frederick Nietzsche)——要麼聲稱上帝已死,要麼宣佈上帝根本就未曾存在過。而如今許多懷疑論者持第三種觀點:上帝值得懷疑。

 

學者傑克‧邁爾斯(Jack Miles)帶著自己的著作《神的傳記》(God: A Biography)四處遊歷,發現有些人把無神論看成信仰、宗教或者這兩者的組合。這些人代表混合宗教的另一種表現形式:教堂裡的無神論者。邁爾斯解釋說,他們的邏輯是這樣的:「既然能在手術臺上對醫學表示懷疑、在投票站對政治體制表示懷疑、在婚床上對婚姻制度表示懷疑,那麼為什麼不能在教堂裡對宗教表示懷疑呢?」

【超級教會的發展】
每逢周末,位於河濱豐收基督教兄弟會(Harvest Christian Fellowship)吸引多達兩萬人前來做禮拜。這是一座低矮的棕色拉毛裝飾建築物,看起來像是小鎮中的一所禮堂。透明玻璃和現代音樂取代了茶色玻璃、管風琴和巨大的十字架。貓王艾維斯(Elvis)和歐普拉(Oprah)出現在講道中。牧師來去騎著一輛哈雷(Harley-Davidson)機車。

晚會儀式則像當地學校舉行的家長會一樣輕鬆隨便。教堂信徒們坐在鋪著天鵝絨的長椅上彼此搭著肩,舒意愜意地聆聽著佈道內容,就像在自家的起居室裡一樣輕鬆隨意。

 

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對傳統教派而言,沒有什麼挑戰是比超宗派超級教會更巨大的了。康乃狄克州哈特福德(Hartford, Connecticut.)的社會與宗教研究中心(the Center for Social and Religious Research)主任大衛‧魯增(David Roozen)說,在過去30年裡,近60萬教徒脫離了原有教派,轉入超級教會崇拜。

在最早建立的教堂中,加州科斯塔梅莎市(Costa Mesa)的加略山教堂(Calvary Chapel)建於1965年,當時吸引了許多信仰反正統文化的信徒。那些經過改造的嬉皮原在「耶穌之家」中過集體生活,此時他們爭先恐後來到各各他教堂以求戒除毒癮。爾後他們融入中產社會,並仍保持「與神的直接接觸」──按照南加大(USC)宗教學教授唐納德‧米勒(Donald Miller)的說法。

談到典型的超級教會崇拜者,米勒說:「宗教是他們討厭的一個詞。他們喜歡用『精神生活』,因為這個詞代表了這種文化從他們身上汲取的某種東西」。為了給自己的著作《重建美國基督教》(Reinventing American Protestantism)提供素材,米勒研究了南州五個這樣的群體。

大多數超級教會都直接借鑒市場行銷經驗,將以下群體確定為其目標信徒:六○年代的嬉皮(Hippies)[1]、七○、八○年代的雅痞(Yuppies)[2],和出生於六○、七○年代的一代(Generation X-ers)[3]。對象可能各不相同,但規則是一致的:廢除中央統治機構、模糊牧師與教徒之間的界限、摒棄繁瑣的說教,宣稱矢志不逾地信仰「傳統」價值觀,並將其全部進行包裝設計以迎向一種消費者中心式的社會。哈韋斯特基督教兄弟會為其信徒提供57種服務專案。其中包括婚姻諮詢、兒童護理以及「商業聖經研究小組」等。

葛列格‧勞里牧師(Rev. Greg Laurie)於1974年創立了該教堂,他說:「本教堂弘揚聖經原則和滿足眾人的需要。我們希望對文化有所貢獻,用聖經去教導人們如何指導自己的生活。我並不是反對宗教有派別之分,但派別的出現容易導致政治的產生。領導者們可能會尋求將信眾塑造成某種類型,從而阻礙他們完成上帝預先為其安排的使命。」

【偏門成為主流】

人口學家曾經將摩門教、耶和華見證人教和五旬節教派視為「偏門」,將其置於主流基督教的邊緣。儘管有著5,100萬追隨者,對福音派基督教運動的影響不過微乎其微。原因之一在於大多數福音派基督徒已受制於某個主流派基督教會。

不過,在新舊世紀之交,這些偏門教派成了美國全部宗教生活中最富有活力的一部。過去30年中,曾經占主導地位的基督教聖公會、長老會和公理會教派信徒人數20%到40%的速度下降,而摩門教派信徒人數卻增長90%,耶和華見證人教派信徒人數增長了162%,五旬節教派信徒人數增長竟高達267%。同一時期,福音派基督教運動人數闖過了7,700萬大關。

溫和基督教福音派(Moderate Evangelical Christianity)──即葛培理(Billy Graham)的教派──如今比自由派基督教派更加接近主流,這種今昔倒置現象所伴隨的是主流風氣的轉變:從自由派基督教變為保守派基督教;從含糊地知識探索變為明確地道德說教;從解讀聖經變為照本宣科;從以低調方式吸引新成員變為公開宣傳「與耶穌基督的個人交流」。

有兩個人促使問題進一步激化:傑瑞‧福爾韋爾(Jerry Falwell)和派特‧羅伯遜(Pat Robertson)。前者推動了「道德多數派」(Moral Majority)的宣傳活動,而後者發起了「基督教合併」(Christian Coalition)運動。他們向自身認定的世俗墮落現象進行反擊——無論是墮胎的合法化、同性戀者權利運動,或是禁止舉行學校祈禱活動,他們並召攬那些自認受到六○年代文化革命壓迫的社會份子到自己旗下。

位於加州帕薩迪納市(Pasadena, California)的富勒神學院(Fuller Theological Seminary),是美國的第二大福音派神學院,院長理查‧穆伍(Richard Mouw)認為,單用政治觀點的看待基督教福音派是不對的。「這是一項改革運動。許多人(其中也有天主教徒)都將自己視為福音派基督徒,因為他們崇尚傳統的基督教。與其說福音派教義是一種完美的神學或者精神體系,倒不如說是一種矯正手段。」

在本世紀很長一段時期內,五旬節教派一直被認為是一種基督新教的次文化。雖然他們目前仍然屬於基督教內部的宗教運動(且日漸向天主教靠攏),本身卻有若干迥然各異的宗派。其中最大的兩支,基督上帝教會(the Church of God in Christ)和神召會(Assemblies of God)擁有800多萬信徒[4]。同時,五旬節教派中數百萬擁有「靈恩異能」的基督徒卻始終保留其原屬保守基督教或天主教會的會籍。

 

穆伍說:「自由派教會如今正忙著解決女權主義和同性戀問題。但這些均與兒童所處的暴力、吸毒和亂倫的雙薪家庭無關。五旬節教徒所探討的是普通人的各種基本精神需要。


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五旬節教派不同於基要主義(Fundamentalism)之處,在於其相信人神靈交的體驗是能夠在日常生活經歷的。再沒有哪個基督教團體能如此熱衷於復興此一摒棄已久的信念了。文森‧賽南(Vinson Synan)是維吉尼亞海灘(Virginia Beach)維真大學(Regent University)的神學系主任,他說:「五旬節教派符合人們對於超凡現象的真實信仰,滿足了人們對於超越理智的奇聞異事的渴望,超越了所有社會階層與貧富。」

鄉村貧民教會儼然成為中產階級的救生艇。五旬節教派也在拉丁移民中找到了熱情洋溢的信徒。橘郡(Orange County)的羅耀拉精神生活研究中心(Loyola Spirituality Center)執行主任阿倫‧菲格羅亞神父(Father Allan Figueroa)說:「在過去20年裡,說西班牙文的美國人中,多達15%轉投到了其他教會。其中許多是加入五旬節教會。中產階級教會難以對窮人和掙扎中的勞動人口產生感召力——本世紀的天主教日漸變成中產階級的教會。」

【加強接觸產生積極影響】

學者追溯美國宗教多元主義的源頭至1654年:當時的新阿姆斯特丹(New Amsterdam)——即現在的紐約市(New York City)——總督彼得‧斯代弗森特(Peter Stuyvesant)允許一艘滿載巴西裔猶太人的船在其統轄的殖民地靠岸,儘管這個殖民地是為信仰改革宗(Reform Church)的荷蘭殖民者創建的。

芝加哥大學的馬丁‧馬蒂說:「從那以後,我們就一直為各樣的人騰出地方。我們一開始可能對那些人抱著懷疑,因為他們和我們不一樣,然而日子一久,他們逐漸會融入我們當中。每個新到來的宗教團體都經歷過這段過程。」

30年以前,基督教徒和猶太教徒相互探索對方的宗教信仰被認為是勇敢之舉。如今,各宗教團體間的理事會和禱告機構中就包含了印度教和拜火教(Zoroastrians)成員。伊斯蘭教的伊瑪目、基督教牧師和猶太拉比共同參加平民儀式已不足為奇。隨著網際網路活動的暴增和有線電視的普及,過去人們眼中的異教如今已變得平易近人。萬維網(World Wide Web)上目前有數萬個宗教網站。

僅僅10年時間,加州大學洛杉磯分校(UCLA)的校內宗教社團就增長了一倍,從20個增加到40個,其中亞洲教派的激增令人矚目。據全美各地的教育工作者們報告,各地都出現了這種宗教社團急劇增加的狀況。同時,各大學的宗教學程也呈現驟然增加的情況。南方衛理公會大學(Southern Methodist University)自去年以來,宗教學程數量已經增加四倍,該大學宗教學教授約瑟夫‧泰森(Joseph Tyson)說:「學生對於宗教多元性有了前所未有深刻體會。」

與宗教的廣泛接觸正在產生積極影響。對於禪宗默念功法(Zen meditation)的癡迷激發了基督教默想式祈禱的再度興起。在猶太教徒口中默念的是希伯來語(Hebrew)禱詞,而不是早期佛教所使用的巴厘語(Pali)。儘管星期五是伊斯蘭教徒一周中最為神聖的日子,但是每逢星期天(?)他們仍開設宗教教育課程。

美國全國的佛教寺廟屬於一個稱為「全美佛教會」(Buddhist Churches of America)的組織系統,該系統是仿效基督教會協進會(the Protestant Council of Churches)而建立的。

但是,儘管種種跡象表明宗教混合性得到美國民眾的接受,但也有無情的事實表明某些人不容異說。聯邦調查局(FBI)從1996年以來的罪犯檔案列舉了1,401起由宗教引起的洩憤案件,比五年前增加了53%,而這一數字的增加不能僅僅歸因於報案效率的改善。各地的教堂、猶太教堂、清真寺和佛寺通常是此類案件的受害者。但由於星期天的早晨往往是教徒各自聚集宗教會堂、彼此最為涇渭分明的時間,那麼,又是誰在美國眾多的宗教儀式中跳出來指手劃腳呢?

沒有一個宗教團體像浸信會內部那樣對於種族隔離問題存在如此巨大的分岐。全美浸信會的三大宗派共有1,400萬信徒,是美國最大的黑人宗教團體。南方浸信會如今有4%的信徒為黑人,該會於1995年因鼓吹永久性種族岐視行動向非裔美國人公開道歉──該組織在1845年曾聲援奴隸制,而且其某些領導人還在六○年代極力抵制過民權運動。公開道歉並沒有彌平各宗教組織間的分岐,也未能使其成為合一的教會。

隨著愈來愈多的移民在美國這個大熔爐國家安身立命,教派融合問題將變得愈發敏感。毫無例外地,美國所有的立國文獻都預料到:不同信仰間的互相寬容絕不會自然發生。互諒互讓的觀念必須通過「傳授、質疑、抵制、訴訟」的過程,最後才能被人們接受。只是直到過去30年,最為狂熱的反天主教主義和反猶太人主義傾向才確實受到遏制。

 

美國目前正經歷其週期性宗教復興中的又一場復興,於是也再次面臨宗教複雜性的問題——這種宗教的複雜性在世界各國都是史無前例。哈佛大學的戴安娜‧埃克說:「宗教多元性確實存在,但問題是,宗教多元化最後會出現嗎?」(邱慕天整理)

〈Redefining Religion in America〉原文刊登於《Los Angeles Times》June 21, 1998一版

簡體中文翻譯出自《交流》雜誌2001年第一期

相關資料:

The Pluralism Project(英)

八十年代興起的靈恩運動(Zh)