The new Christianity of Brazil

Business is booming in Brazil. So is Christianity. What does the latter mean for the former, and vice versa?

The former statement has become commonplace in discussions about the world’s economy. While the United States and Europe experience the full weight of fiscal irresponsibility and their national limbs strain to hold up the ever-increasing weight of debt, Brazil has sprung out of the global recession and appears poised to continue to grow as an economic power.

This sustained economic boom is associated with plenty of positive developments: a growing middle class, less people in poverty, improved education and a place at the table on the U.N.’s Security Council.

The effects of this economic growth influence Brazil’s social life in other ways as well. National Geographic recently featured an article describing the increasing sense of empowerment brought on by economic growth, going so far as to describe this new phenomenon as "Machisma."

At the same time, if we can believe Philip Jenkins, Christianity is on the rise in Brazil as well. Catholicism has always been well established in the country, but Pentecostalism and evangelicalism have been rising at rates higher than the country’s economic rate. They have even emerged as a political force by influencing Brazil’s recent presidential elections.

What will be interesting to watch over the next while is how the combined economic boom and the rise of evangelicalism and Pentecostalism in Brazil will influence one another. What type of Christianity will result?

Of course, the influence of culture on Christianity and Christianity’s influence on culture is a complicated, multi-faceted matter which will often have strange results. Exhibit A: the song posted above, written by a Canadian artist and sung by two young Brazilians - the very picture of the next Christendom. Note the overhaul of the song’s original melancholy elements, courtesy of Leonard Cohen, and its transformation into a praise song, the words of which appear to have been lifted straight from the evangelical stock lyric pile. Note also the set, which looks like it sent straight from "American Idol" to Rio. Note also that no one bats an eye at the song’s deliberate Christianity.

While it’s not fair to make wide-sweeping conclusions, we can say that the new faces of Christianity, especially those in countries emerging as economic powerhouses, will be stranger than we think. The continued growth of Christianity is very likely to shatter comfortable categories. Brazil’s economy is booming. Christianity is booming. Our definitions of both are about to undergo a similar explosion.

Brian Dijkema is a Senior Researcher at Cardus and co-editor of Comment. Prior to joining Cardus, Brian worked in labor relations in Canada and in the field of international human rights. This piece was originally published on the Cardus Blog.

Comments (10)

Leave a Comment
Pentecostal, charismatic Christianity is not a fringe development on the body of orthodox western faith. Orthodox Christianity is a fringe element on the body of vital, primitive, New Testament Christianity. Primitive pentecostal experience is what we read about in the Gospels, acts and Paul’s letters. Healing, miracles, the charismatic gifts are a reality for 600 million pentecostals of whom the majority live in China, Latin America and Africa. There is nothing odd or weird about this. Paul’s normal church meeting in Corinthians 14 had at least 3 prophets speaking and included speaking in tongues with interpretation. We have presidential candidates in America who speak in tongues are comfortable with prophecy. We pray for the sick weekly in our church and see people healed of cancer, broken bones, heart disease and many other ailments and I have prayed in tongues daily for 40 years. So When I see the Brazilian tape, I cry when I hear the worship. I feel like I know these Christians, I understand their passion and am delighted that God is restoring faith-filled New Testament Christianity to America as well. The new faces of Christianity are not “stranger than we think.” They are familiar, welcome, biblical and ubiquitous for the rest of the world.
Gag me with a CCM spoon. What megabucks mindless Christian crap.
(Nothing against the kids singing it, though can anyone spell CCM Music
Industry "exploitation"?) As a philosopher of art & Jewish Messianic
& charismatic Xian (with Anglican & Baptist roots) who honors the word of the God
(the Bible), I think the state of 21st century Christendom is
well-reflected in the growing mindlessness of the garbled
nonsense-lyrics of most of the "songs" being sung in churches today (a
few denominations possibly excluded, such as some Catholics,
Anglo-Catholics, Anglicans, biblical-Christian Methodists, Evangelical
Free). We need either a blossoming/revival of great Xian poetic and
musical art (preferred) or a return to classic hymnology--e.g. "Be Thou
My Vision," "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," "The Hymn Of St. Patrick,"
"Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing," "Trust And Obey"--to counter
irrational, emotion-based Xianity. May the God have mercy. As Oswald
Chambers wrote (October 31 devotion): "Faith in the Bible is faith in
God against everything that contradicts Him—I will remain true to God's
character whatever He may do. 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him'
[Job 13:15]—this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of
the Bible." Content! Let's get some theological, historical, existential,
Biblical content here! Thank you. Baruch haShem.
When I see two vulnerable young children sing with angelic voices in Portuguese “Father I want to love you, touch your heart, lay me down at your feet, I want to be closer to you Lord and give you glory, Hallelujah, I need to hear the beats of Your heart and hide myself in your arms Hallelujah”, I don’t think, "CCM crap, gag me with a spoon." Besides there is nothing irrational or doctrinally heretical in what they are singing. Give them a break. I think of Jesus saying “Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them." (or the music critics rebuked him). 'But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  I get the fact that this is not Martin Luther’s “A mighty Fortress is our God’ or Handel’s Messiah.  I enjoy western, rational works of classical art, high poetry, the finer points of doctrine, Calvin's institutes, the confessions.  Paul admonished us to encourage one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (variety). He also said that he sang in tongues, a non-rational form of worship “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.“ We have a song lyric from Paul’s day. He quotes in Ephesians, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Eph 5:14. Who know what the singers voice, or the musician playing the 3 stringed Oud or Arabic flute sounded like. But it wasn’t like Bach I assure you. And the lyrics weren't written by Oxford dons. Most likely by ignorant Galilean fishermen, carpenters or itinerant tent-makers.
(and to K.D. Kragen)  you may be "opponents", but you're playing in the same ballpark, the same great game, if you will.  The issue is to recognize worth and beauty across the spectrum of style, tradition, expression, etc; and to employ it all---not just settling for one form.  Just a plug for a contemporary writer/composer team (and I prefer tradition)---the songs of Getty and Townend.
Thanks, J Carpenter. The dialogue must continue. Beauty. Ciao, KDKragen
Gifted children. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
So RickD, You are One-ness (Jesus-only / Modalist)? Why do you reject orthodoxy? I am a Pentecostal/Charismatic who cherishes orthodoxy as do most of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches in the world. There are exceptions. But where are YOU coming from?
I am using the term orthodox is a loose sense, forgive me for being imprecise. The point I was trying to make was that what we regard as normative in much of America, or as I called it "orthodox" in the west (a hyper-rational, non-charismatic, dispensational, propositional faith) is fast becoming a minority in the world Christian community. I was raised Conservative Baptist, then confirmed Anglican. However began attending a pentecostal Church in my mid twenties. For the last 40 years I have been doctrinally orthodox (trinitarian), calvinistic, evangelistic, though neo-pentecostal, holding to the inerrancy of the word of God, pre-millennial, right-handed norwegian. The experience of miracles, healing, gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy which were distinctives of the first 3 centuries of the church are the common expression of the church in much of the world today.
Sorry, but somebody misunderstood the big picture.

That's a TV show for new talents. That's a contest for talented kids hosted by a catholic man in a non evangelical TV station. That's not "gospel business".

These two kids are member of Assembly of God and they just performed a song to praise Jesus after the host asks them to sing something togheter. So, the girl chose "Hallelujah", the song she sang at her first time in the show as contestant because both knew the lyrics. That's was an improvisation, friend.

The lyrycs ALELUIA in portuguese was wroten by a 16 y.o girl (who won the same contest in 2007), not by a profissional composer who make tons of gospel musics plenty of heresy and "new doctrines".

I know it very well because I'm from Brazil.

Alberto
www.youtube.com/user/APalavraD...
Sorry, but you misunderstood all.

That's a TV show for new talents. That's a contest for talented kids hosted by a catholic man in a non evangelical TV station. That's not "gospel business".

These two kids are member of Assembly of God and they just performed a song to praise Jesus. That was her second participation on that show and she decided to sing this song after the host - Raul Gil - ask them to sing something togheter. So, the girl chose "Hallelujah", the song she sang at her first time in the show as contestant because both knew the lyrics. That's was an improvisation, friend. 

They sang the lyrycs "ALELUIA" in portuguese wroten by a 16 y.o girl called  Gabriela Rocha (who won the same contest in 2007). She just loved the song theme of Shrek and decided to wrote a lyrics for Jesus. It was not wroten by a profissional composer who make tons of gospel musics plenty of heresy and "new doctrines" just for selling DVDs. 

This is not "Industry". Only two evangelical kids performing an improvisation in a show for new talents. There was other kids performing in the show asyou can see here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Michelly and Jotta decided to praise the Lord. So, "cra.." definitivelly is not the word to define praise coming from the pure hearts of kids who loves Jesus.

By the way: the boy (Jotta) became the winner of this season and received a symbolic award including some 11,000 Dollars in gold bars from the host/TV station.

I know it very well because I'm from Brazil.

Alberto
www.youtube.com/user/APalavraD...

 

Leave a comment

A login account is required to leave a comment

See the latest in:

Promotion

promo 1 promo 2
promo 3 promo 4

Donate Now