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The Rise of Pentecostalism in Modern El Salvador
From the Blood of the Martyrs to the Baptism of the Spirit

By Timothy H. Wadkins

The Rise of Pentecostalism in Modern El Salvador
Hardback, 272 pages $49.95
Published: 1st August 2017
ISBN: 9781481307123
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: Church History, Mission/Evangelism

El Salvador has experienced a dramatic religious transformation over the past half-century. In what was once an almost exclusively Catholic nation, more than 35 percent of the people are now evangelical Protestants, mostly identified as charismatic or Pentecostal.

While having some roots in Protestant missions from North America and Europe, the religious renaissance overtaking El Salvador is both homegrown and closely related to the nation’s social, cultural, and economic upheavals. Since the end of the Salvadoran Civil War, the traditional social order—which was established in colonial times, ruled by elites, enforced by the military, and supported by the Church—has been overturned. Once a world of haciendas, plantations, and old merchant firms, El Salvador is now home to new factories, shopping malls, fast food restaurants, and call centers. Modernization has brought new ideas too—about asserting individual rights and making choices, forming communities, voting in elections, consuming material goods, employing technology, and engaging with global culture.

The Rise of Pentecostalism in Modern El Salvador explores how this vast social transformation has opened the gates to runaway religious creativity and competition. In weaving together the lively and complex story, author Timothy Wadkins employs the scholarly tools of historical reconstruction, theological analysis, and ethnographic interviews, as well as the results of a pioneering national religious survey. The outcome is a comprehensive and detailed picture of El Salvador’s religious renaissance against the backdrop of El Salvador’s fitful path toward modernization and democratization.

Introduction: The Eruption of the Spirit in the Land of the Savior

Chapter 1. La Nueva Familia de Fey

Chapter 2. The Preferential Option for the Spirit

Chapter 3. The New World Order

Chapter 4. Spirit-Filled Ascendency in the New World Order

Chapter 5. Surviving the World

Chapter 6. Consuming the World

Chapter 7. Engaging the World

Chapter 8. Managing the Spirit

Conclusion: Spirit-Filled Christianity and Modernization in El Salvador

"This thoughtful, engaging, and surprising book opens up the world of Salvadoran Pentecostalism. Carefully researched and clearly written, it highlights the strengths, weaknesses, and tensions that have developed in important Pentecostal movements in the encounter with modernity. Particularly stimulating is the analysis of megachurch pastor Mario Vega’s esteem for Catholic Archbishop Oscar Romero and of Vega’s growing commitment to social justice."

—Todd Hartch, Professor of History, Eastern Kentucky University

"Profound religious changes have been remaking Latin America for years. If you want to understand those changes—and even more if you think you already understand them—The Rise of Pentecostalism in Modern El Salvador is a must-read. Wadkins reveals a new socially engaged, even liberationist, branch of Pentecostalism that may reshape evangelical Christianity in our lifetimes. He draws on deep research, strong interpretive work, and interviews with Salvadoran pastors and evangelical leaders to offer new insight that will contradict much of what outside observers thought we knew of religion in Latin America. Some will agree with him, others will be inspired, and others will argue vociferously with his findings. But you do not understand contemporary Latin America until you come to terms with Wadkins’ view of the deep religious and cultural changes happening in the face of modernity and neoliberalism in El Salvador."

—Richard L. Wood, University of New Mexico, Author of A Shared Future: Faith-Based Organizing for Racial Equity and Ethical Democracy

"Wadkins’s detailed research and in-depth analysis is presented in an engaging format and is both refreshing and insightful. From a sociological and theological point of view, he describes the historical path of Pentecostalism in modern El Salvador with great skill, providing the reader with historical background, a literature review, transcribed interviews, and careful analysis along the way…This book is recommended to scholars and lay readers alike who are interested in Pentecostalism and historical and ethnographic research."

—Shaun Joynt, Reading Religion

"Grounded in detailed historical and ethnographic research, this book makes an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the roots and current expressions of Pentecostalism in El Salvador. Timothy Wadkins also describes in lucid prose the growth of the Catholic charismatic movement, the reasons Liberation Theology failed to connect with the very population it was seeking to empower, and various expressions of socially engaged Protestantism."

—Donald E. Miller, Leonard K. Firestone Professor of Religion, University of Southern California

Timothy H. Wadkins is Professor of Modern Christianity and Director of the Institute for Global Study of Religion at Canisius College.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 272 pages
 9in x 6in

  HIS007000, REL079000, REL108020
 Baylor University Press

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