Rene Padilla & Samuel Escobar on Latin American evangelical theology

September 27, 2011

In my review of An Evangelical Social Gospel? by Tim Suttle for the Englewood Review of Books I suggested that in our search for a third way beyond extremes we look beyond our culture’s current Christian polarities and be willing to listen and learn from brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world. I named two worth listening to from the region with which I’m most familiar: Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar, both from Latin America. Whether you’ve read their work or not, you may enjoy this video. Speaking at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization last October in Cape Town, South Africa, Padilla and Escobar here recount key moments in the history of the development of an evangelical theology for Latin America, particularly in reference to the Lausanne movement. The audio level is a little low, but nothing headphones can’t solve.

About nine minutes into the clip, Rene Padilla outlines three concerns that he believes are shared by many in Latin America. I can imagine some of the delegates at the congress squirming in their seats, at least for the second and third concern he mentions.

  1. Discipleship: Jesus didn’t send his disciples to make converts, but to make disciples who would obey everything he taught
  2. Globalization: specifically, the globalization of an “unjust economic system” that is “destroying people” all over the world, but especially the poor
  3. Ecology: if ecological destruction continues as it is, who knows what the future will hold for our children and grandchildren?

Samuel Escobar also mentions the trend towards Latin America sending its own missionaries to Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and that in many cases they are doing so with an “integral” or “holistic” approach to mission and faith — “the only possible way to do mission in those places.”

At any rate, consider this an addendum to my suggestion in the review.