David C. KirkpatrickSep 8, 2021
A Gospel for the Poor
Global Social Christianity and the Latin American Evangelical Left
University of Pennsylvania Press 2019
In 1974, the International Congress on World Evangelization met in Lausanne, Switzerland. Gathering together nearly 2,500 Protestant evangelical leaders from more than 150 countries and 135 denominations, it rivaled Vatican II in terms of its influence. But as David C. Kirkpatrick argues in A Gospel for the Poor: Global Social Christianity and the Latin American Evangelical Left (U Pennsylvania Press, 2019), the Lausanne Congress was most influential because, for the first time, theologians from the Global South gained a place at the table of the world's evangelical leadership—bringing their nascent brand of social Christianity with them. Leading up to this momentous occasion, after World War II, there emerged in various parts of the world an embryonic yet discernible progressive coalition of thinkers who were embedded in global evangelical organizations and educational institutions such as the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, and the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians.
Within these groups, Latin Americans had an especially strong voice, for they had honed their theology as a religious minority, having defined it against two perceived ideological excesses: Marxist-inflected Catholic liberation theology and the conservative political loyalties of the U.S. Religious Right. In this context, transnational conversations provoked the rise of progressive evangelical politics, the explosion of Christian mission and relief organizations, and the infusion of social justice into the very mission of evangelicals around the world and across a broad spectrum of denominations. Drawing upon bilingual interviews and archives and personal papers from three continents, Kirkpatrick adopts a transnational perspective to tell the story of how a Cold War generation of progressive Latin Americans, including seminal figures such as Ecuadorian René Padilla and Peruvian Samuel Escobar, developed, named, and exported their version of social Christianity to an evolving coalition of global evangelicals.
Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. student in the Department of History & Ecumenics, focusing on World Christianity and history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary. His research interest lies in Indonesia and the Muslim dominant regions of Southeast Asia, from the postcolonial approach to Christianity and the coexistence of various religions, including the study of Christianity and the Islamic faith in a Muslim dominant society that includes challenges of ethnic diversity.