The Church in Latin America

The Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, in Keene, California.  Photo credit:  Chris English, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0.  Cesar Estrada Chavez was a Roman Catholic Mexican-American farm worker who became a labor union organizer.  With Dolores Huertas and Filipino-American laborers in the Delano Grape Strike, he helped form the United Farm Workers and won major victories for the American labor movement, which had strong Catholic support.  In the U.S. in the 1960's, the labor movement was one of three major social movements - along with the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War protests - which involved Christians expressing social justice concerns.  For more resources on Christianity and Labor, see our list here.


the church in Latin America, in the United States

The selection of perspectives on church history in this section has been guided by three factors: (1) to demonstrate that Christianity has not been a “white man’s religion”; (2) the study of empire as a recurring motif in Scripture by recent biblical studies scholars; and (3) explorations of biblical Christian ethics on issues of power and polity, to understand how Christians were faithful to Christ or not.  Christian relational ethics continues a Christian theological anthropology that began with reflection on the human nature of Jesus, and the human experience of biblical Israel.

Books and Articles on the Church in Latin America: U.S.

The resources below focus on, or are from, the United States context.  To see resources from or about North and South American outside the United States, click here.

Justo Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought, Vol.1: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon (Amazon book, 1987) Gonzalez provides an excellent introduction, though not accounting for more recent understandings of how "Hellenism" was engaged by Judaism prior to Christianity. See also A History of Christian Thought, Vol. 2: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation (Amazon book, 1987) and A History of Christian Thought, Vol. 3: From the Protestant Reformation to the Twentieth Century (Amazon book, 1987)

Justo Gonzalez, Manana: Christian Theology from a Hispanic Perspective (Amazon book, 1990)

Justo Gonzalez, Santa Biblia: The Bible Through Hispanic Eyes (Amazon book, 1996)

Miguel A. De La Torre and Edwin David Aponte, Introducing Latino/a Theologies (Amazon book, 2001)

Rene Padilla, The Local Church, Agent of Transformation: An Ecclesiology for Integral Mission (Amazon book, 2004) helpful introduction to "integral mission" with dual priorities of evangelism and social change

Marco G. Prouty, Cesar Chavez, the Catholic Bishops, and the Farmworkers' Struggle for Social Justice (Amazon book, 2005) a very helpful collection of essays exploring the roles of leaders and communities in issues of labor rights, women's rights, immigration, poverty, and organizing

Gaston Espinosa, Virgilio Elizondo, and Jesse Miranda, Latino Religions and Civic Activism in the United States (Amazon book, Sep 15, 2006)

Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation (Amazon book, 2006). See also The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day (Amazon book, 2010)

Davina C. Lopez, The Apostle to the Conquered: Reimagining Paul's Mission (Amazon book, Oct 1, 2010)

Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Listen to the Children: Conversations With Immigrant Families (Amazon book, 2011)

Jeffrey P. Greenman and Gene L. Green, Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective: Exploring the Contextual Nature of Theology and Mission (Amazon book, 2012)

Oscar Garcia-Johnson, The Significance of the Cross in Latino/a Perspective (Fuller Seminary, Fall 2012) an intriguing short reflection on the way presentations of Christ (Spanish Catholic, then Protestant, etc.) were connected to power relations

Loida I. Martell-Otero, Zaida Maldonado Perez, and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Latina Evangelicas: A Theological Survey from the Margins (Amazon book, 2013)

Robert Chao Romero, Jesus for Revolutionaries: An Introduction to Race, Social Justice, and Christianity (Amazon book, 2013)

Justo L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought: In One Volume (Amazon book, 2014) is an abridged version of his three earlier volumes

David Cranston and Ruth Padilla deBorst, Mission as Transformation: Learning from Catalysts (Amazon book, 2014)

Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett, A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation (Amazon book, 2014)

Miguel A. De La Torre, Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins (Amazon book, 2014) provides very helpful case studies of global relationships, poverty, war, and environment

Felipe Hinojosa, Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture (Amazon book, Apr 15, 2014)

Leopoldo A. Sanchez M., Receiver, Bearer, and Giver of God's Spirit: Jesus' Life in the Spirit as a Lens for Theology and Life (Amazon book, Mar 27, 2015)

Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story Luke Tells: Luke's Unique Witness to the Gospel (Amazon book, 2015) concerning mission, community, gender, food and drink, and the Spirit

Miguel A. De La Torre, Introducing Liberative Theologies (Amazon book, 2015) a collection of essays from authors of various geographical and ethnic backgrounds

Craig Ott, The Mission of the Church: Five Views in Conversation (Amazon book, 2016)

Miguel A. De La Torre, The U.S. Immigration Crisis: Toward an Ethics of Place (Amazon book, 2016)

Jason Steidl, Catolicos por la Raza and the Cardinal's Midnight Mass:  Interrupting the Eucharist to Establish Just Worship (The Other Journal, May 2, 2016) about the 1969 Los Angeles Catholic Chicanos who called upon the Catholic Church to defend the poor

Miguel A. De La Torre, Embracing Hopelessness (Amazon book, 2017) a collection of essays by authors of different ethnic backgrounds, exploring conditions of heretofore unchecked injustice

Juan Francisco Martinez, The Story of Latino Protestants in the United States (Amazon book, 2018)

Robert Chao Romero, Critical Race Theory in Christianity Part I: The Christian-Ethnic Studies Borderlands (blog, Sep 7, 2018) gives a very illuminating personal account of being a pastor, immigration lawyer, and professor teaching at UCLA in Ethnic Studies, as well as a good response to recent conservative evangelical denials that social justice is an organic and fundamental part of the Christian gospel message.

the church in the americas: for and against the racial empires

church and empire: faithfulness and compromise