Bad News: Witchhunts, Colonialism, and Slavery

Sources: Adrian Hastings, "Latin America," in Adrian Hastings, ed., A World History of Christianity (Eerdmans, 1999); Brian Moynahan, The Faith (Doubleday, 2000); F.L. Cross, ed., Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2d ed. (Oxford, 1983).

Reading: Rom. 1:14-2:24.

Intolerance of Folk Religion
"Folk" (popular) religion is ancient, cultural, eclectic, stubborn, creative, and synthetic
Early medieval Christianity had been relatively tolerant of folk religion
Tolerance ends with Innocent VII's Summis Desiderantes 1484, then The Hammer of Witches 1486
Underlying theological issue: Are these practices serious demonic/Satanic activities?
Witchhunting migrates to Protestants, then later to American Puritanism, then dies out
Quiet fascination with the occult ("hidden") continues to characterize the west

Colón-ialism and Latin American Christianity
The Castilian throne controls Iberian Christianity as Muslim rule ends in Granada in 1492, Spain is "re-Christianized", and Columbus discovers the New World
Spanish Pope Alexander VI grants Spain and Portugal the New World and its evangelization 1493
Except for its Jesuits, New World Catholicism is under Spanish (not papal) control

Missionaries are at the mercy of conquistadores
(Remember: Constantinian mission becomes conquest, national defense, and national security)
Evangelism is seen as "civilization": adoption of European culture
(Remember: Constantinianism is an eschatology that legislates the millennial kingdom of Christ through civil authorities)

Hernán Cortés defeats Aztec and Inca empires (with other tribes' help)
Guaman Poma de Ayala, indigenous Peruvian Christian, chronicles Peru's virtuous "pagan" past, Spanish tyranny, Church corruption, Jesuit and Franciscan kindnesses
Indigenous populations are wiped out by exploitation, relocation, and European disease
A few Jesuits and Franciscans protect aboriginals
The population and the faith stay creole and become mestizo as aboriginal population declines
Bartolomé de las Casas, Cuban conquistador turned Dominican and bishop of Chiapas, writes and lobbies relentlessly in Spain against abuses (gaining notoriety outside Spain)
José de Acosta, Jesuit, describes the indigenous cultures as satanic at 1581 Lima Provincial Council
Our Lady of Guadalupe's appearance in 1531 captures Mexican Catholic imagination

Muslim slavery and trade of Africans (and Europeans) keep slavery alive in southern Europe
Spaniards transport African slaves to labor in the Americas (because of indigenous decimation?)
Northern Europeans (especially colonialists) reintroduce the practice in northern Europe
Slavers look to Cain (Gen. 4:15) or Ham (Gen. 9:25) for theological justification
Protestant and Catholic opinion begins to turn over 18th and 19th centuries
Slavery is abolished in Europe and Americas in 19th century

Light Shines in the Darkness
A few offer grace in each of these horrific settings
The good news eventually gets out — sometimes despite the Church's efforts
Many indigenous and slave populations eventually develop truly inculturated Christian faith
Mexican and other Catholicisms find their own voices (e.g., Our Lady of Guadalupe)