Contemporary Preaching to a Non-contemporary Society: Nineteenth-Century Reformed Theology Comes to Non-nineteenth-Century Brazil
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Patrocinio, Jorge Luiz. “Contemporary Preaching to a Non-Contemporary Society: Nineteenth-Century Reformed Theology Comes to Non-Nineteenth-Century Brazil.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2009. 241 pp.
When Presbyterian missionaries came from America to nineteenth-century Brazil, they encountered a society strongly marked by a Roman Catholicism that was both tugged in several directions and also marked by a spirit more attuned to the later Middle Ages. In planting and then cultivating the Presbyterian Church, first the missionaries and then indigenous Brazilian pastors responded by spreading a message strongly rooted in Reformation theology, approaching their task almost as if the Reformation were unfolding again in Brazil. Under that “Reformation” label, the rhetoric would shift over time from a relatively mild, straightforward presentation to a more aggressive tone in that Catholic-dominated culture. This mission effort also imported elements of the past, reaching back as far as Puritan England with a strict approach to faith and blending this with other elements drawn from the American sending church, all combined to produce a Reformation-based theology that still colors the Presbyterian Church of Brazil today.
This all is reflected in the pages of one of the most important tools used to spread this theological message. Over the course of several years, O Púlpito Evangélico, a periodical supported by the Presbyterians in Brazil, published sermons by the American missionaries, Brazilian pastors, and selected outside preachers. These sermons, first available in the journal issues and then collected, were a way to multiply the influence of a relatively small number of preachers, broadcasting a theology that reflected the context and need, and that would hopefully shape the hearts and minds of readers and hearers in a direction the Reformation had set. Judging from the longevity of the sermon collection, there must have been a receptive audience. An analysis of these sermons both generally confirms the nature of the religious culture in which the missionaries and pastors worked and gives a clear picture of the theological themes and accents they first introduced and then recast over several decades of working in nineteenth-century Brazil.
Patrocinio, Jorge Luiz, "Contemporary Preaching to a Non-contemporary Society: Nineteenth-Century Reformed Theology Comes to Non-nineteenth-Century Brazil" (2009). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 140.
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