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PostI Too Studied with the Jesuits (Enrique Torner, USA, 05/09/19 3:19 am)
Our dear editor is in need of summer break: if Adrian College has the same academic calendar as ours, he must be stressed out and exhausted.
So I can understand his forgetting about my Jesuit upbringing, and not having become agnostic or an atheist. I have mentioned before in WAIS my being raised in a Jesuit school in Spain, and how they instilled in me the fear of God and Hell. Their discipline was both physical and mental: they used all kinds of discipline methods that I believe I mentioned in a previous WAIS post, though I couldn't find it; and they taught us the needed self-discipline to learn our subjects well. Yes, I remember how, when I was 15 or 16, I stopped going to Mass because I couldn't stand all those warnings of Hell any more. In doing so, I was rejecting God at that time, but that doesn't mean I doubted or denied His existence.
After I came to the US, I became acquainted with Evangelical Christianity, and learned of being able to have a personal relationship with Christ through repentance and faith. Learning that He loved me unconditionally, despite all my sins, and that He would forgive my sins if I repented and put my faith in Christ, and, above all, that salvation was by faith alone (not dependent on my deeds, as the Catholic Church teaches) was very liberating, and, for the first time, after I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I actually felt I had a personal relationship with God.
I am still a sinner, still sin, but now I have hope, because my final destination does not depend on what I do or I don't, but on what Christ did for me on the cross. Does this give me license to go ahead and sin? Yes, it does in theory, but, when one is born again by the Spirit, "he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, the new "Christian" does not want to continue living in sin any more. This doesn't mean they won't sin any more, but that they will not live in continuous sin, because the Holy Spirit lives in them and gives them the power and grace to overcome it. Paul puts it this way: "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2)
So, no, though I was raised by Jesuits in Spain, I haven't become agnostic or an atheist. As a matter of fact, I bet most Spaniards raised by Jesuits still believe in God. Many may have rebelled against Him, going against His commandments plainly ignoring Him, or even hating and cursing Him, but, in the process, demonstrating their belief in Him. I bet many declared agnostics and atheists are really like them.
JE comments: I've learned my lesson: never generalize about the Jesuits! And it's funny you should ask about summer vacation. My break officially begins today, as soon as I turn in my final grades (due at noon).
Enrique, if you will permit me one more sweeping observation: You're the only Spanish Evangelical Christian I've ever met. (We actually haven't met in person, although we've become very close through WAIS.) Do you know others?
Evangelical Christianity in Spain
(Enrique Torner, USA
05/10/19 4:43 AM)
To answer John E's question, I have met very few Spanish Evangelical Christians, but I have met several American Christians who have been or are missionaries in Spain. I have met several Evangelical Christians from Latin America though.
Interestingly, upon doing some checking online, I found out that Evangelical Christians now form the largest religious minority in Spain. In 2018 alone, they opened 16 new worship places every month! As of December of last year, there were 4,238 places of worship in the country, an increase of 197 from previous December. In comparison, the Catholic Church owns 23,019, according to the following article:
Personally, I don't doubt these statistics, but I found them incredible. I would have thought Spain had many more Catholic temples in relationship to Evangelical churches. According to this article, Evangelical growth is much higher than that of the other minority religions. This is supported by other websites, like the Joshua Project, whose estimates show an annual growth of 3.4%, while the global growth rate is 2.6%:
Latin America has had an impressive growth in Evangelical Christians as well. According to a recent article by The New York Times (January 17, 2018), 20% of their population are Evangelicals, up from 3% three decades ago:
The NY Times article describes the tight relationship between Evangelicals and conservative politics, with which I agree, but I strongly disagree with the author's statement that Evangelical pastors expect "women to be completely submissive to their evangelical husbands." This is completely false.
In conclusion, Evangelical Christianity is on the rise in Spain and Latin America.
JE comments: WAIS has discussed Evangelicalism in Latin America, which is not exactly on the "rise" because it's been a major presence for nearly a century. In Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras, Evangelicals rival Catholics in numbers. Guatemala's embattled president, Jimmy Morales, is a Pentecostal.
As for Spain, I would have assumed that Muslims constitute the largest religious minority. Do the number of "places of worship" translate to numbers of parishioners? Many Evangelical churches are tiny storefront operations.