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Are evangelicals and Protestants the same? In Spain, they are

Unlike in most of the rest of Europe, there are no evangelicals in Spain who distance themselves from Protestantism. Why?

EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVES AUTOR 7/Joel_Forster 08 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 10:10 h
A Reformation Day event on 31 October 2023, held in Granada, Spain. / Photo: Fraternidad de Pastores Evangélicos de Granada.

500 people in Valencia, 800 in Granada, hundreds more in Madrid. In Spain, evangelical Christians (with a lower case “e”) have once again celebrated the Reformation with public events throughout the country, attended also by political and cultural authorities.



These once-in-a-year events are a chance to look at a shared history and to vindicate the commitment of the evangelical minority (1-2% of the population) to serve society as a whole, from their biblical worldview.



Unlike in most of the rest of Europe, there are no evangelicals in Spain who distance themselves from Protestantism. Why?



[destacate]Now that the Catholic feast of All Saints has transferred its prominence to Halloween, evangelicals speak on 31 October about ‘Post tenebras, Lux’[/destacate]Now that the Catholic feast of All Saints (1 November) has transferred its prominence to Halloween, evangelicals are looking for their space to claim that 31 October is a reminder of Post tenebras, Lux. Luther’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott is not only sung in Spanish (Castillo fuerte es nuestro Dios) but also in co-official languages such as Catalan.


Each region rediscovers its own Christian heroes of the 16th century. Forgotten people, such as Gaspar de Centelles, who as an upper-class intellectual converted to a biblical faith and was tried, having books and Bibles confiscated, to be burned alive outside the walls of Valencia city in 1564. His crime was to be an “abominable and impenitent heretic”. Another example of people who failed in reforming the church is the Sevillian lady María Bohórquez, burned at the hands of the Inquisition five years earlier.



Today, more than 90% of evangelicals in Spain define themselves as Protestants. This is maybe because Spanish Protestants were never tied to a powerful national church such as it happened in Scandinavia or Central Europe.



“Protestant” is often the term chosen by young Christian students at university when asked about their faith. The body that represents Pentecostals, Baptists, Reformed or Brethren before the state calls itself the “Protestant Federation”. The Spanish Evangelical Alliance, another umbrella organisation, has said that “the Reformation must continue”. And the most widely read evangelical online media is called Protestante Digital.



[destacate]“We evangelicals have a lot to contribute to this country. But it is difficult to bring our own original, transforming proposals to the public square”[/destacate]This might be because the label “Protestant” still sounds like modernity, progress and… Europe. The liberal theological drifts that have lost the authority of the Bible along the way are still in the minority in Spain and have not tarnished the memory of evangelicalism here.



X. Manuel Suárez, a doctor and politician, said these days: “We evangelicals have a lot to contribute to this country, although we ourselves are often unaware of it. But it is still difficult for us to make ourselves visible and to bring our own original, transforming proposals to the public square, proposals that begin in the spiritual sphere and extend to all other areas”.



Perhaps this is yet another reason why evangelicals in Spain continue to look back on the Protestant Reformation with admiration. The commemoration that in other places is associated with division or religion wars, here is a celebration of Christian faithfulness, the courage to do what is right and the struggle that won freedoms.



Joel Forster, journalist in Spain and Director of Evangelical Focus.


 

 


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PROTESTANTE DIGITAL FORMA PARTE DE LA: Alianza Evangélica Española
MIEMBRO DE: Evangelical European Alliance (EEA) y World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)
 

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