Essay on Hispanic Pentecostalism and Social Impact

Published: 2021/11/12
Number of words: 2547

Hispanic Pentecostalism is about absolute faith in the Word of God and belief that love is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is rooted in the idea that orthodoxy is not fundamentalism and that the vertical relationship with God is just as important as horizontal relationships with fellow humans. The teaching that antipathy is a sin and faith demands actions has had an impact on the Christian community at large and the Hispanic Pentecostal one in particular. The paper explains just how extensive these effects are and what they rest on.

Justice and Christ

One of the main aspects of this brand of Christianity is the centrality of justice in its teachings, doctrine, and practice. Its practitioners assert that Jesus did not just believe in justice in heaven, he was also a proponent of justice on earth[1]. According to them, the Lord Jesus Christ did not intend for human beings to only serve God directly. The doctrine argues that the horizontal outreach to fellow human beings is just as important as the vertical one designed to reach God directly. Human beings are the only elements of nature created in the image of God and one of Jesus Christ’s primary laws concerns love for one’s neighbor. The appeal to justice is based on the assumption that it is directly tied to compassion and empathy. Jesus Christ preached love for one’s neighbors and Hispanic Pentecostals proclaim that justice is an aspect of love.

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While the law is supremely important, Hispanic Pentecostals point out that Jesus Christ himself stated that the law was made for man and not the other way around[2]. At the same time, the teacher did not admonish his followers to wait for the afterlife when they asked him to intercede on their behalf when he faced challenges. He fed them when they were hungry, healed them when they were ill, and even cleared the temple for them when it was taken over by traders. According to the doctrine, Christians should follow in the footsteps of Christ. That means embracing his approach to life’s challenges. One of those challenges is the current state of injustice at various levels. As Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. rightly said, no one free until all people are free[3]. Human beings will be freer in a just world and Christians should be working towards that goal.

Long Term Impact

In this and many other ways, the Hispanic Pentecostal movement has pushed many people to become activists and seek political office with the stated purpose of pursuing justice. Many Christians in the country today feel like it is their divine mission to make the country more equal. Quite a number of leaders at the national level, including President Joe Biden, cite Christ as an example when they speak about justice. There is a continuing realization that Christianity rejects hate in favor of justice. The result is increased participation in civic affairs by Christians including Hispanic Pentecostals.

Actions Not Words

Dr. Rodriguez asserts that Jesus Christ also taught actions and not words. According to him, the current Christian community is conflicted and in trouble partly because the demonstration of Christianity is more important than the substance[4]. To many American Christians, the declaration of Christianity is more important than the actual practice of being Christian. That is why it is easier to get people to participate in a political movement than it is to keep them engaged in charity. It is easy to make a show of faith. One can wear the right attire, proclaim the “right” words, and attend the “right” church. However, Hispanic Pentecostalism insists that Christians should go much further. They should be invested in the substance of being Christian and not “show.” They should have the strength of character to follow in Christ’s footsteps and not just proclaim their alleged love for him.

Hispanic Pentecostalism is about acting like Christ as well as loving him and that is something adherents need to appreciate. As Dr. Rodriguez aptly explains, Jesus Christ impacted humanity by acting as well as declaring[5]. That means that he understood the value of doing what one can at the moment even as he or she works on getting to heaven. An individual who is hungry right now needs food right now. He will need the word of God but his or her most urgent need is food. The same is the case for the unfortunate individuals who are caught up in a criminal justice system that is both corrupt and inefficient. These individuals need as much legal help as they can get before one can provide spiritual aid. The teachings of Jesus Christ are aspiration and practical. Christians should not lose sight of this fact even as they try and focus on getting to heaven.

Long-term Impact

More and more Christians, especially young Christians, are getting into charity with a significant number of them being directly involved with communities. For instance, a majority of the soup kitchens operating in the country are run by Christian entities. Not all of these great people practice Hispanic Pentecostalism but they all appreciate the power of action. Several members of Congress have cited the need for Christians to act with love when debating issues like the eviction moratorium and voting rights. These Christians and others understand that Jesus intended for them to offer practical and sustainable solutions to social ills.

Christ and the Truth

Dr. Rodriguez also asserts that a Christian life has to be based on the truth or it ceases being Christian[6]. He takes great pains to explain that there is a difference between orthodoxy and fundamentalism. Orthodoxy involves understanding the Bible for what it is and not what one wants it to be. It means appreciating the fact that the Word of God has absolutes but human beings are limited in what they can do or not to. Christians might not be perfect but the Word of God contains the absolute truth. Therefore, everything has to begin with developing an understanding of what these absolutes are. The Bible says that a house built on sand will not stand and the same obtains for a belief system not anchored in the Word of God. The absolute truth lies in the Bible and it is the Christian’s job to find it.

One of those absolutes is love. God and His son Jesus Christ have always acted according to their love of human beings and the rest of creation and it makes sense to follow their lead. God made humans in His image because they had a special place in his heart. He gave them dominion over the rest of nature because he considered, and still considers, them an exceptional element in the nature He created. Even when punishing human beings, God does it from a position of love and the ultimate goal is to make humans better and provide them a path to heaven. Those who understand the centrality of love and its absolute nature will seek to apply it to the world around them. Those who do not will find themselves struggling to follow Christ’s footsteps. A truly Christian life rests on the truth as expressed in the Word of God.

Long-term Impact

The need to build one’s faith on the truth has reignited interest in the Bible in many places. Many young Hispanics want to read their Bibles for themselves and see what it says to them. A good number are quite interested in actually learning about the life of Christ outside the doctrinal teachings. It is hoped that the result of all this will be a population of young people who have read their Bible and understand the importance of absolute truth. The increased interest in the Word of God should produce generations of Christians who understand the power and value of truth.

Apathy as a Sin

This approach to Christianity goes much further than its peers when it declares that apathy is itself a sin. It is a sin to look upon another human being and not help even when one has the power to do so. Dr. Rodriguez states that it is not enough to preach to people about heaven[7]. It is not enough to continue berating peers about what happens once someone dies. Instead, Christians should be working towards the elimination of sin and one of those sins is apathy. One commits a sin when he or she sees an injustice and turns the other way. One commits a sin when he or she knows ways in which he or she can help another human being but refrains from doing so. Dealing with the sin of apathy is a great step towards the establishment of a truly Christian life.

A look at the justice system in the US shows how apathy can cause serious harm. At the nation’s founding, many Christians appeared to understand that slavery was immoral. Many leaders, Christians in their own right, even spoke out about it. However, they chose not to do anything about the atrocity and so it continued. The same case obtained during the Civil Rights movement. In fact, several Christian leaders in the South came together and wrote a letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urging him to “obey the law.” The ministers’ apathy did not create any discernible good neither did it create a better nation. Instead, it was the actions of Dr. King Jr. and his peers which led to the creation of a more just system. Actions indeed speak louder than words and it is essential for Christians to appreciate this specific truism.

Long-term Impact

This approach to faith is seeing an increasing number of Christians connect their faith to their activities in the community. For instance, Christians who are involved in criminal justice reform generally cite the need to love the offender even as one punishes the crime. They understand that standing by while the justice system brutalizes human beings is not what Christ would do. One can see this reality in the fact that more and more Christians are connecting their voting rights to their responsibilities as Christians. Many more Christians are trying to practice what they preach.

The Rejection of Hate

Hispanic Pentecostalism also calls on its members to rethink their approach to equality and social justice. It asserts that love necessitates the rejection of hate[8]. If one really loves his or her neighbor, he or she will not discriminate against him or her. At the same time, he or she will not stand to see his or her neighbor discriminated against. Jesus did not command his followers to love the people who look like them. Instead, he extorted them to love their neighbor regardless of his or her identity. It explains that when one loves his or her neighbor, he or she will want an equal society for him or her. A Christian who understands the fundamental value of love will appreciate the need for the creation of an equal society. Egalitarianism has built into it the rejection of hate that is so integral to Christianity.

Dr. Rodriguez insists that Christianity favors more than it opposes primarily because it rests on love[9]. It does not reject diversity, it embraces it. Christians who understand Jesus Christ and his role in the religion appreciate the fact that one cannot practice discrimination and be a Christian. One does not just choose to not practice racism or ethnic hate; a true Christian is driven to fight it. He or she is compelled by love to fight for a world in which no child of God walks around under the pressure of societal hate. The horizontal is key because God created humans for each other. Praying to God while displaying apathy in the face of suffering is not the mark of a good Christian. Looking away when one sees discrimination and hate is not being like Christ. Hispanic Pentecostalism demands that the practitioner actively fights against hate and for egalitarianism.

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Long-term Impact

More and more members of Hispanic communities are beginning to appreciate the fact that discrimination is not Christian and that being a Christian means supporting more things than one opposes. Hispanic communities have faced and continue to face discrimination but members of the community have practiced hate and discrimination themselves in their own ways. Hispanic Pentecostalism is convincing and increasing number of them that hate and discrimination are not compatible with Christianity. They are starting to learn that what awaits them in heaven is just as important as what they experience on earth. They can display love on earth even as they work towards going to heaven.


Hispanic Pentecostalism continues to have a positive impact on communities because it preaches action attached to faith. It preaches that Christians have to be invested in justice in their communities and that comes with the active practice of live. This in turn demands the active rejection of hate. The approach also teaches that apathy is a form of sin and that one’s relationship with his or her fellow humans is part of his or her worship process. This call to action has pushed many to become more engaged in their communities and be more involved in their civic duties. The church is slowly but surely relearning how to follow in Christ’s footsteps.


Miranda, J., 1999. Religion, philanthropy, and the Hispanic people in North America. New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising1999(24), pp.59-74.

Rodriguez, Samuel. The Lamb’s Agenda: Why Jesus is Calling You to a Life of Righteousness and Justice. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2013.

Villafañe, Eldin. The liberating spirit: Toward an Hispanic American Pentecostal social ethic. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2021.

[1] Rodriguez, Samuel. The Lamb’s Agenda: Why Jesus is Calling You to a Life of Righteousness and Justice. Thomas Nelson Inc, 2013.

[2] Ibid

[3] Villafañe, Eldin. The liberating spirit: Toward an Hispanic American Pentecostal social ethic. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2021.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Miranda, J., 1999. Religion, philanthropy, and the Hispanic people in North America. New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising1999(24), pp.59-74.

[9] Ibid

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