BRAZIL’S PROTESTANTS GET THEIR DESERTS

Trust not in princes” is a well known biblical saying (Ps 146:3). But ironically it is among those like evangelicals and fundamentalists who set so much store by the bible and always read it most literally that the advice is liable to be most ignored.

Partly this may be because if you are unswervingly, rigidly literalistic,  you won’t take the spirit of any message and won’t mentally paraphrase a statement like that of the psalm to render it: “trust not in presidents or prime ministers” . Politics is a pragmatic business at best. It’s nevertheless possible for Christians to outright disgrace themselves and their faith in the eyes of society when, through determination at all costs to have “Christian” rulers in charge or absolutist “Christian” policies implemented, they throw uncritical support behind dubious politicians apparently willing to serve them.

Brazil’s rapidly growing Protestant/ Evangelical/Charismatic community never had any business to be supporting the likes of the as good as fascist Jair Bolsonaro who is now the nation’s president. Here was a man who has said he would never give one inch to his nation’s struggling, hard done by indigenous peoples, who is seriously indifferent to the dangers to the Amazon and the environment (he has silenced even his own ministers on this topic) and who has declared (in a country which has held the record for more homophobic murders than any other nation in the world) that he would rather his son were dead than gay.

There is pay day for the kind of mindless Christian voter policy that goes along with this and it occurred recently (on the 24th of last month) when to great ceremony, President Bolsonaro consecrated his nation to the Virgin Mary.

Nothing could have seemed more unlikely and out of character. Bolsonaro  who is married to a Protestant, has attended a Baptist church for a decade and has enjoyed some kind of relation to the Assemblies of God too. But he has never renounced his Catholic roots. So he has now done what will please the crowds  because Brazil, despite its many new Protestants,  is still the world’s largest Catholic nation even if devotion is often wildly syncretic, mixed with all manner of folk beliefs, spirit cults and superstitions. Images of Mary of Fatima now adorn the Presidential palace.

Arguably there is little more in this than pandering to sudden Catholic fears in the wake of the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka at Easter, that Catholics could be at serious risk short of overt dedication to Mary assuring them new and special protections. But many Protestants would insist, not without reason, that authentic Christian devotion today requires renunciation of a Marian cult that has come to obscure what and who Christ represents. (Just how far the obscuring can go I touch on in a recent article related to the Notre Dame fire: “Belated Idolatries and the stunning Stabat” https://wp.me/p4kNWg-rw ).

Whatever the precise motivation, I would suggest rather more  than is realized could be involved in the consecration at this point in time. It occurs during the pontificate of the ever controversial Pope Francis and at a period that especially many evangelicals would assume to be end of days itself and approaching apocalyptic and AntiChrist scenarios. (Celestially it is certainly the end of the Piscean era whose beginnings were around the time Christ was born).

As I wrote on this site  in “St Malachy’s Last Pope ringing down the curtain”? https://wp.me/p4kNWg-oM, Pope Francis has already opened the way towards a new world religion with special emphasis upon unity with Muslims. And for some time now some Muslims have shown reverent fascination for Portugal’s Fatima shrine (Fatima was a daughter of Mohammed). If there will ever be anything like a world faith and enabled through Rome, it is clear it will be through devotion to an ecumenical, universalized, paganized Mary, not any doctrinal and historical Christ. It has been seen how Hindus who have no interest in Christ can still be deeply attached to Mary as a mother goddess.

The attitude of Pope Francis towards Mary is peculiar. On the one hand he has appalled Protestants by shedding doubt on any claims to personal contact with Jesus while strongly recommending praying and talking to Mary, even calling her Mum. At the same time he has also shocked Catholics as last December when he spoke of Mary becoming holy and perfect, not being, as Immaculate Conception doctrine would have it, born perfect in order to mother the perfect Jesus.

The IC doctrine has always been incomprehensible to Protestants and rationalists – if Mary was born perfect, how and why weren’t all her ancestors perfect too? All humans are said to have sinned (Rom 3:23), so why and, where would the divine-imitating Marian perfection originate? Wouldn’t it be enough for Jesus to be fathered by the Spirit – how far need and should perfection go, especially given that Jesus’ spiritual destiny was, on the cross at least, to himself become sin for us (2 Cor 5:21)?

So…. while IC doctrine bristles with problems for Protestants, even the present pope at a certain level is conflicted about it. It’s just that no element of doubt prevents him from demanding extreme devotion to and intimate connection with Mary whether deemed humanly or divinely perfect, and in a way that will serve his questionable ecumenism of world faiths.

This new aim, however unintentionally, the half Protestant Bolsonaro via Brazil is now helping to make a reality as surely as he will let the Amazon increasingly deteriorate. At the end of the era there are all kinds of pollution, material and spiritual. The Protestants of Brazil have behaved foolishly, even ignobly, and now we see the results of trusting in princes.

 Maryianity: A poem concerning the Virgin:   https://wp.me/p2v96G-dQ

 

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