By EmiÌlio Willems
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Extra info for Followers of the new faith;: Culture change and the rise of Protestantism in Brazil and Chile
In other words, the questions we shall attempt to answer refer to the social and psychological functions of spirit possession, for example, rather than to its psychological nature. Whatever spirit possession may be, in purely psychological terms, it cannot be denied that it somehow affects the people who experience it. Page vi Furthermore, none of our hypotheses is in any sense concerned with theological propositions, and the outcome of our inquiry is not to be construed as an implicit endorsement of any theological doctrine.
Here, emphasis is placed on what Protestantism "does" to the societies of Brazil and Chile and what specific conditions in the texture of these societies have been instrumental in generating the Protestant deviation from religious norms and folkways. Since the cultural changes we are dealing with occur in time and space, our inquiry is bound to have historical depth and geographic range. In view of one of our leading hypotheses, both approaches seem equally important, but this book is most emphatically not a history of Brazilian or Chilean Protestantism, nor does our ecological inquiry claim complete coverage of such vast territories and their largely unchartered cultural variability.
These principles are given expression in the belief that the local congregation was to have considerable if not complete autonomy and belief in a constitution that would grant fullest participation of all members in the selection of church functionaries and in the conduct of current affairs. As conceived by the missionary, the life of the congregation was implicitly dependent upon the assumption of individual responsibility of its members. The missionary's role was to be that of a primus inter pares whose presence should encourage rather than stifle expression of individual judgment and participation in church proceedings.