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Carismatismo en Cuba, reviewed by Francisco Arriola

The Pentecostal/charismatic phenomenon has made its presence felt in amongst the mainline Protestant churches as well as the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant churches, much like the Pentecostal churches, have their origins in the efforts of North American missionaries. During the decades prior to the revolution these churches established seminaries and influenced social changes in Cuban society. However, their rigid style of preaching and worship was not conducive to the Cuban culture, which led to a decline in membership and a call for renewal.

While the Pentecostal/charismatic movement is still seen by some as an aberration and a threat to orthodox beliefs, many Protestant denominations have been impacted by its influence.2 These can be seen in the areas of the liturgy, which has adapted musical worship styles that allow more expression and freedom in worship, and have increased lay participation in prayer groups. This transformation has carried over into community life, which much like the Pentecostal churches, is now felt to be vibrant and welcoming, which has resulted in many youth being brought into the church.

Experience now plays a more important role in the church’s life, allowing for emotional expressions of conversion, as well as a seeking of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Protestant church leadership now seeks to include lay participation, even by new converts. There is also a rise in the number of worship services held in homes. There is still a suspicion of the excesses of the charismatic movement, but overall the influence has been positive.

The same can be said for the influence upon the Roman Catholic Church. Beginning in 1975, the Charismatic renewal has transformed sectors of Cuban Catholicism into a vibrant and lay oriented movement emphasizing spiritual gifts, spontaneous worship, prayer groups, and bible study. The interview with the Roman Catholic layperson affirms an intense and deepened spirituality that extends beyond the walls of the church into everyday life.

This is a very readable collection of essays, entirely in Spanish, and highly recommended for any Pentecostal collection.

Reviewed by Francisco Arriola



1 For an overview of this information in English see David Bundy’s article in the New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002)

2 As one of the writers points out, even though both Catholic and Protestant mainline churches criticize the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement for its excesses, there is the understanding of needing to incorporate charismatic elements within their churches.


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Category: Church History, Fall 2002

About the Author: Francisco R. Arriola, M. Div., M.S.L.S., is an educator and theological librarian. He has served as a research librarian and director at several institutions including Colegio Pentecostal Mizpa in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Juan L. Lugo Library at Colegio Bíblico Pentecostal in Saint Just, Puerto Rico, and Bolin Library for Pentecostal Research at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.

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