There is a great need for theological books in Central and South America―in Spanish. Especially needed are studies by Reformed authors (in whatever field).
Consider these discouraging situations that I have encountered:
I met evangelical university leaders who could only cite critical, German scholarship about the Bible. Over time―and having little access to contrary ideas―they denied the Trinity and key doctrines about the scriptures.
An evangelical gained a doctorate in philosophy from the state university. He could not read English, so he had little or no access to evangelical scholarship regarding Gnosticism. His primary Spanish source about the early church was written by a former evangelical scholar (translated from English). This author teaches that there were various kinds of Christianity in the early church and that our “orthodox” variety is simply the brand that survived. Later on, I heard the evangelical graduate parrot the same ideas in a seminar for believers.
I visited a seminary library in Buenos Aires, and it was disheartening. The collection was small, and the texts were clearly quite old.
In Central America, an evangelical university library has only 5,000 volumes―and for two reasons. There are not many conservative, theological texts available in Spanish. Many schools, ministries, and churches with educational aspirations lack the funds for books in any subject.
A missionary and church-planter told me that several of his seminary texts in Spanish were very poorly translated. Clearly, the work had been done by unqualified translators.
With these anecdotes in mind, consider what the New Testament scholar, J. Gresham Machen, wrote about 100 years ago:
False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the Gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.
Many Christian thinkers and emerging scholars in Central and South America today are intellectually malformed by “false ideas.” Often, “the whole collective thought” of their nations and cultures are skewed. And this is due in part to a lack of Christian scholarship that is not available in Spanish at a reasonable price.
Is there a solution? Surely, there is!
In the long-term, visionary benefactors should sponsor the translation and distribution of quality books to needy educational institutions, scholars, and churches. In addition, English for reading programs should be instituted all over Latin America. Grants for research and writing should be available for Christian authors and academics to produce texts in Spanish.
In the short-term, generous donors should purchase Spanish book collections and provide those to educational institutions and churches. For instance, we are compiling a list of Spanish theological and biblical texts. So far, we have about 200.
A second possibility is the purchase and provision of collections in English. Many university students and educated people possess some English reading ability. But they do not have access to books due to cost.
A third possibility is to help us build a small library in Buenos Aires! Our vision includes classics and newer works in English and Spanish. We hope to begin with 100 books about worldview and biblical studies in year one. Then, for several years thereafter, adding other fields of inquiry. With these resources, we desire to serve Christian thinkers and to attract non-Christian intellectuals to interact with us.
If one of these options appeals to you, please contact me at email@example.com.