Christianity does not exist in a vacuum. It absorbs and adopts indigenous traditions wherever it spreads. In Europe, during the latter part of the Roman Empire, a distinctly European form of Christianity took hold. Melding European paganism and Christianity, Europe gave birth to syncretized holidays like Christmas and Easter. Yet, there is no reason why Christianity should or must be European. Christianity, growing in non-Western areas, will adopt and absorb other, non-Western, traditions. As Philip Jenkins has pointed out, as Christianity spreads throughout the Third World, Christianity soon will not only be non-Western, but probably anti-Western.
The following excerpt is from a documentary on Christianity in Latin America and the rise of “Mestizo Christianity” in Mexico. Discarding unnecessary European baggage, Mexico, borrowing from its Amerindian traditions, gives birth to a new, non-Western variety of Christianity. As the narrator in part I of the documentary states, “the white way is not the only way to salvation.” Here he gives us Christianity “Mexican style.” He comments:
What’s going on now is not a pagan survival, but Christianity Mexican style. It’s much like when Pope Gregory wrote to St. Augustine in the 6th century during the English conversion to Christianity. He wrote, “Don’t destroy their religious traditions; simply adapt them to Christianity.” And it worked. What happened then founded Western Christendom. What’s happening now is part of a New Christendom. The fact is, Christianity has never been just the white man’s religion.
A Mexican man interviewed in the video continues:
In Mexican religious history, the Virgin of Guadalupe is half Indian, half white — or rather indigenous. And therefore her face, and the way the friars wanted to represent her — they wanted to show a virgin close to the Mexican people — a dark version just like them, not a blond European one, but a dark one. That’s the main idea. The virgin appeared here and she loves her people, her dark people.