Hartch Book Honored by Christianity Today

Hartch photo

A book by an Eastern Kentucky University faculty member has been recognized by Christianity Today magazine as the year’s best book in Missions/Global Affairs.

“The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity,” by Dr. Todd Hartch, professor in the Department of History, examines the changes that have swept across Latin America in the last 50 years and situates them in the context of the growth of Christianity in the global South.

“I suggest that liberation theology and Pentecostalism are part of a complex story that starts with the severe problems faced by the Catholic Church in the 1960s,” Hartch said shortly after the book’s release. “Urbanization, industrialization, secularization, Protestantism, and Marxism were just a few of the challenges for which the church was unprepared. At first, Pentecostals capitalized on Catholic failures, especially in the shantytowns that came to surround every major city, but slowly Catholics developed several successful approaches to modernity. At the heart of the Catholic transformation was the new reality that it was no longer automatic that everyone in Latin America was Catholic. With Protestants, Marxists, and atheists now common across the region, each Catholic had to decide whether to stay Catholic or not. That decision gave Catholicism a new vitality that continues to this day.”

Hartch’s book is the second religion-related work by an EKU history faculty member to receive national recognition in the last month. Earlier, Dr. Carolyn Dupont earned the annual Frank S. and Elizabeth Brewer Prize from the American Society of Church History for her book, “Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975.”

Hartch, who joined the EKU history faculty in 2003, earned all his degrees at Yale, including a master’s degree from Yale Divinity School. His doctoral dissertation spotlighted Protestant Bible translators in Mexico, and his scholarship still focuses on religious diversity and conflict in Latin America.

For more about Hartch and his award-winning book, which was published by Oxford University Press, visit www.prm.eku.edu/Update/?issue=212&department=0&article=3243.

For more information about EKU’s Department of History, visit www.history.eku.edu.

Published on December 17, 2014

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