Argentinian churches celebrate the “Month of the Bible”
14 September 2011
As happens in many Latin American countries, September marks the month of the Bible in Argentina. For several decades, during this time of the year, different churches organize several activities, highlighting the importance of the Bible in relation to community life and faith.
Through the years, the activities of this festival have remained diverse. Many churches in Latin America that are members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) coordinate lectures, workshops, conferences for youth and children, sales of promotional copies of the Bible, and they engage in even building monuments dedicated to sacred scripture.
A few historical facts serve as reasons for choosing September as the month of the Bible. It is in September that the Roman Catholic Church celebrates Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. It was also during this month, in the 16th century, that the first Spanish translation of the Bible, la Biblia del Oso, appeared.
The work is attributed to Casiodoro de Reina. The text was later revised by Cipriano de Valera, and gave rise to one of the most appreciated translations of the Bible in the evangelical world, the Reina Valera.
Churches find different ways to experience and enjoy this celebration. The month of the Bible also initiates ecumenical activities among different churches, most of which are WCC member churches.
In this context, two of the Argentinean Protestant voices have remained pertinent in adding value to this activity and developing programmes around the month of the Bible.
Pastor Gerardo Oberman, from the Reformed Churches of Argentina associated with the Evangelical Church of the River Plate (IERP), notes that, "the overall experience has different local nuances, but we are also motivated by the spirit of the Reformation in which one of the main slogans was the Sola Scriptura – that is, “Scripture alone”.
In regard to the activity itself, Oberman notices the importance of setting aside a specific time of the year to remember, recognize and celebrate the ever-living written word of God. “The Bible must be read on a daily basis. However, spending a month each year focusing on the Bible helps us to affirm the Word as an essential nutrient to our faith and our commitment to life and justice", he said.
Bishop Nully Frank Brown, of the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina, also considers the importance of these activities, “…because it helps to remember the centrality of the word of God and it is a good opportunity for workshops, exhibitions and other opportunities to learn more about the tasks undertaken by the Bible Societies in our country”.
The celebration of the month of the Bible also attracts participation from churches that are not necessarily engaged with ecumenical movement. The Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of Argentina (ACIERA), for instance, is inviting their members for a time of fasting and prayer of 40 days, signifying this celebration as an opportunity to reflect on the Bible and emphasizing the difference it can make to the life of the country as well.
The ACIERA brings together churches that may have developed a more literalistic reading of the Bible and organizes regular mass demonstrations and marches in cities across the country, often featuring the presence of conservative politicians and media evangelists such as Luis Palau.