A Call for Evangelical Reforms in Colonial Peru
The ideological strategies of DPI are revealed in the interplay between Acosta's stated intentions in the proemio and dedicatoria and the activation of intertextual voices. Considering his objectives and scrutinizing his use of intertextual sources, we see from Acosta's perspective: his way of reading the evangelical crisis in Perú and his emerging vision of a better evangelical future. While he acknowledges that many practices and attitudes were impeding the growth of the Church in Peru, he did not define his ideological position impetuously. Rather he relied on dialectical argumentation to examine many sides of an issue before resolutely and methodically supporting his conclusion. An exploration of where Acosta's position diverges from the opinions already entrenched in America reveals that he aspired to promote an understanding of Native Americans and construct an environment where evangelization could be most productive.
The first book of DPI and its prologues encourage comprehension of the nature of Amerindians. Afterwards Acosta begins to define the necessary characteristics of a nurturing atmosphere, which would culminate in the strengthening of the Christianization process. To help promote a thorough understanding of Native Americans he created three ethnographical categories detailed in the prologue, argued that they possessed the cognitive ability to become good Christians, and asserted that their “barbaric” behaviors were learned (DPI I, 5-8, 404-14). Advancing the idea that God had called Native Americans to the Gospel, he attempted to inspire hope for their eventual salvation and, at the same time, graft them as future...
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