Rather than attempting to build Christianity upon the natural virtues of Inca religion in the Andes, the Jesuits in Juli had come to see Andean customs and beliefs as a serious hinderance to the faith of Christ. The sixteenth-century emphasis on the interior experience of Christianity, which created much higher standards for native converts than had existed in preceding centuries, meant that the Jesuit's disillusionment with the native potential for Christian evangelization would be experienced throughout the Peruvian church. Eventually, the conviction that they native peoples were not truly "Christian" would lead to episcopal campaigns in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to extirpate idolatry, as well as to modern notions that Andean peoples are "cryptopagans" even when they profess a belief in Christ.
What does it mean to be converted? Are we really converted now? Are we ever?
Reading this paragraph, I was really fascinated by some of the historical and theological themes briefly touched upon by Dr. Hyland. First of all, there is an implication that what we would consider as "inner assent" may be a very recent and even artificial phenomenon. Even the Spanish themselves at this time were undergoing the assimilation of the last wave of Jewish and Muslim converts, and there were many doubts as to whether they had really converted. How much "conversion" was good enough for the Spanish conquerors? Was it a level of conversion that, say, a Spanish peasant even had? Or was there a racist implication that non-white people could not possibly convert in their hearts?
Thus, we encounter what is perhaps one assumption behind the Reformation and Devotio Moderna: that there is a difference between simple belief and true Faith. There is an implication that the purity of one's Faith needs to tested, and all non-Christian "superstitions" need to be extracted. One of the most "superstitous" people I have ever known was my own grandmother, who probably prayed and believed things that would make most Protestant and reformed Roman Catholics recoil in horror. But she was one of the most Christian people I have ever met.
How was her prayer life? Her understanding of Catholic doctrine? Did she ever say or do anything that would have been against petit-bourgeois decorum? Probably. But when I read the Gospels, I see in my mind women just like my grandmother front in center during the Sermon on the Mount.
Deep belief and deep conversion are necessary. I am not arguing that. I am arguing that perhaps we really don't know what it is. Actions speak louder than words.
During the conquest of the Americas, Christianity as a whole failed a large number of people. Indigenous people were thought to be barbarians whose previous existence only merited being stamped out from memory. African slaves were brought over in the millions and in many places barely catechized, and up to very recently the churches themselves failed to challenge racist behaviors in how they treated most of their faithful.
On the other hand, many of these faithful truly learned the vocation of being a Christian: to be marginalized, derided, and rejected by those with power. In the process by which the "real" Christians had their victory march through history, it was perhaps many of the darker skinned peoples who were stepped on who won the true crown.