Christianity made in Japan : a study of indigenous movements by Mark R. Mullins

By Mark R. Mullins

For centuries the lodging among Japan and Christianity has been an uneasy one. in comparison with others of its Asian friends, the church buildings in Japan have by no means counted greater than a small minority of believers kind of resigned to styles of formality and trust transplanted from the West. yet there's one other aspect to the tale, one little recognized and barely informed: the increase of indigenous routine geared toward a Christianity that's right away made in Japan and trustworthy to the scriptures and apostolic culture. Christianity Made in Japan attracts on vast box examine to offer an fascinating and sympathetic glance behind the curtain and into the lives of the leaders and fans of a number of indigenous events in Japan. targeting the "native" reaction instead of Western missionary efforts and intentions, it provides types of new interpretations of the Christian culture. It offers voice to the unheard perceptions and perspectives of many eastern Christians, whereas elevating questions very important to the self-understanding of Christianity as a really "world religion."

This ground-breaking research makes a principally unknown spiritual global available to outsiders for the 1st time. scholars and students alike will locate it a precious addition to the literature on eastern religions and society and at the improvement of Christianity open air the West. by way of delivering an alternate method of the examine and realizing of Christianity as a global faith and the advanced means of cross-cultural diffusion, it represents a landmark that might outline destiny examine within the field.

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In 1927 Kawai established the independent Christ Heart Church within the grounds of Gunze. However, the development of indigenous Christian movements was not merely the result of personality conµicts and power struggles with foreign missionaries. These disagreements, we must remember, did not occur in a placid environment. By the late Meiji period the social climate, following an earlier phase of worshipping everything Occidental, had become decidedly antiWestern and nationalistic. ”15 This statement is equally valid with respect to Japanese Christian leaders active during this period.

As may be seen in table 2, a wide variety of indigenous groups have been organized over the past century. 24 THE SOCIAL SOURCES OF CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN Table 2. Å´òÁÐîS3 FOUNDER YEAR ORGANIZED Uchimura Kanzõ 1901 Matsumura Kaiseki 1907 Kawai Shinsui 1927 Sugita Kõtarõ 1936 Matsubara Kazuhito 1939 Taniguchi Toku 1940 Koike Tatsuo 1940 Murai Jun 1941 Õtsuki Takeji 1946 Konmoto Kaoru 1948 Teshima Ikurõ 1948 Imahashi Atsushi 1966 Nakahara Masao 1977 With the exception of the Nonchurch movement founded by Uchimura Kanzõ, our knowledge regarding most of these indigenous movements has been limited to a brief paragraph provided each year in the Christian Yearbook.

27 Adapting church-sect theory, ³gure 1 provides a comparative typological framework for understanding Christian religious organizations in Japan according to three criteria: basic orientation, self-de³nition, and degree of indigenization. 28 This typology is based on an interpretative sociology of religion rather than on theological criteria, and priority is given to the actors’ de³nition of the situation. ”29 While some groups included in ³gure 1 might be regarded as heretical and non-Christian by certain established churches, I have included them in this typology because the actors involved de³ne themselves and their organizations in Christian terms or in continuity with the Christian tradition.

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