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Christianity Made in Japan

A Study of Indigenous Movements

Mark R. Mullins

Publication Year: 1998

For centuries the accommodation between Japan and Christianity has been an uneasy one. Compared with others of its Asian neighbors, the churches in Japan have never counted more than a small minority of believers more or less resigned to patterns of ritual and belief transplanted from the West. But there is another side to the story, one little known and rarely told: the rise of indigenous movements aimed at a Christianity that is at once made in Japan and faithful to the scriptures and apostolic tradition. Christianity Made in Japan draws on extensive field research to give an intriguing and sympathetic look behind the scenes and into the lives of the leaders and followers of several indigenous movements in Japan. Focusing on the "native" response rather than Western missionary efforts and intentions, it presents varieties of new interpretations of the Christian tradition. It gives voice to the unheard perceptions and views of many Japanese Christians, while raising questions vital to the self-understanding of Christianity as a truly "world religion." This ground-breaking study makes a largely unknown religious world accessible to outsiders for the first time. Students and scholars alike will find it a valuable addition to the literature on Japanese religions and society and on the development of Christianity outside the West. By offering an alternative approach to the study and understanding of Christianity as a world religion and the complicated process of cross-cultural diffusion, it represents a landmark that will define future research in the field.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

THERE IS IN JAPAN another Christianity than the familiar array of churches left behind by missionaries from the West, one virtually unknown abroad and as yet largely neglected by scholars of religion. It is the Christianity of indigenous movements established in a direct act of resistance to the failure of imported varieties of Christianity to reach deeply into the Japanese soul. This is a book ...

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Chapter 1. Christianity as World Religion and Vernacular Movement

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pp. 1-10

IN THIS BOOK I am concerned with what happens to a world religion when it is transplanted from one culture to another. By "world religion" I mean those missionizing religions of the world, such as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, that regard their religious teachings to be "truths" of ultimate significance for people of all times and places (truths, in other words, that transcend ...

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Chapter 2. The Social Sources of Christianity in Japan

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pp. 11-30

CHRISTIANITY IN contemporary Japan consists of diverse subcultures. It includes the many church traditions transplanted by Western missionaries, numerous indigenous movements (churches or sects organizationally independent of Western churches), as well as the personal belief systems of Japanese influenced by Christianity but unaffiliated with any of its organizational forms. It may sound rather strange—especially to those from countries ...

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Chapter 3. Charisma, Minor Founders, and Indigenous Movements

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pp. 31-53

THOSE OF US familiar only with the world of established churches, denominational bureaucracies, and large Christian institutions tend to forget that Christianity began as a new religious movement with a leader who was known as a healer and exorcist. In Jesus: A New Vision, Marcus J. Borg draws attention to the charismatic nature of the early Jesus movement and maintains ...

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Chapter 4. The Fountainhead of Japanese Christianity Revisited

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pp. 54-67

WHILE ONE OF the aims of this book is to give attention to a number of relatively unknown indigenous movements, the numerous references to the Nonchurch movement and quotations from Uchimura's writings thus far show how impossible it is to entirely ignore this earliest expression of Japanese Christianity. Uchimura's writings contained numerous strands ...

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Chapter 5. Christianity as a Path of Self-Cultivation

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pp. 68-94

AS WE HAVE SEEN, Uchimura Kanzō was the first Japanese leader to articulate a clear alternative to transplanted Christian churches. His call for the development of an independent and indigenous expression of the faith resonated with the deep aspirations of numerous other Japanese Christians. Many shared Uchimura's independent spirit and sympathized with ...

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Chapter 6. Japanese Versions of Apostolic Christianity

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pp. 95-128

CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN has long had the reputation of being a difficult and demanding religion, one primarily for intellectuals and the educated white-collar middle class. In stark contrast to the scores of other New Religions that have emerged in Japan's modern century, Christianity has rarely been regarded as a viable alternative for the general population.1 This ...

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Chapter 7. Japanese Christians and the World of the Dead

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pp. 129-155

THE TRANSPLANTATION OF Western Christianity to Japan over the past century has involved a fundamental clash between the missionary message and the religious consciousness and values of most Japanese. This is particularly apparent in relation to the indigenous beliefs and practices related to ancestors and the spirits of the dead. This area of difficulty is not unique to ...

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Chapter 8. Comparative Patterns of Growth and Decline

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pp. 156-182

AS WE HAVE SEEN, since the reopening of Japan to the West in the late nineteenth century scores of denominations and sects have made their way from Europe and North America in an attempt to Christianize Japan, but institutionally affiliated Christians still amount to only about one percent of the population. When one considers the human and financial ...

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Chapter 9. The Broader Context of Japanese Christianity

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pp. 183-200

SINCE THE INITIAL transmission of Roman Catholicism to Japan in the sixteenth century, Christianity has generally been regarded as an intrusive force in Japanese society and often referred to as a "foreign" and "evil" religion. Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles—cultural discontinuity, social stigma, and, until fifty years ago, strict government control—numerous ...

Appendix. Bibliographical Guide to Indigenous Christian Movements

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pp. 201-216


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pp. 217-260

General Bibliography

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pp. 261-265


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pp. 266


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pp. 267-277

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861902
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824821142

Publication Year: 1998