Towards a Theology of the Concord of God
A Review by
Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
Unfortunately, Miyahira's discussion of the Fourth Gospel, while thoughtful
and thought-provoking, is marred. Even more unfortunately, it is marred
by nothing other than his central thesis. For the invention of a new and
remarkably awkward terminology for the doctrine of the Trinity obscures
more than it facilitates the discussion. Although it is not altogether
clear to me, especially in the light of the Japanese title of his book,
whether Miyahira intends to add his "three betweenesses, one concord"
to the traditional "three persons, one being" formula, or whether he offers
it as an alternative, the formula does not seem to stand by itself. Nor
does it, placed beside the traditional formula, offer much in the way
of illumination. Rather than searching the annals of Japanese history
and linguistics to discover terms that are supposed to communicate more
effectively in the Japanese context, Miyahira could have offered a more
helpful discussion of John's Gospel by phrasing his insights in the language
to which Japanese, no less than Western, Christians have become accustomed.
Of course, that might not make a very interesting doctoral thesis!
Though we have referred to his thesis already, we need to offer a brief
statement of the central points. Miyahira's proposal is that the second
character of the Japanese word for humanity (ningen / )
which is said to refer to the "betweenness" that characterizes
humanity and the Japanese word for concord (wa / )
may be used to express the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that will
better communicate the mystery of God to the Japanese people. The character
for "betweenness" ()
communicates the fact that God is a relational God and "concord" the fact
that Father, Son, and Spirit live in a perfect harmony of mutual understanding.
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