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Nozomu Miyahira's
Towards a Theology of the Concord of God

A Review by
Rev. Ralph Allan Smith


One final word.[8] Miyahira mentions at the beginning of his work that he is disturbed that Christianity in Japan is stagnated, especially in comparison with Christianity in Korea and China. This is certainly true. But why look into theological formulations for the reason? Have the Chinese or the Koreans developed their own peculiar trinitarian doctrines? Is it because Chinese Christians in house churches have a deeper appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity that their churches are growing? How can we make the jump from the observation that Japanese Christianity lacks the vitality of Chinese and Korean Christianity to the need for a new trinitarian terminology when no nation in which Christianity is blossoming ever experienced its growth because of its trinitarian doctrinal expression?

Does it not make better sense to look into the covenant word of God and ask why God's curse might rest on the Church in any particular nation? Might not the God of Daniel be offended at compromise with idolatry? Might not the God of Ezra refuse to bless those who tolerate marriages between Christian and non-Christian? Might not the God of the covenant remove His blessing from our families if we neglect to educate our children in His covenant truth (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-9)?

From the perspective of God's covenant, we should assume that the failure of the Japanese church is ethical. I think that it is grounded in the compromise with idolatry that characterized her churches during the Second World War. Even now, too many churches refuse to stand clearly against the idolatry of ancestor worship. The Japanese way, as Miyahira himself observed, is to "behave in such a way as to adjust themselves to the particular situation in which they need to relate to others. . . . To feel alienated from the context in which they are situated would be almost tantamount to denial of their existence."[9] Indeed. It is just this sort of self-denial that Japanese Christians avoid. They want to be Japanese and be part of their society. But here is the problem: it is precisely the sort of self-denial that Japanese tend to avoid that Jesus demands. We cannot be His disciples unless we forsake ultimate loyalty to human society. We are called to hate father and mother, brother and sister, husband and wife. We must hate even our own lives (Luke 14:24 ff.). My own fear is that the Japanese Church has compromised its loyalty to Christ. If that is true, then the issue is much deeper than "contextualization." Until Japanese Christians take up the cross and follow Jesus, Japanese churches will continue to be withered twigs on a wilting branch.


[8] There are a number of relatively minor issues on which I disagree with Miyahira and also a number of places in which I believe that he offers insightful Scriptural exegesis. In this short review, I am only addressing what seem to me to be the most important aspects of his thesis.

[9] Miyahira, p. 118.


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