Towards a Theology of the Concord of God
A Review by
Rev. Ralph Allan Smith
One final word. 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." 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.
 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.
 Miyahira, p. 118.
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