Western Theology And Indigenous Theology Under Democracy

The third rise of Christianity in Japan comes after the war. The full freedom of religion in the new Japanese Constitution of 1947 boosts Christianity again in Japan, as part of the process of democratization instigated by the American occupation policies.

Independently of the reintroduction of Christianity, an ingenious Japanese theology emerged from within the painful situation of defeat; that is, Theology of the Pain of God (1946) by Kazo Kitamori (1916—98). As Professor of Systematic Theology at Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, with a background in the Lutheran church, he expounded the cross of Christ as the event of the pain of God on the basis of a systematic interpretation of the Bible and of Japanese sentiment, while criticizing both Barthian theology for lacking the concept of embracing God and liberal theology for its emphasis on divine love without pain. By the pain of God he does not mean a concept of Sabellian Patripassianism, as he argues that not the Father but the Son suffered on the cross and the Father experienced the pain because of the death of the Son. The pain of God consists essentially in the Father begetting the Son and then leading him to suffer and die on the cross, and in God forgiving unforgivable sinners, based on events on the cross. Therefore, the pain of God is not a substantial concept but rather a relational concept between the Father and the Son, and God and sinners.

Katsumi Takizawa (1909—84) wrestled with the Japanese Buddhist mindset and expounded a theology of Immanuel. He was a follower of Kitaro Nishida (1870—1945), a Japanese philosopher who set forth a theory of the self-identity of absolute contradiction, or of contradictory concepts being complementary to each other. Through Nishida's recommendation, Takizawa became the first Japanese student of Karl Barth in 1934 at Bonn University, and then from 1947 to 1971 he taught philosophical theology at Kyushyu University. According to Takizawa's theology of Immanuel, the first contact of God and humans is expressed as God being with us through Christ; a point stressed by Barth and also an example of the self-identity of the transcendent God and immanent humans. The second contact is realized when humans become enlightened as to the first contact, whether they are Christian or Buddhist. In other words, Buddhism as well as Christianity consists in the original fact of Immanuel and as such these two are equally true religions based on different perspectives.

In dialogue with Buddhism and also Takizawa himself, Seiichi Yagi (1932-), a New Testament scholar and philosopher of religion, attempts to seek a common ground in which Christianity and Buddhism can share religious experiences and understandings. Yagi realized that there is a parallel phenomenon between his conversion to Christianity and his enlightenment in Zen Buddhism; in both experiences the deliverance from something conceptual plays a central role. Therefore, he holds in high esteem immediate experiences taking place before the conceptualization by means of subject-object differentiation. He reads and interprets the New Testament from this viewpoint to clarify the meaning of central biblical ideas. Further, theoretical study of the religious dialogue between Christianity and other religions has been rigorously undertaken by Yasuo Furuya (1926-), who taught at the International Christian University which was founded in 1949. He has developed a Theology of Religions (i985) that seeks to balance the normativity of the Christian revelation and the equal value of all religions. That is, his theology consists of exclusiveness and inclusiveness and of particularity and universality in Christianity.

The indigenization of Christian theology in an Asian or a Japanese context has been unfolded more directly by Masao Takenaka (19252006), a Christian ethicist at Doshisha University. He is a specialist in Asian Christian art as well as Christian ethics, and as such he has endeavoured to share a common Christian way of life and understanding in Asia. Taking into account rice as the staple food in almost all Asian countries, Takenaka defines God as the rice of life in the Asian context, not the bread of life in the biblical and Mediterranean context. Moreover, Nozomu Miyahira (1966-) has attempted to reconstruct Christian theology in a manner both consistent with the Christian theological tradition and appropriate to the Japanese cultural climate. His theology of the Concord of God begins with reformulating the doctrine of the Trinity as three betweennesses and one concord, by applying the Japanese concepts of human beings and their community to the divine Trinity and Unity. In addition, the Japanese interpretation of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has been extensively elaborated by Masaya Odagaki (1929-); the first Japanese person who, in his Hermeneutical Theology (i975), explains God in terms of nothingness. By nothingness he means that God or the divine being cannot simply be objectified as something to be comprehended, so that this theology is not atheism but non-theism. In this sense God can be defined as both being and nothingness. This divine duality also takes place in the divine being and in human beings. The Holy Spirit is appropriated to this duality through the Trinitarian context in which the Father as the divine being and the Son as human being are united by the Holy Spirit.

In relation to Japanese society the works of the following theologians are of equal importance: Theology of Leisure (1988), by Toshio Sato (1923—), a specialist in nineteenth-century theology, offers a Christian theological counterpoise to the workaholic Japanese society; Hideo Oki (1928—), a systematic theologian especially interested in the Puritans, Emil Brunner (1889—1966) and Karl Barth, published Ethics of the New Community (1994), which delineates from a Christian perspective the new creative community over against the old closed Japanese community; Theological Thought of Democracy (2000), written by Katsuhiko Kondo (1943—), which traces the tradition of freedom in Protestantism, which is indispensable to Japan where democracy is a relatively foreign newcomer; finally, cutting-edge research on the relation between Christianity and communities suffering discrimination in Japan is expounded theologically by Teruo Kuribayashi (1948—) in his Theology of the Crown of Thorns (1986).

Protestant theologians constructing indigenous theology or relating theological thought to the Japanese context have been dealt with above in this section, but theology unique to Japan begins to emerge on the Catholic side as well. Through his dialogue with Buddhism, Kakichi Kadowaki (1926—) points out that religious disciplines like silent meditation and austere practice are characteristic of Japanese religions, and thus for the Japanese the way of Christ is followed, rather than learned, through such disciplines. Further, Yoji Inoue (1927—) attempts to transplant western Christianity into Japan, expressed in the substantial language of the 'field', which plays a central role in the Japanese way of life. For instance, when Jesus calls God the Father, there is no division between the Father and the Son, rather a 'field' is created in which they share an experience of love that embraces them as one. Additionally, influenced by Nishida, Isao Onodera (1929—) focuses on field-oriented theology rather than persona-oriented theology and thus on the significance of mother earth rather than that of heavenly Father, with the result that he attempts to base his Catholic spiritual theology on the Trinitarian field, in which the Holy Spirit on earth empowers human beings to say that Jesus is Lord.

Whereas some Japanese theologians are in the process of indigenizing Christian theology, other historical theologians are looking forward to the future of Christianity in Japan by delving into problems of past

Christianity within Japan as well as in Europe. In relation to this, it is important to note that in 1967 the United Church of Christ in Japan, followed by the other denominations, began to admit responsibility for their wartime collaboration with the government. Mitsuo Miyata (1928-), an influential scholar of political and theological thought at Tohoku University, has produced various works on wartime nationalism in Japan and Germany, and, in particular, his analysis of church and state is of essential value for contemporary Japan, in which a nationalistic ambience is still dominant in those who think that the democratic Constitution and foreign Christianity have been imposed on them. Moreover, taught by Tetsutaro Ariga (1899-1977), a scholar of patristics who clarified the hayatology (deriving from the Hebrew verb in Exodus 3:14: I am who I am) of Hebrew thought by contrast with the ontology of Greek thought, Akio Dohi (1927—), a prominent Christian historian well-versed in both Japanese and western Christian history at Doshisha University, has also produced extensive analysis of the problems of Japanese Christianity in relation to its wartime collaboration with the government, the Emperor system and the structure of discrimination. The works of these two theologians help to fix the eyes of Japanese Christians, still one per cent of the population, not merely on Europe academically or Japan nationalis-tically, but rather on Asia as their neighbour.

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