Xavier’s Sucess in Japan

Shinto dancing feastival.

Shinto dancing festival.

Interesting analysis:

Even before his arrival in Japan Francis Xavier knew that the Japanese did not possess the concept of a creator deity. He thus said that “One must begin with the doctrine of world creation before anything else,” and the missionaries who followed Xavier likewise began their missions with careful investigation into Shinto’s foundation myths. In other words, by examining the Japanese foundation myths and pointing out their errors, the missionaries attempted to plant the doctrine of creation among the Japanese people. Likewise, they severely criticized Shinto for it lack of interest in salvation for the next world and for seeking benefits only in this world, as is depicted in detail in “Salvation in the Next World” within Dochiriina Kirishitan (“Christian doctrine”).
Encyclopaedia of Shinto

The Japanese creation myth starts with the existence of matter, out of which arise creation gods. This is nonsense because it puts the natural before the supernatural – and Xavier, the Roman Catholic Jesuit missionary to Japan, made exploiting this glaring deficiency a primary line of attack. This is very wise.

Once he establishes the primacy of the supernatural Creator, then the importance of life beyond the here and now makes sense.

So he uncovered the very simple root problem that causes Japanese dullness against the gospel message of Jesus Christ – their ignorance of the Creator.

Protestant missionaries who have largely emphasized the moral and social aspects of Christianity have completely missed this. By the time protestants have an opportunity to reach Japan in the 1860’s evolution is starting to become popular – and many churchmen are beginning to teach the first 10 chapters of Genesis as just myth and allegory. The timing to adopt such heresies could not have been worse! The missionaries turned away in embarrassment from the portion of scripture most critical for leading the dull minds of the godless Japanese out of the infernal darkness in which they have been wandering for millennium.

The calculating and wise Xavier obtained initial success for his mission by preaching about the Creator and eternal life – but later Jesuit fanaticism for Rome by political scheming and subversive activities ultimately caused the name of Christianity to be discredited by them – giving it a bad reputation amongst the Japanese that has lasted to the present day.

Undoubtedly things can be learned by studying what methods brought Xavier’s early missionaries such success in Japan – yet and while avoiding all their mistakes and religious heresies.



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