It is commonly repeated that only 1% of the Japanese are Christian, but apparently that is wrong. Here is a reported religious breakdown of the religious inclinations of Japan’s 126 million people:
55.2% Buddhists (69,931,454)
25.9% New-Religionists (32,827,640)
10.2% Nonreligious (12,905,945)
3.6% Christians (4,559,573)
2.9% Atheists (3,642,371)
2.1% Shintoists (2,669,167)
So there are actually more Christians than Shintoists in Japan!
Of course, some of those 3.6% ‘Christians’ are foreigners living in Japan and some are Japanese who have joined cults like Catholicism and Mormonism. But nevertheless it is still encouraging to see such a large number of reported Christians in Japan.
Evidently most Japanese who visit the Shinto shrines do so culturally, but are actually Buddhists, or have no religion. In fact, since it is reported elsewhere that polls show two-thirds of the Japanese profess no religion, many nominal Buddhists don’t even take that religion seriously either. And yet it is reported that half the homes in Japan have a Bible.
So there has been a significant erosion of the old religions, the Christians now out-numbers Shintoists, and half the Japanese have the word of God already in their house … what will happen next?
There has also been a recent up-tick in missionary activity to Japan after the 2011 Fukishima earthquake and tsunami disaster. This all combines at this time to create a very interesting situation. Support overseas missions and please pray that we will one day see a harvest for Jesus Christ in Japan.
Just thought I’d jot down a few notes here about religion in Japan, a country that desperately needs Jesus Christ.
In Joshua chapter 17 a certain Levite was hired by a man named Michah to be his personal priest over the graven image he had made. Later, in chapter 18, the priest got recruited by the tribe of Dan to be their priest and father – and he took the graven image along with him.
Another instance is found in 2 Kings 17:26 where the Samaritans where transplanted into northern Israel and the LORD sent mountain lions to attack them. The Assyrians sent a Jewish priest to teach them the manner of the God of the land to stop the attacks. The priest taught them that they should fear the LORD, but they then had an ad-hoc religious jumble, serving both their old gods and the LORD:
“Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. … So they feared the LORD, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. … So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.” 2 Kings 17:29~41.
Someone has compiled research (Rev. Arimasa Kubo, author of “Lost Tribes of Japan“) showing interesting similarities between “Shinto” – the native folk religion of Japan – and the worship of the true God as found in the Bible. This lead the researcher to conjuncture that the Japanese may be a “lost tribe” of Jews. Read the rest of this entry »
Audio #3 in the Book review series looking at “The Teaching of the Buddha” – Today we look at Buddhism’s illogical nonsense that dares to call common sense and reality “absurd.”
Direct link page.
Update: links corrected.
Book review continues:
Direct link: part 2
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.