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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Christ and Culture: The Real Danger Of Syncretism



I think many of you have heard of the book; Eternity in Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, by Don Richardson (1984). 




The thesis of this book is that God has prepared the cultures of the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we can see the impact of this book in the area of Christian Missiology today.

Although I am willing to accept the proposition of the author that God might indeed has prepared the cultures of the world for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there has always been a sense of alarm and caution in my mind as regards to the application of this thesis, partly because I myself came from a pagan background and thus I do not want to adapt any form of unbiblical syncretism in my Christian belief.


The real danger of syncretism


And my concern is not groundless, too. For example, there is a heretical Christian group called Makuya of Christ (キリストの幕屋 Kirisuto no makuya) in Japan. This sect was founded by Ikuro Teshima in 1948. 

In their "sincere and extreme" effort to see "eternity in the hearts of Japanese culture and mind", they nonetheless have departed from the orthodox Christianity somewhere on the way and fallen into the unhealthy and heretical sect which adhere mixture form of the Old Testament and the Kojiki (古事記) /Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) which are the Japanese mythological history books. 

Their other distinctive beliefs include; ultra-nationalism, patriotism, Christian Zionism, worship at Yasukuni shinto shrine and so forth. You can see their syncretic form of heretical Christianity on the short video below.



Christ and Culture---I believe it is indeed an important topic not only for those who in the mission field but also for all the sincere believers who want to be set apart from the world and live for Him alone. If you have any ideas or opinions on this topic, please share with me freely! Thank you. 


6 comments:

  1. Did this author also wrote a book called 'The peace child'? If so,I think that what he states might be conclusion from experience of his missionary work.

    There are people who point out similarity between Shinto culture and old Jewism.Some of them think that Japanese shito culture contains tradition and spirituality of Old Testament.

    I think this is one of reasons why Makuya of Christ admit worship at Yasukuni shrine. I heard that one famous Japanese gospel group accepted to sing gospel at shinto shrine event probably by same reason.

    Christ is beyond culture.From the beginning of history,He has been.
    I hope to remind the fact which bible tells us.

    Sanae

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    1. Yes, Sanae. He is the author of The Peace Child. I'd like to read his books carefully, because, as you pointed out, he is a missionary and he must have pondered these issues sincerely and seriously.

      Thank you for mentioning "The Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory (日ユ同祖論(日猶同祖論) Nichiyu Dōsoron)", which Makuya people adhere so much. The recent DNA research shows that there is no such evidence, to support this theory.

      from the wiki-pedia;
      "In 1908, Saeki Yoshiro (1872-1965), a professor at Waseda University, published a book in which he developed a variant on the theory. Yoshiro was an expert on Japanese Nestorianism. Saeki theorised that the Hata clan, which arrived from Korea and settled in Japan in the third century, was a Jewish-Nestorian tribe. According to Ben Ami-Shillony, "Saeki's writings spread the theory about 'the common ancestry of the Japanese and the Jews' (Nichi-Yu dosoron) in Japan, a theory that was endorsed by some Christian groups." (* Ben Ami-Shillony, "The Jews and the Japanese: The Successful Outsiders", pp. 134-5, 1991))

      There is no evidence available, including modern DNA analysis, to support this hypothesis. A recently published study into the genetic origins of Japanese people does not support a genealogical link as put forward by Saeki.(* Michael F. Hammer, "Dual origins of the Japanese: common ground for hunter-gatherer and farmer Y chromosomes" file:///C:/Users/Hamidand/Downloads/Dual_originns_fulltext.pdf)"

      As you said, Christ is beyond culture. Thank you so much again for your help, Sanae!

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  2. The DNA analysis is an interesting solution to this issue. I hope it will settle the matter.

    By the way, I have attended their large meeting held in Tokyo when I was young. I wanted to find out what's going on among them, what they believe and what kind of people they are. And I realized in my spiritual sense that the spirit working among them was NOT the Holy Spirit we have, but a different spirit which was similar to the HS.

    Also I noticed that they speak in tongues like other Pentecostal Christians. But it was when they began to speak in tongues that I discerned the different spirit.

    But one thing I was amazed about them was that their eagerness in studying the Bible in Hebrew and Greek languages! They have great teachers who truly understand the Scripture in the original languages. In fact, the reason I came to know about them was because my Hebrew teacher was a Makuya believer and he had been in Israel for some years to study the language.

    Oops, I forgot what my point was. One last thing. When they pray, they don't use Jesus' name. They begin their prayer with a phrase "Iesu Kirisuto no Chichinaru Kami-sama" and close the prayer by saying, "Tamashii Ippai....Inorimasu....something."

    And an interesting thing is that they strongly believe in THE REVIVAL to come. Another strange practice they do is that many of the women have very loooooong hair and do it with Mitsuami.

    I asked them why they do that and the answer was because they believe in a certain kind of angels working among them and the angels have such a loooong hair of Mitsuami as someone among them saw it. So the women want to imitate the angels.

    Very strange people.

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    1. Dear Bro. David, good morning. Thank you for your very intriguing comment. It is indeed a rare first-hand witness of their certain beliefs and practices. I guess their eagerness to learn Hebrew and Koine Greek came from their Mukyokai-heritage. (However, I must emphasize here that the beliefs of Mukyokai and Makuya are fundamentally different. In fact, I must say it is so ironical that their ultra-nationalistic view resembles the very fascist Japanese who had persecuted Kanzo Uchimura severely during the war time, labeling him as a "hikoku-min" (=a traitor). If Uchimura would appear in the 21st century and see what these Makuya people are doing, he must have been very very upset.

      <And I realized in my spiritual sense that the spirit working among them was NOT the Holy Spirit we have, but a different spirit which was similar to the HS.

      I found it very interesting to read this part, too. Thank you for your comment, again!

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  3. You know what? The spiritual sense I had at the Makuya conference was almost the same I had at a Passover feast held at Israel Embassy in Akasaka, Tokyo, as I attended it, invited by my Christian friend whose wife is a Jewish woman. Needless to say, most of the people at the feast were unsaved Jews.

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    1. Thank you for sharing it with me.I think the issue which you mentioned is one of the most controversial & hottest themes among evangelicals today. I won't go into details here but I'd like to observe these streams with a sense of alarm and prayerful heart.

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