Important Information from Japanese Government
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The Philosophy of Giving by the Wise: Third Talk
The meaning of the four circles marked on the picture above:
1. 弥师诃 Messaiah
2. 上悬高 hung up high
3. 有墓自开 The tombs broke open
4. 活起向人people who had died were raised to life and appeared to many people.
A literature translation of “世尊布施论第三” will be “The Philosophy of Giving by the Wise : Third Talk”. The print was discovered in Dunhuang敦煌 in 1912. Dunhuang is a point that was thought to be a major point of interchange between ancient China and Central Asia. The page above recorded the message of Matthias 27, the incident of the cross, and the resurrection too.
The Mogao Caves, “Caves of a Thousand Buddhas” had been collecting scriptures from the west. Interestingly along the discoveries, there were a few manuscripts that recorded the story of Jesus and Messaiah were found, which then marked the presence of Keikyo景教 in the East. With more and more evidences and scholarly review as well as research on these materials, Keikyo 景教 now is widely accepted as early Christians in the East, China.
The more cultural related discovery in Japan is the monument found in Kouyasan 高野山 in Wakayama 和歌山, which was presented by a British lady name Mrs. Gordon in Meiji 44. The monument was the replicate of the original in Xi-an 西安 in China.
This Keikyo monument 大秦景 教流行碑 recorded the statement of Trinity, and the account of the birth of Jesus. The scripture on the monument had also recorded that the Scripture reached Chang-an长安 in 635 year.
The importance of this finding does not only tell us about the step of the early Christians, it also raised issues such as (i) if Christianity is foreign to Chinese or Japanese at all if this was introduced in China during Tang Dynasty; (ii) if the culture has an influence of Christian teaching; (iii)how far could we trace back for the presence of Christianity in both China and Japan; (iv) if Christianity was presence so early and being accepted, why it had been seen so much as a foreign God in today’s evangelism, (v) if the scripture was in Hebrew order or Greek order; etc.
Among all these to be explored, a big question that we need to identify is that, what is this to do with Gospel in Japan?
Things that we need to keep in mind are: how can this discovery help us to preach Good News to the people in Japan? To which group of people that this piece of information will be helpful? And how can we use it as not to offend or destroy, but to build the people that we are reaching out to?
Koyasan in the northern part of the prefecture is known as a sacred place of the Shingon sect founded by Kobo Daish. The Keikyo Monument at Koyasan (Kongobuji金剛峯寺) could probably excite us as it seemed to have some possible connection with early Christianity in Japan. Yet whether the monument actually represent an evidence of early Christianity in Japan is still in debate. Various literature in the internet with regards to Keikyo are interesting. Adding all these together and by our active good will “imaginations”, we might be able to create stories of the connections of Christianity and Japanese believes system. Yet, if we do that, we will lost our Christian Dignity, and we would not be able to travel far with this piece of information. Again, we need to examine the facts carefully and check our motivations when we use this valuable information whether as a tool of “redemptive analogy” or “syncretism”.
Christian dignity on presenting the notes as “Yes” be “yes”, and “No” be “no”, is important.
In this case, if we can be careful with the evidences and have a firm grip on what we understand, be open to the opposite site of the stories if you ever encounter one when you try to use this piece of information, listen more, and keep all these into spiritual prayers, allow the move of the Holy Spirit, and let the Lord guide us into His heart for Japan.
With the limited knowledge that I have, yet tracing into the thread of Keikyo through these years by reading the internet presentation of Keikyo in Japan, meeting with a few people who had been crazy in this piece of evidence, and the interview with Kazuhiko Kawaguchi, I would be more comfortable to introduce you to the work on Keikyo by Kazuhiko Kawaguchi川口一彦. His strong understanding of Buddhism background, genuine interest in Kanji, his research spirit and firm ground of bible knowledge is convincing.
Kazuhiko brought up an interesting fact that: a missionary (Arahon 阿羅本 ) from Persia brought the Syrian Bible during Tang Dynasty, but it does not mean that it was the very first time for Christian to come to China. And the early Christians (Keikyo followers) have been persecuted by Buddhism during that period of time, During the time of Buso emperor（武宗皇帝）, Confucianism follower had deported all the other religions including Keikyo, Buddhism and Manichean from China....... ( ^^ a lot of interesting facts.....)
If you like to know more about Keikyo in Japan, please do not hesitate to be connect with E-grape Publisher, or Pastor Kazuhiko himself.
川口一彦 Kazuhiko Kawaguchi
MARCH FOR JESUS
May 5, 2009 - Nagoya
The MARCH for Jesus was organized by a group of Brazilians and called out to around 1600 people to join the March on April 5, 2009.
Knowing nothing, understanding not a word, except of sometimes a phrase pop out, "いえすは、あなたをーあーいーしーてーる！”(Jesus loves you), many people joined in the crowd. A crazy move, you can say it is for Jesus, or you can say it is for the love towards Japanese people.
Yet, many thoughts started to flow in even I enjoyed the fun that I have in the march. Is this a prophetic movement that resembling Joshua and the Jews walked around the Jericho city for seven times, and the wall collapsed which signified "Not by strength, not by might, but by the spirit of the God?" But the organizer didn't seemed to have much thoughts about that.....
The worship afterwards... I've been to more "louder" worship, more "crazy" worship, yet there was none such as this that made me feel so alien... this is difficult to explain, and I hope the readers don't get me wrong with this comment.
It is hard for me to criticize the event when I see so many efforts and good wills that had been put into it to make this come true, yet, accept of this passions to shout and the fun of it, i can't help to feel that it is more of a CULTURAL CRUSADE than a Jesus crusade.
I have no against with the passions that our Brazilian brothers and sisters have for the Japanese, and I respect that. Yet, I think cultural sensitiveness is needed in presenting Gospel to any nation. It reminded me about Corey Grinder's message, "when we bring the message of Jesus Christ to people, we often brought our whole package of culture across the bridge!" It is important for us to realize that our duty is not getting Japanese to know and to accept the our God, but to know that Jesus is their God. We really need to get ourselves back to the feet of Christ, be silent, and listen to His voice and touch His heart... for what does He wants for Japan? and be careful that we are not just doing what we think that is right.
Cultural crusade is not really welcome in any culture I guess...... and I am speaking from a perspective of a third party who have a crazy background in this circumstance...... how well was the acceptance of the street people about this MARCH? Is this a March for Japan? or a March that just a group of people who are crazy for their God?
Nevertheless, this gives us (People who have same visions) a good idea lot of thoughts if we would like to have in the next march.... perhaps we can have a more indigenous Matsuri Walk for Jesus? A more indigenous way, that we can identify God in ways that we can comprehend, in ways that we are once again ensure: Jesus is not a foreign God, but our GOD.
Returnees Unite to Keep Faith
Facebook: Inspire Union
After CROSSOVER, this is another ministry that marks the movement of uniting the body of Jesus Christ. INSPIRE in Nagoya.
INSPIRE UNION group message in Facebook goes:
“Keep the faith! Did you discover the joy and truth of Christianity while living abroad? Want to re-discover that here in Nagoya, Japan? Inspire Union is for you! We are a group of mostly Japanese (with a few foreigners thrown in!), who have travelled to many countries (America, Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand...) and want to meet up with others who have had similar experiences to us. We also want to learn more about Christianity and making our faith a part of our everyday lives. We'd love for you to join us!”
I had a chat with Hiroko who takes initiative to organize the meetings and keeping up with the returnees. After many cries and prayers, we begin to witness he atmosphere started to change over past two years, The formation of BE ONE movement, CROSSOVER movement, INSPIRE UNION movement, were not too far from each other.
Heart4Japan movement started in 2005 with a group of 3 expanded to a group of 500 today had caught the train to pray for JAPAN for a spiritual change among the churches: raising up awareness of the needs in the field, challenging resource sharing, seeing the importance of uniting the body of Christ. When there is such evidence that all of us share the same vision, UNITING together for the growth of the Church of Christ in Japan, we know that this movement is not of us, but of God.
BE ONE, CROSSOVER, INSPIRE UNION are what we had been praying for, more to that, we are not only praying for unity, but also unify spirit in seeking His heart, a Father’s heart for Japan. So, as we pray, please keep this in mind: our God is God of gods, King of kings, yet He is also our Father. And as for Japan, He carries a heart of a Father’s love, a father’s longing to see his children come to him, a father’s desire to be unite with his long lost sons.
May the Lord bless you as you pray! Amen.
A Buddhist Temple, a Christian Museum, a Kindergarten.
After the visit to Kakure Christian Museum in Kyoto, I had a chance to explore another Christian Museum - 栄国寺 in Nagoya City. It is a place with combination of three themes: Buddhist temple, Christian museum and a kindergarten.
The temple received the bodies of the persecuted Christians in Edo period, to provide a burial place, and prayers for the rest of their souls after the mass execution.
The picture (left top): a stone that wrote 遗迹切支丹 Christian Monument. It stood before the narrow entrance to the burial ground.
The picture (left bottom): a sign that shows us the entrance to the burial ground of the mass execution, where a tomb was stood for a thousand souls.
The picture (right bottom): a weird combination: A monument built by a Catholic priest, illustrating the stories of the thousands persecuted souls (left), the tomb of a “famous” Christian man of the time (middle), the “worship” monument that states the protection of Buddha over these executed Christians’ souls (right).
“A resting place for the souls...” how kind were these people that had offered a resting place and set their gods to look after the executed Christians, so that the dead could find peace. What can we do to help them to understand the eternal life that these persecuted Christians had even that they had went through time of turbulence. How can we in return help them to realize that they themselves who had portrait such a good example of Samaritan brother could simply have the same eternal life by believing and receiving the name of Jesus?
The picture (right top): a buddha statue which was claimed to be substitute of Jesus in Hidden Christian worship.
To be honest, I do not think that the Christian museum really give us any concrete account of hidden Christian in Japan. Nevertheless it is interesting to see how the temple or the state officers had valued these artifacts.
栄国寺, an unique place: a very traditional Japanese style of architecture building adjoint to a kindergarten, with a display room that full of “Christians” artifacts that joined to a meeting room and a Buddhist temple. Let's pray that in this strange setting, it will provoke the interest of the kids to find out TRUTH as they realize the challenging messages that is embedded in this place.