Theology of culture in a Japanese context : a believers' church perspective
This thesis explores an appropriate relationship between Christian faith and culture. We investigate the hallmarks of authentic theology in the West, which offer us criteria to evaluate Christianity in Japan. Because Christian faith has been concretely formed and expressed in history, an analysis and evaluation of culture is incumbent on theology. The testing ground for our research is Japan, one of the most unsuccessful Christian mission fields. Thus this is a theology of culture in a Japanese context. Through a dialogue with H. Richard Niebuhr, John Howard Yoder, and Stanley Hauerwas, we embrace a believers' church perspective as our basic vision. The believers' church critically evaluates culture and seeks to transform it by standing on the boundary between the Kingdom of God and the world, and voluntarily participates in the redemptive suffering of God with the creature. It strives to be faithful to God and to imitate Jesus Christ, instead of seeking to control the world. It trusts in God; for it is He, and not we, who is in charge of history. Examination of Japanese Christian history is conducted in the light of the criteria above, in order to consider how Japan responded to Christianity. The criteria help us see the problem of nationalism both in superficial Christianity in Japan and in Constantinian Christianity in the West. We discuss three major Japanese theologians: Kazoh Kitamori, Yasuo Furuya, and Hideo Ohki. They help us refine our criteria for suffering, for theological assessment of Japan, and for the nature of believers' church as covenant community. We find in our investigation that although Christianity has always been in a minority in Japan, the church in Japan - like the church in the West - inclines to be co-opted by political powers, which is a core problem.