The Japanese & Christianity : Why is Christianity Not Widely Believed in Japan?

by Samuel Lee Books

Since the mid-sixteenth century, Christianity has been notably active in Japan, and yet Japan remains one of the least-evangelized nations in the world. The Japanese and Christianity is an attempt to work out an appropriate response to the question, “What are the main reasons why Christianity has not yet succeeded in Japan?” It investigates various factors, i.e. the societal, cultural, historical, missiological and political dimensions of Christianity in Japan, in searching for possible answers. The Japanese and Christianity is a valuable resource for missionaries and those who are interested in introducing Christianity to the Japanese people.

About Samuel Lee

Samuel C. Lee, PhD is president of Foundation University Amsterdam. He also lectures sociology and contextual theology. Lee holds M.A. degree in Sociology of Non Western Societies / Development Sociology (Leiden University) and PhD in Intercultural Theology (VU University / Free University Amsterdam). His research areas are Japanese culture & society, Christianity in Japan, sociology of religion and contextual theology. Samuel Lee is member of Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA) and member of the steering committee of National Synod Netherlands (NatSyn).

What Experts Say About This Book

Dr. Samuel Lee’s most valuable contribution to the theme of The Japanese & Christianity is that he emphasizes the qualitative significance of Christianity in Japan more than its quantitative significance. It is also original that Lee integrates the so-called ‘political factors’ into his assessment of the many other factors that play a role in the Japanese context. That makes the reading of this book an exciting and enriching experience.

- Prof. Dr. Martien E. Brinkman Professor of Intercultural Theology VU University Amsterdam

Samuel Lee’s book The Japanese and Christianity: Why Is Christianity Not Widely Believed in Japan? is an ambitious attempt to answer the question that has been raised from many quarters, especially missionary ones. This book is written on the basis of the author’s extensive reading of the theme-related works from a wide range of historical, theological, and missiological backgrounds. This book succeeds in crystalizing the conspicuous features of the multifaceted Japanese ideological and spiritual reality. Rightly emphasized are the “wa” principle and corporatism. What I see as the most valuable contribution of this book to the understanding of the theme is the author’s emphasis on the qualitative significance of Christianity (“Influence”) more than its quantitative, statistical growth in Japan, because the statistic figures betray the true feature of the strong presence of Christianity in Japan.

- Dr. Akio Hashimoto, Dean of the Kobe Lutheran Theological Seminary

Christianity’s place in Japan has baffled many analysts. How could the world’s largest religious movement that was imported several centuries ago, brought by numerous highly motivated emissaries and with a colorful indigenous history, still be so small? Japan’s place in world Christianity is similarly enigmatic. It has a widely admired culture and an emulated modernization, yet with resented militaristic periods along with inscrutable international relationships. Where does Japanese Christianity fit within the rest of this worldwide faith? Samuel Lee’s study provides an honest, wide-sweeping, and multifaceted look at the complex relationship between Japanese people and Christianity. The practical goal is clarity and constructive relations. I highly commend Lee’s helpful analysis.

- Rev. J. Nelson Jennings, Ph.D. Executive Director, Overseas Ministries Study Center Author of Theology in Japan: Takakura Tokutaro (1885-1934) (University Press of America, 2005).

It can be said that Japan is one of the most difficult countries to evangelize. Many pastors and missionaries are still struggling with the evangelical mission to the Japanese people and trying to find the key to helping them accept the Christian faith bravely challenged this difficult problem. I am very grateful to his profound research, and I sense his genuine love for the Japanese people. I hope and believe that this book will greatly help those who share the gospel to the Japanese people.

- Professor Noriyuki Miyake, Academic Dean of Central Bible College
Senior Pastor of Grace Gospel Christ Church in Tokyo Author of Belong, Experience, Believe: Pentecostal Mission Strategies for Japan (Wide Margin, 2005).

The Japanese and Christianity by Dr. Samuel Lee contributes greatly to not only European but also Japanese academia. It definitely opens our eyes to Japanese Christian history, from the encounter of the West to after World War II. The historical, sociological and theological points of view are crucial. At the same time, Lee emphasizes the Japanese worldview. Without a deep understanding of Japanese worldview, it would be difficult to develop a mission work in one of the most challenging countries in the world. We thank Lee for this book that brings together important information for our knowledge of the soil of Japan. I believe it will help future development and bring about dramatic change for a better world.

- Professor Toshifumi Uemura, Director of Christian Programs Japan Lutheran College, Tokyo 

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