Discerning the Spirit in the Double Life of the Congregation/Church: The Japanese Context

By Toshihiro Takamura

Pastor of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church

Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (Ph.D. student)

I.  Introduction

Presenting on preaching in the Japanese context is a challenging topic, for my experience is in reality merely that of one pastor who has been ordained for only five years. Thus, I do not pretend to know everything about Japan. Rather, I would like to emphasize my limitation of experience. Nonetheless, I may be able to offer a glimpse of the issue of preaching, for I have been struggling to find out for myself what it means to be both a Lutheran and a pastor—or, a Lutheran pastor—in the Japanese context.

In this presentation, I would like to talk about 1) significant differences between the so-called western context and a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic context, particularly the Japanese context; 2) basic understandings of Lutheran preaching especially concerning its limitations; and 3) the role of preaching in the Japanese context from a Lutheran perspective, asserting that the Lutheran preaching has a special function in the modern Japanese context, namely that it frees Christians from their legalistic burdens and for the life of service to their neighbors in the penultimate world where a human law governs a society.

Before moving forward, I would like to refer to my theological presuppositions for this presentation. I subscribe to the law and gospel, the first and second uses of the law, and the theology of the cross as the revelation of God for us where we by reason least expect God to be. Because of the limitation of time and space, I intentionally leave some important theological principles untouched and instead focus on what appears unique or more important to my assigned subject. I hope this reference to the presuppositions helps you to understand where I stand in my theologization.

II.  Japanese Context

This main section of the presentation looks at two major aspects of the Japanese context: ethics shaped by a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition and the problem of legalism among Japanese Christians.

  • Region and Ethics in a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic Context

In order to talk about preaching in the Japanese context, it is important to sort out the relation between religion and ethics in the Japanese society. Is there any clear relation between the two? If so, what is it? I would like to share a short story.

When I was visiting Germany last year, I had an interesting experience somewhat related to what is currently going on over there. Because I was a foreigner, some drunken young men threw a nearly-empty beer bottle at me across the street, although it did not hit me. I later learned about the PEGIDA and the LEGIDA—anti-Islamization movements—and then had a chance to visit with a retired Lutheran pastor and talked about the issue.[i] He said that such anti-refugee activities would not fit with Christian values and principles. When I asked him if there existed a clear sense of being “public” in his pastoral work, he further answered, saying, there was no distinction between public and private in the pastoral work in Germany because pastors were, by receiving salary from the state, public figures and whatever they would do in the church—or the church would do—were always “public.” I will come back later to this topic of “public” and “private.”

This conversation reminded me of the preface of Inazoh Nitobe’s book: Bushido.[ii] There, Nitobe, a Japanese Christian leader of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, describes how the inception of his book came to be. When he was visiting with a certain Belgian professor of law, they talked about the subject of religion among other things. The professor asked Nitobe what would serve as the basis of ethics for the Japanese people if there was no religious education at school. Nitobe’s answer was “Bushido,” a Japanese chivalry or a behavioral code of Samurai which was an eclecticism of Zen Buddhism, Shinto, and Confucianism shaped over a long time. This perhaps holds some truth to the modern Japan, too, although it is naïve to believe that “Bushido” is truly retained by the contemporary Japanese society. Nevertheless, it is also true that already by the time of Nitobe “Bushido” in its strict sense was long gone as Japan was quickly westernized and became a modern nation.[iii]

This vignette tells us an important thing regarding a non-Christian society and its ethics: such a society can develop its own ethics independent of the Judeo-Christian—or, perhaps, Judeo-Christian-Islamic—tradition and that ethics may not necessarily be inferior to ethics shaped by and in a society where the aforementioned tradition is culturally predominant.[iv]

Through the earthquakes, Tsunamis, and what followed afterwards including nuclear power plant incidents in 2011, Japanese people clearly demonstrated that a non-Christian people can act ethically as equally as Christians or perhaps even better. Nonetheless, we—including Japanese Christians themselves—often misunderstand that Christian values and principles do offer better ethical standard to a society; we sometimes go even further, thinking that Christianity is the only religion which could offer any acceptable ethical teachings to humanity. Yet, there are many non-Christian societies and communities which have good ethical standard and reasonably practice it. Then, the question about preaching especially the law we should think twice before we start preaching with an intention to keep the society good or make it better, for many communities are just fine without learning from Christian ethical teachings.

It is important to note, however, that Nitobe believed that each culture including that in Japan had its own “Old Testament.”[v] This understanding probably resembles the conference’s definition of “life” with small letter, the life created by God the creator. It is also important to remember that Bushido was an eclecticism of religious teachings, values, and principles adopted and practiced in the Japanese context.[vi] In other words, what Nitobe claimed to be the basis of the Japanese ethical code of his time was a product of religions even though they were not Christianity.

Connecting religion and ethics was indeed a common practice in Japan up to the end of the Second World War. The Meiji Restoration was in its initial stage an attempt to reorganize Japan under the framework of Shinto and the imperial worship against the backdrop of the threat of potential colonization of Japan under the western power.[vii] In other words, the leaders thought that against the external threat posed by the western nations they could restore Japan and its people to what they believed to be an authentic form of Shinto and thus establish Japan’s national identity by appealing to that confessional identity and its resulting appropriate practice including ethics. The Imperial Rescript on Education issued in 1890 was nothing but an attempt to establish ethics based on this agenda.[viii] In the 1880s and the following few decades in the process of Japan’s modernization and westernization, some people tried to adopt a Unitarianism from the U.S. as Japan’s state religion. In 1912, the government initiated Sankyō Kaidō, a meeting of three religions—Shinto, Buddhism, and Christianity—with an intention to use these religions and their influence upon the Japanese citizens for their better moral edification.[ix] Under the government-initiated United Church of Christ in Japan during World War II, virtually all the Christian churches in Japan with an exception of Pentecostal churches became subsumed under the state-sanctioned imperial Shinto and were used to promote Japan’s wartime nationalism and colonial agenda.[x]

If the question is merely a clear relation between religion and ethics, there exists little difference between Japan and a nation shaped in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition. The difference, then, is that the religions which Japan’s ethics is based on or primarily influenced by are neither Judaism, Christianity, nor Islam, the faiths presumably with the common root of worshiping the same monotheistic God (Abrahamic religions). This however could cast a serious obstacle to Christians including those in Japan, for the question being asked really is whether Christians can trust an ethics derived from a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion and/or culture.

  • Church and State/Religion and Politics

Shinto and Buddhism existed side by side in Japan before the Meiji Restoration, although there were times when the one persecuted the other or the other way around. The Meiji Restoration initially claimed Shinto as the sole religion of Japan and attempted to make Buddhist faith null.[xi] This attempt by the government’s religious leaders failed. Yet, Christian faith was officially not permitted for the Japanese people until the issuance of the Meiji Constitution in 1889. In the constitution, the freedom of religion was permitted as long as it would not harm the social order nor contradict the duty of a Japanese citizen.[xii] Furthermore, Shinto was considered a non-religion and thus granted an exception to the article, for Shinto was understood to be practiced by every Japanese citizen. The Imperial Rescript on Education in 1890, issued just a year after the constitution, clearly implies this special nature of Shinto and imperial worship.[xiii] How Christianity was treated until the end of World War II has been already mentioned. Thus, Shinto, a religion labeled as a non-religion, and the State were inseparable; consequently, under this umbrella of the state “non-religion,” Buddhism and Christianity, other religions, were also used for Japan’s imperialistic agenda.

The relation changed after the war especially when Japan accepted its new constitution reflecting a new understanding of the emperor—no longer as a deity but as a symbol of the nation. The ideology promoted and imposed prior to that point was quickly nullified. Perhaps the claim that Shinto was a non-religion brought upon Shinto itself a serious harm, for Shinto has become merely a socio-cultural entity to most Japanese people.[xiv]

The freedom of religion without any limitation was assured in the new constitution.[xv] This together with the emperor’s becoming a human being meant the end of the state-sanctioned Shinto and consequently the separation of church and state. Yet, in Japan it is more accurate to describe the separation as that between religion and politics; it is indeed a much stricter separation than the former.[xvi] This practice has generated negative reactions of many citizens including Christians to any attempt to bring religion and politics together and continues to do so today. Initiating a serious political discussion in a church is often met by a polite reprove. If a pastor initiates such a discussion or takes a stance for or against even loosely political issues, she is criticized to have made some people potentially in her congregation uncomfortable by excluding them from the circle.

  • Legalist or Antinomian—The Reality of Churchgoers as Legalists

Last fall I had a chance to hear Dr. Fleming Rutledge, an Episcopal theologian, speak at a conference. She gave a keynote lecture titled: “Are You a Corinthian or a Galatian? Theological Grounding for Pastors.”[xvii] In the lecture, she distinguished between the pastors with legalistic inclination and those with antinomian inclination, identifying the former with Galatians and the latter with Corinthians, challenging pastors to think where their orientations were and that of the gospel. It was really an insightful lecture, posing an important question for pastors to wrestle with as they serve their congregations.

This question of being legalist or antinomian is important for pastors and those who have some theological training. Indeed, anyone who has some pastoral experience must have struggled over this issue. Yet, when we think about our congregants, the question all of a sudden becomes inadequate, for we already know that virtually everyone who regularly or semi-regularly comes to the church today is legalist.

Legalist here is used to designate someone who consciously or unconsciously believes that he could become better or make his relationship with God better by doing something good. Those who have no legalistic inclination would not even come to the church; antinomians would simply stay at home or do something else, for they do not care. Indeed, the question of legalist and antinomian inclination and tendency is perhaps a luxury granted to those who have to come to the church every week, that is to say, pastors. Maybe the issue is serious for those non-pastoral individuals who are forced to come to the church such as pastor’s family members or young people, but the majority of the people who come to the church today are most likely legalist. Pastors including myself often forget this reality or overlook it. This is even more so in Japan where Christianity is a minority religion, for those who identify themselves with it by taking a risk of being minority tend to have clearer agenda than those who do so in the place where Christianity is a majority religion.

This legalism of Japanese Christians is often manifested in their sense of duty associated with the understanding of their idealistic or ideological Christian identity. One such manifestation is found in their strict observance of the separation of religion and politics. Earlier I have touched upon the issue of “public” and “private” in the pastoral office. In Germany, pastors are public figures because they receive a salary from the state. The same logic applies to the pastors in Japan and the U.S., exacting however a different conclusion because they receive a salary from the church, a private sector, which makes them private figures. This understanding is perhaps endorsed by the modern understanding of religion that it is a private business of an individual.

What is interesting, however, is that private and public intersect not only differently but also in an unexpected way in Germany and in Japan. In Germany where the pastor is a public figure, everything the pastor does is public. There pastors are also expected to be involved in the shaping and practicing of morality and ethics in the society. Consequently, what pastors believe to be right and thus practice becomes a public statement. To put it differently, there lacks a clear distinction between a private persona and a public persona of a pastor, because they are always connected to each other.

In Japan, however, where the pastor is understood to belong to a private or non-public sector and thus to be a private figure, she is expected to behave strictly as a public figure in her limited non-public domain, namely, her church and congregation. In this limited arena, she is expected carefully to distinguish and separate her private beliefs, opinions, practices from her public expectation as a pastor; a public persona as a pastor who must not offend nor show partiality toward anyone in the church and congregation is thus imposed upon the pastor.

This public persona of a pastor is an ideological abstraction generated from the understanding on what Christianity should be like and what a pastor should look like shared by both Christians and non-Christians in Japan. On the one hand, the non-Christian populace expects Christianity and Christians to provide a role model for both morality and social justice. This is perhaps evident from the Japanese society’s wide recognition of and respect to two Christian figures: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa. On the other hand, the Christian populace buys into this understanding, expecting themselves able to manifest that ideal in their lives or, if they themselves are unable, at least others especially those who officially work in the church to be able. Moral perfectionism is a problem inherent to any system concerning human life especially ethics which bases itself on the positive anthropology, but it is ironic that Christians buy into it at the expense of practicing forgiveness in the church.

The result is the suffocation of Japanese Christians who impose upon themselves unnecessary burdens of Christian idealism and ideology and thus are voluntarily enslaved to the idols which they worship as God. This legalism is a serious problem for Japanese Christians today to live as Christians in the Japanese context.

 

III.  Preaching and Its Limitations from the Lutheran Perspective

  • Executio Dei and Jus Verbi

Here I briefly introduce two concepts from Luther’s Invocavit sermons which shows the nature and limitation of human involvement in preaching: executio Dei and jus verbi. In 1522, Luther delivered a series of eight sermons upon his return from Wartburg, addressing to those who supported the hasty and aggressive reform program of Andreas Karlstadt and those who were reluctant to accept his changes due to their weak faith. Luther is thus concerned with the one group adhering to the Catholic teachings and practices and the other group, the evangelical cause.

In the second sermon, Luther introduces a set of important principles concerning the Word of God: the jus verbi and the executio. He lays out a profound theology of the Word of God in this sermon, and this theology serves as the fundamental principle of reform. He emphasizes that preachers must preach and teach the Word of God, but he acknowledges that they must allow God—God’s Word—to work alone apart from their work and interference.[xviii] Luther reminds his congregants that they cannot force anyone to have faith, for neither he nor they can reach people’s hearts and pour faith into them.[xix] On this regard to salvation, humans “have the jus verbi [right to speak] but not the executio [power to accomplish]”;[xx] the former is human responsibility, while the latter is to be entrusted to God alone. Luther keeps this distinction clearly throughout the Invocavit sermons.

This brief introduction of the two terms reminds pastors what they are capable—or, incapable—of through preaching. They cannot make people Christian or those who are already Christians better Christian. What pastors can do is to let Christians be Christian by helping them to remember who they already are and encourage them to actualize that identity in their life.

 

IV.  Freeing Both Clerical and Lay Japanese Christians through Preaching

  • Japanized Christianity or Christianized Japan—A Wrong Question

When Christians talk about Christianity in Japan, they often talk about two possible forms of its successful presence: Japanized Christianity or Christianized Japan. Both result from the missiological framework of contextualization, inculturation, or indigenization. The former is a manifestation of Japanese socio-cultural influences in Christianity, while the latter is a transformation of Japan under or around values and principles which are traditionally identified Christian.[xxi] Neither have really prevailed in Japan. In Christianity Made in Japan, Mark Mullins introduces some forms of Japanized Christianity, but Kanzoh Uchimura’s Mukyōkai (non-Church movement) is really the only successful case within the framework of orthodoxy.[xxii]

Conceptualizing successful Christian presence from a Christian perspective in those two categories of Japanized Christianity and Christianized Japan is indeed helpful, especially when one wants to know about the impact and influence of Christianity in Japan for the sake of scientific research. Yet, they become obstacles from a pastoral point of view, for they abstract actual Christians living in Japan, making them a collective mass and blurring the faces of people before whom pastors preach. Furthermore, these concepts do not help Japanese Christians, because they only offer false illusions of success which can never be obtained in this world of the penultimate reality.[xxiii] While a powerful Christian speech exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington D.C. in 1963 could also happen in Japan, Japan is a non-Christian nation and will most likely remain so in future. In other words, talking about an utopian Christian presence in Japan fueled by the abstraction resulting from a false application of missiological concepts does not help Christians who currently live in Japan with struggles and challenges. Instead, Japanese Christians both lay and clerical need to pay attention to the question of letting Christians Christian in the Japanese context, shifting focus upon actual Christian people in Japan, because there really is neither Japanized Christianity nor Christianized Japan but only Christian “persons” living there with flesh and blood in their concrete context.

  • Preaching through a Printed Medium: Ayako Miura’s Shiokari Pass and Shusaku Endo’s Silence

Ayako Miura and Shusaku Endo are perhaps the most popular Christian novelists in Japan. They were both lay Christians—Miura a Protestant and Endo a Catholic. They wrote about Christian faith as the main theme of their works, focusing often on struggles which Christians have in the Japanese context.

Shiokari Pass and Silence are fictions based on and inspired by true stories.[xxiv] Shiokari Pass is the name of a steep pass in Hokkaido where a train accident happened in the early 1900s. The last car was by accident detached from the rest of the train at the pass, becoming out of control. Yet, one Christian man threw himself under the car to brake it and saved the lives of the people. Miura took up this story and made it into a novel.

Endo’s work is a fictious reconstruction of an Italian Catholic priest who sneaked into Japan during its national seclusion era in the 17th century. In the novel, Endo depicts the conversion of a priest who ended up renouncing Christ by stepping on Fumie, a plate on which a crucifixion was engraved used to detect hidden Christians. It is a conversion in two ways. On the one hand, the priest was forced to abandon his Christian faith, told that he could stop the torture of Japanese Christians who suffered severe physical persecution because the priest refused the renunciation of faith. On the other hand, the priest who had seen Christ beautiful and understood faith as his confessional commitment and clinging to this Christ met Christ through renunciation. He encountered a miserable Christ who came to be rejected by people including the priest and yet captured him and others inescapable, thus being shown the passive nature of faith and therefore relationship to God.

In this novel, Endo illustrates a theologian of the cross, a struggling Christian with flesh and blood instead of an abstract theology.[xxv] Both are bestselling novels, although the latter has been controversial, for some—if not many—Christians see the renunciation of faith by the priest as nothing but a defeat of Christianity.

  • Helping Japanese Christians to Be Christians in Japan

The two novels exemplify different ways which pastors could preach. Shiokari Pass follows the hagiographic tradition of edification by offering a role model of faith; Silence however shatters such an attempt and offers instead a different picture of faith and Christian living by depicting a theologian of the cross. Both approaches are perhaps appropriate when they are used in a right time and context. Yet, the question is which serves as a better preaching model in the Japanese context today.

I have identified two aspects of the Japanese context: its ethics shaped by a non-Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition and the problem of legalism among Christians. The first point involves two further questions: 1) such an ethics can be trusted and 2) what that really means in practice. These two questions are closely linked to each other, for what is being asked here is the relation between the penultimate and the ultimate realities.

The present world is the penultimate world; yet, how much Christian is that expected to be? Do we expect our society to be authentically Christian? Do we expect Japan to be so as well? Is it possible? The answer is: most likely not. Yet, does the Japanese society in any way have to be Christian? The answer is also: not at all. It is necessary to be realistic especially in the framework of the penultimate reality. The Japanese society is not an actualization of a Christian eschaton. Rather, it is, from a Christian perspective, pagan and will remain so in future, too. Then, the question needs to be addressed is whether the Japanese society reasonably functions in accordance with the values and principles of the modern democracy? To put it differently, is the legal system of the Japanese society working? Is a human law reasonably justly governing the society there? Can Japan as a nation and its democracy be trusted?[xxvi]

While it is by no means perfect, we can accept that Japan and its democracy under its legal system are working okay. Japan should indeed seek and strive for a better society, but as a society where Christians live the current situation should suffice. Christians should not be overly concerned with its origin as long as the system is reasonably functioning, for whether it is a western society or a non-western society what governs the society in the penultimate world is a human law.

The next question is how Christians can and should live in this society where a human law governs. As it has been made clear, there exists legalism both outside and inside Christianity; not only does the society impose upon Christians a legalism generated from their understanding of what Christians should be but also a strong legalism exists within the church. The answer to the question is found in the thesis of Luther’s On the Freedom of a Christian: “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”[xxvii] So, the task of preaching is to enable Christians to live this paradoxical Christian identity: a freed person wrestling in her assigned context in a legalistic penultimate world in order to serve her tangible, concrete—not abstract—neighbors.

The service to the neighbors should involve active participation in politics. Participation in politics should not be confused with any imposition of Christian values and principles on the society by a radical means; rather, it means a life of a citizen responsible to where he is called in service to his neighbors and thus attempts should be made in accordance with the society’s legal framework, although there may be an exception.

This may appear nothing different from what Japanese Christians are currently practicing, but the significant difference is that they are free from the legalism resulting from a falsely imposed Christian ideology. Christians should not care what others—those Christians and non-Christians who do not know who Christians truly are and what the Word of God does to its hearers—think about them, but they should rather boldly engage themselves with a wide range of issues in the society as long as they do so in the spirit of servanthood.

 

V.  Conclusion

This is a proposal resulting from my own pastoral experience and study. It is a reflection on what I have found to be the major obstacles for Japanese Christians and a potential solution through the means of preaching. The aim of preaching is not to create Christianized Japan or Japanized Christianity; rather, it is to help Christians to live out their already-given identity as Christians, in struggles found in the tangible, concrete context of encountering and serving their neighbors from God.

[i] PEGIDA stands for the Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the Occident (in German, Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes).

[ii] Inazoh Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, the author’s edition revised and enlarged, 13th ed. (A Public Domain Book, 1908). Nitobe was a Quaker, married to a Quaker woman from Pennsylvania. Therefore, the book aims to explain to his wife and other westerners what Bushido is; Nitobe does this from a Christian perspective.

[iii] There are two most famous books on the topic of Bushido. The first is Hagakure by Jyōchō Yamamoto and Turamoto Tashiro, published in the early 18th century. Hagakure is a dictation of a Samurai who lived in the period before the Edo era, but when it was written down it was already a century into the Edo era. The second is Nitobe’s work.

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[iv] Dr. David Grafton in our casual conversation pointed out that the word and concept of “Judeo-Christian” is already strongly Christian. It is used mainly by Christians to affirm and approve a non-Christian tradition. When I used to term “Judeo-Christian-Islamic,” I intend to include this aspect with a sense of irony and arrogance.

[v] Inazoh Nitobe, Bushido, Preface. “Old Testament” should imply a special revelation. Yet, it is not clear here whether Nitobe meant by the term more than an affirmation of God as the creator of the Japanese people/s and thus natural revelation.

[vi] Inazoh Nitobe, Bushido. The first two chapters of the book explore this issue of eclecticism.

[vii] The two major principles of the Meiji Restoration were the restoration of the imperial rule and theocracy. Cf. Tetsuya Ohama, “Shintōkokkyōseisaku,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 704.

[viii] Nario Matsukawa, “Kyōikuchokugo,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 377; Akio Doi, “Kyōiku-to Shūkyō-no Shōtotsu,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 377.

[ix] Akio Doi, “Sankyō Kaidou,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 589.

[x] Akio Doi, “Nihon Kirisuto Kyōdan,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 1044-45.

[xi] In the initial stage, with the understanding that Shinto was the only religion Buddhism lost its status as a religion and the Buddhist clergy were deprived of their privileges, although their status was soon restored. For Buddhism in the Meiji era and its adaptation and transformation, see, James E. Ketelaar, Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

[xii] Yoshiaki Iisaka, “Shinkyō-no Jiyuu,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 696.

[xiii] Nario Matsukawa, “Kyōikuchokugo,” 377; Akio Doi, “Kyōiku-to Shūkyō-no Shōtotsu,” 377.

[xiv] This is actually a complicated problem, for a similar problem applies to Buddhism whose function in the society had been cultural and ritualistic. It is difficult to say whether this kind of attitude of many Japanese people toward religion today is really new or resembles that in the Edo era before the Meiji Restoration.

[xv] Yoshiaki Iisaka, “Shinkyō-no Jiyuu,” 696.

[xvi] Yoshiaki Iisaka, “Seikyō Bunri,” Nihon Kirisutokyō Rekishi Daijiten, ed. by Arimichi Ebisawa (Tokyo: Kyōbunkan, 1988), 743-44.

[xvii] She was the first keynote speaker of The Reformed Communion’s 2015 Conference “Cultivate: Pastors” in Philadelphia, PA, between September 29 and October 1, 2015.

[xviii] Luther, “28. Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522),” Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings, ed. by Timothy F. Lull and William Russell, 3rd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 292.

[xix] Ibid., 293.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] It is interesting to note that this mentality of planting a Christian society and measuring its success/failure based on some form of tangibility has been present since the time of visitations in the sixteenth-century Germany. See, Gerard Strauss, “XI Success and Failure in the German Reformation,” Enacting the Reformation in Germany: Essays on Institution and Reception (Hampshire, GB: Variorum, 1993), 30-63.

[xxii] Mark Mullins, Christianity Made in Japan: A Study of Indigenous Movement (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1998).

[xxiii] I am borrowing Bonhoeffer’s concepts of ultimate and penultimate in his Ethics.

[xxiv] Ayako Miura, Shiokari Touge (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1972); Shusaku Endo, Chinmoku (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1972).

[xxv] Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997).

[xxvi] A series of questions here reflect Luther’s understanding that a ruler in this world does not have to be Christian. See p. 55-56 in Carter Lindberg’s essay, “‘Christianization’ and Luther on the Early Profit Economy” (The Reformation as Christianization: Essays on Scott Hendrix’s Christianization Thesis, ed. by Anna Marie Johnson and John A. Maxfield (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2012)).

[xxvii] LW 31.343.