the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Family Alters

If you're in missions in Japan, this topic is always coming up. And while it's not a main focus, it is or some importance. The topic of Butsudans and Kamidanas. Are these religion or just filial piety? Is filial piety religion? Is civil service religion? Is evolutionism religion? etc etc.

Instead of answering all those questions. I'm going to tell a story. And then ask for your opinion.

On Monday, by chance I got to see some new land some missionaries had acquired to build a more central place of worship. It was an old farm house next to a large storage building. Although in meager condition, the farm house itself was old, huge and looked to have been very nice at one time.

It also had a very nice Butsudan. MG said, "But I'm a Christian so I'm going to burn it." I fail to see the logic here. I am also a Christian, but I see no need to burn the Butsudan. I suggested maybe selling it back to a furniture dealer. Using his Biblical knowledge, LE mentioned the Ephesians and how they had burned their books of magic despite their value (albeighit, I would give the Butsudan to the furniture store).

That's true about the Ephesiands. But the Ephesians actually believed in those books of magic. And we don't believe in Butsudans. We just happened to acquire one through the purchase of a house.

I do remember that the Lord told the Israelites to destroy all the foreign idols in the promised land. However, I don't remember Jesus destroying any idols. And while Paul preached against the Greek gods, I don't remember him burning down any temples either.

In more recent history, during the Waring States Period when the first Catholic Missionaries came to Japan, many warlords were ruling under the banner of Shinto or Buddhism. When a Buddhist warlord over took a Shinto kingdom, this necessitated the burning down of the Shinto shrines - and vice versa in the opposite case.

Some warlords did become Catholics. And there is evidence that Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines were burned down in the name of Christianity and the current warlord.

This was around 1600 or 1700. I would prefer to distance myself from this far away past. If MG would like to start off relations with his new neighbors by burning an object that is sacred in their eyes. That's his perogative. All I'm saying is, there might be a more subtle way to do things.

Of course we want to get rid of the Butsudan, but I'm sure there are many options which we have not thought of.

How about putting it out on bulk refuse day? Would that be less offensive? :)

The more major question we're dealing with:

Since the Christian God is ruler and creator of all the earth and demands we worship Him only. We cannot allow worship of anything else by people claiming to be Christians. But does this mean we need to be militantly against the more native religions?

I'm hoping there will be some discussion in the comments section.

I seem to have my best thoughts days after the actual conversation. So to those who were there, no hard feelings. I still love you, I especially welcome your replies and insights. I just posted my ideas here because I'm slow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have any pat answers for you, but I think a good parallel would be eating meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Cor 8. The meat sacrificed to idols had a few issues around it - was it somehow spiritually impure, was it looking like condoning the sacrifice by eating it, or should you just avoid it entirely? I think you are in the same situation.

My vote is to quietly get rid of it and focus more on being a witness through your relationship with others that reflects Christ rather than drama and fire. But I have never set foot inside Japan, so what do I know.

5/12/2009 4:57 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home