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Uchimura Kanzō and his ‘No Church Christianity’: Its Origin and Significance in Early Modern Japan

  • T. James Kodera (a1)


Debate over indigenization of Christianity continues in earnest even after the waning of the missionary zeal of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, set afire in no small measure by the wave of Great Awakening that swept New England and beyond. The context in which the Gospel of Christ is to be heard anew has ceased to be the God forsaken lands of heathens but is now one in which new challenges have emerged, ranging widely from Marxism and Islam, scientific scepticism and technological revolution, to urbanization and the rise of the ‘Third World’. In a country where since the early seventeenth century the Christians have scarcely numbered more than half of one percent of the population, the Gospel continues to intrigue the inquiring minds and the tired souls of the Japanese, particularly among the educated for many of whom the initial exposure to Christianity was through schooling or personal cultural enrichment. While many have regarded Christianity as a passage to Western culture and civilization when Japan still held the West in awe, worthy of emulation, others have taken upon themselves a more sobering, if troubling to some, task of inquiring whether the teaching of Christ could be the spiritual and social force to redeem and to transform the Japanese without relinquishing, if possible, but rather affirming the integrity of their own heritage. In no other country has a religious tradition exerted influence so far out of pro-portion to its membership as has Christianity in modern Japan.



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Collected Works of Uchimura KanzŌ, (Uchimura KanzŌ zenshū ), edited by ToshirŌ, Suzuki, 20 vols. Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1932.
Current Issues in Education (KyŌiku jiron ), CLXXXV (15 03 1893): for Uchimura, ‘An Open Letter to Inoue TetsujirŌ, Esq., D.Litt.’ (Bungaku hakushi Inoue TetsujirŌ- kun ni teisuru kŌkaijŌ ).
No Church (Mu-kyŌkai ), vol. 1 (03 1901): for Uchimura, ‘No Church Described’ (Mu-kyŌkai ron ).
Magazine Nature (Rikugv zasshi ), XXXV (06 1883): for Uchimura, ‘The Birds of the Air and the Lilies of the Valley’ (Sora no tori to no no yuri ).
A Study of the Bible (Seisho no kenkyū ), CXLVI (09 1912): for Uchimura, ‘Baptism and Communion’ (Baputesuma to seisan ); and CXIII (October 1909): for Uchimura, ‘Personal Thoughts on Reading’ (Dokusho yoroku ); and CXXXIX (February 1912): for Uchimura, ‘When the Lord Returns to This World’ (Shu ga futatabi kono chi ni kudari tamau toki )
TetsujirŌ, InoueCollision between Education and Religion (KyŌiku to shūkyo no shŌtotsu ). Tokyo: Keigyò sha, 1893.
Katsuichirō, Kamei, ed. Uchimura KanzŌ . Tokyo: Chikuma shobō, 1963.
Kodera, Takashi James, ‘Nichiren and His Nationalistic Eschatology’, Religious Studies, XV (1979).
Hitoshi, MasaikeMy Teacher Uchimura Kanzō's First Marriage’ (Uchimura KanzŌ no saisho no kekkon ), in A Study of the Bible (Seisho no kenkyū) CLVIII (08 1949).
Yūzō, ŌtaUchimura KanzŌ: His Universalism and Japanism (Uchimura KanzŌ: sono sekai-shugi to Nihon-shugi wo mequttete ) Tokyo: Kenkyū-sha shuppan, 1977.
Cary, Otis, ‘The Summer of Decision for Uchimura – 1885’ (Uchimura ketsudan no natsu – 1885 1885), in Humanistic Studies (jimbungaku ), XXIV (04 1956).
Norihisa, SuzukiUchimura KanzŌ and His Time (Uchimura KanzŌ to sonojidai ). Tokyo: Nihon Kirisuto kyōdan shuppan-kyoku, 1975.
Tadao, Yanaibara ‘My Teacher's Tears’ (Sensei no namida ), in Toshirō, Suzuki, ed. In Remembrance of Uchimura KanzŌ (Tsuisö-shū Uchimura KanzŌ ). Tokyo: Awaji shobō, 1949.


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