DESTROYING JAPANESE CHRISTIANITY

This year marks a singularly grim anniversary in Christian history. In 2014, it is exactly four hundred years since the start of the horrific persecution that destroyed the once flourishing church in Japan.

When we think of persecutions on this scale, we normally tend to set them in an ancient or medieval context. The world of 1614, though, was in some ways remarkably modern, not least in terms of its literature and culture. Shakespeare had just retired, and Cervantes was about to publish the second volume of Don Quijote. Colonial North America already existed in crude form: St. Augustine, Santa Fe, Jamestown and Quebec City were already in existence, and the Dutch would soon be settling New Amsterdam. Yet contemporary events in eastern Asia seem to take us back to the earliest church.

During the sixteenth century, Catholic missions enjoyed stunning successes in Japan. By the end of that century, though, the official mood was turning more sour and intolerant. Persecution abated until 1614, when the violence intensified sharply following the establishment of the shogunate. Tokugawa Hidetada prohibited the practice of Christianity, so that “All missionaries, catechists and anyone who gives shelter to missionaries, and all seminarians, are expelled from the country.” Those who refused to obey faced the death penalty. These laws were renewed and expanded under his despotic successor Iemitsu (1623-1651), who was fanatically anti-Christian. Between the deadly year of 1614 and the 1640s, Japanese Christianity was rooted up, at the cost of (at least) tens of thousands of lives, probably more.

This persecution marked a lethal turning point in what had, up to that point, seemed to mark the spectacular progress of Christianity in Eastern Asia. Although we often recall Muslim/Christian conflicts, it was the Shinto/Buddhist nation of Japan that perpetrated one of the most thorough extirpations ever recorded of a church. The Japanese exceeded any Muslim successes in how totally they destroyed once-booming Christian communities. This movement had significant long-term effects for the direction of the Christian movement, as the annihilation of the Japanese missions decisively prevented Christianity resuming its movement towards global status, striking a dreadful blow against its progress in Asia. By eliminating potential rivals, both these campaigns contributed to maintaining the near-total European monopoly of Christianity.

In my next couple of posts, I will describe these events, and suggest their implications for wider Christian history.

Catholic missions first arrived in Japan in 1549, when the Jesuit Francis Xavier landed at Kagoshima, in the southern island of Kyushu. The timing was important because Japan was at that time in political chaos, lacking a decisive central authority that might have excluded the alien new religion. Japan was in the era of Warring States, in which several different warlords contended for supremacy, each ruling in effect as an independent sovereign. One of the most significant was Oda Nobunaga, whose struggle to unite the country put him at odds with the powerful Buddhist sects. Tension with Japan’s traditional religious authorities predisposed him to favor new religions like the Christians, who were also useful in importing new military technologies, including modern artillery. Christians were rewarded by being allowed to proselytize freely.

The Jesuits directed their attention particularly towards the lords and gentry, the daimyo, knowing that in such a feudal society, the masses of ordinary people would have little alternative but to follow the lead of the upper classes. Significant numbers converted, and their long endurance under later persecutions shows that their Christian loyalties went far beyond merely obeying the commands of their landlords. By 1582, Japan had perhaps 200,000 Christians and 250 churches, an amazing growth in such a short time. At the height of Catholic power, around 1610, the Japanese church had at least 300,000 followers, concentrated in southern Japan, especially in Kyushu, in Omura and Nagasaki. (Just to put that number in context, the British colonies in North America would not have a population on that scale until after 1710).

But Japanese Christians were in a weaker position than most realized. From multiple sources, Japanese authorities were receiving alarming signals about what the long-term intentions of the visitors might be. Some loud-mouthed Europeans were heard boasting that soon, Japan would be a colony quite as subject to the Spanish empire as the Philippines was already. Such stories were reinforced by several groups deeply hostile to the Jesuit missions – from rival Catholic orders, notably the Dominicans, and from Protestant travelers, English and Dutch. Other more subtle signals pointed to the foreign nature of the faith, however hard the Jesuits tried to promote native clergy and a Japanese liturgy.

Warnings about foreign subversion found a ready audience in a new regime pledged to restore imperial unity. By 1590, Japan was reunited by one of Nobunaga’s generals, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1603, another warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu, created the strongly centralized Shogunate regime that remained in power until 1868. The new rulers had no sympathy for any movement that threatened to fracture Japanese unity, especially if that meant drawing in foreign imperialism. From the 1590s, Christians faced increasingly severe penal laws. Once secular protectors were removed or deterred, the next obvious targets were the clergy themselves. In 1597, Hideyoshi ordered the execution of 26 Christians, who were mutilated and then paraded for public display, before being publicly crucified in Nagasaki.

Local lords and daimyo were the first to withdraw their support, leaving the clergy and ordinary believers to face the consequences. We know the names of at least 1,200 who perished between 1614 and 1630, and one day in 1622, 52 Christians were executed in Nagasaki, by beheading and burning. This was “the Grand Martyrdom.” One English visitor “saw 55 martyred at Miyako at one time . . . and among them little children 5 or 6 years old burned in their mother’s arms, crying out: ‘Jesus receive our souls’. Many more are in prison who look hourly when they shall die, for very few turn pagans.” Executions were accompanied by extraordinary tortures and mutilations, which were so extreme that even later Catholic martyrologists shied from describing them in detail.

Yet the recorded cases are only a tiny minority of the actual persecutions, The martyrologies are heavily weighted towards remembering the names of Europeans, and of clergy, rather than of ordinary lay people or peasants, especially when these occurred in out of the way corners of the land.

The complete roster of victims ran into many thousands, not counting those who were imprisoned, mutilated or had their property confiscated.

Under lethal pressure, by the 1630s Christians were able to survive only in a few areas where they retained the sympathy of local lords. Even these refuges came under threat when Christians led the peasant rebellion in Shimabara, in western Kyushu, in 1637-38. This uprising was only suppressed after battles in which the government mobilized a hundred thousand men, and tens of thousands of Christians were among those massacred in the war and the ensuing repression. The outbreak was all the more terrifying to a society only just becoming accustomed to public order after long civil wars. Worse, the crisis pointed yet again to the strength of Christians along the southern coasts, regions that could easily be the targets of future naval assault: Christian enclaves could become a fifth column for foreign empires.

The government decided that Christianity was a menace to national security that had to be utterly rooted out, and the draconian penal laws were fully enforced. Already in 1636, Japan had opted to become a wholly closed society, fearing that any European visitors might bring unwelcome Christian influences, or might even be clergy in disguise. The government permitted very limited trade only with the Dutch, and then under rigidly limited circumstances. In 1640, a party of foolhardy Portuguese visitors was refused entry with the warning that “While the sun warms the earth, let no Christian be so bold as to enter into Japan.” Except for occasional martyrdoms recorded through the eighteenth century, Japanese Christianity largely vanished from official view.

The Japanese experience tells us much about the potential of religious persecution. On occasion, persecution can and does succeed, when applied with sufficient determination and violence, and repressive regimes did not need the technology available to a modern state, with its rich resources in means of communication and transportation. Much of the Christian religious decline in the Middle East involves gradual, long term, force applied over centuries, massive pressures to conform, reinforced in extreme cases by ethnic cleansing. In contrast, the Japanese story testifies to the power of governmental terror unleashed against a domestic population in intense bursts.

Contrary to the noble sentiment that is sometimes heard, you really can kill an idea.

 

Two Sides of One Coin? (Buddhist and Christian Decline, Part III)
Fertility, Faith and Politics
The Terror Attack in France
Fertility and Faith, Continued
About Philip Jenkins
  • Just Sayin’

    Very interesting. I’ve read a little about Chinese Christianity but nothing about Japanese Christianity. Can you mention a few books on the subject in your next post?

  • philipjenkins

    A classic account would be C. R. Boxer, The Christian Century in Japan,
    1549-1650 (originally published 1951. Berkeley: University of California
    Press, 1967).

    Choosing a few others randomly, see Ikuo Higashibaba, Christianity In Early Modern Japan (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001);

    Andrew C. Ross, A Vision Betrayed (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1994).

    Also easily available are
    “Japanese Martyrs,” Catholic Encyclopedia,

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09744a.htm
    and
    “Japan,” Catholic Encyclopedia,

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08297a.htm

  • Just Sayin’

    Thank you very much; I’ll seek out at least one of these.

  • MichaelNewsham

    “When we think of persecutions on this scale, we normally tend to set
    them in an ancient or medieval context. The world of 1614, though, was
    in some ways remarkably modern, not least in terms of its literature and
    culture.”

    It was also in the midst of the Wars of Religion ion Europe, where Protestants and Catholics were slaughtering each other in numbers that dwarfed anything that happened in Japan.

  • philipjenkins

    True, and I will address that in my next post. Actually, though, the pace of killing in Japan was quite equal to anything in contemporary Europe.

  • carlolancellotti

    Oh, please, name any episode in post-Reformation history in which literally hundreds of thousand of people were murdered in order to stamp out a religious sect. Even the worst episodes of the 30 years war do not fit that description, and certainly did not “dwarf” what happened in Japan.

  • philipjenkins

    Well, the Thirty Years War certainly involved millions of deaths on both sides. Some of the massacres ran into the tens of thousands, eg Magdeburg in 1631. The Irish massacres of the 1640s were also horrible.

  • carlolancellotti

    Certainly, but I would argue that many casualties of the 30 years war were “normal” effects of widespread warfare over an extended period of time (including massive famines and outbreaks of plague, like in 1628).

    On the other hand, situations in which one religious sect was targeted for extermination by another group did not take place on such a massive scale as to “dwarf” the events in Japan, although that certainly happened in some cases. To Magdeburg and Ireland I would add, if I recall correctly, the events in Bohemia after the battle of the White Mountain in 1620.

  • Ian Smith

    Mr. Jenkins, thank you for this thoughtful article. One edit I might suggest, in one of the latter paragraphs you state, “By 1590, Japan was reunited one of Nobunaga’s generals…,” but do not refer to the name of that general. However later in the paragraph you go on to refer to Hideyoshi by name, but without context. I believe this was a simple oversight, and it may be worth adding in the name Hideyoshi in the above mentioned sentence for clarity.

    I am looking forward to your future posts on this topic with great interest.

  • philipjenkins

    Edit done! Thanks.

  • Ian Smith

    I can’t believe I missed the more obvious omission! Should probably read “reunited BY one” or “reunited UNDER one.” I’d offer you a cup of coffee, something I clearly need myself, but I can’t send one through the interwebs.

  • Grotoff

    So much for the blood of martyrs being the seed of the church.

  • Jeremiah

    Aren’t we Evangelicals a little schizophrenic with regards to Catholicism? Is it a works-based Romish cult or is it Christianity? Should we assume that the Jesuits were more than political pawns of the Rome via Spain? Were the concerns of the Japanese unfounded?
    Had Moravian missionaries landed on Japan around that time, would not the Jesuits have had them persecuted and cast out (if not killed), as was the case with interactions with protestant missions in Latin American and elsewhere? Has not everywhere that Rome has gained any significant foothold become a culturally repressed vassal of the Roman Power Structure, where “tithes” are just another word for taxes?
    I do not doubt that genuine believers exist within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church, but I cannot accept that Rome represents Christianity simply because they say it does (with exclusivity, I might add), or that those masses of Japanese peasants under pressure from their lords should be assumed to be Christians for their submission to the Pope (The violent revolt they spear-headed later would seem to go against this).
    To look at these historical events and assert that Christianity was once flourishing in Japan and then completely extinguished within a couple of generations, requires a very questionable assumption about the nature of what constitutes Christianity.

  • Jeremiah

    Aren’t we Evangelicals a little schizophrenic with regards to Catholicism? Is it a works-based Romish cult or is it Christianity? Should we assume that the Jesuits were more than political pawns of the Rome via Spain? Were the concerns of the Japanese unfounded?

    Had Moravian missionaries landed on Japan around that time, would not the Jesuits have had them persecuted and cast out (if not killed), as was the case with interactions with protestant missions in Latin America and elsewhere? Has not everywhere that Rome has gained any significant foothold become a culturally repressed vassal of the Roman Power Structure, where “tithes” are just another word for taxes?

    I do not doubt that genuine believers exist within the confines of the Roman Catholic Church, but I cannot accept that Rome represents Christianity simply because they say it does (with exclusivity, I might add), or that those masses of Japanese peasants under pressure from their lords should be assumed to be Christians for their submission to the Pope (The violent revolt they spear-headed later would seem to go against this).

    To look at these historical events and assert that Christianity was once flourishing in Japan and then completely extinguished within a couple of generations, requires a very questionable assumption about the nature of what constitutes Christianity.

  • Guest

    To add to the discussion, I just saw a documentary featuring the English trader William Adams and how he became an honorary Samurai – the first Christian Protestant in Japan. The Jesuits wanted the King (Ieyasu) to have him crucified on arrival! The reformation was going on in Europe. Here is an extract of Adam’s letters to his wife:

    “Coming before the king, he viewed me well, and seemed to be wonderfully favourable. He made many signs unto me, some of which I understood, and some I did not. In the end, there came one that could speak Portuguese. By him, the king demanded of me of what land I was, and what moved us to come to his land, being so far off. I showed unto him the name of our country, and that our land had long sought out the East Indies, and desired friendship with all kings and potentates in way of merchandise, having in our land diverse commodities, which these lands had not… Then he asked whether our country had wars? I answered him yea, with the Spaniards and Portugals, being in peace with all other nations. Further, he asked me, in what I did believe? I said, in God, that made heaven and earth. He asked me diverse other questions of things of religions, and many other things: As what way we came to the country. Having a chart of the whole world, I showed him, through the Strait of Magellan. At which he wondered, and thought me to lie. Thus, from one thing to another, I abode with him till mid-night.”

    Adams further explained that Ieyasu finally denied the Jesuits’ request for punishment on the ground that:

    “We as yet had not done to him nor to none of his land any harm or damage; therefore against Reason or Justice to put us to death. If our country had wars the one with the other, that was no cause that he should put us to death; with which they (the Jesuits) were out of heart that their cruel pretence failed them. For which God be forever praised.”
    (William Adams’s letter to his wife).

    Quite shocking that the Jesuits were prepared to crucify an innocent man (and his crew) for being a Christian.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    Not necessarily for being a Christian, but for being an agent of an enemy power (Netherlands, though he was British) which had recently collaborated with England in securing the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

  • Milton D Beattie

    Jesuits and Inquisition are a set.

    They like Rome seek the elimination of any that don’t have their faith UNDER Rome.

    Rome Treated Non Roman Christians as did Muslims. Killing and destroying them.

    The two legs of the beast…both Mecca and Rome on Seven hills and Istanbul on Seven hills hereafter…
    Like everywhere, they killed Christians.

    Fatima anyone?

  • Glenda Smith

    Very well,stated. To now Chritianity from a biblical perspective is to know that Roman Catholicism is NOT Christianity according to the Bible but have their own interpretations and with no doubt horribly skewed theological doctrines. Ir is a very hierarchical religious organization that has historically evovled with each generation of its leaders to a point that it cannot be recognized by the Apostles of Jesus Christ, much less conformed to the Imaage of Christ, as is the goal of Christianity. Jesus, Who came not to do His OWN Will but that of His Father, to reconcile those who will to a holy and just and loving God… The Crusades and the Reformation are the historical proof that the Roman Catholic religions is a hybrid of paganism and mystical Judaism with a pinch of Jesus added for some amount of Truth….just enough to deceive many. It leaves no room for true faith. I had not known of these poor Japanes people, and I know God is a Just and Merciful God Who will judge them justly and will NOT judge anyone unjustly, even the perpetrators of theses evil atrocities. The catholics also used torture on noncatholics, so am wodnering if they got their ideas from these Japanese warlord.We can easily see why there NEEDS to be a Heaven and a Hell.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    It’s all pagan. Including yours. Are you going to celebrate Ishtar/Eostre this spring equinox season?

    Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth
    pocm.info

    The mythmakers weren’t the Catholics, it was Paul and his band of imposters who turned a Jewish peasant into a magical godman.

    “Of this band of dupes and impostors, Paul was the great Corypheus, and first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson’s Works, Vol. ii., p. 217)

  • Milton D Beattie

    You wish.

    Easter Is a corruption. But it is a Germanic Saxon English word only.

    Easter is more correctly called Christian Passover or Peschach as it is in MOST languages.

    The English centric mind that assumes that the whole event is Pagan rooted in short sighted.

    It has been celebrated since the times of Israel leaving Egypt.

    A form of it continues on the 15th of the ancient first month of the year here in Japan still… Like the BritisAnglo Saxon world too along side probably the most vivid corrupted relics of Middle eastern Asherah worship too at the same Shinto Location. Hebrew Diaspora brought their mingled religion to the ends of the earth as YHWH promised those that would not stay pure.

    But that only points home to True Religion.

  • Milton D Beattie

    A field sown with tares. At the harvest all will be clear.

  • Milton D Beattie

    I see the Catholic Church as the field sown with tares.

    That sums much up. Hence we have the displeasure of both recognising the wheat mixed with the tares.

    At the harvest it will become clear who is what. Please read my posts and replies above. Rome (it’s two legs) is the last empire of Daniel.

  • rlhailssrpe

    “Contrary to the noble sentiment that is sometimes heard, you really can kill an idea.”

    This certainly may be possible but it did not happen to Catholicism in Japan. In the late 1500 through the mid 1600s, Catholics were slaughtered, in Japan, by the thousands due to their faith. The hill of martyrs in Nagasaki is filled with the bones of European and Japanese, men, women, children, Jesuits, Franciscans, Augustinians, and Dominicans. Torture was the norm; the intent was to discourage the foreign faith, and root out the “traitors” due to Xenophobia, with some cause. A Spanish ship, was discovered in Japanese waters with a secret cargo of canons in her hull. No doubt many caved and squealed; everybody is not a hero.

    However, in 1860s, when Christianity was once again permitted in the homeland, Catholics were discovered practicing their faith with no priests for 250 years. (And it was in this time, that sword bearing samurai went out of business, after centuries of domination.)
    .
    http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/16th-and-17th-century-ignatian-voices/st-paul-miki-sj/

    http://www.augnet.org/?ipageid=1331

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=139

    I look forward to the subsequent posts.

  • philipjenkins

    And I will indeed be posting on those issues over the next week or so!

    In the context btw, I do appreciate the typo about having a secret shipment of canons! Assuming it’s a typo….

  • Jluce

    A very interesting thing that I read in the book, “In Search of the Hidden Christians” by John Dougill about this topic:

    “For the most part illiterate, they (hidden Christians) had no priests, no
    Bible and no contact with the organized church. The absence of
    documents makes it difficult to know exactly how they practiced their
    faith, but one thing seems clear: even at the outset some had only a
    hazy idea of the religion, for it was inherited from parents who had on
    an average of seven to ten days of instruction. Breadth over depth had
    been the Jesuit policy, and the the consequence was converts who barely understood the complexities of their faith.” p. 164-165

    At the end of the book the author said in conclusion, “One thing was
    clear: the Hidden Christians were neither as hidden nor as Christian as
    their name suggests. The faith had undergone many changes during the
    long years of persecution, as a result of which it had diverged so far
    from the original that it was often unrecognizable. In acknowledgment
    of this, some contemporary practitioners refer to themselves simply as
    Hidden (Kakure), dropping the Christian part.. Interestingly, when
    groups disbanded the members don’t necessarily revert to Catholicism,
    but instead join Buddhist temples or turn to Shinto….Believers had
    paradoxically come to adopt the very traits that their ancestors had
    risked their lives to reject!”

    What an important lesson to remember as Christians…without being in the Word, Christianity begins to look very different in belief and in practice. I think we can see this in our culture too!

  • Milton D Beattie

    40,000 returned!
    Yep The restriction of the Word in Japanese was why their survival was so minimal.
    Xavier’s mission as a Jesuit was Anti Reformation and so very concerned with NO BIBLE for the people.

  • Garrett

    To the contrary, the noble sentiment remains true. “An idea whose time has come can not be stopped by any army or any government.”

  • FA Miniter

    Please at least get the names of the Japanese Shoguns correct. Ieyasu was a given name like Barack or George or Bill. Tokugawa Ieyasu (the clan name comes first) was Shogun only from 1603 to 1605, though he lived until 1616 (dying in the same year as Shakespeare and Cervantes) and retained some power until his death. He was followed by Tokugawa Hidetada who was Shogun from 1605 to 1623. So you named the wrong Shogun as instigating the laws. Tokugawa Iemitsu succeeded Tokugawa Hidetada.

  • philipjenkins

    I appreciate the correction

  • Jack

    My question is this – given that Spanish and Portuguese Catholicism had drifted a very long way from Christ, probably as far as ever, at that time what was the Christianity it was preaching in Japan? Was it preaching Christ, or was it preaching Mary worship, live burnings, indulgences and government over throw a.k.a Guy Fawkes?

  • Milton D Beattie

    It refused to share the Bible. It was by Jesuits, (Inquisition and counter reformation enforcers) hence why it fared so poorly as would seed in polluted water or a child raised with no nutrients.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    The danger of preaching human sacrifice on a Roman torture instrument as a medicine to strangers is that you risk a dose of your own medicine.

    I’ll just stay home, mind my own business, and contemplate what America’s founders thought of the cult of the Cross.

    “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” ~John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, September 3, 1816

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” ~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

  • Fallulah

    Maybe you should stay out of other people’s countries and not try to pollute their culture with your lies and judgement! Ever think of that? No, of course you haven’t cuz yours is the right way and everyone else is barbaric.

  • jvolgarr

    The fire of the holy spirit of God will never be burned. The Budhist figures with the sign of the cross and of the child representing Jesus and many more signs are to be witnessed in Japan, about how the japanese christians DID in fact endured many centuries worshipping the lord of lords.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    The balanced cross which is also the Japanese ideogram for “10” represents “Izunome” the source, “Aum” or Brahma since ancient days pre dating the Ice Age floods. It represents the “Prathamo Upanishad” of Brahmanism that was received by the Seven Sages from whom the Shroutha Smartha Brahmins have patrilineal descent, pre dates the Rik Veda and gave rise to the notions of Karma and Dharma which are tenets of modern day Budhism as well as Hinduism. The Christian cross of crucifixion is long of leg. There are other crosses too which pre date the Roman Cross such as the Croix Ansata.

  • jvolgarr

    Do your homework, in the 19th century french christians arrived at Japan and they discovered hundreds of Japanese that where christians and they say to them (the japenese): “We have the same heart that you have” Their fire was never estinguished, as it is when the holy spirit of God does it’s work. The French priest called it a miracle, just look it up.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    It is not possible for a third person to get into the fevered imaginations of a latter day Torquemada or even a Francis Xavier under the guise of “home work” !

  • jvolgarr

    You speak English, but you seem confused, english is not my first language, but I think you are quite confused and troubled. You need to look for God when you know him everything will be clear for you.

  • Milton D Beattie

    Clearly you don’t know what is being Clearly referred to.
    The ten in Japan is Chinese only brought to Japan around 700 AD. Judaism and Christianity were here before that in Japan. Does passover festival and Isaac, Mount Moriah, Zion and Abraham come from the Rig Veda too?

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    All Imperial proselytizing religions claim righteousness and exceptionalism to justify massacres, slavery, gang rapes, genocide and so on. This is what unites the US religion of Capitalist Democracy with its allies, Saudi-Qatari-Kuwaiti-Pakistani Wahabi Islam. Christianity is some what pacified at the center if not at the periphery. It is a thousand years older than Islam and two thousand years older than the United States or Nazi Germany, so, I suppose, one can put this down to maturity?

  • Milton D Beattie

    Nope, Politically Hi-jacked Religion
    Islam was political from the time Mohammed returned from Medina.

    Buddhism introduced to Japan for political purposes proceeded to slay all the Shinto priesthood and destroy their books that opposed it too.

    Roman Catholic Hijacked Christianity was simply a response to the failure of hell of Rome to prevail against the Christians that undermined class and imperial aspirations of Empire building there…
    The Lust for power is the problem…not Love of God.
    The Hate of God not the offer of God.

    Rome too kept on killing Christians that didn’t submit to it’s corruption of it.
    And Split it’s empire into two legs for the Heartland of Christianity to be exterminated in the eastern Roman Empire.

    They were never for True Christianity…only it’s power as a tool.

  • Milton D Beattie

    You obviously don’t know the roots of Japanese History. They Clearly goo back to Bible times.
    Shinto stems straight out of Judaism and Christianity it’s development was here in the early centuries AD.

    Xavier’s was a reintroduction rendered weak by his REFUSAL to allow the book the faith is rooted in into the hands of the people.
    The Corruption which the Catholic Church was is why it failed.

    Not that the true seed was bad seed. The fact is that 40,000 Christians remained in Nagasaki alone who joined the church after it being freed.

    I reject the negativity of this article without that fact.

    Those same Christians offspring prayed that if they need be a sacrifice to end WW2 So be it and they Literally were the EXACT target of the bomb that literally ended WW2….over Urakami Cathedral, the largest Christian Church in Asia and Japan’s largest concentration of Christians.

    I reject the degree of negativity despite the heinous scale of this.
    It reflects the negativity of the book…what was it? “Silence”?

    Around the country Christianity did survive to some degree. You can see it in many places…
    And the people even up to the time it was free again knew of it and it’s illegality. You can read late Edo period signs warning of it and rewards for turning in practitioners of it.

    To see about other Christian times in Japan and the Far East Google Keikyo. It has been through out the region at various extensive times.
    Even the native religion Shinto has roots tied to the Bible…they celebrate Issac’s near sacrifice on Passover here annually in increasingly unrecognisable manner in recent years but well authenticated.

    It is time such was recognised and referred to in widespread manner.

  • mtlshdwoverlord

    It’s almost like you really, really, really hate the spread of differing and conflicting ideas, especially if those ideas are ones you disagree with.

    Oh, and, no, I don’t give a flying fuck that your comment is 2 years old.

  • Triune

    I trust you are familiar with Endo’s “Silence.”. It’s historical fiction but presents the view with a Japanese regard for the foreign faith and the inherent problem of missions in non-western contexts.

  • philipjenkins

    Indeed, check out my post at
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2014/02/denying-the-faith/
    and it is indeed a wonderful book

  • Milton D Beattie

    Negative book

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    This purely religious version ignores the facts of History. Silver was more expensive in Japan than the more abundantly available gold. During the Momo Yama (Peach Mountain) period and Shogunate of Japanese History when Japan was open to foreign winds, the sea faring Portuguese took advantage of this to trade and used cheap silver to spread Christianity. So far, so good. They then hit upon the bright idea of taking it all. A la the Conquistadores who exterminated the Aztec and Inca civilizations. Given logistics, it was necessary to have a sizable local population on their side and so prozelytization to Christianity took on a different shade and urgency. The Japanese discovered it and kicked the Portuguese out, purged Christianity (i.e. the Portuguese “take over” plot) and restricted all foreign presence to a Dutch trading post in Tokyo Bay, and revived Shintoism (analogous to Aryan Brahmanism) with its foundations rooted in patriotism and loyalty to the Emperor as the State Religion relegating Budhism that had been the State religion since Empress Komyo and Prince Shotoku, to the back ground. Japan continued in this splendid state of isolation till the corruption of the Bakufate (the Bureaucrat-Soldier nexus) and the resultant galloping inflation led to the Meiji Restoration when the Emperor took over effective rulership from the Shoguns (the Military Dictators) who had ruled on Imperial behalf for millenia.Christianity in those days is what Islam is clawing its way back to these days. Had Japan not purged Imperial Christianity from its shores, it would have ended up like the Inca and Aztec empire, exterminated by plunder, rape, gonorrhea, syphilis, and the inquisition. The ethnic cleansing of Kashmir looks almost gentle by comparison.

  • jvolgarr

    The corruption of some catholics WILL never deter from the fact of the many thousands of Japanese christians who died willingly for Jesus, only the sons of the devil can ever do such a thing. Japanese shoguns crucified them and did horrible things that have no sense in war, for it is the spirits of demons who made them do such things, or for the fact that they were evil themselves. The devil will always hate the sons of God, it is a spiritual war.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    You must be related to Torquemada. I am not. I am a Post enlightenment citizen of the World and Brahmin who does not believe in white washing History.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    If you are Post-Enlightenment you won’t be using the term Brahmin! “Brahmin” is an expression that carries the connotation of a particular caste, which is certainly pre-enlightenment mentality. Do you seriously believe that you were created from the mouth of the Purusha, and the shudras were created from his feet? If not, then why do you consider yourself a Brahmin?

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    I am a Brahmin. That is my religion and not my caste. I suggest you stick to preaching Christianity. You might know some of what survived mangling by Paul, Charlemagne, Constantine and James. The mythology that you are citing is not part of my religion. It may have something to do with “Hinduism” or Christian propaganda about Brahmanism. I am not bound by either.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    Brahmin is a religion? This is the first time I am hearing of this. Can you quote any sociologists of religion who consider “Brahmin” to be a religion? Or is it your own personal opinion?
    Further, I would raise the question of whether “Brahmin” is a post-enlightenment or pre-enlightenment religion. It does not sound post-enlightenment to me. I suggest you drop this word because though you may understand it, it will certainly be misleading to the rest of society when you consider yourself to be a Brahmin. Wrong choice of title.

    So supposing that Brahmin is a religion, does the “Brahmin” religion consider all people to be equal, as is common in post-enlightenment religions?
    Further, we have to ask ourselves about the status of Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, are they different religions? What about SCs, STs and OBCs?

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    You are ignorant about Brahmanism. Naturally. Brahmanism is non prozelytising. I have no desire whatsoever to educate you or anybody else about it beyond saying that Brahmanism originates with the Prathamo Upanishad that was received from Brahma by the patrilineal ancestors of those whom I as a Brahmin would acknowledge as such and from which the notions of Karma and Dharma came to be. The Prathamo Upanishad is passed on by word of mouth from father to acknowledged son. Like any religious preacher you are quite ignorant of matters beyond your faith, beliefs and mythology . But, if you are a Jesuit, which I suspect you are, this is a tragedy to find you a Koopa Mandookam (the frog in the well) that is discussed in the Tarka Shastra (rules of debate) rather than a Tielle De Chardin. But, inescapable considering the devolution of both education and man. Hinduism is a defunct nationality that refers to the many religions and many deities of the Indo-Gangetic plain that adopted the laws of Aryavarta and their interpretations of the notions of Karma and Dharma of their own free will and accord. As a Brahmin, there is nothing in common between me and other “Hindu” faiths in ritual, belief, deities or practices. Even Karma and Dharma do not extend to the majority of present “Hindus” who are Hindus by the laws the British made and the Indian Republic followed through. You need an education on religion and theology beyond your nose. But I do not owe you one and shall not give it to you.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    Naturally you are entitled to your own religion! I am not challenging that. I am just saying that “post-enlightenment” is a mentality that is incompatible with the sort of elitist religion you claim to represent. Post-Enlightenment denotes a mentality that (among other things) accepts all human beings as being entitled to the same opportunities in life.

    So what I have learned from you is only one thing: Your religion consists (as you have described it) in hiding the truth from humanity! You are welcome to follow it, as I said…

    And I am disappointed that you have nothing in common with Hinduism because I have a high respect for the noble philosophies and gurus of Hinduism. Anyway my suggestion to you is: If your religion is true, share it with the world so that all can be saved. If it is false, abandon it before you ruin yourself and others. If you are not sure, seek and you shall find.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    Nobody has to use terms as per the meanings or catechisms your texts connote to them. Physician heal thyself. Instead of tying yourself into verbal knots demonstrate the miracles of Christ to prove yourself a true disciple and I shall take you seriously. But that skill was lost to Christianity with Paul. Christianity made its pact with Satan when it became an empire, a long time before the inquisition. You keep no secrets because you have none of value. That is understandable. Each “Hindu” “Guru” started his or her own religion, and I note that you find them respectable. Christ shared his revelations with the World and see what happened to him? And where are his revelations today? Replaced with political convenience, and religions that used his name to spread their priests and kings but not his wisdom or his skills! Did Christ ever claim to be the only begotten Son of God? Rather, he said, suffer them to come unto me for they are the children of God. Note that only to the worthy does Brahma reveal himself. And so too, Brahma’s word and covenant.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    Well, the purpose of using terms is to communicate…so why use a term that will lead to misunderstandings?

    Leave Christ and Paul alone…your information is obviously incomplete. We were discussing the basic problem of whether or not you are a “post-enlightenment Brahmin” which I would propose is a contradiction in terms. You have gone a bit further in your recent post by claiming that some people are worthy and others are unworthy. Judging from your views, you are certainly supporting a pre-enlightenment caste system through your claim of patrilineal transmission of God’s message.

    Brahma or God – however you call him – is definitely not a racist, to reveal himself only from father to son. He will give others also an opportunity to know the truth, provided that they are good and respond to what revelation they have received. There are so many noble souls in this world who are not born in Brahmin families and we can make out that God has blessed them in different ways. So it’s obvious that your concept of “worthy” is itself not worthy of the 21st century. If Brahma has created a handful of worthy people and billions of unworthy people in this world, can that Brahma himself be worthy of our praise? Even the rogues who brought about the French Revolution knew about liberty, equality and fraternity, things which (in your view) Brahma does not believe in.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    You are too immersed in your own terminology and beliefs including prejudices about Brahmanism and Caste to be able to comprehend or communicate. What you are attempting to do is to entangle me in your prism. Such an attempt could only succeed with a liar. You must have honed your wits on them. Where? in the confessional? Dealing with School children? Exorcising lost and foolish spirits from their temporary hosts? There are so many Christians in the world yet none can heal or turn water into wine. Be worthy. If you are worthy Brahma will reveal himself to you. What Brahma believes in or does not believe in (in my view) is unknown to you. Accept that. Why should I leave Jesus and Paul alone?

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    As one who claims that you are brahmin and others are inferior or unworthy, you are not making sense, in two ways:
    (a) Your claim to be “post-enlightenment” rings hollow. The essence of enlightenment thought is the equality of human beings; post-enlightenment thought emphasizes the dignity and individual value of each person. You reject both these.
    (b) Your claim that I am prejudiced, also rings hollow for the same reason. I am trying to counter your OBVIOUS prejudice by which you regard other human beings as inferior to you.

    You claim that I am prejudiced; but I would like to point out that you have had every opportunity to explain your beliefs; if you have refused to do so, you cannot accuse me of prejudice! I am speaking what is commonly known and also studied by sociologists.

    And why should you leave Jesus and Paul alone?
    Well if you want to discuss them you are welcome. There are plenty of errors in your statements, though. For example, read the actual quote of Jesus regarding the little children; you will find that your words don’t match the words of Jesus, and there is a significant difference between them. Similarly, your ideas about Paul are taken from Anti-Christian literature and they are not reliable when compared with Paul’s own writings which are available in the New Testament.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    I stick by every word I have written and repudiate all your interpretations and constructions as the work of the Devil that possesses you and your familiars, (sociologists, priests and politicians included), and engineers your perceptions. Christianity abandoned Jesus and embraced Satan when it became an empire. From your allegations, accusations and attempts to crucify Brahmins as you did Jesus, I can readily infer that you are merely an official representative of a Satanic cult that has been superceded by Islam because you failed in the objectives Satan (or Yahweh, the jealous God of Abraham who said, “Set no other gods before me for I am a jealous god”) set for you yielding, as it were, to human failings of conscience, compassion and other non Christian notions. As for “Holy Mother Church”, without Gold and Sword, there is no “Holy”, “Mother” or “Church”. Avaunt thee little Devil. Go back to Satan. Make love to Islam.

  • Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas

    Very interesting passage. Please let me know the source of these picturesque insults! In the meantime, when you figure out a reply to the questions I raised, please don’t hesitate to return to this discussion.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    History based construction versus your Social/Religious Engineering based prejudices.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    The Prathamo Upanishad is not mine to give away. (Nemo quod dat non habet) If you are worthy, you shall receive it from Brahma. The end of all our exploration is to arrive at the very beginning. In the course of my peregrinations I have come across something that is close to Brahmanism and is based on three of the six driving values of Brahmanism in Japan. Seek Meishu Sama and Mokichi Okada and ye may find.

  • Milton D Beattie

    Please refer to my above posts.
    The Roman Church that Hi Jacked True Christianity to corrupt those in it of destroy those out of it in large part by the the “Daniel” predicted Split second leg of the empire (Byzantine-Islamic).

    Whether in the Weed sown field of the Roman Church or in Mongol Asia of Japan, India or Africa…the world has had the message. The Violent have corrupted it and fought it.
    While it was growing in India India became target of the greatest genocide in human history as the Islamic invasion that lasted centuries proceeded. Ended by the lesser evil of British colonialists finally to be freed by Ghandi.

  • SuchindranathAiyer

    I agree with you except with regard to Gandhi. Gandhi did not free India. India’s freedom was an unforeseen consequence of Hitler and Tojo thrashing Britain to apoint where they had not the will for Empire. As for the East India Company’s Addiscombe Boys such as the Lawrence Brothers and Wellesley, they glued back India with the notion of fair play from a patchwork quilt of looting Rajas and Raping Sultans that resulted from the fratricidal auto phagy of Ashoka that dismantled the Treaty of Bharatha destroyed the Temples, dismantled the Guru Kulas, ended. Caste Moblity and drove Sanskrit, Brahamanism, the Vedas and the Brahma Sutras underground. While Adi Shankara, whose ancestors had fled to the deep South from Ashoka’s persecution revived the last, Islam destroyed the Sanathan Dharma that resulted around the vestiges of Brahmanism. But for the British there would be no Hinduism. Cubbon, Macaulay and Munro probably did more to preserve and propogate Brahmin culture than anybody after Ashoka destroyed it. It is thanks to Munro that Tirupathi is the richest shrine in the World, despite being plundered frequently by the ruling scum of the Indian Republic. Ironically, commecning in 1921, the same British dismantled Brahmanism through canards and the deliberate promotion of the worst of Indian society in a badly calculated response to the “Freedom Movement”. In 1923, they demolished the congregational Temple Welfare System by taiking the temples away from Brahmin control and by swamping the Hindus by naming non-Hindus such as Dalits including necro phagists, cannibals, and humna sacrificers as “Hindu” by the stroke of a pen. India completed the job by ensrining majoritarian fascism, inequality under law and exceptions t the rule of law in the constitution and in 1959, took over the temples in the erswhile Princedoms such as Mysore, Travancore, Puri, Baraoda, Kohlapur and others effectively ending “Hindu” culture.

  • Giwreh

    THANK YOU ! Same opinion, and it’s based on historic facts !

  • MillerJM

    Actually, not based on facts much – it is based on a subjective narrative in which historical events are stitched together to fit the individual’s preconceived biases. The last sentence betrays this the best – the poster concludes that “it would have ended up like…” – that is predicting the future with no way to actually prove the hypothesis. Bias, bias, bias. Also, a note of bigotry is present in the posters words – suggesting that “Christianity in those days is what Islam is clawing its way back to these days” – Islam and the Ottoman empire were threatening Europe viciously. Again, bias, bias, bias.

  • Giwreh

    Then, elaborate. (Which you did not)

  • Michelle

    It’s remiss to mention the Christian revolts in Southern Japan, which is why they were perceived as a national security threat (ex. the Shimabara Rebellion). Not that rebellion justifies persecution, but it’s contextually relevant to your reader.

    Besides, it is unlikely Christianity would have thrived in Japan like it had/is in China or Korea.

  • Giwreh

    “Contrary to the noble sentiment that is sometimes heard, you really can kill an idea.” > that is a fantastic thing to know ! Monotheisms, threatened the WHOLE world, and still now, you see the islam doing the same, all in bloodshare. All those religions should not exist !


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