Conversion to Christianity via Shintoism

Conversion to Christianity via Shintoism January 29, 2009

Someone explain what happened here, as reported on the Touchstone blog:

A Japanese Lutheran scholar, who qualified first as a Shinto priest, has said he became a Christian thanks to his Shinto teacher.

“The teacher said to me, ‘As a religion, Christianity is the greatest. Because it is the teaching of Jesus who is the only Son of God’,” Toshifumi Uemura, a 49-year-old associate professor at Japan Lutheran College in Tokyo, told Ecumenical News International, adding he was surprised by his Shinto teacher’s words.

Now Uemura teaches Japanese religion, climate issues, Christianity, and comparative culture and is a sought after speaker in Japan. He maintains that ancient Shintoism may have been influenced by Judaism and Nestorianism, a sect Christians consider heretical.

It was after Sueko Mita, a teacher who was in her 60s at Tokyo’s Nakano Branch of the Kyoto-based Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, where the “god of harvests” is worshipped, said to Uemura in June 1981, “Whether you believe it or not, God solemnly exists.”

“As I heard the words of the teacher, Jesus became a part of me,” he said. “At that moment, I thought that I must get baptised in the future to draw a clear line [on my life].”

Uemura said Mita, who was not a Christian, died in 2008, but not before she had given him a good personal grounding in Shinto teachings for 10 years. He said the teachings included phrases like those from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews 11.1, which says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

“Looking back at the 10 years now, I think that they were exactly the teachings of the Bible,” said Uemura, who is a member of the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church. “The fact that I became a Christian through the words of an ancient Shinto teacher makes me a conclusive witness to that.”

After 10 years of training with Mita, Uemura studied at the Shintoist-run Kokugakuin University in Tokyo to become a Shinto priest.

While on a journey on the bullet train from Tokyo to the Akama Jingu Shinto Shrine in Yamaguchi in western Japan to give thanks for his certification as a Shinto priest, he made a stopover at Nagoya in central Japan. There he attended a Christian gathering at a Pentecostal church, where he later was to be baptised at the age of 32. Afterwards he returned to Tokyo and became a Lutheran.

What does this tell us?

HT: Strange Herring

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