Silence: The Hidden Story of the Japanese Christians

  Introduction:  Historical Background Director Martin Scorsese has made the novel Silence by Shusaku Endo into a movie starring Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield. This is historical fiction that provides a glimpse into the little known Christian history of Japan. Few are aware that Japan has a rich Christian history that dates back over four centuries. The first Christian missionary from Europe was Francis Xavier, who arrived in Japan in 1549. The Japanese embraced the message of Christ, and, for half a century, Christianity flourished in Japan. By 1587, it is estimated that there were nearly 200,000 Christians in Japan. In 1597, it is estimated that approximately 300,000 Japanese had become Christian, 1.6% of the population.1 The situation changed dramatically in 1587 under the rule of the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He grew concerned about the growing influence of Christianity and viewed it as a threat to his power. He gave an edict outlawing Christianity in Japan. In 1597 the first twenty-six Christians were arrested in Kyoto and marched 600 miles to Nagasaki, the center of Christianity in Japan. There they were tortured and later crucified. This began the Christian persecution in Japan. Following Hideyoshi came the reign of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867), which lasted over 250 years. One of the fiercest Christian persecutions in Church history took place under the

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A Brief Christian History of Japan Pt 1

Introduction The land of the rising sun is one of the most technologically advanced and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The beauty of the land is matched by the wonderful nature and hospitality of the Japanese people. However, Japan has been one of the most difficult nations to reach for the Gospel of Christ. Presently Christians make up only 1% of the population. Despite its present resistance to the Gospel of Christ, a fact unknown to many, including most Japanese, is that Japan has a long, rich Christian history. Over four hundred years ago, Christianity flourished in the land of the rising sun. How did Christianity penetrate and proliferate in this country and why did it nearly disappear? In this series, it is my hope to present a brief overview of the Christian history of Japan and answer those questions. Arrival of Christianity to Japan The first Christian missionary from Europe was Francis Xavier, who arrived in southern Japan in 1549. Xavier, a Jesuit priest born in Spain in 1506, is considered one of the greatest Catholic Missionaries. In the 1540’s he established churches in India, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Xavier stayed in Japan for only two years but left behind a budding church and high hopes for the Gospel in Japan. Following his time in

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The Shroud of Turin: A Rejoinder to Basinger and Basinger

THE SHROUD OF TURIN: A REJOINDER TO BASINGER AND BASINGER by Gary R. Habermas Originally published in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25:2 (June 1982): 219-227. Also available at Liberty University Digital Commons. The response to my article (and partially to my book) on the Shroud of Turin by Basinger and Basinger is a fair treatment. It is much more pleasurable and certainly preferable to answer such honest queries than it is to respond to attacks. Because this is a subject that generates questions, I welcome such an opportunity to explain my research. Initially I must point out that, while Basinger and Basinger have raised some good issues, they have generally failed to take note of clear indications in both the article and the book that point out that my argument is somewhat different than they surmise. In the introduction to the JETS article two limitations were specifically listed. First, a limitation of space was mentioned,1 and I noted my preference to cover much ground briefly rather than to specialize on certain issues. I also stated that I especially concentrated on the questions frequently asked by evangelicals. Second, I indicated my limitation in not having shared certain facts. Yet I also referred to my manuscript on this topic as a more complete treatment of the subject.2 Basinger and Basinger

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Is Annihilation Biblical?

Is Annihilationism Biblical? by Ron Rhodes   The doctrine of annihilationism teaches that man was created immortal. But those who continue in sin and reject Christ are by a positive act of God deprived of the gift of immortality and are ultimately destroyed. Another view, called “conditional immortality,” argues that immortality is not a natural endowment of man, but is rather a gift of God in Christ only to those who believe. The person that does not accept Christ is ultimately annihilated and loses all consciousness. Some of the advocates of these doctrines teach a limited duration of conscious suffering for the wicked after death, after which time they are annihilated. There are many passages that refute annihilationism. For illustration purposes, we will select only one primary passage–Matthew 25:46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” By no stretch of the imagination can the punishment spoken of in Matthew 25:46 be defined as a nonsuffering extinction of consciousness. Indeed, if actual suffering is lacking, then so is punishment. Let us be clear on this: punishment entails suffering. And suffering necessarily entails consciousness. Bible scholar John Gerstner tells us that “one can exist and not be punished; but no one can be punished and not exist. Annihilation means the obliteration of existence and anything that pertains to existence, such as

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Are There Ghosts?

Are There Ghosts? Dr. Ron Rhodes The line, “I see dead people,” became a popular catch-phrase in the years following the release of the block-buster movie, The Sixth Sense. Many other Hollywood movies have had ghost themes, including Ghostbusters, Poltergeist, Ghost, White Noise, The Ring, Just Like Heaven, The Grudge, Hereafter, and Paranormal Activity, just to name a few. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 38 percent of Americans believe ghosts or spirits can come back and visit people on earth. That means over one third of Americans — over 100 million Americans — believe in ghosts. As well, 28 percent of Americans think people can communicate with or “mentally” talk to the dead.[1] A Barna poll revealed that more than seven million teenagers in the U.S. claim to have personally encountered a spirit entity. Are there ghosts? Are there dead people walking the earth as spirits? Are living people today communicating with the dead? Do ghosts provide hard-core proof for life after death? In what follows, I will briefly address these and other pertinent questions related to ghost phenomena. What Is a Ghost? Our English word “ghost” comes from the German word geist, which can also mean “spirit.” Many people today believe that a ghost is a spirit of a dead person that still dwells on the earth. Let

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Is the Church Ready to Engage the World for Christ?

The Mission of the Church The church is called to engage the world for Christ. Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; . . .” Many churches and Christian organizations are doing a wonderful job in fulfilling this call. However, it appears that the majority of the church has responded in one of two ways. First, some churches have chosen to retreat from the world by secluding themselves in their own isolated communities. We see huddles of Christian communities with their own sports leagues, schools, clubs, etc. There is nothing wrong with Christian programs, but if it is created with an isolationist mentality, we create a church that is withdrawn, irrelevant, and unable to relate to the unbelieving world. I saw a display of this at a funeral once. As an invited guest not knowing anyone, I sat with the non-believers in the audience and observed how the Christians at the funeral interacted with the non-believers. The pastor preached a message using terminology foreign to the non-Christian. After the funeral, at the lunch reception, I saw the Christians huddled together speaking “Christianese,” — a language that sounded totally foreign.

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The Shroud of Turin and its Significance for Biblical Studies

Gary Habermas*, “The Shroud of Turin and its Significance for Biblical Studies.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 24:1 (1981): 47-54. Also Available At: http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lts_fac_pubs/27/ Abstract: This essay addresses the four areas most commonly questioned in a study of the shroud of Turin: its history, its relationship with the NT descriptions of Jewish burial techniques, correlations with the person of Jesus, and any possible evidence for his resurrection. Evangelical critics usually concentrate on the NT data related to Jesus’ burial: the author therefore gives special attention to this area. There is little question that the shroud of Turin has occasioned much recent interest in evangelical and non-evangelical circles alike. My own interest in this subject was aroused years ago by my studies on the apologetic value of Jesus’ resurrection. Because of these studies it has been my privilege both to do research with some of the scientists who investigated the shroud in October 1978 and to have recently co-authored a manuscript along with the official spokesman for these scientists. My chief area of research has been the philosophical questions surrounding the shroud and any possible evidence for the resurrection of Jesus in particular. These opportunities have given me a different perspective from which to view the shroud. Most reports concerning the scientific investigation have been based on news releases and

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A Friendly Response to Hank Hanegraaff’s Book, The Last Disciple

Introduction There are many reasons I am writing this congenial response to Hank’s recent views expressed in The Last Disciple. First of all, Hank and I are long time friends and have discussed this topic many times. Second, we both agree that the issue here is not one of orthodoxy vs. unorthodoxy since no great fundamental of the Faith is being denied on either side. We are both fighting in the same orthodox trench against the same unorthodox enemies of the Faith. Third, I have been a faithful defender of Hank against the many false charges leveled against him and have thereby earned the right to offer some friendly criticism of his view. Fourth, Hank knows I have a strong commitment to the premillennial futurist view opposed in The Last Disciple. Indeed, the imminent premillennial view has been a treasured part of Southern Evangelical Seminary’s doctrinal statement from the very beginning. As president, I have been asked by numerous constituents whether I agree with Hank’s position. In brief, my answer is that we agree on all the essentials of the Faith, but on the question of the last days Hank knows I do not agree with his opposition to the futurist view. Hence, as long-time friends, we just agree to disagree agreeably. It is in this spirit that I offer

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