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 Decline of a Nation – History and Christian Values

Kerby Anderson considers factors which may lead to the decline of this nation’s position as the only world super-power. He points out the relationship between moral and spiritual decline and the decline of society in general. We need to return to godly principles if we are to avoid a descent into irrelevance and depravity. Introduction Doomsayers for many years have been predicting the decline and fall of this country. And while many of these short-term predictions have proved inaccurate, there is some truth to the prevailing belief that this nation will fall like every great nation before it. Apart from revival and reformation, this nation is destined to decline. The problem with many of these doomsayers is that while their prognosis is right, their diagnosis is wrong. Yes, the future is bleak. But our problem is not ultimately political, economic, or social, as these doomsayers would have us believe. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation. Just as there are spiritual principles that influence the life of an individual, so there are political spiritual principles that govern the life of a nation. And though we may feel that these are obscure

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When Nations Die

Introduction One of the more popular Probe radio programs has been “Decline of a Nation.” I would like to return to this important theme by summarizing the significant work by Jim Nelson Black in his book When Nations Die. When we look at three thousand years of history, we observe that civilizations rise but eventually fall and die. The history of the world is the history of nations that are conquered by other nations or collapse into anarchy. Jim Nelson Black sees ominous parallels to our own country. He says, As I have looked back across the ruins and landmarks of antiquity, I have been stunned by the parallels between those societies and our own. For most of us the destruction of Carthage, the rise of the Greek city-states, and the Fall of Rome are mere ghosts of the past, history lessons long forgotten. And such things as the capture of Constantinople, the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the collapse of the kingdoms of France and Spain, and the slow withering decline of the British Empire are much less clear and less memorable. Most of us do not remember much from our history lessons about the French Enlightenment or, for that matter, the issues that led to the American Revolution. But this is the legitimate background of our own

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