Christianity Made in Japan

A Study of Indigenous Movements

Mark R. Mullins

Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998. x+277 pages.

For centuries the accommodation between Japan and Christianity has been an uneasy one. Compared with others of its Asian neighbors, the churches in Japan have never counted more than a small minority of belivers more or less resigned to patterns of ritual and belief transplanted from the West. But there is another side to the story, one little known and rarely told: the rise of indigenous movements aimed at a Christianity that is at once made in Japan and faithful to the scriptures and apostolic tradition. Christianity Made in Japan draws on extensive field research to give an intriguing and sympathetic look behind the scenes and into the lives of the leaders and followers of several indigenous movements in Japan. Focusing on the “native” response rather than Western missionary efforts and intentions, it presents varieties of new interpretations of the Christian tradition. It gives voice to the unheard perceptions and views of many Japanese Christians, while raising questions vital to the self-understanding of Christianity as a truly “world religion.”

Mullins has brought new light to bear on the story of religions in modern Japan. Relatively unknown Christian movements are taken up in a study that is at once engaging and poised to sweep away conventional thinking about the relations between Christianity and Japanese culture.

Shimazono Susumu, University of Tokyo

This is scholarship of the highest quality on a subject as complex as it is difficult.… Scholars interested in local responses not only to Christianity in Japan but to the penetration of world religions anywhere outside their ‘natural and historical setting’ will find this volume rich in ideas and suggestions.

Peter B. Clarke,
University of London

Students will find the text quite readable and scholars will find the sixty-five pages of endnotes and appendix a rich resource of information.