English Articles

Sermon Topics Contextualized for Japan

Mitsuo Fukuda : Rethinking Authentic Christianity Network「RAC Network」

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4.3 Surrender to an Eternal Existence

Kiyoko Takeda states that at the deepest levels of Japanese culture there is a factor of eternal transcendence, of an orientation toward a universal value involved.7 This is added together with other factors such as irrational shamanism and exclusivist collectivism. She asserts that this concept characterizes, throughout Japan’s entire history, the thoughts and actions of the Japanese people. This roots itself in the view of humanity presented by the biblical writer who states that God has set eternity in humans’ hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The Japanese, at the depths of the heart of their group consciousness, have a desire to surrender themselves to an eternal existence. We can use the words “nature” or “way” to point out the way to the Christ, who is the precious origin of life in the universe. These words will communicate contextually because they are referred to in well-known Japanese sayings, such as, “Disregard the discretion of an ascetic and faithfully follow nature.”8 or “Leave your own motives and become one with the way.”9 If we can clearly communicate, through our words and actions, that the eternal God will take Japanese receptors just as they are, unconditionally (Deuteronomy 1:31), the possibility remains that many would disregard the discretion of an ascetic, leave their own motives, and surrender everything to Christ.


When the youth of Japan who have fled to and are now confined to their barricaded private capsules; when corporate warriors who are workaholics and have a fear of going home accept the message of unconditional acceptance by the Lord of heaven and earth, their isolation will be healed and they will overcome their identity crises. They will discover the refreshment of living as they surrender their lifestyles to Christ.


5. Conclusion

Sermons that are contextualized for Japan should make the “good fortune” image their point of contact, have the grace of “acceptance as you are” as their underlying theme, and, in addition, should testify to the joy of transferring oneself over to that grace. Sermons should be delivered not in the western theological order of God, sin, and salvation, but in the order of “good fortune,” grace, and surrendering oneself. Then, on that foundation, while avoiding any syncretism, sermons that appeal to a transcending, personal God who gives to us “good things,” that depict ingratitude toward this as sin, and that speak of the joy of salvation as a result of surrendering yourself over to this God, would be an effective means of reaching the Japanese people with the gospel of Christ.


  1. Mitsuo Fukuda, Fukuin wa Tsutawatteimasuka [Paradigm Shift in Contextualization] (Tokyo: Kirisuto Shinbun-sha, 1995), pp. 71-75.

  3. Direct biblical quotes are from the New American Standard Version.

  5. Munesuke Mita, Gendai Nihon no Seishin Kouzou [The Value System of Modern Japanese] (Tokyo: Oubundou, 1965), pp. 155-57.

  7. Mitsuo Fukuda, Bunmyaku-ka Kyoukai no Keisei [Developing a Contextualized Church as a Bridge to Christianity in Japan] (Gotemba, Japan: Harvest Time Ministries, 1993), pp. 81-97.

  9. Asahi Newspaper, ed. Asahi Keywords 1991 (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun-sha, 1990), p. 22.

  11. Tadashi Murou, Shinjinrui to Shuukyou [Religions of the Japanese Shinjinrui] (Tokyo: Sanユitsu Shobou, 1986), p. 229.

  13. Kiyoko Takeda, "Nihon Bunka no Kakureta Katachi [Archetypes of Japanese Culture]," in Essays on Japan from Japan: Nihon no Kokoro: Bunka, Dentou to Gendai [The Heart of Japan: Culture, Traditions, and the Modern Age], ed. Public Relations Department, Corporate Secretariat Division, Nippon Steel Corporation (Tokyo: Maruzen Kabushiki Gaisha, 1987), pp. 170-174.

  15. Noboru Kajimura, Nihonjin no Shinkou [The Faith of the Japanese] (Tokyo: Chuuou Kouron-sha, 1988), pp. 159-96.

  17. Kakichi Kadowaki, Michi no Keijijougaku [Metaphysics of Way] (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1990), p. 40.


* Mitsuo Fukuda (Doctor of Missiology, Fuller Theological Seminary) is the founding executive director for the RAC Network (Rethinking Authentic Christianity Network). His works include "Developing a Contextualized Church as a Bridge to Christianity in Japan", "Paradigm Shift in Contextualization", "Metoring Like Barnabus" and "Readings in Missiology: Japanese Culture and Christianity".