The Protestant Missions — June 20, 2011 at 12:54 am

The effects of the spirit of commercialism in 1899!

by

Inazo Nitobe

It was in part an indirect result of the war that there came a great and rapid increase of industrial and commercial activity. Many factories were built, railroads were projected, and stock companies were formed for all sorts of enterprises. Japan seldom does things by halves, and the whole nation seemed to be affected by the spirit of commercialism. In some respects this had an unfavorable influence upon Christian activity.

People were so occupied in devising ways to make money that it was hard to call their attention to spiritual things. Some Christians were so busy that they neglected religious duties; those engaged in manufactures found it easy to invent excuses for not observing the Sabbath; and others yielded to the temptations that beset those that are in haste to become rich. Even those that had entered the ministry were affected. Their education had a commercial value that enabled them to obtain remunerative employment. Some of them had been discouraged by lack of success in evangelistic labors, and thought they had mistaken their calling. Others had the idea that they would help the churches to financial independence by providing for their own support while continuing to preach the Gospel; but they soon found that the claims of business left them little time and strength for evangelistic work. Not only was there the loss of many from the ministry; but commercialism, theological doubts, and a general loss of earnestness combined to reduce greatly the number of young men studying in the theological schools.

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