The Protestant Missions — October 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Joseph Cook, the well-known Boston lecturer, visited Japan in1882.


Soni machi in Nara province

Joseph Cook, the well-known Boston lecturer, visited Japan in 1882, and through interpreters addressed many large audiences. He was the first of the noted Christian speakers from abroad that have gone to Japan for such purposes, and his vigorous words attracted much attention. He was invited to speak in Kyoto by some prominent members of the Prefectural Assembly.

Hiring a building that held over a thousand people, they assumed all the expenses connected with the lecture. Letters of invitation to be present were sent to leading citizens. The Vice-Governor, many members of the Prefectural Assembly, officials of the city, Buddhist priests, physicians, lawyers and others listened attentively to an address that, with its interpretation, occupied three hours and three-quarters.

While in Japan, Mr. Cook addressed to missionaries and to Japanese workers a number of questions. The replies given by the latter to some of the enquiries will serve to show their view of the situation. The first question was: “What are the chief objections made by educated natives of Japan to the acceptance of Christianity?” To this, four persons in Tokyo united in replying:

“(a) The supernatural element in Christianity; e.g., miracles and divinity of Christ

“(b) The opposition of Christianity against ancestral worship, especially among those who have received Chinese education.

“(c) The doctrine of future existence, which they consider as a pious fraud.

“(d) Its supposed disadvantage to the growth of national spirit and to the independence of the country.

” e) Alleged conflicts between Christianity and modern science.

“(f) Supposed hindrances of Christianity to the progress of civilization.”

Ten pastors and teachers in Kyoto replied to the same question:

“They think that Christianity will destroy patriotism, filial duty, loyalty to the Mikado; give rise to religious wars, become the secret means of foreign interference. They regard the supernatural elements in Christianity as an outgrowth of superstitions and to be antagonistic to modern sciences. They confound Protestantism with Roman and Greek Catholicism.”

The question. “What are the chief hindrances to its acceptance by the uneducated among the Japanese? ” received from Tokyo the reply :

“(a) The fear of offending the Government and their friends.

” b) The observance of Sabbath.

“(c) Ancestral worship.

” d) Simplicity of Christian worship.

“(e) Dislike of change.

“(f) Strictness of Christian morals.

” g) Sacrifices and obstacles inherent to Christian profession.”

The Kyoto workers answered:

“They regard Christianity as a foreign religion. They fear the Government persecutions on account of the attitude of the Government toward the Roman

Catholics in the past. They regard Christianity as a demon’s religion. They regard the Sabbath and other Christian discipline as too severe and impracticable.”

The most specific answer to the enquiry, “What books opposed to evangelical Christianity and a theistic philosophy are the most read by the educated Japanese?” was the following from Tokyo:

“Buckle’s ‘History of Civilization’ (translated), John S. Mill’s works (his ‘Essays on Religion and Utilitarianism, translated), Huxley on ‘Protoplasm’ (translated), Draper’s ‘Conflict between Science and Religion ‘ and ‘The Intellectual Development in Europe,’ Thomas Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’ (translated), Ingersoll’s ‘Lectures on Gods’ (translated), Herbert Spencer’s works, Bain’s works.”

The question, “by what aspects of Christian truth are the most conversions made?” was answered from Tokyo:

“(a) The great comfort which Christianity gives to the afflicted.

“(b) Excellency of Christian morals.”

The answer to the same question from Kyoto was:

“(a) The excellence of the Christian ethics.

“(b) The reasonableness of Christian system.

” c) The doctrine of the New Birth.

“(d) The doctrine of the Atonement.

“(e) The doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul.

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