The Protestant Missions — September 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Nakamura Masanao's conversion to Christianity!


Nakamura was one of the first prominent Japanese philosophers to convert to Christianity, which he tempered with Confucian humanism and belief in the innate goodness of humanity. He viewed Christianity as the foundation for the military and economic strength of the western nations, and stated that Japan needed to discard its traditional beliefs as a necessary step in strengthening the nation.

It was in 1873 that Nakamura Masanao, one of the most distinguished scholars in the land, received Christian baptism. Though in after years he did not prove so zealous as had been hoped, his action at this time. In braving the opposition of his associates did much to call attention to Christianity.

Another noted scholar, Yasui Chuhei, published under the title ” Bemmo,” an attack upon Christians that obtained a wide circulation. Its popularity was increased by its having an introduction written by Shimazu Saburo, one of the most influential men in the country, who had been a leader in the movement for overthrowing the Shogunate.

Prince Shimazu Hisamitsu (島津久光?, November 28, 1817 – December 6, 1887), also known as Shimazu Saburō (島津三郎?), was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period.

The writer of this work begins by representing himself as an old man who, having considerable leisure, thought that he would spend part of it in examining the Bible. The results of this investigation led him to say:

” The errors of the Foreign Book are monstrous and without reason ‘ the arguments contained in it are shallow, and do not properly need any refutation on my part. But foolish people, being deceived by this Foreign Book, believe in it and retain this belief until they die, which is a source of trouble and disturbance, and this evil would seem to be gradually extending itself until it threatens to reach us, so that to withhold explanation longer would be wrong.”

The author then criticizes the stories contained in the Pentateuch, asserting that many of them are incredible and represent Jehovah as a malignant and unjust deity. He considers that Noah’s flood was coincident with one mentioned in Chinese history. Passing on to the New Testament, he objects to the teaching of Christ as contrary to the principles of loyalty and filial obedience that form the basis of Confucian ethics. Objection is made to Christ’s claim that love to Him should exceed love to parents, to His telling a disciple not to go to bury his father, and to other verses that ” have the effect of making sons show a want of affection for their fathers, and daughters for their mothers, and create estrangement between a wife and her husband’s mother.” The teaching of Jesus is alleged to be arrogant and boastful.

“It does not bow to the authority of the sovereign of any country. It is not for me to explain these things for the benefit of sovereigns in general; but what I fear (in the event of this religion being adopted)) is lest the customs of the country should be abolished and disturbance created. Jehovah called Himself the jealous God, and did not permit His followers to worship any other. Jesus strengthened this law more and more, and swore that He would destroy other gods. It was therefore that He said: ‘I am not come to bring peace into the world, but to create strife.’ Should then this religion be adopted, die shrines of Jimmu Tenno, and of the various Emperors and nobles, and those dedicated to patriotic and illustrious men will have to be destroyed, and the whole nation, down to the ordinary samurai and lower classes, will have to give up offering masses for the souls of their parents and ancestors.”

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