The Protestant Missions — September 6, 2011 at 4:12 am

The Gathering at Viscount Matsudaira in 1896!

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In September, 1896, there was a gathering at the villa of Viscount Matsudaira in Tokyo, of prominent persons connected with different religious systems. Nineteen Buddhist priests, sixteen Christians, two Shintoists, and five other persons were present. The professed object of the meeting was to promote friendly feelings between those of different beliefs. The speakers, as was natural, emphasized the similarities and minimised the differences between the religions represented. Many of the addresses were permeated with nationalistic ideas. A prominent Christian pastor said: “At the present time the prevailing spirit in Japan is in favour of nationalism, and I take it that the object of this meeting is to adapt religion to this condition, to intensify the nationalistic spirit, and by showing that it is endorsed by the teaching of our creeds, to render those creeds a power in the world.” Other speeches were of a similar tenor. Some Christian newspapers spoke of the meeting as a proof that Christianity had won for itself a place where other religions were forced to recognise it as on an equal footing with themselves. Many believers, however, regarded the meeting with little favour, considering it an outcome of the movement that was weakening the faith and zeal of many of the Christians by minimising fundamental doctrines.

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