Over the weekend, I friend of mine sent me an article by a Christian missionary to Japan. I love articles like this one because they just throw out a bunch of bullshit and see what sticks. What they don’t realize is that when they do this, they lose any credibility that a reader might have given them. When I read an article by a religious believer, I try to give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have the best of intentions. But when they do this kind of thing, they lose all credibility. It is just laziness.
First, the author tried to appeal to his experience about how the Japanese view religion. This might be acceptable if we trust that he has represented his experience accurately, if his experiences matched what we know about the region, and if his experiences were similar to other people’s experiences about the region. The first is subjective, but the other two aren’t. Because he fails with the other two, I have to question his representation of his own experience.
As a point of fact, the Japanese don’t “worship the ground.” That is ridiculous. The custom of bowing to their opponent shows that they respect their opponent. It is a matter of honor and sportsmanship, not one of supernatural reverence. The fact that the author couldn’t figure that out really says a lot. Instead of either drawing the obvious conclusion or inquiring further, he jumps to a supernatural worship based on his own projection, “They look like they are praying to the ground. When I pray, I worship. Therefore, they are worshiping the ground. ”
When he talks about his one convert’s “heart being prepared for the gospel” he is basically saying that he comes from a society that has a cultural indoctrination toward Christianity. This is a form of brainwashing. Society is dominated by a particular belief system to the point where it has become an assumed truth in the background of your entire life. Even if you don’t actively believe it, there is a passive belief. So it is much easier to get someone who already passively believes to actively believe. Christians use the same trick in America all the time.
“Without a correct view of God, the gospel seems foolish and unnecessary…” I love that line. Translation: Unless you have been indoctrinated into belief, the gospel seems silly… because it is silly!
Of course, there is the old assertion that without God anything is permissible. This is of course used as evidence for depression and high suicide rates. Because the religious are never depressed or suicidal, lol. This argument amounts to a personal attack on the Japanese people because the author has given no justification for his claim.
This argument quickly leads to the assertion that without a belief in God, people have no value. It is an assertion meant to insinuate that atheists don’t value life. But the fact is that atheists are well aware that this is our only life to live and as such we value our lives and the lives of others very much. Why do Christians value life? They believe everyone lives forever, so who cares if you die in this life?
Finally, the author contradicts his own experience. Earlier in the article he made a point to say that over the course of four years, he only converted one person because the Japanese are resistant to the gospel message because they haven’t been indoctrinated with monotheism. But now he is arguing that the message of the gospel is so great that the Japanese can’t wait to convert. They are converting so easily that they are “flocking to the gospel.” So which is it?
As it turns out, Japan is a first world nation. The people there are well educated and generally not starving for food. They are not in a vulnerable position. It is much easier to convert people who are in a vulnerable position. That’s why churches tend to send the bulk of their missionaries to third world countries where the people are uneducated, sick, and starving for food.
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