Spirit of Jesus Church
On Monday, May 16, 2016 I was approached by an English-speaking Japanese woman on a street in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, inviting me to her church. I didn’t stop walking. I’ve learned over time not to stop when encountering street solicitors. She was polite. She handed me an English business card announcing her church as the “Tokyo Iesu no Mitama Kyokai,” which is a real church, the Spirit of Jesus Church.
The Spirit of Jesus Church (Iesu no Mitama Kyōkai, イエス之御霊教会), was established in 1941 in Japan by Murai Jun. The church was named in accordance with a heavenly vision he reportedly received in 1941. The core mission of the Spirit of Jesus Church is defined in the Gospel of Mark 16:15-18. There he instructed his disciples to preach the gospel and baptize the believers, and promised the power to perform miracles, cast out demons, speaking in tongues, and heal the sick. It is one of the fastest-growing Christian bodies in Japan, having increased its membership from 34,000 in 1970 to over 430,000 at the end of the 1980s. Taken at face value, the Spirit of Jesus Church is one of the largest New Religious movements in Japan. They also reject the Trinitarian doctrine and claim to be the only true Christian church in the world.
In our modern secularist Western societies we tend immediately to be hostile to unsolicited religion - especially if it involves what we think of as violations of our privacy in a public place, or violations of the sovereignty and solitude of our homes. Don’t approach my threshold. But I don’t take that view. I tend to be rather indulgent of proselytizing Christians like Jehovah’s Witnesses. I credit them with sincerity rather than malice or stupidity. I am not a fan of being approached like this, but I’m not extraordinarily hostile when it occurs. Many people are.