Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I am thankful for the letter by Shingo Morito (“TV show about nuns fails taste test,” Jan. 20). Although I did not see the television show to which he refers, his comments do two things. They point out how many Japanese treat Christianity and other cultural affectations of foreign origin as mere fashion, as less-than-serious behavior, as nothing but a thing to be added to the capitalist consumer brew with no regard given beyond their appearance and exchange value. They also point out the prevalent amorality that seems too characteristic of Japan.
I question, however, his statement that “to accept the divinity of Jesus is up to each of us to decide.” Really? Christianity is a (proudly) doctrinal religion, and the divinity of Christ is one of its main features, hammered out over centuries during many Church councils, producing major confessions of faith such as the Apostolic Creed, the Athenasian Creed and the Nicean Creed. I hardly think that acceptance of the divinity of Jesus is “up to each of us to decide,” if one imagines oneself a Christian. But perhaps Morito represents a uniquely Japanese kind of Christian.
The Christian position is that humankind is in need of salvation. We cannot save ourselves, so we need a savior. That savior must be divine in order to have the ability to save, but at the same time must be human in order to have the credibility to save. Hence the god-man Christ of Christianity. This formula is a metaphysical necessity on top of the rationality of theistic belief.
Published on Sunday, January 24, 1999 as “Jesus’divinity already decided.”
I think of this argument of Jesus’ human-divine nature to be an argument stopper. It used to surprise me when people still did not agree when the matter was framed as a ability/credibility question. People just persist asking “Why do we need to be saved? Saved from what? Why doesn’t a human teaching a human message have the ability to save?” etc. The Christian position must continually return to questions of the social sciences - anthropology, sociology, psychology - because Christianity preaches a new kind of man in rebirth in Christ. So it behooves us to continually reconsider what it is to be human, and what our humanity means. Jesus was the first of the new men of the Kingdom of God.