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Parallel 11

How Noro’s Existential Theology could be in Practice in the Secular Society


Ms. Masako HAYASHI

Doctoral Student

Tokyo Metropolitan University

A certain theological theory must first form a discussion of practical theology. Then the techniques and modes of ‘putting it into practice’ must be explained in an academically systematic way. As a member of an extreme minority of the population, a Japanese Christian, there are theological scholarly achievements that we could have been able to enjoy because we have been minorities: Among them, a theologian Yoshio Noro had established the existential theology influenced by German hermeneutics of Rudolf Bultmann’s demythologizing and the tradition of liberal theology such as Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich from the US. While incorporating the achievements of modern western theology since the 19th century, building a theology upon the hardships of those who have wished to embrace Christianity in Japan had inevitably focused on the encounter with our indigenous religions, which are beliefs in Shinto animistic gods, Kwan Yin or any other types of Buddhism, people’s Taoism, and religious syncretism in all. Or, perhaps the most trial for Japanese theologians today would be to show the meaning of being Christians to a society of religiously indifferent. In Japan, the Christian population has less than 1 per cent of the nation’s population in all denominations.


Although theological trends such as feminist (or gender) theology, post-colonialism, ecology so on, of course, have been significant issues, we the minorities do not necessarily follow the trends. What matters more is how academics present theories of the incarnation of God’s Love to our society. For practical theology, the first stage is in analysing what is happening in today’s world and how they are problematic, but it is instead the next stage on which the theologians are to focus. That is, to theorise how Christianity can explicitly solve the problems.


On practice, why don’t I utilize the welfare system and policies by the secular states or a nation, for those could be a motive for practices based upon the established and Japan’s unique systematic existential theology. Practicing social works could be Christian prayers in this secular society. Referring to Richard Henry Tawney (1880-1962) contributed one of the builders of the British welfare state as an educator, an economic historian, and a social and political thinker. At the conference, I will introduce a unique existential theology by a Japanese systematic theologian and refer to Tawney's contribution to the building of the welfare state in the first half of the 20th century, with Christian socialism as an ideological foundation, to show that Tawney's religion of individuation is compatible with existential theology.


Postgraduate at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Graduate School of Humanities, and JSPS fellow DC1. M. T. S. (Drew University, US). Working on the British Welfare States in the interwar period and R. H. Tawney, Christian socialism. Has worked on John Wesley, and contemporary systematic theology. Certified social worker.

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