A review of the video "Gods fingerprints in Japan"
Whose fingerprints is this?
1.Teaching what the Bible does not say
2.Teaching the Bible from other religions
Daniel Kikawa is the main writer of the script who says he has been researching culture and religion for 20 years. Rev. Sakae Sugino is the main source of information for this video. He has been researching the Christian history of Japan for over 30 years. He is a member of the Kyoto Christian History Study Committee and curator of its museum in Kyoto.
The film is well produced and has captured picturesque places of Japanese culture. This film won a 2005 Telly Award in the Religious film category.
Among those who endorse this work are Dr. George Nagato- District Superintendent for the Hawaii Assemblies of God. Cal Chinen Pastor of Moanalua Missionary Church who also promotes the transformation process of Ed Silvoso (part of the New Apostolic Reformation of Peter Wagner). Sam Webb- Former pastor of Grace Bible, now President of Grace Bible Ministries International, part of International Apostolic Team of Morning Star International. Chiori Kawamoto- National Leadership Team, YWAM Japan. Loren Cunningham- Founder of YWAM, President - University of the Nations. John Dawson- president of YWAM International Dr. Joseph Naoshi Ozawa Board Member, International Reconciliation Coalition. Herbert Hoefer- Professor of Theology at Concordia University, chairman of the Rethinking Hindu Ministry Forum. His writings have been primarily on the subject of faith and culture and has written articles for Missions Frontiers magazine (US Center for World Missions). Don Richardson- Author of The Peace Child and Lords of the Earth, Eternity in Their Hearts. He is a contributor to the Perspectives curriculum for the U.S. Center for World Missions. Don is considered the father of modern Culture Based and Culture Specific Evangelism.
We are told, “This film is culture specific for the Japanese and may seem vague or not “hard hitting” enough to Western minded people.”
I think it is very clear what they are trying to communicate.
Daniel Kikawa’s premise: “When teaching at missionary schools, I always ask non-Western students what their main objection was to accepting Christ. The main objection, and I am using a mild word because many times it was actually resentment and anger, was that the Christian God was a foreign God who did not love their people. I have found this objection in nearly all non-Western peoples I meet around the world, including most Japanese. Their thoughts are, ‘The Christian God is not our God and he doesn't love us. If he did love us, we would see his hand of care and involvement in the long history of our people. Instead, he dwelt in the West, only cared for them, and only accepts their culture.’ (Aloha Ke Akua website)
”Our Missiological method, therefore, is to suggest to the Japanese people that the God of the Bible is their God, that he has displayed loving care and involvement in their history and culture, and that he loves their culture just as much as Western culture.” (ibid.)
In his search for the creator God in Japan Kikawa has built a cross cultural relationship by Christianizing ancient idolatrous worship practices, making people think through his presentation that nearly every people group/culture has truths about God that were put by God in their culture-and that they knew him. Video- “over the thousands of years of Japanese history and culture God has been reaching out to the Japanese people and the Japanese people have been reaching out to him and surely there must be numerous things in the history and culture of Japan that must reflect this relationship.”
The bridge that he built is for Christians to cross over to the culture-not for the people to cross over to Christ. This becomes a syncretism of both ancient Japanese worship and attaching their culture to Christianity which changes many things. His MISSION STATEMENT on his website basically explains his methodology: ‘The Creator God of the Bible is not a foreign God. He loves indigenous people and has been a part of their history and culture from the beginning.”
This new way to evangelize the nations, it is called Redeeming cultures. A better word to identify this would be Inclusive Evangelism, for it presents the belief that in nearly every culture- “God has left treasures and worthy traditions within the indigenous cultures to be used.” The assumption is that God formed ALL the nations, cultures (specifically) and purposely put things in their culture that are equal to what He did with Israel.
That we are to bring Jesus Christ to people through their own (God given) culture, and then leave them to worship God in their own cultures way. Thus, they are then Chinese Christians, Korean Christians and Japanese Christians as the film indicates.
The Bible does not speak of God’s fingerprints as if he left traces of himself everywhere but clearly mentions the hand or arm of the Lord in reference to salvation by the Messiah of Israel. Referring to Isa. 53, John writes (12:38) that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
The hand of the Lord can be of Judgment or a good thing- Josh 4:23-24 “for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over,” that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”
Concentrating on fingerprints, as if there are leftover shreds of truths to be found is like looking for bread crumbs to eat off the ground when there is a feast that has been prepared for you at a table through the New Testament.
On the “Word to the World” radio program, Interviewer, Danny Lehmann asks Kikawa “…you produced a DVD about Japan… tell us a little bit about the Japanese culture and the content in your DVD.”
Interviewee- Daniel Kikawa responds “… and we have to rethink our way of doing things. Now If we went to Japan to do business or say we even did it in the US and we have this great product but 99% of the people reject the product y’know, it wouldn’t take us a year to say - we’ve got to rethink quote our sales pitch y’know, somethings wrong, ther'e not getting to see how good this product is. It’s the same way” (Word to the World interview with Daniel Kikawa Feb.15, 2006, #8)
In the Marketplace of products advertising is used to get that product into peoples hands- there is always a strong selling point presented for them to go out and buy it. But this should NOT be so when it comes to the gospel. This is not some product that we offer- try it you’ll like it. Nor offer it as a better religion. The point that is to be made to everyone in every culture is the same. It is always that ones spiritual position is bankrupt because of their sin- and ONLY Jesus Christ who is God can save them.
Kikawas presentation in The VIDEO is based on his Romans 1:20 premise “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse”
Unfortunately He twists the Romans passage on its head, misunderstanding the intent of Paul is giving a panorama of history of how mankind left the truth, NOT held it. What must be read several verses prior to vv.19-29 and after to get the correct context. See Romans 1:18-32
Kikawa has invented a romantic religious fantasy about God leaving fingerprints everywhere- i.e. Japan, Korea- China. He has made up his own religion that combines aspects of Christianity as the shell and adds the other religious portions to his mix. What Paul said may well be taken into consideration- 1 Tim.1:4 “nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” 2 Tim 4:3-4 “because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
Peter says, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables” (2 Pet. 1:16). Kikawa takes religious myths, makes up fables about a cultures past history to make the religion acceptable and creating a religious mixture that is repugnant to a Holy God that the Bible presents.
There are New Sect Shinto groups that combine folk beliefs with tenets of Buddhism, Confucianism, Ying Yang cosmology, and even monotheism. Kikawa’s angle is no different.
Because of the sheer amount of content in this video I cannot cover everything at length. So I picked out the premise and the most important parts to give a biblical and logical refute, for Kikawa has built a hightower out of paper mache.
He starts off the video with- “The Bible says that all people had a knowledge of the creator. If this is true then we should find a creator God within the history and culture of Japan….”
Notice- God has revealed himself in Japanese culture. Not revealed to the culture- but in it. He also states, “he gave the Japanese people their culture and it is in the culture they can find their identity in God.”
“They are finding may things in their cultural identity that were ordained by God. And they are finding new and deeper meaning as they worship God in their traditional ways.” “God loves the cultural expressions that flow from them. They are finding many things within that flow from their cultural identity that were ordained by God.”
These are all key points to what he is trying to convey about their ancient god and culture. Some we will look at further in the review.
We do not see God’s approval of adopting any nation’s religious customs into Judaism. There was to be no syncretism for Israel or for the church. His methodology has an underlying inclusive message that is similar to the World council of churches.
His proof is that they speak of a supreme being in heaven. Which does not mean anything unless he has sameness in His qualities and nature, not just similarities. The assumption is that God formed ALL the nations, cultures (specifically) and purposely put things in their culture. There are enough Bible examples contrary to this to explain that God did not approve of these cultures in ancient Bible times and does not today.
His theory discounts that Israel alone was recipients of God’s favor, while all other nations remain in idolatry, becoming more corrupted as time goes on. No culture or people are equaled to what God did with Israel; Israel stands alone with the true revelation of God given to mankind.
Kikawa is teaching that God has been shaping these cultures and societies throughout their history is a blatant false statement. Their worship was always considered idolatry.
“At this former settlement of an estimated 500 people, our team looked for the first organized efforts to seek God.” He has the time as 10,000 bc – 300 bc. At Almoudi He mentions, ”The high towers found further south are yahshinaguri on the southern Island of Kushu.”
“Although we can see that the Japanese people are very religious, there are still no answers” While Kikawa takes the position of this wrapped in mystery there are some very obvious answers that he seems to avoid.
The Japanese culture does not go back to when man was monotheistic. Finding a small settlement does not prove anything especially when all he presented was high (watch) towers. How does he know these towers are worship to Yahweh? God never instructed people to build these towers to worship him so the presentation means little especially when he affirms, “there are no definitive answers.” These were formed after Christ, so clearly he is promoting another way. The claim of 10,000 bc. would bring this culture to before the date of the flood which does present another problem of their surviving.
Buddhism came to Japan in the sixth century from China, and Buddhist temples were built. Buddhist architecture had a profound influence on architecture in Japan. The 3 tier shrine in the Asuka period (593–710) were places dedicated to the worship of Buddha, their architectural forms originated in China and Korea. In each temple compound, a number of buildings were erected to serve the needs of the monks or nuns who lived there and it was a place where lay worshippers could gather.
The Japanese built three storied and five storied towers. These are multi-storied representations of the universe built over relics. Their central masts and multiple stories representing the many levels of the heavens.
Shinto is Japan's major religion besides Buddhism. Shinto does not have a founder and is deeply rooted in the Japanese people and traditions. The Kojiki is one of the two primary sources for Shinto, the Japanese national religion. It starts in the realm of myth where there are described Innumerable gods and goddesses. Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters): 712 A.D. and the Nihongi or Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan): 720 A.D. (there is also Engishiki or Yengishiki (Procedures of the Engi Era): 927 A.D.)
The Kojiki and Nihongi texts are not considered sacred by a religious definition as the Bible is for Christianity or the Torah for Judaism. The Kojiki and Nihongi texts contain the first comprehensive writings on the history of Japan and Japanese mythology, these are Shintoism roots. Followers of Shinto believe that a kami (deity) exists in virtually every natural object or phenomenon, from active volcanoes and beautiful mountains to trees, rocks, and waterfalls. Shinto shrines are built on places where kami are enshrined, where people can worship.
He states- “one of the gods that were worshipped at Izumo is Amenonakumishi. Who is the God in the glorious center of heaven.” “Amenominakanushi is flanked by the 2 other gods of creation these are three are separate from the other gods or kami of Japan. Because they are spirit and not seen.”
“Who is this God Amenominakanushi- Can we find evidence of him in the written records of the history of Japan. The oldest written document in Japan is called the Kojiki the records of ancient matters written in 712.
He admits that they are worshipping these gods (plural) even after the revelation of the New Testament that precedes it for 650 years. Their three Gods are separate from the other gods, not one God.
The Video quotes - the preface of the Kojiki - “Now when chaos had begun to condense, but force and form were not yet manifest, and there was nought named, nought done, who could know its shape? Nevertheless Heaven and Earth first parted, and the Three Deities performed the commencement of creation”
Kikawa stops here –But the Kojiki goes on to say afterwards – “the Passive and Active Essences then developed, and the Two Spirits became the ancestors of all things.” Therefore did he enter obscurity and emerge into light, and the Sun and Moon were revealed by the washing of his eyes; he floated on and plunged into the sea-water, and Heavenly and Earthly Deities appeared through the ablutions of his person?”
So he eliminated something key that would change the concept that he is trying to present to his audience. He then refers to the Bible- Genesis 1:1-2 in the beginning elohim (literally the gods) biblically this would mean the trinity. Created the heavens and the earth.”
Gen. 1:1-2--three Gods- Literally – the gods. He calls this the Trinity, but this is not the Trinity he is describing. He is teaching Tritheism, not the Trinity and the difference is not to be ignored. It becomes a matter of being orthodox or teaching heresy. Each time Kikawa tries to prove Christian teaching from these religions, he calls them three gods- and he calls this the biblical trinity.
Elohim is used as “gods in a plural form” for false Gods only. Thou shalt have no other elohim- god’s before me.
He does the same in his book Perpetuated in Righteousness (p.23) Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” This scripture should actually read, “Yahweh our Elohim (Gods) is one Yahweh.” The Bible teaches God is one not plural Gods but plural in person as the one God.
As with anything Kikawa gets his hands on, the problem is not just what he quotes, as much as what he leaves out of the quotes.
This is nothing related from the Kojiki to the account in Genesis except for some similar words that do not carry the same meaning.
Video-The first paragraph of the Kojiki states: “The names of the deities that were born (literally, that become) in the Plain of High Heaven when the Heaven and Earth began were the God in the glorious center of heaven Amenominakamushi”
“Next the God of High generative power (takamimusubi) next the God of divine Generative power (Kamimsubi) . These three deities were all deities born alone, (not procreated) and hid their persons”
Kikawa adds the name Amenominakamushi in the text of the Kojiki. Nor does it have (literally, that become) or the names (takaminsubi), nor (Kamimsubi).
Here is what the Kojiki actually says- “The names of the deities that were born in the Plain of High Heaven when the Heaven and Earth began were the deity Master-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven; next, the High-August-Producing-Wondrous deity; next, the Divine-Producing-Wondrous deity. These three deities were all deities born alone, and hid their persons. The names of the deities that were born next from a thing that sprouted up like unto a reed-shoot when the earth, young and like unto floating oil, drifted about medusa-like, were the Pleasant-Reed-Shoot-Prince-Elder deity, next the Heavenly-Eternally-Standing deity. These two deities were likewise born alone, and hid their persons.
The five deities in the above list are separate Heavenly deities.”
Notice where Kikawa stopped and leaves out- “These two deities were likewise deities born alone, and hid their persons. The names of the deities that were born next were the deity Mud-Earth-Lord; next, his Younger sister the deity -Mud-Earth-Lady; next, the Germ-Integrating deity; next, his younger sister the Life-Integrating-Deity; next,”
They are described as “Afterwards, something in the form of reed-shoots sprouted, and from this, two more kami emerged: These two gods gave birth to many more gods, each having distinct responsibilities and representing different phenomena of nature, including the wind, trees, mountains, herbs, and grasses.”
God was NOT born when heaven and earth were created according to the Bible; He existed before heaven and earth were created. He did not produce Himself or other gods. If these deities were born in the plain of high heaven then they did not existed before they came into existence.
Notice the Kojiki says “five deities in the above list are separate Heavenly deities.” There are not three as Kikawa tried to make a trinity of gods out of it. Furthermore it states that there are more gods birthed. How can this be related to anything described in the Bible?
If one reads the creation accounts the details of how this creation work is done, the Japanese records go farther and more in depth than anything described in the Bible. They of course are not in agreement with the bible. If one accepts this revelation from God, they must then believe, like the Mormons have done with the Book of Mormon, there is more revelation than what we have in the bible.
On this point alone the video is a failure in proving the Japanese god[s] are the same as the one true God the Bible explains. But there is more, much more.
The Kojiki notes say this in the text Kikawa quoted, “The names of the deities that were born (literally, that become)” that were born endnote- 15:2 Literally, “that became” ( ). Such “becoming” is concisely defined by Motowori as “the birth of that which did not exist before.”
“These three Deities were all Deities born alone, and hid their persons” endnote: 15:7 I.e. they all came into existence without being procreated. in the manner usual with both gods and men, and afterwards disappeared, i.e., died.”
“The five Deities in the above list are separate Heavenly Deities.”
15:11 This is a note in the original, where such notes are indented, as has also been clone In the translation. The author's obscure phrase is explained by Motowori to mean that these Heavenly Deities were separate from those who came into existence afterwards, and especially from the Earthly-Eternally-Standing-Deity (Kuni-no-toko-tachi-no-kami) who in the “Chronicles” is the first divine being of whom mention is made. These five were, he says, “separate” and had nothing to do with the creation of the world. It should be stated that the sentence will also bear the interpretation “The five Deities in the above list are Deities who divided Heaven” (presumably from Earth;) but this rendering has against it the authority of all the native editors. As the expressions “Heavenly Deity” and “Earthly Deity” (lit., “Country Deity” are of frequent occurrence in these “Records,” it may be as well to state that. according to Motowori, the “Heavenly Deities” were such as either dwelt in Heaven or had originally descended to Earth from Heaven, whereas the Earthly Deities were those born and dwelling in Japan.
Also, the two names Kikawa added in the text -Takamimusubi and Kamimusubi. The belief is that they were born in Takamagahara, the world of Heaven at the time of the creation.
The working of musubi has fundamental significance in Shinto, because creative development forms the basis of the Shinto world view. There are numerous deities connected with musubi, such as Takamimusubi no kami (Exalted Musubi Deity), Kamimusubi no kami (Sacred Musubi Deity), Homusubi no kami (Fire Musubi Deity), Wakamusubi (Young Musubi), Ikumusubi (Life Musubi), and Tarumusubi (Plentiful Musubi). Takamimusubi no kami is related to the gods of heaven, while Kamimusubi no kami is related to the gods of earth. These two gods, together with Amenominakanushi no kami, are the three gods (zôka no sanshin) mentioned in the Japanese myth of creation.
Another important book of Japanese religion is also relative to this subject of creation and Gods. The Nihongi the Age of the Gods.
Book I Of old, Heaven and Earth were not yet separated, and the In and Yo not yet divided. They formed a chaotic mass like an egg which was of obscurely defined limits and contained germs.
Heaven was therefore formed first, and Earth was established subsequently.
Thereafter divine beings were produced between them”
It goes on to say “At this time a certain thing was produced between Heaven and Earth. It was in form like a reed-shoot. Now this became transformed into a God, and was called Kuni-toko-tachi no Mikoto.
Alas! my ancestors were Heavenly deities, and my mother was a goddess of the Sea”
The Emperor issued the following decree: “The spirits of our Imperial ancestors reflecting their radiance down from Heaven, illuminate and assist us. ”
“He accordingly established spirit-terraces amongst the Tomi hills, …There he worshiped his Imperial ancestors, the Heavenly deities. (THE NIHONGI).
In one writing it states: “When Heaven and Earth began, a thing existed in the midst of the Void. Its shape may not be described. Within it a deity was spontaneously produced,”
In another writing it is said: “When Heaven and Earth began, there were deities produced together, ….” It is further stated: “The names of the gods which were produced in the Plain of High Heaven were Ama no mi-naka-nushi no Mikoto, next Taka-mi-musubi no Mikoto, next Kami-mi-musubi no Mikoto.” (The Nihongi The Age of the Gods.)
One may wonder what does any of this have to do with the Bibles revelation of one God and Christianity- the answer is NOTHING, but Kikawa wants to prove his point from Japanese culture and religion. That the Japanese knew God and that their God[s] are the same as YHWH.
The video states, “In Kyoto city is a shrine -- Amenominakanushi is also worshipped here.” Kikawa- in front of kuto shrine says “it is the most important of the over 40,000 shrines” “ in this shrine is a monument to Amenominakanushi the God in the center of heaven”“One of the gods worshiped at Izamo is called Amenominakanushi”.
Encyclopedia of Shinto says, no mention is made of this kami's activities, nor was he not worshiped at any known ancient shrines, that he was produced under the influence of Chinese thought. So not all agree with what Kikawa presents as fact.
Amenominakanushi is mentioned at least 15 times in the video, Jesus is not mentioned as God even once. Yet he asks his audience “Could this Amenominakanushi be the same creator God that the Bible also speaks of?”
The video states- “Although knowledge of the God in the glorious center of heaven is vague and he is an unknown God to most Japanese there is overwhelming evidence of his existence”
Kikawa is not finding Romans 1 which is referring to ancient monotheism, but what is called henotheism, one main God with many sub deities. He ignores the polytheism and tries to change it to monotheism. Kikawa’s history is poorly presented and the teaching is filled with inadequate examples, without factual or historical basis for his interpretation. And more importantly, it carries no correlation to the Scripture except for a few minor points found by words, i.e. creator, creation, deity, not by meaning. Kikawa makes this up as he goes along by taking portions of Shintoism to his liking and ignoring those portions that do not fit.