This was a very helpful response, Yutaro. In Pittsburgh, I had contact with a number of young to middle-aged Japanese surgery resident physicians and it was surprising how often, after one became friends, while admitting to feeling spiritually empty and purposeless, they would (very politely) say that they didn’t have time for God or for religion, sometimes following up with stories of heavy-handed evangelism attempts by cultists that the physician thought were Christian. I wondered if you had any suggestions on how to undo the damage, especially how to help clarify to them the differences between biblical Christianity and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as this was the cult named most often.
Do you have any suggestions on how to undo the damage, especially how to help clarify to them the differences between biblical Christianity and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as this was the cult named most often
Thank you for sharing your story and question. I am so glad that you are trying to share the gospel with the Japanese people in the medical field in the US!
When I explain the difference between biblical Christianity and any other faith, I often try to focus on the simplest yet most profound point, which is the understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ. Almost all belief systems outside of the biblical worldview understand Jesus as a great teacher or prophet. However, as C. S. Lewis points out in his book Mere Christianity, “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
One of the main reasons we can believe that Jesus is the Son of God is that he rose from the dead. We can invite our friends to examine the historical evidence that points to the resurrection of Jesus if they are interested. It can be surprising to the Japanese people to know that biblical Christian faith is based on actual history.
Another important point is that Jesus offers salvation by grace, but unorthodox faith tends to say you need to earn salvation by work. Jesus has paid for all our sins, and there is nothing we can add to his perfect accomplishment on the cross. The message of grace gives us a dramatically different faith from the rest of the world, and this is what we want our friends to receive.
Ultimately, we can talk about other beliefs and their inconsistencies, but let us make sure that we always share about the person of Jesus Christ more than those things.
Thank you so much for your suggestions, Yutaro.