Scott W. Sunquist
Asian ecumenism began as a pragmatic concern of Western mission agencies, but was catalysed under the pressure of Japanese imperialism early in the twentieth century. National ecumenical organizations were promoted in the wake of the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, but with the dismantling of imperialism in Asia after the Pacific War, national and regional cooperation became the sole work of younger Asian leaders. Organic church unions occurred between the 1930s and 1960s, but this has not been a major theme of ecumenism in Asia. China is unique in the ecumenical movement in Asia because of the formation of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement as a way to negotiate a new place for the church in Chinese society. Ecumenism has once again become more pragmatic, and major ecumenical bodies (e.g. the Christian Conference of Asia) have become more focused on issues such as public health, disaster relief, and the environment.
In China, there is a strong underlying philosophy that explicitly recognizes religious diversity and diversification as a way of extension and duration, even though diversity can be seen as a manifestation of the same principle or truth of the original and hence to contain ultimate principles of unity. The unity in diversity is what actually gives itself the momentum toward diversification as a way of realizing the unity. This can be seen in the first development of the philosophy of the Yi (change) in the Yijing, which transforms the ancient religion of tian (heaven) into a moral consciousness of self-discipline and cultivation of moral reason in individual human beings. This article discusses religious diversity in China and shows how the three Chinese religions—Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese Buddhism—have worked basically under the paradigm of creative harmony of the Yijing. It also examines diversity as a principle of religious development and considers religious conscience in Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese Buddhism.
What does it mean to be an atheist in Japan and what do the Japanese understand to be the difference between being non-religious and being atheist? When and under what conditions do such questions become relevant for the Japanese to consider? In order to answer such questions, one must go back to a time and place where the Japanese begin to consider atheism as a cultural concept. This work explores the topic of intellectual atheism as both product and agent of sweeping cultural changes in a rapidly modernizing Meiji Era Japan. It considers the influences of various social forces upon traditional modes of living and thinking as well as the response of these forces to challenges presented by modernization and by the enduring aspects of traditional Japanese life. The essay addresses these historic events through the lens of the agents of these social forces and examines their influence and legacies with regard to various aspects and institutions of Japanese life including politics, education, research, economics, and religious traditions in modern Japan.
This chapter argues that the category of religion eludes traditional Chinese thinking. It outlines the periods of harmony between official Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism, commenting on the historical reverence for martial gods and practices of religiously sanctioned human sacrifice and self-mortification. The amorphous religious identity characteristic of China offers a convenient starting point for the analysis. Chinese clerics have been conscious of their religious distinction to the extent of competing with others. The policy has been a major source of friction between the People's Republic of China and the Catholic Church. The Chinese martial art is a multifaceted system of physical and mental self-cultivation that combines military, therapeutic, and religious goals within the same training routine. The imagination of Daoist immortality, the cosmology of the Supreme Ultimate, and the vocabulary of Buddhist enlightenment has been equally tackled to discuss the practitioner's mystical experience.