Fukushima

Some things Forsyth

Kawakami on Forsyth and Post Fukushima TheologyMy friend Naoya Kawakami has sent news that his latest book, a theology which brings post-Fukushima realities into conversation with P. T. Forsyth’s thinking on the atonement, has just been published. It represents another reminder not only of the abiding power of good theology to speak to a context unimagined by the original author but also of the long and continuing interest in Forsyth’s work in Japan, where seventeen of Forsyth’s books have already been translated into Japanese, and four additional ones have undergone a second translation.

In addition to Naoya’s two published studies on Forsyth, two other books have also appeared in recent years, including Yutaka Morishima’s study Forsyth shingaku no kozo genri: Atonement wo megutte (A Structural Principle of P. T. Forsyth’s Theology: Through the Atonement). Yutaka also informs me that Forsyth’s book The Soul of Prayer, much loved in Japan, has now been translated into Korean. And that just last week, there was a meeting of pastors and theologians in Tokyo, the sole purpose of which was to read and discuss together Forsyth’s Faith, Freedom and the Future. I understand that the moderator of the group is working on a new translation of the book.

Also, Alan Gaunt, who once penned a wonderful poem inspired by Forsyth’s theology of the cross, has now written a delightful review of my book Hallowed Be Thy Name: The Sanctification of All in the Soteriology of P. T. Forsyth. The review, which was published in The Journal of the United Reformed Church History Society (May 2015), can be accessed here.

On a considerably more sombre note, Naoya has also asked me to share some news about the situation on the ground near Fukushima. He writes:

Naoya Kawakami

Unfortunately, the situation has become worse. Because of so many misrule and responsibilities, the illness and to contaminate have expanded. We have to see a kind of Massacre on the children and nature. So many people shut down their eyes to see the reality. And TEPCO and government have started what they want crudely.

But some churches stand with the mothers harmed so deeply. We are now waiting how the Lord shall do His Work with them.

Please pray for us and miserable victims.

Blessing,

Naoya Kawakami

Ministry and theology for a ‘Post-Fukushima world’

The Rev. Dr. Naoya Kawakami is the Secretary General of Touhoku HELP, a highly commendable ministry birthed in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. Touhoku HELP produced a video for a presentation at the recent WCC General Assembly in Busan. With Korean narration and English subtitles, it illustrates not only the recent (note: some of the footage was filmed last August) situation in Fukushima but also something of the inspiring ministry that is emerging from the rubble.

Naoya and I maintain a steady and prayerful correspondence. In a recent exchange, he wrote of the overwhelming number – over a half of million! – who live with the effects of radiation. He also wrote of his own need, amidst the crushing wave of need around him, to ‘keep time to think and read’, and of the urgency for what he calls a ‘new theology for this “Post-Fukushima” world’.

Naoya KawakamiHe mentioned too about a recent meeting of Japanese and Korean theologians who conversed about the situation birthed by the Fukushima tragedy. Among the topics discussed was the possibility of post-mortem salvation for the many victims of the tsunami and of radiation poisoning. He said,

In the tradition of the major protestant churches, there is no way of salvation for the dead who have not believed in Jesus Christ as Lord during their living time. But many Japanese theologians who have read PT Forsyth have spoken out against this tradition since the triple disaster. Yesterday, we talked about this issue. I shared the logic of Forsyth for this issue from his book This Life and the Next.

Inspired by Forsyth’s lively challenge (via his Protestant reappraisal of the doctrine of purgatory) that God alone – and not death – determines the time when creation reaches its maturity, these theologians found themselves, in faith and together, straining to hear – but hearing indeed – the promise of the Lord of hope in a land crushed under the burden of fear and despair.

Please join me in praying for Naoya (he carries a great burden for the people who live in the Fukushima area, and for the gospel), and please consider supporting the work of Touhoku HELP.

[Naoya’s dissertation was on Japanese receptions of Forsyth’s theology, and the subject of post-mortem conversion receives attention in the final chapter of my own study, Hallowed be Thy Name: The Sanctification of All Things in the Soteriology of P.T. Forsyth. Naoya kindly described my latest offering on Forsyth, Descending on Humanity and Intervening in History, as a ‘big present for Fukushima’.]