WRF Member Nelson Jennings Commends Japanese Church's Statement on Just War

 

In the context of the discussion of "just war," WRF member Dr. Nelson Jennings has submitted the material below.

Dr. Jennings may be contacted at jennings@omsc.org.

Friends, 

I  commend to you the important “Official Statement Concerning War" (just click on the link at the bottom of this page) adopted by the Presbyterian Church in Japan in 1993 (and translated into English in 2002). The PCJ is the denomination founded in part after WWII by MTW missionary forefathers John Young and Phil Foxwell, as well as the denomination with which MTW continues actively to cooperate. PCJ delegates have given greetings to the PCJ GA on several occasions. 

By way of the Statement’s contextual background, the early 1990s was a pivotal time religio-politically within Japan: 

-          In 1989 there had been a change of emperors and the associated Shinto ceremonies – events that alarmed many Christians and other religious minorities about the issue of constitutional separation of religion and state.

-          Due primarily to its strong military alliance with the US, Japan had contributed essential and substantial funding to the 1991 Persian Gulf War effort – a contribution, however, that unfortunately went largely unrecognized (for example, in Kuwait’s post-war list of countries it thanked) since constitutionally Japan could not dispatch military personnel.

-          With the end of the Cold War, the political ground in Japan started to shift to the right vis-à-vis advocating the legalization of Japanese military involvements in UN-sponsored peace-keeping operations (with much U.S. encouragement, largely for economic reasons). Many in Japan grew increasingly concerned about this rightward trend, including many in the PCJ. 

The particular context of the PCJ’s Statement was thus different from the present U.S. context. Hence the specific concerns that the Statement addresses don’t match this week’s specific concerns. Furthermore, the long-term, historical effects of gospel presence in the U.S. and in Japan differ significantly. Even so, how to approach the topic of war biblically as reformed Christians overlaps considerably. In that broad sense, being familiar with the Statement is helpful.

 As the introduction to the PCJ’s Statement suggests, international Christian interaction often can help particular sectors of the wider Church to discern more fully the Scriptures’ instruction, especially regarding such crucial issues as war and peace. I thus suggest that it would be well worth the time to give the PCJ’s important Statement careful and thorough consideration, both for present concerns and other similar ones that inevitably will arise.

 Yours in Christ,

Rev. J. Nelson Jennings, Ph.D.
Director of Program and Community Life, Overseas Ministries Study Center
www.omsc.org

Associate Editor, International Bulletin of Missionary Research
www.internationalbulletin.org

The on-line version of the  International Bulletin of Missionary Research is available free of charge at
www.internationalbulletin.org/register.

 

Link to "The Official Statement on War" -

http://www.wrfnet.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=20&name=DLFE-54.pdf