Self Evaluation of our RPC Japan

Dear brothers in FMB,

I wrote the attached mail to Pastor Katsunori Endo in our correspondence about a PCA missionary's private critique on us at PCJ GA. Katsunori was our delegate there just recently.

The PCA man frankly told to Katsunori that the mission strategy of past RPC in Japan was failure in comparison with the past growth of PCJ.

We appreciate his frankness, and admit that we have been far from effective than we should have been before the Lord. Our spiritual dullness and laziness are without excuse, and we are not responding to His rich blessings and enduring to His beloved RPC effectively. We have been existed only because of His mercy. But even such fragile church, RPCJP, could have counted His merciful grace to herself numerously, and this is the proof that we are a real part of His body.

Then why our growth was so slow? One practical reason was from our strategy. Tokyo Christian Theological Seminary which has been related to PCJ had played a great role for the rapid growth of PCJ. The lack of our own seminary like TCTS had invited a kind of identity crisis among us and had been much slowed down the growth. Instead our literary witness through Covenanter Book Store had been deep and widely spread throughout Japan.

We had too much depended on KRTS about our theological education even though we as Reformed Presbyterian have much difference from Dutch Reformed camp nor from Southern Presbyterian Camp. Eventually there was serious confusion even among us about the identity of RPC. In 70's, even in our synod, there was some confusion of identity so the confusion was emphasized and not corrected. Personally actually I did not learn any substantial history of English or Scottish church at KRTS, except some special lectures from Prof. Okada on some controversies. I have never heard of such a key terms like "Kingship" nor "Mediatorial Kingdom" there, though KRTS had claimed to be a Presbyterian seminary. The study of Presbyterianism then was not persuasive enough, nor of its Regulative Principle at all.

So to start our own theological institution was a necessity, not only from recent theological climate of RCJ, which was certainly a impetus, nor from the really urgent need of national worker in RPCJP at the time of 1996, but for the sound organism of RPCJP as an effective and creative branch.

After ten years of Kobe Theological Hall, we already have seen some proofs. We had only two pastors continue to be in Japan in 1996, but in relation to the ministry of KTH, Pastor Kanamori was transferred from PCJ, and Pastor Endo was ordained as a graduate of KTH. Identity and study about RPC had been remarkably developed among our pastors since then and we now have firm conviction about our task as RP in Japan mission. Pastor Jim Pennington had returned to Japan to teach at KTH. Many RP leaders from USA, Ireland and Australia had visited Japan church and enlarged RP fellowship. Two elders have been trained and licensed to preach, and another elder also graduated and is about to take his elder's license exam at the presbytery. Among our youth the knowledge about our task as RPC has been deepened and level of their theological understanding has been much developed. We can expect that our future elders and deacons have well trained theologically before they are elected by the congregation. They can more easy to understand what the pastor thinks and why. Several are considering to start a home meeting. Several youths among them are seriously considering to be an evangelist-pastor, and now studying fulltime at KTH. So there have been already proofs of importance to have own theological institution for the growth of the branch of His church.

Another factor which we should consider about our past slowness of the growth is our emphasis of uncompromised separated life also took more time to emerge as a shape of witness within the Japanese culture. We must not ignore this element. There is the time or even generations needed to realize the real change of the life-style established according to the Biblical model of the ethics. Establishing of Family worship, Firm refusal of ancestor worship, Rejection of National Shintoism system, Denial of all pagan customs, Keeping the Sabbath consistently in Japanese society, Avoiding the non-Christian marriage consistently, being away from secular type fellowship which often insist drinking, Oath taking in vain, Various kinds of binding relationship against conscience in Japanese society, Problems relating to the public schooling system of Japan, High rate of abortion and hidden but so deep hatred against anti-abortion message, etc. One by one we need to take step of victory of His word on each issue. It means not so quick, but steady growth of the church, at present spiritual climate in Japan, depending and seeing His Spirit's working in the heart of the convert.

Also we could mention that even the compiling the Psalter took so much years practically to come to the present edition. So to form a denomination itself took quite a man power.

The policy of FMB had not been missiologically brushed up. In the past FMB's and RPCJP's strategy was not so much different from ordinal evangelical missiology, and there has not been enough vision to necessitate logically a new RP denomination in Japan, even though there is awareness of the fact that RP's distinctiveness has much serious meaning and reason for its existence for His kingdom plan of Japan as a denomination among Japanese churches. We should have clear RP's missiological vision for our strategy based upon the world wide vision of the kingship of Christ over the church and nation.

Surely, our pastors and missionaries had been faithfully tried hard to be evangelistic according to His will, and also striving hard to establish faithful congregations.

In short, we should have acknowledged our position in the whole Japanese church more, and recognized our own pace of growth more legitimately. We might be able to say that we have counted not only horizontal growth, but also vertical Biblically faithful continuity of the witness in Japan seriously.

My intension of the following mail to Katsunori was just to encourage and clarify our relationship with other brothers. Let me share this with you, too.

Sincerely in His service,
Shigeru Takiura

A mail to Pastor Katsunori Endo

The friendship with PCA brothers and other reformed brothers for us, RP, is remained as "a friendship". We are not in the same regiment camp in His various battle fields. So there is a limit of association always. We are not fighting based upon the strength of numerical unity of the visible church, but always fighting alone, in a sense, in the field assigned to us from our master, with the closeness of our Lord himself to us.

We always need to hold two sides in our hands:
  1. A broad fellowship with other brothers and churches based upon His redemption on the cross and hopefully His truth expressed in the Bible believing reformed faith which is profession to the living resurrected Lord.
  2. A narrow task which is entrusted to us, RPC, from the Lord, for the advancement of the battle for the Kingship over the world including our obedience in regulation of His reigning over the Church.
May the Lord keep us to be firmly preserved in the good balance of these two, while we positively try to be a part of His truly catholic church as an effective part for Him.