日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2019 No.405】From the General Secretary's Desk: International Conference on Interreligious Dialog Expands Horizons


In early October, I visited Germany for two reasons. First, I went to the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) headquarters in Stuttgart to initiate a conversation on how to maintain a responsible dialog in our relationship. Afterward, I attended the “Interreligious Study Program as a Task for the Church,” hosted by EMS in Frankfurt, and spoke on mission cooperation between the Kyodan and the main German churches.


At the Frankfurt meeting, I heard speeches mainly by German ministers and seminarians from various study institutions who reported on interreligious dialog in India, Lebanon, and Japan. The passionate and refreshing three-day programs addressed the meaning of such dialog and the importance for churches to have a dialog with each other. In the globalized world in which we now live and face the reality of unrelenting antagonism, it is very important for us to have interfaith dialog.


At the Henry Martin Institute (HMI) in Hyderabad, India, a thorough and theologically designed program is offered to give participants firsthand experience in dealing with issues of how to open up to others in a land where Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians must all live among each other. The purpose is to help one another broaden our horizons of faith. A “Studies in the Middle East” course is offered from October to June each year at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon. People of various Muslim sects and Christian sects, including differing Orthodox sects, Maronite Christians, and Assyrian Christians that all have differing faiths and worship styles, consider together how to dialog with one another. At the same time, there is the issue of how Christian minority churches are to exist in this environment. I learned about the concept of “a community of unity in reconciled diversity.”


The NCC Center for the Study of Japanese Religions in Kyoto has an Interreligious Studies in Japan program. German ministers and seminarians participate each year from September through December to study Shintoism, Buddhism, and new religions in Japan to learn about these worlds from experts in their fields and also to visit actual shrines and temples. This is a very important EMS program to promote and encourage understanding. Unfortunately, only a few of us Japanese Christians are even aware of this research center. However, members of the German churches recognize the study center in Kyoto and the importance of its work. German Christians are given the opportunity to learn about the religious essence of Eastern religions like Shintoism and Buddhism and to experience Zazen (sitting cross-legged while meditating). Following the seminar, some German pastors have participated in Buddhist ascetic practices or gone on a pilgrimage of temples in Shikoku.


As Japanese Christians and churches are so few in number, it is urgent that we recognize the need to evangelize and build up the body of Christ, and at the same time, state our thoughts to the Christian world and make known that there is this area of thought as well. (Tr. WJ)

—Akiyama Toru, general secretary


秋 山  徹


 10月の初めにドイツに行き、シュトゥットガルトのEMSの本部を訪ねて、教団とEMSとのこれからの関係を整えてより責任を持ったかかわりができるようにするための話し合いの時を持ちました。さらに、フランクフルトで開かれたEMS主催の国際会議、“Interreligious Study Program as Task for the Church”に参加して、教団のドイツを中心とした教会との宣教協力関係について発題しました。この二つの働きが今回のドイツ訪問の課題でした。


 インドのハイデラバードにあるHenry Martin Institute(HMI)では、ヒンドゥー教、イスラム教、仏教、キリスト教が混在する中で、違った宗教的な背景を持つ人々がどのようにして互いに心を開いて友好的な関係を構築してゆけるかをめぐって、かなり深く立ち入った神学的研究や他の宗教の信仰と生活を体験するプログラムが提供されています。「自分たちの信仰の地平を広げる助けをすること」(helping to broaden our horizon)をめざしているのです。レバノンではベイルートにあるNear East School of Theology の中にあるStudies in the Middle East(SiMO)では、毎年10月~6月までの研修プログラムがあり、イスラム教各派とキリスト教内でもマロン派やオーソドックス教会系の各派、それにアッシリア教会など多様な信仰と礼拝形態があり、その中での宗教間対話をどのように進めるかが課題となっています。また同時に、少数者として生きるキリスト教会の在り方も問題になっています。「多様な違いがありつつ和解する中で一致してゆく共同体」(Community of unity in reconciled diversity)という概念があることを教えられました。



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