It was during my high school days when I encountered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan and out of genuine motive and a bit of interest and curiosity joined the church. The curiosity expected that my knowledge would be expanded through the window of membership in this Western religion. I think this second motive has been well realized in my life.

About ten years after I graduated from Osaka University of Foreign Studies, I went to Brigham Young University in Provo to study linguistics. There I took Greek, Hebrew, and religious courses in addition to my major field of discipline. I enjoyed listening to Hugh Nibley’s classes and lectures; lectures and symposia organized by Truman G. Madsen were my favorites, too. I found “Dialogue: the Journal of Mormon Thought” in the Lee Library, and saw the first issue of “Sunstone” emerge during those years. In hindsight, it was one of the BYU’s brightest eras, I should say.

Within four years of my return to Japan, I fortunately obtained a teaching position at Tokuyama University in Yamaguchi, Japan. Then in 1988 I started an independent journal “Mormon Forum”(Japanese) aimed at Japanese lds members, following the patterns of Dialogue and Sunstone. It lasted 13 years.

The time coincides with the long trying and agonizing season in the aspect of faith in my life. I kept going to church, but I am afraid my countenance was not always happy then. Now I try to explain the processes I followed.

The historical-critical study of the Bible has the power of depriving the faith of many theological students and ministers, and in fact critical theology make the belief in mythological elements of the Bible break up. So does the historical-critical study of Mormonism, and arguments by anti-Mormonism also lend its hand. As a result, for many latter-day saints who delve into such study, the belief system could collapse which was nurtured by literal interpretation of the scriptures for many years.

I came to realize that an academic study, including critical research on scriptures, has a following function, to have students reach rather shared understandings and conclusions regardless of initial differences. For example, in the study of original languages of the Bible, students in most cases do not have difficulty reaching common understandings, and in the field of textual criticism as well. When pursued drastically, most or even all religious beliefs, particularly mythological elements could be decomposed and turn to naught or even negated. Religion is not science after all.

Then some investigative persons like me who have reached above frame of mind, in turn, select a religion as a way of life and as a source of values just like a spiritual home to stay in comfort. I selected to stay in Mormonism. Presently, I do not feel any restraint from anywhere and live in a sort of free state of mind. That may sound arrogant, but I do not mean it. In addition, it may sound somewhat contradictory however, I am fairly in support of the movement of Mormonism and try to cooperate with the local unit I belong to as far as a person like me is accepted.

Mormonism’s strong points are that it leads its adherents to live a positive life and to keep learning. I enjoyed attending conferences on Mormonism as I met many well-known researchers and scholars in the field. I felt I was supported by the association with these people. The Church has a dynamic strength in it. What I am now owes much to the teachings of the Church. As for valuing pious aspects of religion, Sterling M. McMurrin’s example influenced me who seemed to pay warm heed to Mormonism in his later years. Currently, I am reading the similar vein of attitude in Richard L. Bushman’s works such as “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling.”

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Jiro Numano is currently teaching Japanese at Star College of Harbin Normal University in Harbin, China. Until March 2009, he taught English as a Foreign Language at two universities in Japan since 1980. He is the son of Koji Numano and Shizu Uenishi. He was born in Shanghai, China, in 1941 but was raised in Nishinomiya, Japan, where he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1958, and attended Osaka University of Foreign Studies 1959-1963 and learned Chinese. Later in 1974 he attended Brigham Young University in Provo and earned M.A. in Linguistics. He edited and published a bi-annual independent Japanese journal “Mormon Forum” 1988-2000. He authored a book, “The Words I Encountered and their Contexts,” (Japanese) 1999. He also contributed a number of articles and papers to journals such as “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,” “Sunstone,” and “Journal of Mormon History.” His current interest is in the Christianity in China and the future of LDS Church in China. He has four children, one of whom lives in the U.S., and eleven grandchildren.










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関連記事 本ブログ 2006/02/10 私の宗教上の姿勢
2009/09/05 リベラルなモルモンという選択(転載)
2009/09/04 記念日に記す信仰の飛躍的変化(転載)

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