The opening of Japanese ports to Western trade and thought at the end of the Tokugawa period necessarily involved a readjustment of the official policy toward Christianity. Since the early seventeenth century Christian beliefs and observances had been rigidly proscribed. Now the country was assailed by bands of missionaries, principally American Protestants, persistently evangelistic in purpose. Beyond that, the legal system, literature, and whole culture of the West were so permeated tjy religious elements that many thinking Japanese reluctantly concluded that it was impossible to become modern without becoming Christian. Escape from this dilemma was to be provided, by Western thought itself, through new materialistic philosophies based upon science, and through the historical relativism of the higher Biblical criticism. The battle between science and theology, evolution and revelation, then raging in England and America was fought again in the Japanese press and lecture hall. This controversy involved intimately only a small minority of the Japanese people, principally students and intellectuals, and was definitely secondary to the broader conflict between conservative nationalism and all foreign religion. It was, however, a significant aspect of Japan's response to the West, of her process of acculturation.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.