By David J. Stewart
"Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." -1st John 2:22
Photo to Right: A Shinto shrine in Japan, where idolatry is committed.
Woe unto the nation of Japan! They have rejected the God of the Bible. This is a general term for all the rites and other activities performed by a local community or a kin community mainly in a building called Jinja (or a shrine). Together with the Koshitsu Shinto (Shinto of the Imperial House), this is considered to form the core of the Shinto tradition.
Shintoism is purely a Japanese religion, the origins of which are buried in obscure ancient Japanese history. Shintoism is one of the world’s oldest religions. The Japanese name for their country is Nippon, which means "sun origin." The Japanese people love their land and believe that the Japanese islands were the very first in divine creation. Shintoism teaches that no other land is divine, making Japan uniquely special. To no surprise, Shintoism is not popular outside of Japan. Shintoism is of the Devil. I do not say this to be unkind or disrespectful towards Japanese people, but to be honest in consideration of the Word of God, the Bible.
Shintoism's Misguided Allegiance
Our loyalty and allegiance must rise above family and nation, and be directly only to God, our Creator. Jesus stated in Luke 14:26, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." Jesus was simply asking us to place God FIRST in our allegiance. Many men pledge allegiance to their nation, and are willing to go to war and kill innocent people because their godless leaders tell them to. This is not self-defense; but murder in the first-degree. This is what America has done to Iraq. Iraq never attacked the U.S.A., nor did they even threaten us. Yet, America has slaughtered their people. This is evil. The men of Japan did even more wickedly, when they invaded China in WWII, murdering millions of Chinese families. Many of the prisoners were experimented upon in Japan's Unit 731 torture labs, some even dissected while alive. God proclaims in Jeremiah 17:9-10, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." Romans 3:10 in the New Testament declares that ALL men are sinful, Japanese or American, Jew or Arab... "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." The truth is that ALL mankind needs Jesus Christ, the Savior who died upon the cross for our sins, to save us. Without Christ, men are doomed to destruction.
The Sinful Pride of Shinto Followers
There are two fundamental Shinto doctrines: 1) Japan is the country of the gods; 2) Its people are the descendants of gods. Of course, this is unbiblical. The Shinto concept of a divine descent of the Japanese people, as well as the alleged divine origins of their land, has given rise to a conviction of superiority over the rest of the world. With the exception of a few sects of Shintoism, the religion has neither a founder, sacred writings, nor any authoritative core of beliefs. There are numerous shrines throughout the country of Japan, where people worship a host of pagan deities. This is sinful idolatry, condemned in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4-5). Many Japanese people have altars in their home, in honor of one or more pagan deities. Just as Wiccan witches, the Japanese people who follow Shinto are worshipping a horde of false gods. This is demonism (1st Corinthians 10:20--"But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils." Please listen to me if you are a follower of Shintoism... you have been LIED TO! I completely understand that you love your nation, and that you love your parents; BUT your love for God MUST come first, or else you'll go to Hell for all eternity in your sinful unbelief. We are plainly warned in Revelation 20:15, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Jesus warned in John 3:3, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Have you been born again? The Bible is not a Jewish Book, it is God's Word, given to ALL mankind.
"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." -Psalm 10:4
Until the end of World War II, Japanese children were taught at school that the emperors were descendants of the sun-goddess, Ama-laterasu. Amaterasu had allegedly given the imperial house the divine right to rule. In 1946, in a radio broadcast to the Japanese people, Emperor Hirohito repudiated his divine right to rule. Could you imagine if American children were taught that U.S. Presidents were descendants of gods? Instead, American children are taught that they are their own gods (humanism). The world is filled with idolatry. Oh that men would turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sins, for the salvation of their soul... "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It should seem very peculiar to honest Japanese people that Shinto excludes the rest of the world. So how does the rest of the world find eternal bliss apart from Shinto, a Japanese religion? In sharp contrast, the Word of God teaches that Jesus Christ invites ALL mankind to be saved... "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:12-13). Christianity is not a Jewish religion. In fact, MOST Jews today reject Jesus Christ as their Savior, just as they did 2000 years ago. God gave us the Bible through Israel, but that in no way gives the Jews special privilege (Acts 10:34).
Meaning of Shinto
The word Shinto comes from the Chinese word Shen-tao, which means "the way of the gods." This term was not applied to the religion until the sixth century A.D., when it became necessary in order to distinguish it from Buddhism. A major feature of Shinto is the concept of kami. Kami refers basically to the concept of sacred power in both animate and inanimate objects. Ninian Smart elaborates upon the idea of kami in the following manner:
"Shintoism displayed, and still displays, a powerful sense of the presence of gods and spirits in nature. These spirits are called kami, literally, 'superior beings,' and it is appropriate to venerate them. The kami are too numerous to lend themselves to a systematic ordering or stable hierarchy, but among them the sun goddess Amaterasu has long held a central place in Shinto belief."
Of course, this is demonism. There are only two sources of spiritual power in this world: God and Satan. The Bible condemns polytheism, i.e., the teaching that there are many gods. We read in Isaiah 45:5, "I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me." There is ONLY one God! The Biblical teaching of the Godhead does not conflict this truth. God has manifest, or revealed, Himself to mankind in the form of a Triune Godhead; namely, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet, one God in omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. The word "Godhead" is mentioned 3 times in the New Testament (i.e., if you have a reliable Bible. I only use the King James Bible). There is only one God, the Lord of the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:4). Yet, we clearly see the Godhead in such Scriptures as Colossians 2:9... "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Shinto is entirely incompatible with the Word of God. Shinto and Christianity are diametrically opposed to each other.
The basic place for worship in Shinto is at one of the numerous shrines covering the country of Japan. Although many Shintoists have built altars in their homes, the center of worship is the local shrine. Since Shinto has a large number of deities, a systematic worship of all such deities is impossible. The Shinto religious books acknowledge that only a few deities are consistently worshipped, the chief being the sun-goddess, Amaterasu.
The fact that the highest object of worship from whom the divine ancestors arose is a female rather than a male deity makes Shinto unique among the larger world religions.
Shinto and Christianity are Diametrically Oppossed
The religion of Shinto is in opposition to Christianity. In its purest form it teaches the superiority of the Japanese people and their land above all others on earth and that is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Bible. According to the Bible, the Jews are God's chosen people through whom He entrusted His words. "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 3:1,2). However, though the Jews are God's chosen people, they have never been designated better than any other people (Galatians 3:27), and they've never been taught that they were direct descendants of the gods, as Shinto teaches its people. Thus, Shinto is Satanic!
Shinto fosters a pride and a feeling of superiority in the Japanese people. This type of pride is condemned by God, who says, "...There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). The same lesson was learned by the Apostle Peter who concluded: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). Since Shinto teaches the basic goodness and divine origin of its people, there is no need for a personal Savior. This is the natural consequence of assuming one's race is of celestial origin. Christianity teaches that all of us need a savior because our sins need to be punished. God, through Jesus Christ, took that punishment on Himself so that all mankind could be brought back into a proper relationship with Him. Jesus plainly stated in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Furthermore, the Kojiki and Nihongi, as the basis of the Shinto myth, are found to be hopelessly unhistorical and totally unverifiable. The stories and legends contained in these works are a far cry from the historically verifiable documents of both the Old and New Testaments. The concept of kami is both polytheistic and crude, surrounded by much superstition. This is in sharp contrast to the God of the Bible, whose ways are righteous and beyond reproach. Immorality abounds in the stories of Shinto; while the Bible is quick to condemn acts of immorality (Matthew 5:28).
Shinto finds little acceptance apart from Japan since everything of Japanese origin is exalted and that which is non-Japanese is abased. Shinto is a textbook example of a religion invented by man to explain his ancestry and environment while taking no consideration of anyone but himself. While Shinto teaches that the kami might commune with those who have made themselves worthy through ritual purification, the God of the Bible promises to be present to anyone who calls upon Him for forgiveness (Romans 10:13). No amount of personal purification (a form of salvation by works) will make a person worthy of the presence of God in his life (Romans 4:5). Only faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross can accomplish cleansing from sin and make us acceptable to a holy God... “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). What a wonderful Savior!
"Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." -Acts 4:10-12