The Myōtei Dialogues is the first complete English translation one of the most important works of early Japanese Christianity. Fukansai Habian’s
Myōtei mondō (1605) presents a sharp critique of the three main Japanese traditions, Buddhism, Shintō, and Confucianism, followed by an explanation of the main tenets of Christianity specifically aimed at a Japanese audience. Written by a convert, it is of importance not merely because it shows us how the Christian message was presented by a Japanese to other Japanese, but also for what it reveals about the state of the three native traditions at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
This publication by Muto Kazuo is a significant Christian contribution to the predominantly Buddhist “Kyoto School of Philosophy.” Muto proposes a philosophy of religion in order to overcome the claim for Christian exclusivity, as proposed by Karl Barth and others. On such a foundation, he investigates the possibilities for mutual understanding between Buddhism and Christianity. Thereby he engages in a critical exchange with the Kyoto School philosophers Nishida, Tanabe, and Nishitani. Throughout his discourse, Muto applies their method of logical argument (the “dialectic” of
soku) to the dialogue between Christianity and Buddhism. He thus opens up new perceptions of Christian faith in the Asian context and, together with his Buddhist teachers, challenges the modern Western dialectical method of reasoning.