Date of Award

Spring 2022

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Master of Arts



School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Nancy Pineda-Madrid


Throughout Christianity's tumultuous history in Japan, there have been several traditions which have stood independent from Western missionary churches. Two such traditions are the Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) and Uchimura Kanzo's Non-Church Movement. Both have interpreted Christianity in ways that make sense within their own historical and cultural contexts. Japan's Hidden Christians were forced by strict persecution to practice their faith in secret, where they developed ways to disguise their practices. Meanwhile, at the dawn of a new era of religious freedom in Japan, Uchimura Kanzo formed a new way to practice Christianity that both integrated Japanese traditions such as bushido while rejecting typical structures of church hierarchy and organization. Through this project I hope to give a voice and proper agency to the often overlooked indigenized ways of practicing Christianity. Japanese Christian communities have forged their own religious practices that force us to expand our understanding of what it means to be Christian and what Christianity can look like in the lives of everyday people. The focus shifts away from church authorities and dogmatic proclamations, thus empowering and recognizing the authority of lay practitioners to make their own meaning from the Christian tradition.

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Religion Commons