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Mission, Liturgy, and the Transformation of Identity

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This article considers the significance of liturgical worship for the purpose of overcoming the problem of intellectualism and rationalism that have been prevalent in the modern Christian missions since the 19th century. Despite its centrality in Christian life, worship has been given a marginal place in the discussions of Christian mission. The author, however, maintains that it should play a crucial and powerful role in mission at the age when human identity is increasingly becoming fluid and problematic, as it is capable of producing profound spiritual transformation among worshippers and thus establishing in them a new identity centered on Christ without eradicating “primordial attachments.” This is because liturgy has a holistic nature with its rich symbolism and is able to reach the non-rational level of personality where the primordial attachments operate. The author, who teaches courses in Christianity at a Christian college in Kobe, Japan, takes as his starting point the apparent impasse of Christian higher education in today’s Japan which still operates on the Enlightenment model of mission with its emphasis on knowledge as the foundation of faith. He takes advantage of some insights of recent Ritual Studies to illuminate the identity-forming character of liturgical rituals.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor of Christian StudiesKobe Shoin Women’s University Kobe, Japan, Email: kmymt@bd6.so-net.ne.jp

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