Yoshimitsu Yoshihiko’s Theo-Humanistic Comparative Theology: Analogies of Mysticism, by Ko Takemoto

Yoshimitsu Yoshihiko was an early twentieth-century Japanese Catholic theologian. His main concern is how to align Christianity with modernity in Japan and with the Japanese spiritual heritage of his time. Yoshimitsu argues that Christian grace could embrace Japanese spiritual heritage, and the same grace could guide anthropocentrism within atheistic modernity in a theo-humanistic direction. He suggests that thinking of “mysticism” as “the élan of life” would bridge Christianity and Japanese spiritual heritage; beyond that, doing so would create an effective response to a modernity in which people are caught between the grandeur of scientific advancement and the poverty of metaphysical spiritual engagement based on this unique approach to “mysticism.” With this perspective in mind, Yoshimitsu explores interreligious studies including Christianity, the Advaita tradition in Hinduism, and Islam. His approach to “mysticism” is considered to be a theo- humanistic approach, rather than a theo-theistic approach, which has been common in the West. And while certainly we expect that the understanding of religion, in general and with regard to specific religions, has changed over time, there is still much of value in Yoshimitsu’s presentation of “analogies of mysticism” in various religions.

Keywords: comparative theology in Japan, Japanese Catholicism, analogies of mysticism, élan of life, theo-humanism

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