I am a Christian but also I have a strong belief in demons Japanese (no better Tototro http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096283/ why edited anyway) style like beer demon, wine demon maybe cigars demon anyway good food demon. Now this belief helps a lot because from that I understand they are strong forces and shall be treated with respect but controlled. But then the Bible says little about demons and almost always like 'pagan gods' or something. That is not exactly it, I think. But then as Christian Colridge style I have my doubts maybe I shall not believe in such demons?

A brief description from Wikipedia:

Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes. Their skin may be any number of colors, but red and blue are particularly common. (totoro is not like that)

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    Could you describe what these "Japanese-style demons" are like? Being a non-Christian culture, "Japanese demons" are probably something very different from what a Christian thinks of when they use the word. – Mason Wheeler Jul 10 '12 at 20:39
  • @Mason Those are like the Totoro in the movie imdb.com/title/tt0096283 as already I've answered to the reverend Dan – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 10 '12 at 20:52
  • same thing as described as the "enemy". – Greg McNulty Jul 10 '12 at 21:25
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    Could you clarify what you mean by "belief." Do you question whether you can accept their existence or do you question whether you can worship them? If it's the former, then @DanAndrews' answers holds - demons take on many forms, and the Bible (or at least the OT) has no problem identfying all sorts of foreign entities as demons. If it's the latter, and you choose to pay them honor, respect, and worship, then I start wondering about the whole 1st Commandment thing. – Affable Geek Jul 10 '12 at 23:33
  • @Affable Geek No one can't possibly worship Totoro, not even in the movie. Such man would be called an idiot and being Christian Lewis style I must avoid that at all costs, no? But certainly the existense of material world demons (like the beer demoan) goes without doubts unless you have never tasted beer enough. Permit me to use a metaphor! If the way as Christ has shown to us can be compared to a road then demons Totoro style can be compared to various road signs on that road. That was a metaphor. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 11 '12 at 6:27

Regarding Christianity in Japan, one useful bit of previous experience is the history of Christian missionaries in the 16th-17th centuries. Francis Xavier, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was one of them! They encountered particular issues with how best to introduce Japanese people to Christian belief, and one of the biggest problems they faced was the tendency to syncretism - the instinctive attempt to meld Christian beliefs into existing Buddhist and Shinto practice. In 1598, the confessional text Salvator Mundi / Sarobatōru Munji challenged Kirishitan (Japanese Christian) believers by asking:

Have you worshipped kami and hotoke since you became Kirishitan? If you have, how many times?
Have you worried about the punishment of kami and hotoke? Also, have you thought that they could give human beings punishment or providence?
Have you, according to pagan practices, performed the worshipping of the sun and the moon (tsuki machi hi machi), or called for a miko and an onmyōji for prayer ritual (kitō) and incantation?
Have you participated in pagan events even if you have remained Kirishitan inwardly?
Have you performed fortune-telling for yourself or made others do it? 1

I believe that the oni may be regarded essentially as a special kind of kami 2, at least for our purposes here. These early missionaries certainly saw regard for the kami as problematic, and tried to stop people from worrying about such issues as how to placate them through worship or offerings.

A belief in oni or kami, along the lines of traditional Shinto practice, is not compatible with the Christian world-view, since Christianity has different opinions about the nature and origin of spiritual beings. While Christianity does include a concept of "demon", these are not the same as Shinto "demons"; it's not reasonable to drop oni into the context of normal Christian belief. That is, it doesn't make sense to combine orthodox Christianity with a belief in oni, as oni are traditionally understood in Japanese culture. Indeed, the history of Christianity in Japan shows some problems with this approach. During the suppression of the religion, one form of "underground" Christianity transmuted into a blend of ancestor-worship/Shinto/Buddhism, with a few Christian-looking elements, but without any real connection to the core of the faith. (See this answer by AffableGeek on the Kakure Kirishitan.)

1. From Christianity in Early Modern Japan: Kirishitan Belief and Practice, Ikuo Higashibaba (BRILL, 2001), p 36-37
2. Encyclopedia of Shinto (trans. of Shinto jiten, Kobundo, 1994) under oni, senses 1 and 3, sees oni as a subcategory of kami

  • Ah, yes the Karuke Khirishitan. There's a question about them you may wish to link to. – Affable Geek Jul 11 '12 at 2:32
  • done! (I think that's the question you mean) – James T Jul 11 '12 at 3:36
  • Very good, Sir. I have upvoted without further thinking. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 11 '12 at 6:32
  • Yes, my reaction on reading the question title was: you should be asking if it makes sense for a Christian to believe in Japanese demons... – Benjol Jul 11 '12 at 9:45
  • @alex this is a sufficiently excellent answer, and probably the one that will help you the most, that you should accept it. Underneath the score is a place for a check mark. If you click it, it will turn green. That gives James T +15 (and you +2), and more importantly tells the world that this is the answer that is most helpful to you. – Affable Geek Jul 11 '12 at 10:19

I'm not sure that you're reading enough of the bible. Here are a couple examples of demons in the bible:

Mark 5:1-20 NIV (Too much to quote)

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

Luke 4:33-36 NIV

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are —the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!”

Acts 16:16-18 NIV

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

The bible usually describes demons as more spiritual and not physical entities such as you're describing. However I would be interested in reading the passages that you mention here: "...says little about demons and almost always like 'pagan gods' or something"

  • Alas! It doesn't answer my question anyway, alas. Those demons you like to quote are not same as those beer and wine demons Japanese style. But! That was true about me readig only maybe 2/8 of the Book. So I'm upvoting your answer in the name of Christ. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 10 '12 at 20:41
  • Sorry, I was showing: "But then the Bible says little about demons and almost always like 'pagan gods' or something." I'm not as familiar with Japanese demons as others. Paul's story could be a fortune telling demon... I guess. – user1054 Jul 10 '12 at 20:44
  • You may want to watch the Totoro movie imdb.com/title/tt0096283 for it shows one such demn! – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 10 '12 at 20:50

Demons like Totoro remind me of what Mark Twain wrote in his book concerning St. Joan of Arc

Now the several traditions were as I have said, some believing one and some another. One of them I knew to be the truth, and that was the last one. I do not say anything against the others; I think they were true, but I only know that the last one was; and it is my thought that if one keep to the things he knows, and not trouble about the things which he cannot be sure about, he will have the steadier mind for it—and there is profit in that. I know that when the Children of the Tree die in a far land, then—if they be at peace with God—they turn their longing eyes toward home, and there, far-shining, as through a rift in a cloud that curtains heaven, they see the soft picture of the Fairy Tree, clothed in a dream of golden light; and they see the bloomy mead sloping away to the river, and to their perishing nostrils is blown faint and sweet the fragrance of the flowers of home. And then the vision fades and passes—but they know, they know! and by their transfigured faces you know also, you who stand looking on; yes, you know the message that has come, and that it has come from heaven. Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc - Chapter 2

Western culture has largely lost its "fairy culture" and with it, has abandoned mythology (with the strange exceptions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy). Not having beer and cigar demons stifles the imagination, but having them doesn't do a lot for a personal relationship with Jesus.

If you take medieval Christianity with its fairies and dragons and contrast it with what you may hope to get out of a blend of paganism with Christianity in Japan, you'll realize that there are a few differences: For one thing, Christ can never be put in the pantheon with Japanese spirits. God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the Boss; Good spirits had better be pointing to the one true God, not ends in themselves; Bad spirits should be avoided (or better yet thrown into Hell).

There is certainly a lot children can learn from fairy stories or demon stories or whatever you want to call them. Totoro and Ponyo are good examples of stories I have no problem letting my kids watch. Harry Potter, not so much, it's just not as innocent.

But, since you asked the question, you can't be that naive. Therefore, the concrete answer is, avoid anything that would conflict with the first commandment "I am the Lord your God, you shall not have false gods before me". (I don't think that means though shalt have false gods after me).

  • Thanks Sir! I have upvoted! I understand now I must avoid Totoro in the name of Christ. I have never seen Totoro live though so that seems not to be a problem. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 11 '12 at 6:39

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