This page provides information on why COTARI does the type of research we do, and describes short-term projects and long-term projects, and also provides related resources.
Why We Do Research
COTARI is doing research to fill the gap between the present practice of Christian evangelism / missions and the way Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul did. There are two major areas: short-term projects and long-term projects.
Short-term projects deal with some specific topics such as strategy, attitude, historical lessons and other topics that Jesus and Paul used implicitly but modern Christians and Christian missionaries do not appear to follow. Each of these projects could be completed in one to two years by a single researcher. The outcome of this research is produced in the form of theological papers or small books or booklets. These topics are primarily to follow the behavior patterns of Jesus and Paul. Presently, most people follow specific words spoken by our Lord and Paul, but their behaviors were mostly ignored. When Jesus said “Follow me,” He meant that we should follow not only His words but also His entire life, including the methods, attitudes, strategy, behavior patterns etc.
Long-term projects deal primarily with the method of communicating the Gospel to peoples of other faiths. These projects require several years to complete with many participants. The teachings of Jesus and Paul always started from the position of their listeners. This sounds quite simple and easy to do, but modern Christians appear to have forgotten this rule. In many TV discussions, we often observe that opposing debaters never agree on anything, they only try to express their own views while ignoring the other side’s views. This is true in many situations we encounter in our lives, including the US budget or tax discussions between Republican and Democratic parties or between Congress and the President. One example from Jesus can be observed in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He told them what they already know from the Old Testament in the beginning, and then told them what is better in comparison to what is in the Old Testament. This also revealed what God had in His heart for us. This was Jesus´ secret for effective communication to Israelites at the time. One way to follow this method is to provide “interpretation of other religions’ scriptures through the Bible.” By having such research done, we can indeed gain understanding about peoples of other faiths, and can preach the Gospel to those in other faiths by starting with their own scripture, as Jesus did with the Israelites.
The research titles and short abstracts are provided below. Planned research or research underway may change somewhat as the research progresses.
- General Guidelines for Interpreting Other Religions’ Scriptures through the Bible (completed and available in this website. To view it, click the blue lettered title).(Abstract) This paper lays out the guidelines to be used in interpreting other religions scriptures through the Bible. These guidelines are definitely needed to provide an interpretation as objective as possible. Without these guidelines, interpretation could become subjective. Also such interpretations would be mutually beneficial to Christianity and to other faiths. This paper will be continually updated as the interpretation projects are carried out.
- Specific Guidelines for the Interpretation of the Qur’an through the Bible (completed and available in this website. To view it, click the blue lettered title).(Abstract) This paper lays out the guidelines to be used in interpreting the Qur’an through the Bible. These guidelines are specific to its unique historical and literary background and for its relationship with other Islamic literature.
- Qur’anism: Why Islam Should Follow the Qur’an Only Instead of the Traditions (completed and available in this website. To view it, click the blue lettered title).(Abstract) This paper explains Qur’anism, a movement within Islam to follow only Qur’an, rather than the traditions represented by Hadith and Sunna. This is a recognized (though minority) perspective within Islam. The paper covers comparisons with the COTARI perspective.
- Application of Social Psychology to Missions and Evangelism (completed and available in this website. To view it, click the blue lettered title).(Abstract) This paper explains how understanding and applying social psychology can improve the effectiveness of missionary and evangelistic efforts.
- A Fresh New Interpretation of Romans 11:17
(completed and published as a booklet at Amazon.com with a title Grafted onto the Olive Tree. Also a summary of this book is to be submitted to several missiological journals)
(Abstract) This paper provides the Biblical support for frontier mission methodologies such as Insider Movement, C5 Movement, and Church Planting Movement. Lacking Biblical support and solid rules to follow, apprehension was raised against some of these mission methodologies. It reviews the previous interpretations on the allegory of grafting wild olive branches to the cultivated olive tree in Rom. 11.17, and renders an exegetical analysis to resolve the past conflicting interpretations to provide an interpretation that is consistent with the overall context of Rom. 9-11. In addition, this paper presents a new missiological interpretation that includes (1) that the cultures of both the evangelized and evangelizing groups should be purified and (2) that the cultural identities of both groups should be preserved by keeping those elements of the cultures or religions that are consistent with what Jesus Christ teaches. This interpretation is called the reverse grafting principle and aims to achieve ‘unity in diversity’ instead of ‘unity in uniformity’ in Christian mission work. An extensive Biblical and historical supports for this new interpretation is provided.
- A Fresh New Interpretation of Romans 11:17
- A Christian Attitude towards Peoples of Other Religions (under way)(Abstract) People say that attitude is everything in business and many other areas of our lives. For mission and evangelism, our attitude towards peoples of other religions matters greatly. This paper reviews the traditional Christian attitude established from the studies and theologies in comparative religions and missiology, and evaluates these positions. The traditional positions include exclusivism or particularism, inclusivism and. Pluralism. In addition, such positions as evangelistic, univeralistic, conservative, and liberal positions are discussed. All these theories assume that the same should be applied to “you” and “me.” Then the attitude of Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul is reviewed as described in the Bible. Their attitude towards non-believers (“you”) is based on grace and humility, and accommodating, but their attitude towards self (“me”) was strict. Based on this Biblical teaching, a new position is proposed: nurturing attitude. This attitude fits the attitude of Jesus and Paul, and should be the attitude of missionaries and evangelists.
- Follow Jesus to Reach Out to Muslims and Peoples of Other Faiths! [underway]
(Abstract) Most Christians think that missiology today is the most up-to-date science of reaching unbelievers with the gospel of Jesus Christ and is more advanced than any time in the past. However, many studies done so far focus on the sayings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, but not so much on how they did it. Paul reached out to Gentiles who did not have a religion similar to Great Religions of the World, but Jesus preached the Gospel to the Jews who had a solid religion called Judaism. Therefore, we should follow the behavior patterns of Jesus instead of Paul to reach out to peoples of other faiths. Jesus could have created a brand new scripture as a new authority but exclusively used the Old Testament instead to teach Israelites while He removed the need to follow the majority (perhaps 80 to 90 %) of the Old Testament. He also commanded His disciples to go to the “lost children of Israel”, even though He was recognized as universal Savior of the human race, This paper looks into these questions. The Old Testament had the highest authority over the ancient Israelites, and He used the established authority to teach them. This is a very effective way of communicating the Gospel to Jews. We should therefore preach the Gospel through the Qur’an. His command to go to the lost children of Israel was to protect the first Jerusalem church, using the social psychological principle of “out-group derogation and in-group favoritism.” Finally, the implication of these paradoxical commands of Jesus is discussed for the application to Christian evangelism and missions, emphasizing the need for interpreting other faiths’ scriptures through proper hermeneutics to obtain the true message in them and the need for new believers to gradually develop the new church following their original socio-religious background.
- Application of the Principles of Behavioral Science for the Interpretation of the Bible [planned]
(Abstract) In the past, many scientific principles were used in the interpretation of the Biblical verses. One area of the sciences has been ignored in the interpretations of the Bible: Behavioral Science. Behavioral science studies the decision processes and communication strategies such as in social psychology, modern communication theory, psychobiology, social neuroscience, social cognition, cognitive science, etc. It is relatively young and was mostly developed after the end of the Second World War. It shows how people make decisions as individuals and as a part of a group. Many verses in the Bible may carry a new meaning through this effort and give additional insight for application to missiology.
- Let the Qur’an Interpret the Qur’an [planned]
(Abstract) One of the effective ways of interpreting the Bible is to let the Bible interpret the Bible. Typically, with this approach, all the related Biblical verses are considered together to provide the accurate message God intended to reveal to human beings. Similarly, when we try to interpret a Qur’anic verse, the intended message of God should be discovered from the collection of all the related verses. This approach prevents a prejudiced interpretation based on one or two verses.
- Human Limitations When We Try to Follow and Imitate Jesus [planned]
(Abstract) When we try to follow Jesus Christ and imitate His behavior, we should be keenly aware that we are merely a human being and no “Second Person of Godhead.” This, however, does not mean that we should never imitate His behavior. We should understand the intent of His actions and achieve the goal that Jesus tried to achieve by the application of a modern scientific approach.
- Why Jesus Never Left Any Written Document? [planned]
(Abstract) Unlike the founders of other religions, Jesus did not leave a single page of written document. This paper studies the impact of such astonishing behavior of Jesus. Moses left the Pentateuch and Muhammad left the Qur’an. Other religions have similar written document from the founder of the religion. On the other hand, having no written document from the founder of the Christianity allowed many Christian theologians such as Augustin and Aquinas to rely on rational thinking for theology. This paper examines the relationship between having no written document from Jesus and rational theology of Christianity.
- Empathize, Accept, Tell the Truth (E. A. T,) in Love for Peoples of Other Faiths [planned]
(Abstract) This paper describes a communication method that has been known to be effective in changing a person’s character, from clinical psychology. This communication method requires that one should empathize with the other party and then accept the other party as they are, and then be genuine in love or tell the truth in love. Changing one’s faith from one religion to another religion requires inner personal transformation, similar to changing one’s character. This communication method is reviewed against what Jesus, Paul and Peter did and compared to the communication method of current Christian missionaries.
- Historical Review of Jesus’ Behavior Patterns for Effective Evangelism [planned]
(Abstract) Jesus exhibited many peculiar behaviors that ordinary men would not do. In the past, it was all covered by such explanations as “because he was the Son of God” or “because He was a Jew” or “because it was prophesied in the Old Testament,” etc. Instead of these explanations, this paper tries to explain all the behaviors of Jesus from the perspective of behavior science. When we understand such scientific reasons, we might not do exactly the same thing Jesus did but could achieve the same goal that Jesus achieved and therefore could follow Jesus in all those areas previously considered impossible for men to follow Jesus.
- A Historical Review of Church History on the Role of Other Philosophies and Faiths for Enabling Christian Maturity (under way)
(Abstract) This paper reviews the interactions that Christian Church has had with other philosophies and religions. In the beginning of Christianity, the philosophy of Plato influenced the church greatly. The philosophy of Aristotle influenced scholasticism of Medieval church and Protestant church greatly. After the fall of Constantinople, many Greek scholars were forced to migrate into Europe, and became the seed for Renaissance that led to the blossoming theological works in Germany and elsewhere, including liberalism. Any of these encounters were not welcomed at the start, but eventually led to further maturing of Christianity. Up until now, there has not been any significant interaction between Christianity and the so-called great religions of the world except some superficial interactions. Christianity has been expanded by absorbing those people who did not have any serious religions of their own. In the coming year, interactions with other major religions and philosophies are unavoidable. Christianity should take these encounters as opportunities to further its maturity.
- Completion of the Great Commission Requires Reaching Out to Peoples of Other Faiths [planned]
(Abstract) The Great Commission is not optional but is a mandate for Christianity. This paper examines the biggest obstacle for achieving the Great Commission as in Matthew 24:14, before the Coming of Jesus Christ. It reviews the trend of the world population distribution among major religions and the difficulty that Christianity encountered in evangelizing the regions dominated by the great religions of the world. It also outlines the tasks to be undertaken to achieve the goal of the Great Commission throughout the world including peoples of other faiths.
- Let My People Go Free! [planned]
(Abstract) This paper examines the history of liberating peoples of the world starting American revolution, French revolution, evolution of British Empire toward democracy, and their influence to the countries of the world. In particular, democratization of many developing countries after the Second World War created the world-wide trend for moving toward democracy and liberating peoples from the yoke of tyranny that people of the world has been suffering as soon as the history of the organized nations began. The modern day “Arab Spring” is part of this trend. This may be compared to Moses demand to Pharaoh to let his people go. Unless God is behind such liberation trend, it could not have been sustained so long in the human history. In a way, God is telling to all dictators, tyrants, and despots, “Let my people go free!” When peoples get liberated, we, as Christians and as those who tasted the freedom God gave us, should help those liberated peoples with essential tools to achieve the ideal society we all cherish. This paper lists all the tools they would need: education, economic development, freedoms of religions and press, upholding human rights etc. Above all, the right to follow one’s own conscience in every day life instead of coercion from others. One of the important elements of this is the platform in these new societies to accept Christianity as well as their own faith, based on individual’s conscience. If no such right is provided to individuals in these new societies, they are not liberated as God intended and further struggle is ahead of them.
- How Should We Open a Closed Society? [planned]
(Abstract) Many society are closed to Christianity legally or socially by creating a very antagonistic laws and/or atmospheres. A systematic study has to be carried out regarding how to open such societies. We cannot kill everyone who does not follow our faith, but we should rationally think through, and find a way open such societies. This is good for their own sake as well as for Christian mission perspective. Democratization and education are obvious route for this transformation, but there are other avenues and also more specific things one can do in the broad category of democratization and education.
- Interpretation of the Quran through the Bible
This is the first project in this series, and will take more than 10 years to complete. The results will be published as books, one for missiologists, missionaries, specialists in the field and pastors and another for lay Christians and the general public. This project provides the text-to-text comparison between the Bible and the Qur’an, and finds many misunderstandings of the Qur’an by Christians as well as by Muslims to our surprise. We are finding the text of the Qur’an is very much supportive of the Biblical teaching and this project provides a way to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Qur’an. Status: This project is actively under way with the project team formed, including three scholars as advisors for this project (two Christian scholars and one Islamic scholar). It would require 30 Review Packages to complete this project. Review packages Number One through Number Four are complete, comprising Introduction, and Surahs 1 through 4 of the Qur’an.
- Interpretation of the Quran through the Bible
- Interpretation of Other Religious Scriptures through the Bible
Interpretation projects for other religions have not started yet, but COTARI plans to do the following:
- Interpretation of Hindu Scriptures through the Bible
This will include Vedas, Upanishada, and Bhagavad Gita as their primary scriptures.
- Interpretation of Buddhist Scriptures through the Bible
Buddhists have over 200 scriptures, but this project will cover the 13 most important scriptures (Diamond Sutra, Lotus Blossom Sutra, Surangama Sutra, Lankavatara Scripture etc.).
- Interpretation of Confucian Classics through the Bible
Confucianism has Analect, Great learning, Rule of the means, and Mencius as the four important writings, but it could include the entire 13 classics.
- Interpretation of Taoist Scriptures through the Bible
Taoism has Tao-Te-Ching and Chuang Tzu as their primary scriptures.
- Interpretation of Other Scriptures or Books through the Bible
As the interest of people is raised for some other scriptures or books, additional projects will be undertaken.
- Interpretation of Hindu Scriptures through the Bible