"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
But this time I will be comparing the Christian philosophy to the quality philosophy of Kaizen to draw a more distinct parallel between two known philosophies from two different cultures. One of the philosophies is Biblical and the other secular...both based in a premise of quality and continuous improvement. As an apologist I see things like this as an opportunity to reach those unreached especially in places like the Far East where there are hundreds of millions or even billions of people that do not know Jesus Christ. One of the main tools or methodologies of an apologist like myself is to meet people where they are at, speak in their terms and use their own examples to try and win them to the Faith. Paul did this and that is what I will attempt now. It may fail but at least I have tried.
First off, as I have already noted, what I am about to do...using a worldly philosophy to get a biblical point across (to spread the message of my faith) is in itself...biblical. It finds its pattern in Acts 17:18-33 in Paul the Apostle's sermon to the Greeks at Mars' Hill (the Areopagus or the Hill Of Ares) in Athens.
A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."~ Acts 17:18-31
Paul takes the "Altar to the unknown God" and tells the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in their terms that this "Unknown God" is in reality, "...the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands" and "'For in him we live and move and have our being" and " As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' " Paul is directly linking the Greek philosophy to the Christian belief of the Great "I AM" of the Old Testament that is knowable and does not have a name per se but is the eternally existent "I AM". Paul had his hearers captivated until he mentions resurrection from the dead which turns them off and drives many away because of the Gnostic (and other philosophies) belief that the physical or materiality, and the human body, is perceived as evil and constrictive, a deliberate prison for its inhabitant.
Anyway....on with my premise
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I. Thought One: It Becomes You
Christianity & Kaizen: Kaizen is what amounts to a daily quality process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. A Christian life does the same. Christians strive daily to sanctify and improve our lives (and others) to make them more Christ-like. As I have stated last year in my original post on the Bible being a Quality Control manual called The Bible: Quality Control and Continuous Improvement, this daily process is to ingrain a behavior of quality into the system. Quality becomes you. In the case of a Christian, holiness and righteous behavior are the manifest traits. This wears off on others in Discipleship which is to make another disciple which continues the chain that builds the Kingdom of God which is a corporate body/community.
Sanctification towards holiness is similar to the idea of Kaizen in that it is also a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work ("muri"), and teaches people how to interact with their work using the biblical principles where Kaizen seeks to apply scientific method. In turn this allows Christians to learn how to learn to spot and eliminate wickedness and unrighteousness in peoples lives. In Kaizen it seeks to eliminate waste and superfluous action and wasted time/material, etc.
II: Thought Two: Making Us More - From Less
The next step or explanation is where I see the sanctification (make more holy) process of Biblical Christianity seems to walk in lock-step with Kaizen philosophy as a pattern of behavior but also begins to diverge as a means to an end or where it's ultimate goal or end result differ. In all, the Biblical Process seeks to take a more spiritual approach to make us more like God or Christ. We do this by humbling ourselves and making ourselves less...by becoming servants of the Most High God and serving our fellow human beings to achieve a common goal...Salvation in Christ.
Philippians 2:5-11 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In all, the Kaizen Process seeks to take a more humanized approach and there is little or no focus on spiritual aspects to help workers to increase quality or productivity. It is similar and parallel to Christianity yes, but with two totally different end results in mind. Both begin with the intent that they are for improvement but they both use a different standard as a benchmark for final product or end result and diverge in methodology.
The Bible wants us Godly and heavenly minded, the Kaizen philosophy wants us people and earthly minded. 1 Corinthians sums this up nicely.
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." 1 Corinthians 1:25
Paul later goes on to say this in 1 Corinthians 3:
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19
Paul is essentially saying that we can compare the wisdom of humans to God's wisdom as a benchmark (as God's pattern would be perfect) but in the end we must acknowledge the superiority of God's philosophy and wisdom. Why? Because God's wisdom, which is the revelation of righteousness and His Son Jesus Christ.... grants us eternal life if we accept Him. Why is this superior? Can we take Kaizen beyond the grave? No. What we can do is use it as a point of comparison here but it is useless knowledge/philosophy on the eternal scale of things. Where it becomes useful and wise from God's standpoint is when it helps us bridge a gap to win people to the Christian philosophy and eternal life.
III. Thought Three: Underlying Premise-Unity of Mind (in Jesus Christ)
...and this is where things become strikingly clear between these two paralleled side-by-side.
The Kaizen philosophy is to nurture a company's human resources as much as it is to praise and encourage participation in kaizen activities. Successful implementation of Kaizen requires the participation of individual workers in the improvement so that it becomes a corporate mentality or culture. People at all levels of an organization participate in kaizen, from the CEO down individual stakeholders.
The Biblical way of life is to nurture a corporate body/community of believer's resources by praising God and to encourage participation in Biblical activities such as fellowship (κοινωνία /kiononia) that are basically things like corporate worship (going to church) or group prayer. It should also encourage Christians to adhere to Biblical philosophy that helps build up individual adherence (devotion) also known as sanctification. The two would conceivably run hand-in-hand. Individual adherence (devotion) helps build others up or edifies them thereby individual sanctification leads to corporate sanctification. Successful Christianity requires the participation of all individual believers in the improvement so that it becomes community mentality or body with Jesus Christ as the unifying Head, as the unifying focus and purpose (the benchmark). People at all levels of an organization participate in Church or the Body of Christ from the pastor and elders to the individual laity.
Here again we see a extremely close parallel. The Bible / Christianity spells out and clarifies the underlying principle better then the Kaizen philosophy here. The underlying premise in both is unity of mind and purpose. In Christianity it is a unified body and mind towards Christ and unified thought towards quality and continuous improvement in Kaizen...which ironically is also a Christian's goal when referring to sanctification (continuous improvement) and holiness (quality). A Christian would go as far as to say that the only way you could even have unity of mind in a philosophy like Kaizen would be to have Jesus Christ as the "cornerstone" or the unifying factor at the base of the philosophy. The cornerstone on which all the other blocks are laid so they remain perpendicular and straight on the foundation. Hence the idea that all stones on a cornerstone stay aligned to the cornerstone....which is Christ. Perfect unity, perfect alignment...perfect quality (holiness). This is why Christian's preach and teach Christ crucified. It is the cornerstone of our Faith. Without Christ's Resurrection from the dead...Christianity falls apart.
Jesus Prays for All Believers in John 17:20-23…“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Paul also alludes to Church unity all over Ephesians…
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. ~Ephesians 2:19-22
IV. Thought Four: Point-by-Point Contrasts
Kaizen: Is a quality philosophy that can be individual, small group, or large group.
Christianity: Is a Christian holiness philosophy that can be individual, small group, or large group.
Matthew 18:20~" For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
Kaizen: At corporations it is usually a local improvement within a workstation or local area and involves a small group in improving their own work environment and productivity.
Christianity: In the Body of the Church it is often localized improvements within peoples individual homes or local congregations by working on individual relationships with God and then immediate family/local church members that are the impetus to do so at higher levels of the Church-at-large or the Church universal. The key is starting with improving one's relations with Jesus Christ first. Thereby synchronizing ones behaviors and mindset to a known perfect quality standard of holiness just like everyone else in the Faith should be doing.
Ephesians 4:1-6~Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ephesians passage about unity of the Church corporate body]
It goes on in later verses to state...
Ephesians 4:11-16 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming [poor quality processes or standards created by sin]. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ [The perfect standard or benchmark of holiness]. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Kaizen: This localized small unit or group is often guided through the kaizen process by a line supervisor; sometimes this is the line supervisor's key role...to be a steward of workers who will eventually pass on the exact same philosophy to the next generation of adherents to the philosophy.
Christianity: This localized small unit or group is called a family and is often guided through the Christian process by Christian parent; sometimes this is the parents key role...to be a steward of children who will eventually pass on the exact same philosophy to the next generation or family. Its called discipleship. We see it in The Shema of the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9~These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Many of these commands and statutes us the words "thou shalt" or "thou shall". These are quality terminologies. these are requirements to assure that an individual adheres to the stipulations put forward. Why? To assure that one improves in holiness and movement towards Godly living (sanctification). "Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads? " and "Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates?" Is this a Biblical form or work instructions for holiness and sanctification for individual households? I believe it can be seen that way.
Proverbs 22:6~Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
[More Sanctification, Holiness and Quality Priniciples to follow in Part II...]