In a culture becoming more and more obsessed with Eastern mindsets and practices, samurai have achieved a special place in many Western minds after being portrayed in films, books and television shows. But while many people enjoying the romanticized view of these “servant warriors,” few really understand the principles that truly lay behind the actions and discipline of the samurai.

In his new book, “The Way of the Christian Samurai: Reflections for Servant Warriors of Christ,” Paul Nowak seeks to expound upon societies knowledge and interest in samurai to help explain what principles the samurai truly lived by, and in doing so, show how Christians can, even in their ordinary lives, become warriors for God in a way many seldom even think about.

By examining the writings of several of the more prominent samurai and comparing it to scripture, Nowak draws out several principles that samurai held at the forefront of their daily lives and shows how many of the same teachings can be found in the Bible. The book is split into three segments: Service, Self-Sacrifice and the Pursuit of Perfection and Resolve. Each section takes portions of writings from samurai and expounds upon them, and then shows how the principles contained in each relate to a Christian’s daily walk with God.

“I divided the book into three sections for the three aspects of Service, Self-Sacrifice and Resolve as I found that the citations from the samurai writings fell into one of those three categories in relation to similar themes in Christian teachings,” Nowak said.

While many aspects of Bushido, which means “way of the warrior” and was what the samurai followed, can be taken as helpful advice on how to live as a Christian, Nowak is quick to point out in the book that one should not equate Christianity with Bushido, or assume that every teaching that samurai followed lines up with what Christian’s believe.

“It is very important to remember that the way of the samurai … is not a substitute or an equivalent of the Christian Way found through the teaching, example, and life of Jesus Christ,” Nowak said in the book. “However, there are many common teachings, and the Eastern insight can be a refreshing and enlightening look at the Christian faith as we know it.”

Nowak takes these common teachings and develops them through quotations of both samurai writings and Christian scripture. In the “Service” section, he emphasizes the samurai’s role as a retainer, or servant, who put his master above himself in everything he did. He makes the point that even a samurai who was not especially talented could be an outstanding retainer by simply living for his master, and then reinforces this concept and relates it to Christianity by quoting, among other passages, many of Jesus’ teachings on servitude, like his numerous parables that deal with this issue. In the segment on “Self-Sacrifice,” by quoting the many New Testament passages that encourage a Christian to deny themselves in order to follow Christ, Nowak shows that a servant’s life should not be his own, but should be focused on his master. He then connects it to Bushido by relating a series of stories of samurai who decided that their lives were not their own, and as such were able to do many amazing things in service to their masters. By considering themselves already dead, they were able to proceed without fear in order to better serve. Nowak discusses “Resolve” in his final section on the principles of the samurai, and compares the single-minded servitude of the samurai to the ideal way of service a Christian should strive for. Many troubles and challenges can be overcome by simply resolving beforehand that whatever comes your way, you will simply take it one step at a time, as it comes.

In this book, Nowak takes a long-mysterious, romanticized group and relates them to contemporary Christians. By looking at the principles of samurai, he says that we can live our lives in a manner to greater serve Christ and be an example in the world.

“The strongest lesson from the way of the samurai regarding evangelism is the importance of example,” Nowak said. “There are several passages in which the samurai are reminded that how they treat others or act in public will reflect on their master – a lesson we Christians must always be mindful of as the world watches how we serve our Lord, Jesus Christ.

“I was struck by the insight into everyday life that these warriors had expressed, and in particular the similarities of some teachings to Biblical truths [when] I was first introduced to Bushido. The book has something for anyone who is looking for a fresh or different presentation of the Christian ideals with which we are already familiar.”

ISBN # – 0-9772234-6-9

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