Silence: movie promotes Contemplative Spirituality and sanctions apostasy
“Silence” is the latest movie by Martin Scorsese, who also produced “The Last Temptation of Christ.” I have read several reviews by professing Christians who are recommending it without reservations. Additionally, the Dove Foundation awarded the movie 4 out of 5 doves. Charisma News asks, “Is Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Prophetic?” CBN also presented a rave review. Christianity Today entitled its review, “Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus.”
Another review in CT is entitled, “Silence Review: Hollywood’s Gift To The Church That Might Just Save Your Faith.” And what is the message of “Silence” that might save your life? The message of the movie is antithetical to true faith.
The title of Lumindeo’s review of the movie is, “Silence—A Christian’s Contemplative Guide.”  In the “About” section of the Lumindeo website it is described as “a network created by and for passionate followers of Jesus Christ.” If Lumindeo consists of passionate followers of Jesus Christ, why don’t they know that Christianity never grew in apostasy, but always in persecution and martyrdom?
Crosswalk likewise implies that it is a Christian-themed film with the statement, “Theologians, look no further: this movie is jam-packed with spiritual themes.” Spiritual themes, perhaps, but Christian themes? Not by any stretch. Crosswalk reveals a misunderstanding of true Christianity in the following statement.
“The Christians in the film are Jesuit Catholics…”
The truth is that “Silence” is not a Christian film. It was not produced by a demonstrable Christian and has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. National Catholic Reporter declares the movie as, “Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ is his most Catholic film.” I agree with that assessment. “Silence” is Roman Catholicism presented as true Christianity.
The major theme in “Silence” is about renouncing Christ when threatened by martyrdom. In fact, the apostate Father Ferreira urges the Jesuit Rodrigues to apostatize by insisting, “If Christ were here He would have acted. Apostatized. For their sake. Christ would certainly have done at least that to help men.”
In fact, Rodrigues is overtly presented as a “Christ” in the film and the people worshipped him. When he apostatized, it was to the people as if Christ had apostatized.
Furthermore, Ferreira’s statement is a heretical interpretation of Christ’s mission. Christ declared that He came to die for our sins. His sacrifice was to deliver us from the penalty of sin, death, and to provide for us eternal life. If we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. (Matthew 10:33)
Rodrigues hears a supernatural voice, presumably Christ, who tells him to apostatize. The voice says, “Come ahead now. It’s all right. Step on Me. I understand your pain. I was born into this world to share men’s pain. I carried this cross for your pain. Step.”
Rodrigues obeys the voice, steps on the fumie, and goes on to denounce Christianity. That iniquitous deed was followed by an apparent conversion to Buddhism. (Thomas Merton, the priest who introduced Contemplative Spirituality, also called The Silence, into Roman Catholicism, likewise became a Buddhist-sympathizing Catholic.)
The supernatural voice presented an extra-biblical revelation, which is actually heresy. God’s word declares that trampling on Christ is egregious and punishable by God.
“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” – Hebrews 10:29
Additionally, Christ did not come to “share men’s pain,” but to bear our sin and pay the penalty for it. Trampling on Christ is despising His sacrifice and rejecting His grace. Christ declared that no one can be His disciple unless they take up their cross and follow Him. A cross is to die on. “Silence” violates everything Christ taught about discipleship.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 16:25
In my opinion, the blood of the martyrs will cry out against Martin Scorsese and everyone involved in this film on the Day of Judgment.
“Silence” is also a spiritually seductive lure into Contemplative Spirituality. Throughout the movie there are poignant references to God’s silence. Rodrigues prays, but God does not answer. At one point he declares, “Despair is the greatest sin, but in the mystery of Your silence, it crowds my heart.”
In another scene Rodrigues ponders silently, “Lord, I feel the weight of their fate. Those who have died. Those who will die. Like the weight of Your silence.”
Makoto Fujimura, the cultural and special adviser to Scorsese during the film, stated, “…the film is not about the silence of God, but God’s voice in silence.”
Near the end of the movie the supernatural voice is heard again and declares, “I suffered beside you. I was never silent.”
Rodrigues, now a Buddhist, replies, “It was in the silence that I heard your voice.” In my opinion it is an unadulterated suggestion that as a Buddhist he heard Christ in The Silence. He never heard Christ as a professing Christian until right before he stepped on the fumie.
Scorsese said at the screening of Silence, “My way into spirituality happens to be Roman Catholicism.” Of course, Roman Catholic spirituality is “the Silence” or contemplative spirituality. Consider Scorsese’s understanding of Christianity in his response to the following question. “The Last Temptation of Christ’ and ‘Silence’ — in your art and mind where do these two films find each other?”
“… But for myself, as a believer, unbeliever, doubter, have faith, not have faith, go through life, making mistakes, I don’t know.
“Because when [Fr. Rodrigues] does apostatize, he gives up anything he’s proud of and he’s got nothing left except service, except compassion. So, he gives up his religion, he gives up his faith in order to gain his faith. Wow. How do you do that? That’s amazing. Could you do that?” – Martin Scorsese
I would answer Scorsese with an emphatic “No, you cannot give up faith to gain faith.” However, he goes on and produces the movie with the theme of abandoning faith to gain faith. Scorsese portrays the “service and compassion” of the apostate Jesuit as refined and elevated. The clear message is that committing apostasy and converting to Buddhism to avoid martyrdom is spiritually superior to faithful-unto-death Christianity. How does that compare to the martyrs in Revelation?
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” – Revelation 12:11
In summation, “Silence” is nearly 3 hours of very powerful emotional manipulation. The movie presents such a horrendously evil view of the Japanese Inquisitor that the Jesuit Rodrigues appears saintly by comparison. However, the idea of authentic Christian Jesuits is as oxymoronic as the concept of biblically validated Roman Catholicism. I believe the only good value of the movie is that it reveals the complete failure of Roman Catholicism when the religion masquerades as Christianity.
The dangers of the movie are first its heterodoxy that one can apostatize to avoid martyrdom and remain a child of God. An equal danger is the obvious allure of Contemplative Spirituality. This diabolical movie may prepare innumerable anemic professing Christians to compromise their faith under the pressure of persecution. However, it may also be a vehicle to carrying them into mystical experimentation with Contemplative Spirituality.
The potential of “Silence” to deceive millions of weak professing Christians is feasible. Could this be part of the “lying signs and wonders show” that the Apostle Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians?
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10