“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
Thank you for this review Cedric. It is very much needed.
Deceptive Movie that has the potential to sway folks into believing it’s OK to deny The Lord. I don’t believe this movie has taken hold full scale yet since it just came out, but with the promotion and glowing reviews it’s receiving from professing Christians, many will go see it, agree with it, be swept up in the manipulation that’s in it and will think it’s OK, and for the better good, to deny Christ when it comes to life or death!
We are living in days of great deception!
Yes, and like other diabolical movies that professing Christians rush to support, this one will no doubt have a study guide before long. Expect to see the theme and overt heresies taught in churches across the nation. Professing Christians need to wake up before it is too late. They’re in the barber’s chair and Delilah is coming with the scissors.
“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?” C.H. Fisher
I think you hit the nail “on the head” with your analysis, Cedric. Weak, professing Christians are bountiful and ripe for this heresy. I attend a church (for the family) that would probably eat this hook. line, and sinker. My analysis of the spiritual weakness there is here: https://wordpress.com/post/heyjude15.wordpress.com/2533
i believe that through contemplative spirituality, today’s CCM worship music, and the inroads into fundamental Christianity by the “New Calvinists” (young, restless, and reformed -YRR) , Christianity is staggering like a drunk and the absence true spirituality is immense. There is a form of Godliness there, but the power thereof (the Holy Spirit) is absent. It is a weak, about-to-die counterfeit of the real thing !!
Wow, this is timely!
This movie is of satan.
It advocates the exact opposite of what we should do!
We are to carry our cross daily and lay down our lives for Jesus
in life and death. We are NEVER to deny our faith in Jesus, for ANY reason. There is no justification for it at all, no matter what. We are called to suffer persecution for His namesake and martyrdom if the occasion arises. If anyone threatens us with death, we can never renounce Christ, there is nothing gained by it, only lost by it. The devil wants to trick believers. Even their beloved John MacArthur has promoted taking the mark of the beast (and it too would be okay…). The hellish stench of satan is behind all of that. The Lord has made it clear in Matthew 10: 32-33 that whoever denies Him before men, He would deny before the Father. NO exceptions. And there is this that came to me this morning: “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of the One who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live, where the throne of Satan sits. Yet you have held on to My name and have not denied your faith in Me, even in the day My faithful witness Antipas was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” Revelation 2; 12-13
A few more verses for fair-weathered ‘followers’:
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him…” Philippians 1; 29
“And a third angel followed them, calling in loud a voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives its mark on his forehead or hand, he too will drink the wine of God’s anger, poured undiluted into the cup of His wrath. And he will be tormented in fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever. Day and night there will be no rest for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”… Revelation 14; 9-11
I have a long, LONG list of similar bible verses but will leave it at these. All of discipleship comes down to this: He stood for us. Will we stand for Him in return? This is not about ‘works.’ This is what He commanded of us to do.
Never, NEVER…. ever…. ever…. EVER deny Jesus before men! Ever.
We are called to give testimony before men to the ends of the earth and that goes for bad weather days too, not just fair weather days. You will never regret it, but you will if you deny Him. Repent as fast as you can and stand for Jesus.
Good review! I do have reservations about sharing it with others due to the statement “The dangers of the movie are first its heterodoxy that one can apostatize to avoid martyrdom and remain a child of God”. The Bible is perfectly clear that once a person is saved they are saved for all eternity.
The Bible is not perfectly clear about that doctrine.
False. And yes, the warning needs to go out. Do not be deceived.
Here are a few for starters:
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” Matthew 10; 32-33
(Jesus warned about this for a reason.)
“I know where you live, where the throne of Satan sits. Yet you have held on to My name and have not denied your faith in Me, even in the day My faithful witness Antipas was killed among you, where Satan dwells. ” Revelation 2; 13
(Looks like this is pretty important to the Lord, and there was only one right answer.)
“But you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and because they are worthy, they will walk with Me in white. Like them, the one who is victorious will be clothed in white garments. And I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.” Revelation 3; 4-5
(How can you soil a garment you never had? How can a name be blotted out unless it was written in the book? The context is clear.)
“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24; 13
(In other words, those who don’t endure to the end won’t be saved. There is an argument in formal logic which is as follows: “If A, then B.” It is equivalent to “Not B, therefore not A.” If he endures to the end, he will be saved. A= if he endures to the end, B= he will be saved. Thus, he will not be saved if he does not endure to the end. Anyway, it’s true.)
And a few more…
“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake … ” Philippians 1; 29
“Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he [Peter] would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” ” John 21; 19
“So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” Acts 5; 41
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8; 17-18
“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3; 11
“For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
2 Timothy 2
“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ ” Revelation 2; 10-11
“And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” Revelation 14; 12-13
The Word of God is true even if it makes every man (and teacher) a liar, it is right even if it makes all others wrong. Take Him at His Word, eternity is nothing to play games with.
Thanks again Cedric for this timely piece!
Your analysis is timely. The movie, Silence, just came out here in Japan. The book was published many years ago (it has been actually used in the public schools to teach about Christianity in Japan). One of our sons watched the film last week as part of a high school class assignment. His assessment, while not as in depth, was similar to yours. I have already sent the link of your review to several missionaries here as they will most likely have to be prepared to explain the film to Japanese Christian believers. Again, the timing of your review has been a great blessing. God bless you and your work in His ministry to the saints.
“he gives up his faith in order to gain his faith.” Nihilism PLUS!
In sum, can anything good come from Martin Scorsese? Didn’t we learn from that vomitous film he produced in the late 80’s?
In this movie you keep waiting for that typical hollywood moment when the “man of faith” denies his faith for the “reason” of the heretic and the atheist. And you’re not disappointed. Hollywood delivers its usual “God is myth” nonsense.
The ONLY thing I heard as I watched that movie was SATAN’s voice. Just as satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, Father Ferreira tempted Rodrigues to deny his faith….. “if”.
“If you would just bow down and worship me…” took on the same devilish undertones in this movie as Father Ferreira demonically tempts Rodrigues to deny his faith in order to save others. This is in complete CONTRADICTION to what Christ did on the cross, which was to deny HIMSELF and die between two thieves in order to save the world. Why did Christ not try and save the two thieves? He could have. It was because His eyes were not on the temporal but on eternity! “Heaven and earth may pass away, but my words will never pass away”. And what was that? That Christ came to die. PERIOD! Are we greater than our master? “Any man who would come after Me must deny HIMSELF, take up his cross daily, and follow Me”. THIS IS TRUE CHRISTIANITY! Anything short of that is pure religious nonsense.
I understand the brutal testing of faith, but the faith of the character in this movie is incongruous with the testimonies of countless others throughout history “who loved not their lives unto death” and endured brutal torture and death without ever having adhered to this hollywhacked mischaracterization of faith. This film pretends that grown human beings are too stupid to understand the difference between the sun in the sky and the Son of God. I’m to believe that the Japanese are too ignorant to distinguish the two? C’mon!
Thank you so much for this post on Silence. I just watched it, and, as a Catholic, was pretty shocked. The true heroes in the movie, of course, are the Japanese lay Catholics who did sacrifice their lives for Christ.
I read an interesting post by Fr. James Martin, SJ, who was the lead Jesuit consultant on the film. He says that Yes, the voice Fr. Rodriques hears, telling him to trample on the icon and renounce his faith (“at least outwardly” – whatever that means), IS the voice of Christ. Ridiculous that Christ would say that, and ridiculous that a priest, even a Jesuit, would consult for a film that has an extra-Biblical message.
Scorsese is lost. He had a Catholic childhood and adolescence, but he’s not very Catholic. And don’t get me going on Fr. Martin.
I’d love to see a good film on the Japanese martyrs, the true soldiers of Christ in this story.