The reason that I didn’t do a review of the movie Silence several months ago, is because that movie is very disturbing. It haunted me for quite a while. I probably should have known this since I read the book several years ago.
Either way, in this movie, the Japanese authorities try to get the Christians to renounce their faith through torture or other methods. The Priests were given the worst treatment of all since they wanted them to deny their faith more than the Japanese laymen. When the Christian was at the point where they couldn’t take anymore, the Japanese authorities would put an icon of Christ called the fumie on the ground and ask them to step on it and thereby publicly denying their faith.
The historical character Cristovao Ferreira is in this movie. He is the most famous of the priests that denounced their faith. His story and the movie got me thinking of the concept of public apostasy quite a bit. Faith without works is dead but does it go the other way around? At the beginning of the movie, Fr. Rodrigues comes to Japan to aid the persecuted Christians. He then gets captured, and after enduring Christians being tortured and murdered in front of him, publicly renounces his faith by stepping on the fumie. At the end of the movie, there is a scene where he is going through goods being brought into Japan and trying to identify Christian artifacts that could be used to smuggle to the hidden Christians of Japan.
The story is very interesting. The Priest goes to help the hidden Christians, renounces his faith, then eventually aids in their persecution. He does a full turn around. In Canada and America, we are fortunate not to be under the iron fist of the Tokugawa Shogunate. We can freely and openly practice Christianity. At the same time, public life is tough on us. Popular culture would like us to denounce our faith.
Probably the best way in which this is done is to pressure Christians to accept homosexual “marriage”. Here in Canada, Michael Coren is the best example. Just a few years ago, he was a Catholic apologist who defended the apostolic faith and traditional marriage, now he has embraced homosexual “marriage” and joined the Church of England; an apostate Church even by most Protestant standards. He now regularly writes against the Christian view on marriage, calling Christians bigots, amongst other things.
He likes to point out how Christians condemn homosexual “marriage” and not divorce when Jesus spoke far more about divorce. As I pointed out in a previous review, it’s ironic how he left the Catholic Church for a “Church” that was founded on divorce.
It’s not a perfect analogy to Fr. Rodrigues but Coren has taken a similar story. He’s gone from Christian hero, to apostate, to one who attacks Christians on a regular basis. He never trampled on a fumie but he’s denied Christ through his support of homosexual “marriage” and his attacking of any Christians who support traditional marriage.
When he first changed his view on homosexual “marriage” he was more calm and less strident. I don’t think Fr. Rodrigues disbelieved in Christ the day after he stepped on the fumie but he eventually lost faith and began to persecute the Christians of Japan.
As mentioned before, we aren’t called to trample on a fumie here in the West but we can still deny Him and often that denial is followed by attacking those who you used to fight for. This is true for fictional characters like Fr. Rodrigues and real people like Michael Coren. How we believe influences how we act and how we act influences how we believe. Whether it’s giving a pinch of incense to the emperor, stepping on a fumie, or accepting homosexual “marriage” there are many ways for a Christian to commit public apostasy.
When a Japanese Christian approached Fr. Garupe in Silence and asked what to do if he was forced to trample on the fumie, Fr. Garupe gave the Christian answer. He said that he must pray for courage. Fr. Rodrigues told him that it was okay to trample on our Lord. It was Fr. Garupe that died a martyr and Fr. Rodrigues who died as an apostate.
The enemies of God don’t want us dead. They want us to denounce Christ either in word or in deed and hopefully lead other Christians into this apostasy. Martyrdom strengthens the flock, apostasy devastates the flock. Michael Coren has already done this but as the character Fr. Garupe commands, we must pray for courage. We can never trample on our Lord like Coren has done.