Is God Really Silent?
The novel Silence is written by a Japanese author named Shusaku Endo. It is a story of two young Portuguese Jesuits, Rodrigues and Garrpe, sent to Japan for missionary and to look for their mentor, Ferreira. The story took place in two Japanese villages namely Tomogi and Nagasaki. Rodrigues and Garrpe arrived in Japan in 1638 and it was in Tomogi where they encountered the underground Japanese Christians and began their missionary work in a hidden hut on the mountain. During this time period, many Christians were tortured and persecuted by the Japanese government but there were also a number of people who apostatized such as Ferreira. Eventually the two Jesuits got captured by the magistrates and were persuaded to renounce their faith. Towards the end of the story, Rodrigues trampled on the fumie and renounced his faith in order to save the lives of the Japanese Christians. But unlike his teacher Ferreira who apostatized because God’s silence had made him lose his faith, Rodrigues remained a Christian at heart. The word “silent” has been mentioned many times in this novel and it seemed like that God had abandoned his people; but a true Christian ought to know that God speaks to us in a variety of ways and is always present even when he is silent, one should have faith in him just as he believes in the sun when it doesn’t shine.
Rodrigues believes in God just like people believe in the sun even though he had his doubts when his prayers were not answered, but ultimately he came to realize that God was not silent, everything he did was for a reason. In the history of Christianity, reformation and the counter-reformation of the catholic churches took place in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth century. According to the novel, it was around the same time period when Christianity was brought to Japan by Saint Francis Xavier (pg vii).
The Causes and Effects of an Increase in Christian Faith Recently there has been an increase in Christian faith for many reasons. There are many positive and negative effects of this increase in faith. The main cause is yet to be determined, but many people say that it is God s plan for more people to accept Christ during this time. An important result of the increase in Christian faith is less ...
From the lecture we have learnt that during the reformation catholic churches lost power and control, the purpose of the counter-reformation is to protect the catholic churches and the theme of European colonization is to stretch its culture around the globe. The Jesuits’ primary purpose of going to Japan was to get more followers by spreading Christianity. But unfortunately, due to the strong government organization in Japan, such attempt could not carry out smoothly. When Rodrigues and Garrpe first arrived in Japan, they learnt that due to the persecution, Japanese Christians could only practice their religion in secrecy which is very different from how the Jesuits practice theirs. These villagers had no churches to go to, no sacraments, they pray in front of the picture of Christ (pg 26-27).
With the help of these Christian villagers, the two Jesuits were able to preach and perform sacraments in a hidden hut. In all, their missionary life was quiet and peaceful. It was not until the sudden inspection by the samurais had they witness the cruelty of the Japanese magistrates. Then Rodrigues started to wonder about God’s silent as mentioned in Chapter 4 followed by the death of two Christian villagers, Mokichi and Ichizo, “Behind the depressing silence of this sea, the silence of God…the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish God remains with folded arms, silent” (pg 61).
This is when the doubt began to appear. As the story goes on, more Christians have been captured and tortured in turn for Rodrigues to apostatize and God continually to be silent. Although he had blamed God for his unreasonable silence, but in the end Rodrigues saw something in the Japanese Christians that Ferreira and the magistrates could not see, faith. “With his own eyes he had seen those peasants, poverty-stricken martyrs. If they had not had a true belief in salvation, how could they sink like stones in the mist-covered sea?…it breathed a conviction that had been implanted in Japan not by these officials nor by Buddhism, but by the Christian Church” (pg 152).
I would not start this personal essay by saying that I am a devout Christian and that I love helping people or something to that effect. I am a Christian; however, I am not the devout type. I do not regularly attend church gatherings. I do not really engage in community services or avoid vices. My moral beliefs were first cultivated by my parents’ teaching. They are devout Catholic, so it is ...
Because of God’s “silence”, he had ultimately became confident in the faith of the Japanese Christians. But was God really silent? Perhaps he has spoken to Rodrigues in a different kind of way by revealing himself in nature or on one’s own experience.
Many times God does not speak to us in words to strengthen our faith or to change people’s lives. Rodrigues learnt how to love and forgive through the varies circumstances of his life. This can be seen at the very end of Chapter 10 as he administered sacrament for the man who had betrayed him “Since in this country there is now no one else to hear your confession, I will do it…say the prayers after confession…Go in peace” (pg 191).
He willingly performed this sacrament at the end of the story for a fallen Christian named Kichijiro, a man who had betrayed Rodrigues for a few pieces of silver (pg 78).
Unlike the rest of the Christians in the village, this fellow is weak-minded as he apostatized many times to save his life at the cross-examination. Many times Rodrigues had given him absolution, but it was not out of love and forgiveness, instead it was merely out of the duty of a priest. In the prison, he recalls how “our Lord had searched out the ragged and the dirty…true love was to accept humanity when wasted like rags and tatters” (pg115-116) and then he would be filled with shame for he could not forgive Kichijiro. But eventually Rodrigues came to realize that even thought this cowardly fellow’s weakness often overcomes his faith, but God had not abandoned him for he blessed him with the courage to confess his sins.
God also speaks to us in scriptures “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
In other words, God is saying that if we admit and confess our sins, he will live up to his promises and will forgive our sins. Although Kichijiro apostatized many times to save his life, but he never stopped confessing, and each time the confession came from the bottom of his weak heart just like what he said to the priest: “I am an apostate; but if I had died ten years ago I might have gone to paradise as a good Christian, not despised as an apostate. Merely because I live in a time of persecution…I am sorry” (pg 115).
email: title: Once Saved, Always Saved " You are saved until you sin again," the preacher tells the new convert. Such words can cause a new Christian to have fear of failing and can cause him other to feel like quitting the Christian walk. Jesus Christ has promised that once people ask Him to live in their hearts, they will receive eternal life. Jesus died on the cross for Christian " s sins one ...
We can see that Kichijiro knows clearly that he is weak and what he did was wrong, but God had made him weak in nature, there is nothing he can do to change that. But if God really is true to his promises, then Kichijiro will certainly be forgiven and saved. Whereas Ferreira, a Father who had apostatized because he has lost his faith in both God and the Country itself, did not confess his sin nor did he admit he has sinned. Instead he argued that after twenty years of missionary work, he had learnt that “in the churches we built throughout this country the Japanese were not praying to the Christian God. They twisted God to their own way of thinking in a way we can never imagine” (pg 149).
In his perspective, God “is like the butterfly caught in the spider’s web” (pg 149) and there is absolutely no way Christianity can survive in the swamp of Japan. Not only he is defeated by missionary work but he is also defeated by his inner weakness and the doubts he had towards these Japanese Christians and God himself.
Christ was not sent to earth to wipe out all human sufferings, instead he was sent here to share the sufferings for us and vice versa. In the scriptures Christ said:
“They will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name…You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life” (Luke 21:12-19).
The above passage can well be applied to Rodrigues and those Christians who sacrificed themselves for their faith. Sometimes God chooses not to speak perhaps because he has already said everything in the Holy Bible. For Ferreira and Kichijiro and those who had wondered about the silence of God should be looking to the scriptures and discover God’s hidden messages to us. But despise all that, a true Christian’s faith should not perish and wither just because God seemed to turn a deaf ear to one’s prayers.
Scholars do not operate in a vacuum, but within the frameworks of their communities, traditions, commitments, and beliefs. Their scholarship, even when specialized, develops within a larger picture of reality. So we must ask: What is in that larger picture Is there a place for God If so, does God's presence make any difference to the rest of the picture Does that presence change the relative ...