What the Media Isn’t Reporting on ISIS’ Beheading of 21 Christian Men
The tragic images are almost impossible to see and process.
There on the shore of Libya stand 21 young Christian Egyptian men, each clad in an orange jumpsuit.
Behind each man is a hooded radical Islamist, holding a knife. We know what’s coming next.
If American Christians were ever tempted to believe martyrs are only people we read about in the Bible and history books, the 21 men who were brutally beheaded because they called Jesus Christ their Savior remind us nothing could be further from the truth.Scorcese’s ‘Silence’ Asks What It Really Costs to Follow Jesus
Based on the acclaimed 1966 novel by Japanese Catholic writer Shusaku Endo, Silence is a book about 17th century Jesuit missionaries trying to make inroads for the gospel in the inhospitable “swampland” of Japan, facing intense persecution by a Japanese shogunate determined to wipe out Christianity’s influence in their realm.
Sent from Portugal to seek the whereabouts of a fellow Jesuit priest (Liam Neeson) who had gone missing in Japan amidst intensifying persecution, Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) go to Japan to minister to the persecuted Kakure Kirishitan (“Hidden Christians”) community and see if they can find the missing priest. Their faith is tested as the Grand Inquisitor Inoue (Issey Ogata) forces them to denounce their faith or watch Christians be tortured and killed. ...
Dedicated to “Japanese Christians and their pastors,” Silence has a lot to say to the church about cross-cultural missions and contextualization. Father Rodrigues (Garfield) and Inoue (Ogata) frankly discuss the nature of Christianity and why it is unwelcome in Japan: “You missionaries do not seem to know Japan,” says Inoue, who insists the “tree” of Christianity won’t take root in the soil of Japan. It may be fruitful in Portugal and Europe, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t work in Japan. Rodrigues responds with a defense of the universality of truth: “If a doctrine wasn’t as true in Japan as it is in Portugal, we could not call it true.”
Why is Japan so inhospitable to the gospel? Rodrigues insists officials are poisoning the soil. Inoue says the climate is simply not conducive to the growth of Christianity, as if one tried to plant an orange tree in Siberia. Late in the film one of the “fallen” priests suggests that the fruit of Japanese converts is false fruit. They believe in the “Sun God,” not the Son of God. They aren’t becoming martyrs for Christ, but for the missionaries, he argues. The film (and book) asks the audience to ponder for themselves the authenticity of the Japanese converts’ faith. Can Christianity survive in hidden form, even if publicly it is denounced? Can the Christian gospel be enacted in a particularly Japanese manner (even with some Buddhist-inspired touches) and still be the same Christian gospel?Comments: I would like to see this film - probably will wait for it to be streamed. To tread on Fumi-e is explained in this Wiki article.
The Japanese government used fumi-e to reveal practicing Catholics and sympathizers. Fumi-e were pictures of the Virgin Mary and Christ. Government officials made everybody trample on these pictures. People reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Catholics and were sent to Nagasaki. The policy of the Edo government was to turn them from their faith, Catholicism; however, if the Catholics refused to change their religion, they were tortured. As many of them still refused to abandon the religion, they were killed by the government. Executions sometimes took place at Nagasaki's Mount Unzen, where some were boiled in the hot springsComment: God calls us to publicly declare our allegiance to King Jesus.
John MacArthur comments on John 12:42-43 (ESV Study Bible, John MacArthur notes)
While the people seemed to trust Jesus with much more candor and fervency, the leaders of Israel who believed in him demonstrated inadequate, irresolute, even spurious faith. The faith of the latter was so weak that they refused to take any position that would threaten their position in the synagogue. This is one of the saddest statements about spiritual leadership, for they preferred the praises of men above the praises of God in their refusal to publicly acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.