Though I have not yet seen the film, the premise sounds quite harrowing. The Japanese rulers at the time forced the missionaries into what Lady Mermaid describes as a "cruel choice" -- renounce the faith or be the cause of inflicted suffering upon others.
I have yet to see the film myself, but the premise alone was enough to get me thinking about the subject of faith and its renouncement. The 17th-century Japanese authorities who made the Jesuit missionaries witness the torture and executions of Catholic converts each time the priests refused to renounce their faith obviously regarded Christianity as both an external and internal threat to Japanese society and its established power structures. If they hadn't, they would not have reacted in such a ruthless fashion.
The film immediately raises the question of what we contemporary Christians would do in similar circumstances. Would we publicly renounce our faith to avoid the suffering of others or would we remain faithful to God and allow the torture and executions of others to occur?
I bring all of this up now because since 2020 I have encountered many Christian blog posts warning of impending public Christian persecution up to and including forced public repudiations of the Christian faith. These sorts of ominous posts are "a hill to die on" arguments, and they often tunnel down into the subject of martyrdom. The writers argue that when push finally comes to shove, Christians must make the right decision by actively and willingly choosing persecution and, ultimately, martyrdom.
For the writers of such posts, I have a few questions . . .
Where were you two-and-half years ago?
More to the point, why did you not consider the birdemic or church closures to be hills to die on?
Even more to the point, how do you envision the hill that will finally motivate you to your martyrdom?
Must be one hell of a hill. Probably makes a molehill of Everest.
Here's the thing. I don't think your chance at martyrdom will arrive. Moreover, though Christian persecution is very real in many countries and regions around the world, that sort of thing will probably not emerge in the West for the simple reason that Christians present no real threat to the System.
The authorities in 17th-century Japan persecuted converts and forced missionaries to publicly renounce their faith because they saw Christianity as a threat. The 21st-century System does not see Christianity as a threat because most Christian organizations and institutions are firmly under its influence and control. More precisely, most churches are willing System partners. This control and influence, this "divine" partnership, allows the System to persecute and humiliate Christians non-stop, and all with the full agreement and blessing of most "official" Christian institutions.
Sure, the System may single out an individual Christian now and then, and there is certainly much incendiary background noise about "white Christian nationalists", but that is unlikely to pan out into the kind of persecution depicted in the film, Silence. That sort of direct, religion-specific mass-scale persecution is superfluous because the self-sabotage the System initiated in 2020 is already an act of mass public persecution and renouncement that has swept Christians up along with everybody else.
The System isn't seeking the public and external renouncement of Christ. It got that when the churches willingly closed their doors and declared themselves non-essential. It got that when the congregations accepted the closures with an apathetic shrug. It got that when the congregations excused and supported the behavior of their leaderships and hierarchies. It got that when both churches and their congregations willingly and actively allowed the suffering of others in the name of safety and health.
No, the System has a far bigger prize in mind. It's going after the only renouncement of faith that counts -- private, personal, internal renouncement.
The kind of renouncement that comes with unrepentant obedience to evil-aligned authorities openly opposed to God; the kind that comes from misguided, prideful fantasies driven by the wishful thinking of some false self or other; the kind that refuses to repent lesser evil; the kind that places faith where faith has no place; the kind that comes from the deep despair of feeling abandoned and forsaken by Christ; the kind that repudiates Jesus without needing to think or speak any words at all.
Note added: Christians do pose a serious threat beyond the System, but that threat is neutralized the moment they begin to engage with the System on the System's terms. Put another way, Christians have the potential to be an internal threat to the System, but this internal threat is something that is outwith the System rather than something that is inherently within the System.