Cracking The Da Vinci Code
During the week ending 20 November 2004 Dan Brown’s paperback novel, “The Da Vinci Code” sold 40,274 copies in Britain alone. It was the best-selling book in Britain, as it has been for the past few months. In less than two years it has sold perhaps nine million copies. One explanation for its popularity is a widespread hunger for religious mystery. The book is hyper garbage, garbage on stilts that invokes regular garbage in self-authentication. It is full of factual errors and it cannot be recommended at any level, but some slight acquaintance with it is useful to any who are concerned to bring the truth of Jesus Christ to our fellow men. “You are reading ‘The Da Vinci Code’ I see. No, I haven’t read it but I’ve heard what it’s about. I have read the New Testament, in fact I often read it. Do you know about Jesus Christ . . .” That is the only reason it is worth knowing something about this book.
At the end of January 2004, Cook Communications asked Dr. Peter Jones of Westminster Seminary, California, to co-write with Dr. James L. Garlow, pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, a response to “The Da Vinci Code.” Peter Jones introduces the project in this way:
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with The Da Vinci Code, the author, Dan Brown, taps into the public’s fascination with conspiracy theories, anti-Roman Catholic clericalism, and the “true” origins of Christianity. The end product is a scathing attack on biblical Christianity. Brown questions and rejects orthodox claims by cleverly weaving historical fact and fiction, which we call “faction”, thereby making it difficult for the uninformed reader to be sure of much, except that the Bible is doubtlessly wrong.
On the level of the superficial plot that keeps the pages turning, The Da Vinci Code argues that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers, had children, and a descendant of that biological line presently lives in Paris. Elements within the Church will kill to keep this secret from ever getting out. The novel develops the theory that Mary was the apostle whom Jesus intended to lead the church but was forced to flee to France to escape the ire of her male colleagues. Amongst other “revelations”, The Da Vinci Code claims the original church, made up of Gnostic disciples, celebrated the worship of female wisdom and practised ritual sexuality. All this was replaced by the macho-male dominated church of later centuries, who suppressed women, sex, and liberated spirituality.
In the history of the church, countless numbers of critics and scoffers have written books that attempted to undermine and debunk Christianity. Yet, none has received as much attention in popular culture as The Da Vinci Code. Presently, there are over seven million copies in print and an estimated 30 million readers world-wide. According to a reliable source, it is even being read in China. The book has been on the New York Times best-seller list for over 63 consecutive weeks, and now we hear that famed director, Ron Howard of A Beautiful Mind, is slated to release a movie based on the book in 2005, with, Tom Hanks in the lead role. Millions of readers are falling for Brown’s rhetoric. Many more will do the same when they experience the persuasive power of Hollywood magic.
Why all the interest around this novel? In an interview with People Magazine, I said that Brown’s novel is successful because he touches a major issure in contemporary American culture – that of fading Christian culture of the past and the rising neo-pagan spirituality of America’s “bright” globalist future. Since the 1960’s, America has witnessed a revolution far more powerful than the one that established this country as an independent nation. The recent revolutionaries have cut us free from our Christian-inspired past. In one generation, they have established new and radical views of the family, education, morals, marriage, sexuality, spirituality, and God. Darwinism has eliminated the need of a Creator; feminism is engaged in the slow execution of Christ and God – the ultimate patriarchs. These views have become the new politically-correct orthodoxy of the cultural elite. Up until now, this revolutionary ideology had generally remained within the ivory towers of academia, taught with intellectual persuasiveness to your children in the privacy of required classes. However, with Brown’s novel – and in spades, with the eventual movie – this revolutionary agenda spills over into the popular culture in a way no piece of academic propaganda ever could. The church needs to be on guard.
Brown does two things which we have sought to counter in our book. Negatively, he seeks to undermine Jesus, the Canon, and the Gospel, using the “findings” of modern New Testament “science.” Positively, he proposes a “new” spiritual agenda for the “end of the days…”
It is important to show that Brown’s novel is neither a piece of harmless fiction nor a neutral, objective restatement of the “facts.” His massive ideological agenda colors everything he writes. People need to know that this is a propaganda piece for Brown’s recently discovered spirituality. In order to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us, it is my belief that Christians need to read this novel to become acquainted with what our neighbors are now believing. For when this novel and its movie is finished with America, evangelism will never be the same.
We can deplore the success of this anti-Christian propaganda and race up the nearest mountain. But the “lie” always calls forth a statement of “the truth.” This is the way the persecuted Church throughout history has responded, not with flight but with creeds, not with craven fear but with confessions, and not with spiritual ghettos but with open theological argument. Actually, Brown “gives permission” to raise the question of spirituality. On a plane the other day, three women were reading his book between seats l0C and 12F. It is easy to begin a conversation on the nature of the Christian faith, and since Brown’s account is so flawed, people can be moved by a well-presented biblical defence of the facts. The Da Vinci Code can be a wonderful occasion for evangelism . . .
May God grant us a revival of true faith and courageous witness in these difficult times. Only a fully biblical, reformed faith has the answer to the pagan challenge. May we stand together to produce that response, strengthened by the knowledge that we have not been given “a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and self-control,” in order to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
(This article is as it appeared in Grace Messenger, Grace Baptist Church, Madison, AL.)
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