Monday, April 24, 2006

The Da Vinci Code - why the fuss?

On May 19, the Hollywood release of Dan Brown's bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code, will appear on the big screen, starring Tom Hanks. The book version claims that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and their descendants live on through a royal blood line in Europe (there is no evidence of this). It also claims that Jesus was not considered God by the early church until the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 (not true, but its what the book claims), but that a secret society has known the truth all of these years, and the truth has been passed along in artwork and literature, most notably in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of Mary Magdalene beside Jesus in The Last Supper (actually its a youthful apostle John beside Jesus in the painting).
Many churches, including ours, are responding with special studies to debunk the claims of this book. In the days to come, I will be posting debunking The Da Vinci Code on this blog.
Some may ask, why all the fuss over a piece of fiction? Don't people know it's just a novel? The answer comes on page 1 of the book, with the headline "FACT," where the author claims that what the book says about the secret societies is true, when in fact it is not true. Page 1 includes this claim: "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."
Over 40 million people have read this novel, and millions more will see the movie. With its claim to be a historical novel based on "fact," Christians need to respond.
The good news is that the claims of this book can be easily answered, as you will see in the blogs coming up in the days ahead. So for Christians, if we will respond with facts rather than anger, The Da Vinci Code can actually become an opportunity to share our faith.


Bloodiest of Ladies said...

This is something that sort of makes me take the stand of Larry Flynt's attorney. (Someone please get the joke)

Just from what you've outlined here this is a very silly idea. Somehow this 'underground' group has passed along this information (and kept it intact, someone never played 'telephone' when they were a kid) for this long? The movie "National Treasure" came out about a year ago, no one protested. It seems that the church is responding with a lot of strength to something that (if you believe what they say) should be no threat.

I suppose that was the long way of saying, "Why do 'christians need to respond'"?

Another thing. I know this is not really a thing that's been opened for discussion, but why is it that this uproar is following only the high profile book? Most of the "Da Vinci Code" is taken almost directly out of a book written in 1985 called "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" and it is certainly not the only one since then.

I would really have fun if we jumped into Nicaea, but with the chronicles......umm....unavailable just now, and other documentation quite lacking, I suppose it's best we don't.

Brother Bob said...

Yes, the plot of "The Da Vinci Code" is a very silly idea. I'm not surprised that you compared it to "National Treasure." I thought of "National Treasure" myself when I read the book. The difference between the two, and the reason Christians need to respond, are two-fold:
1. "National Treasure" did not attack Christianity. "The Da Vinci Code" does, even stating on p.235 that "everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."
2. "National Treasure" does not claim to contain historically accurate facts. It is presented as a fun piece of fiction. "The Da Vinci Code," on the other hand, begins p. 1 with the headline in all capital letters, "FACT," and these words: "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."
The reason this book has created more discussion than the "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" book, is simple. "The Da Vinci Code" has become a cultural phenomenon, with over 46 million copies of the book in print, and a movie being released. If "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" had sold so many copies, you would have seen a similar hot debate with that book.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."

Novel - A fictional prose narrative of considerable length, typically having a plot that is unfolded by the actions, speech, and thoughts of the characters.

I realise that you can't take such a light approach to this, although I must admit not being sure why, but this is just silly.

O.k. here's my deal....(I can't believe I just said that) We have a lot of trouble verfiying the incredible amount of text (letters, telegraphs, yada yada) that came out of the Ripper murders from one of the largest and most modern cities of the late 1800's. That was about 100 years ago, and most of it is lost to wars, human error, and simply not thinking it was terribly important.

Any text from the first few centuries AD are just not verifiable. Carbon dating was not meant to nail down dates, it was meant to give us an aproximate time, which it does with a good deal of accuracy, but on the scale it's dealing with being 200 years off is not any huge thing. We just can't KNOW. And so any text from that basic time period is subject to question that can't be conclusively answered. Back to faith.

Here's where I annoy you again. I've often thought that I wanted faith. I don't take my stance on things because I like it, I take it because that's what I have. I envy Christians (Yes, Dante would have me thrown into hell, as would most) and now I'm watching people who have this thing that is supposed to be so great, and that I've envied and chased most of my life, being threatened by a crackpot who wrote a book.

If I stood in your face and told you I thought you were an Arab terrorist, you'd laugh at me, because it's absurd. You wouldn't feel the need to defend yourself, because the defense is obvious. Why does the Christian community not take the same stance concerning something equally laughable?

Brother Bob said...

You said, "Any text from the first few centuries AD are just not verifiable... We just can't KNOW."
With that kind of thinking, why waste time studying history books that claim there was a Roman empire, since the historical documents are from the first centuries A.D., and we just can't know if they are verifiable? So who knows? Maybe these ancient documents were wrong? Maybe during the First Century the Mediterranean World was actually ruled by aborigines who later fled to Australia? (Sounds like a good theme for a Dan Brown novel.)
Seriously, let me use an analogy to explain why the Christian community is serious about this silly novel. Suppose that Dan Brown, instead of saying that everything we had ever heard about Christ was false, had written a novel in which the characters said that everything we had heard about the holocaust under Adolf Hitler was false. And suppose the novel claimed that hidden historical documents showed that the Jews were not really killed by Hitler, but it was all a conspiracy made up by Zionists to create a Jewish state. Suppose this novel stated on page 1 that all of the historical documents cited in the book were accurate. Suppose 46 million people read this novel, and Hollywood made a movie about it. Would you expect Jews to sit in silence and ignore this novel because its claims are ridiculous?

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

Obviously, there's some difference between what I think they SHOULD do, and what I think they WOULD do, but yes, I think they should.

The first of your response anticipates me saying "But oh....." You should know me better. I don't accept that the Roman Empire existed, because I don't know. I think it probably did, just as I think the Biblical accounts are likely very accurate. It's a fine line or not believing or disbelieving.

But now I have a question, it's totally off the subject, but I really would like to ask, so you'll have to hang me later. Assuming that the Bible has remained intact (it seems to have), and that the original writers were truthful and of sound mind (they seem to have been...well, except one has to wonder about Paul now and then) Jesus was born into the house of David, making the physical throne of Isreal his, right? What makes people believe that he was a messaih rather than a revolutionary? (There's no way to state that so it can't be pulled apart with semantics, so I'll trust that you'll give me a reasonable answer) I could probably answer that one myself, but I'd like to hear your answer.

Brother Bob said...

Jesus was both the Messiah and a revolutionary. He was not the kind of Messiah the Jewish religious establishment expected. They were looking for a military Messiah to ride in with an army and overthrown the Roman Empire. Instead, Jesus was a spiritual Messiah who changed people's hearts, and will one day return as king of kings.