The Da Vinci Decoder Ring
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Do you hear that? Stop everything you are doing right now and listen. Can you hear the hushed murmur beginning its slow rise to a crescendo in Middle America? Do you feel the straining cogs of the Hollywood publicity machine starting to churn? Can you see the paradigm shifting from faith to heresy?
America is just a few days away from experiencing a seismic shift in the way many people view traditional Christianity. Based on the remarkable success of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, the biggest selling work of fiction this century will make its debut on the silver screen May 19th. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, the film will undoubtedly serve as the “gospel truth” for many who see it.
Not since Oliver Stone’s depiction of the tragic events surrounding the Kennedy assassination in JFK has a film called events into question that had always been accepted as fact. While we probably will never know if Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, as Christians we know that Jesus Christ did.
Therein lies the problem with The Da Vinci Code. First and foremost, the book, and now the movie delve into questioning the true nature of Jesus Christ. Brown’s novel, at its core, relays a plot that deals mainly with the search for the Holy Grail. But here lies the source of contention that the Christian community must fight vociferously against. In Dan Brown’s fictional world, the Holy Grail is more than just a cup. He suggests that the Holy Grail is something a bit more abstract, a living, breathing human being. Her name is Mary Magdalene.
In The Da Vinci Code Brown suggests that Jesus Christ actually married Mary Magdalene and she bore His child. He further chides traditional Christianity by writing that a group spearheaded by Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible in 325 A.D. that omitted certain books of the Bible that described Christ’s human traits. Furthermore, this patriarchal group supposedly embellished the existing Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) to make him appear more “god-like”. In doing so, the the role of woman was suppressed in society.
The actual Da Vinci Code comes in when a secret society is allegedly formed to keep the “truth” alive. Legendary Italian painter Leonardo Da Vinci was rumored to be part of the secret society. According to the book, he left clues in his painting “The Last Supper” that reveal Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and did indeed have children.
As you can see there is much to be concerned about within the Christian community as related to this book and subsequent movie release. Author Richard Abanes suggests in his book The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code that there are dozens of thought provoking questions that if not handled properly could turn the contemporary church upside down and sideways. These questions stem from four subjects:
1. the reliability and historicity of the Bible
2. the aforementioned true nature of Jesus Christ
3. the origin and development of Christian beliefs
4. the activities of church leaders during the Christian church’s formative years.
Sensing the potentially vitriolic response to the movie by the church, Sony Pictures has released a Web site, TheDavinciDialogue.com, which features a series of essays by prominent Christian leaders (CBN’s Gordon Robertson among them) that take a subjective look at the Da Vinci Code phenomenon and makes recommendations as to how the church might respond.
For my part I want to encourage you to read The Da Vinci Code. Yes, you read that correctly. There is going to be a tremendous need on the part of the church body to be as properly equipped as possible to talk intelligently about the various claims the book and movie pass off as fact. What a better way to be prepared than by going directly to the source. If you are rooted in your faith, you will have no problem distinguishing fact from fiction. Might I suggest having your Bible at the ready to compare scripture against the claims being made.
Be real with people not radical. There is nothing more frustrating for a non-Christian than being chastised and condemned by someone who is not truly knowledgeable on the subject. You will be quickly dismissed as just another “one of those Christian zealots”.
Allow me to illustrate. When I was in high school I was invited by a friend to attend a secular rock concert. After much debate my parents allowed me to go. While the group we were going to see was not exactly someone you would expect to see singing in your Sunday morning worship service, they were nonetheless considered safe in comparison to some of their contemporaries. As my friend and I climbed the stairs to enter the arena, we were confronted by a man bellowing at the top of his lungs. He was condemning each and every person who passed by him to Hell. As he did so, he spewed verse after verse from the Bible to support his cause. My friend, who was not a Christian at the time, turned to me and said, “If that is what being a Christian is like I don’t want any part of it. That man is filled with hate.”
He was absolutely right. No one wants to be condemned to Hell as they enter a movie theater. Venomously boycotting a film only draws more attention to it while shedding a negative light on Christianity. A better strategy would be to use the movie as a conversation starter about the Christian faith and roots of the modern church. Open dialogue with your non-Christian friends or fellow Christians who might be prone to doubting is potentially a keystone to bringing more people to an understanding faith in Jesus Christ.
The cinematic version of The Da Vinci Code will undoubtedly create a higher degree of curiosity regarding what people think of your faith. I challenge you to pray for opportunities to share from your heart what true Christianity is and how you might be able to share with those who are obviously searching for spirituality. In other words, gently advance the cause of truth.
Pastors, ask yourself whether your congregation is fully prepared to discuss their faith and church history in relation to The Da Vinci Code. Might I suggest a study on the actual book, a question and answer session, and/or crafting a strategic plan to address your church’s response to this movie in the days prior to its release?
Finally, to assist you, actively seek out resources online. CBN.com has released a comprehensive “Da Vinci Code Resources” page to help you sift through any questions you might have.
But most importantly, PRAY! Pray that as a body of Christ we will be able to take what is meant to tear down traditional Christianity and use it to edify the body of Christ.
Information contained within this article from
"The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code", by Richard Abanes and "Christians and the Da Vinci Code", by George Barna.
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