A biblical response
Using The Da Vinci Code as a Witnessing Tool
By Susy Flory and Gini Monroe
CBN.com Excerpt from Fear Not Da Vinci
The Da Vinci Code: Love it or Hate it
Reactions to The Da Vinci Code range along a broad spectrum from loathing to rapture. Audience reactions to books and movies are very unpredictable, a frustrating fact for publishers and film studios, who would love to develop a surefire system to predict which projects will be blockbuster hits and which will not even recover production costs. But so far such a system has yet to be invented.
What makes a book like The Da Vinci Code grab hold of the hearts and minds of readers and climb the bestseller lists? No one knows. Even writers who have once produced a bestseller often fail to repeat. The odds are against it. In the year 2004, a record 195,000 new books were released in the United States. Of those books, less than one percent made the bestseller list. Publishers would love to know how to transform the other ninety-nine percent into bestsellers.
Have you ever loved a book and passed it on to a good friend who hated it? It happens all the time. And it’s the same, of course, with The Da Vinci Code. Except that in the case of this novel, millions have loved it. Chances are you know some of those fans. Don’t make the same mistake as the very opinionated members of the Hayward Book Club and get into shouting matches over the merits of the book because you’ll never get the chance to delve into what really matters: the obstacles that keep a person from choosing to follow Jesus.
Again, take note of the accounts of Jesus’ interactions; rather than violent arguments or angry debates, he conducted quiet conversations, always taking a keen interest in the condition of the heart.
While so far this book has introduced the idea of using The Da Vinci Code to share your faith and has provided some general tips on evangelism, we turn now to specific examples of encounters, questions and topics you’re likely to hear, and creative ways to respond to those questions and turn them into productive discussions. But first, we want to pass along a few guidelines to consider as you use The Da Vinci Code to share your faith.
Da Vinci Code Faith Sharing Strategies
1. Acknowledge the entertainment value of The Da Vinci Code. When you’re talking to someone who loved the story, don’t immediately rattle off a list of the historical errors or detail the theological issues because you’ll shut down any potential discussion by offending fans. It’s disrespectful to their tastes not to acknowledge that many people have enjoyed reading the book, even if you haven’t. Why not just agree that the book is entertaining? You might be appalled by what you perceive as an attack on the faith, but millions enjoyed the roller-coaster ride of suspense and intrigue. Perhaps they liked the puzzles, the Leonardo da Vinci subplot, or the European setting. If you want to get beyond a surface discussion, beware of making a hasty denouncement.
2. Know that not everyone cares. Don’t assume that every reader has keyed into the controversial subjects of the book. After all, not everyone is interested in spiritual matters. You can determine the level of interest with a few well-placed questions, such as “Do you think the book is true?” or “Was there anything in the book that surprised or shocked you?” If someone is only interested in discussing the Louvre and seeing the Mona Lisa on a recent visit, your discussion may never go beneath the surface.
3. Avoid preachiness. Aim for a discussion with give and take between both parties so you can figure out what the other person is thinking and feeling. If you take over the discussion and begin to tell a Da Vinci Code fan what’s wrong with the book, you will quickly be tuned out. When someone falls in love with a book or a film, they become emotionally engaged and are not easily dissuaded by facts, logic, or historical proof. Therein lies the power of story; The Da Vinci Code bypasses the facts and aims for the heart, where it sticks. Even when presented with the facts, many people continue to believe the claims of the book. Why? Because love is not logical. People buy into the claims of the book and it becomes part of them. Avoid preachiness because you’ll offend them; you could be attacking something they love.
4. Read a debunker book or two. Several great books and videos examine The Da Vinci Code’s claims, item by item, and disprove them with facts. Scholars agree that the history in the novel is faulty, and plenty of people have the credentials and resources to highlight Dan Brown’s errors. Read a debunker to give you confidence. You probably won’t be able to answer every future question or point of discussion, but you’ll be familiar with the issues and able to direct the curious to helpful resources. (In the back of this book you’ll find a list of resources.)
5. Carry a cheat sheet. If you know you’ll be talking to someone about The Da Vinci Code, or maybe even about a particular topic, create a “cheat sheet” that lists some of the main points you want to make. Perhaps a list of Eight Reasons Jesus Wasn’t Married (from chapter 6). Politicians call these lists “talking points” and study them before interviews. Carry your cheat sheet with you and review it just before your discussion. If you feel led, you might want to pull it out to show the person you’re talking to. Once, when talking to a friend, I used a cheat sheet with some verses written on it. She noticed, asked for a closer look, and then took it home.
6. Return question for question. Rather than answer and risk ending the discussion, ask a question and see if you can take the discussion deeper. If someone asks you if you think the Bible is true, answer back with “What do you think?” The answer may surprise you and spark a richer line of discussion.
7. Avoid rabbit trails. Sometimes people want to chat about side issues such as the secret organizations in the book or whether Tom Hanks is the right actor to play Langdon in the movie. That’s okay at first, but try to head the discussion into deeper waters at some point. You will need the Holy Spirit’s help. Pray and ask God to guide you as you endeavor to steer the discussion to more serious matters.
8. Make plans to talk further. Ending a conversation can be much harder than starting one. Here are some possible conversation-ending strategies for when you’ve had a Da Vinci Code encounter:
- Plan for both of you to read a debunker and then get together to discuss it. (See Appendix 3, “For Further Reading.”)
- When you don’t know how to answer a question, promise to find the answer for a future meeting.
- Make plans to see the movie together and go out for pizza afterward to talk.
- Meet together to work through The Da Vinci Code issues using the Bible.
- Together attend a local Bible study aimed at people who are investigating the Gospel.
- If they ask questions you cannot answer, direct them to your pastor.
- Say goodbye and pray silently for them as they leave.
Read on, as we share some more Da Vinci Code moments. These encounters ranged from five minutes to several hours to much longer relationships. We’ll share effective ways to answer some of the questions raised in the book, and demonstrate how to move the discussion along as the Spirit allows.
The goal as you cultivate Da Vinci Code faith encounters is always to delve deeper into spiritual things. “Our immediate goal with people is not to lead them to Jesus, but consistently to take the initiative to join them in the places where God is working in their lives and to help them take the next step in their journeys toward faith . . . we look for opportunities to plant the seeds of biblical truth.
Once, when Jesus was encountering some curious fishermen who later became his disciples, he directed them to go deeper, where the fishing was best: “Put out into deep water” (Luke 5:4). The Da Vinci Code offers a unique opportunity for you to follow Jesus to where the fishing is best. Don’t be afraid, for there is nothing more exciting than to be present when God is working in someone’s life. Put out into deep water; you don’t want to miss it.
Special Section: The Davinci Code: A Biblical Response
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CBN.com Da Vinci Code Church Bulletin Insert -- Download and Print
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Learn more at www.fearnotdavinci.com
See where Susy and Gini will be speaking on The Da Vinci Code
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(c) 2006 AMG Publishers. Used with Permission.
Susy Flory is on staff at the Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley, California. She is a graduate of UCLA. Susy has been a journalist and has taught journalism for a number of years.
Gini Monroe has served as Administrator for First Baptist Church in Castro Valley. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and has taught English and French for twenty years.
W. Ward Gasque, PhD. is a noted New Testament scholar, professor, author, and frequent academic lecturer on The Da Vinci Code. He is the co-founder of Regent College in Vancouver, Canada where he still resides.
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