Summary: What accounts for the amazing success of The Da Vinci Code? There are no doubt many factors: (1) For one thing, it is a great story. While few would call The Da Vinci Code great literature, it is certainly great entertainment, a gripping suspense novel

Truth and Error in The Da Vinci Code

Part 3

Christianity Answers The Code

This message contains excerpts from the book

Truth and Error in the Da Vinci Code

by Mark L. Strauss

This book may be ordered at

The popularity of The Da Vinci Code

What accounts for the amazing success of The Da Vinci Code? There are no doubt many factors:

(1) For one thing, it is a great story. While few would call The Da Vinci Code great literature, it is certainly great entertainment, a gripping suspense novel that leaves you hanging at the end of each chapter and wanting more. Just ask anyone who has stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because they just couldn’t put it down. It is a great story.

But believers in the real Jesus Christ have a better story. In fact, it is the greatest story ever told. The overarching drama (the “meta-narrative”) of the Bible tells us who we are in relation to God and in relationship with one another. It tells us that God created us in his image to be in communion with him. In contrast to the Gnostic worldview, this physical world was created “very good” as a thing of great beauty and value, worth cherishing and protecting. While Gnosticism claimed the distinction between male and female resulted from a fracturing of our true spiritual identity, the Bible celebrates sexual diversity as part of God’s good creation. Man and woman together form complete humanity, perfect complements and equally valuable in God’s eyes.

The Bible also tells us, however, that something has gone terribly wrong with this perfect world and with the human condition. The great story took a tragic turn when Adam and Eve rebelled against God and turned their backs on him. The world entered a fallen state. Disease, death, personal tragedy, relational conflict and even natural disasters are all a result of the fallen and decaying state of creation. Yet as in any great story, this conflict gave way to hope and resolution. At the climax of the meta-narrative God himself entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ. He became one of us, real flesh and blood humanity. As the hero of the story, he set aside his own ambition and power and gave himself wholly for others. He suffered and died so that others could live. The result was the creation of a new humanity with a restored relationship with their Creator. While The Da Vinci Code is a great yarn, it pales in comparison to the greatest story ever told.

(2) Another reason for The Da Vinci Code’s great success is because it taps well into our culture of anti-authoritarianism, personal fulfillment, and post-Christian spirituality. The real Jesus called on people to set aside their own selfish desires and to live in submission to God and in self-sacrificial love for others. He said true believers must take up their cross and follow him, dying to self. The model for this was Jesus himself, who paid the penalty for our sins through his death on the cross. Jesus was completely focused on others rather than himself. In the Garden of Gethsemane he agonized over his coming fate, desiring to escape the pain of the cross. Yet he willingly submitted to the Father’s purpose, saying “not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39; Mark 8:34; Luke 22:42). The Bible teaches that salvation comes through admitting our sinfulness and trusting wholly in God for our salvation, living in dependence on him through faith. It means faith in Christ’s work on the cross rather than our own good deeds.

Gnosticism, by contrast, claimed that salvation came from within, a recognition of one’s true spiritual identity. It was not submission to some external authority, but freedom through self-enlightenment. There are striking parallels between ancient Gnosticism and today’s New Age movement. For both, humanity’s problem is not sin and rebellion against God, but ignorance, a failure to recognize the god within. Salvation comes not through faith in God, but through finding the light within oneself.

This striking contrast places the worldview of Gnosticism on a collision course with that of Christianity. Either Jesus was a self-enlightened mystic, teaching people to find salvation within themselves, or he was Israel’s Messiah, the promised Savior who called on people to repent and submit to God’s kingdom and authority. Either Jesus taught people the secret mysteries of self-discovery, or he willingly went to the cross to pay the penalty for their sins. The latter perspective is not very popular in our culture today. People don’t want to be told that they must submit to an authority outside of themselves. They don’t want to be told that the greatest good is living for others instead of for themselves. They want freedom to pursue personal happiness and self-fulfillment.

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