Summary: Using the DaVinci Code as a starting point for demonstrating Jesus really is the divine Son of God, and why this is important for us today.
Last week I began this sermon series called Counterfeit Christianity because of my concerns over how easily people across this country and around world have been led astray by believing some of the claims made about the Christian faith by a fictional book called The Da Vinci Code. My hope is that during this series your faith will be built up as you know the truth, and that you will be equipped to share this truth with others if conversation arises.
Normally a murder mystery novel even with such outrageous accusations as this book wouldn’t cause such a stir. However this book has sparked a controversy around the country because of a simple statement made at the beginning of the book:
“Fact: All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
This implies that the information it presents on the Bible (a document) and other gospels (also documents) is a fact not fiction, which is misleading people to doubt the Christian faith because the information it presents about the Bible and Christian history is not fact.
Last week I shared the results of a poll surveying people who have read the book from cover to cover, 53% said the book had been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.” What that means is people believe there is helpful spiritual content in the book, perhaps including the lies about the Christian faith.
Last week we explored the book’s attack on the reliability of the Bible. The DaVinci Code claims our Bible is incomplete and therefore unreliable. It claims that the other gospels about Jesus we have discovered (like the gospel of Thomas, Philip, and Mary) were once included in the Bible but purposefully left out of the Bible. Our Bible gives an inaccurate picture of Jesus, and a one-sided view of the Christian faith. Last week we shattered that myth by showing that these other gospels and other Christian viewpoints were a later corruption of Jesus’ teachings, most of them written almost a century after the books of our Bible. The truth is our gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and the letters in the NT are the earliest and most accurate representation of Jesus’ life and teaching, and Christian beliefs. If you missed last week, I encourage you to get a taped copy of the service.
The reason I started with the Bible’s accuracy is because if we cannot believe the Bible is reliable and accurate everything else falls apart for us, including our understanding of Jesus. This is why people are trying to attack the Bible’s reliability. If they can demonstrate the Bible is unreliable they can make Jesus and the Christian faith mean whatever they want it to be.
Jesus not Divine?
This week we are looking at a second accusation The DaVinci Code levels at the Christian faith. Let me read for you a few quotes from the character Leigh Teabing in The DaVinci Code:
“Constantine…held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea…At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of the sacraments, and of course, the divinity of Jesus.”
“I don’t follow, his divinity?”
“My dear” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”
“Not the Son of God?”
“Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”
“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”
“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added.
According to the character Leigh Teabing, Jesus’ divinity, by that I mean Jesus was the Son of God, was never believed until the council of Nicea voted on it in 325 AD, that’s 300 years after Christ’s death. Up until that vote, Christians thought Jesus was merely a human prophet. That is the claim of this book. This is why the book has caused such a stir because it challenges the basic belief of our Christian faith by presenting inaccurate historical information.
Could you imagine that for 300 years people believed one thing about Jesus and then based upon a vote believed something entirely differently? I hope I’m not the only one who sees how ridiculous this sounds.
Imagine all the United Methodist bishops were to get together to discuss Jesus’ divinity, and they decided to take a vote, and the narrow majority decide Jesus was merely a human prophet anointed by God. How many people in the United Methodist churches would go, “okay I guess I’ll change everything I have believed my whole life about Jesus because the bishops said so?” Of course no one would change their belief doing a sudden flip flop. People do not change their minds on something as big as the divinity of Jesus based on a vote. Why wouldn’t people change? Because it is not what the Bible says.