Summary: Using the DaVinci Code as a platform to prove the historical reliability of the Bible and as God’s Word to us.
Almost right from the get go of this letter to the Galatians, Paul is astounded that the Christians in this region had so quickly fallen for some false teachings which were spread in their region, a counterfeit Christianity, something other than the what Paul had preached to them. Even in Paul’s day he had to deal with people who were spreading false beliefs about Jesus.
Paul writes to these Christians in Galatia to remind them of what the true gospel is, namely, that we are made right with God, forgiven of our sins, we are set free and given eternal life only once we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, in his death and resurrection. We are saved by nothing else. Paul decided to address these false teachings and present the truth.
I am preaching this series on counterfeit Christianity because I, like Paul, am concerned over how easily some people have been swayed over the misinformation and ideas spread by a fictional book which has challenged some of the most foundational Christian beliefs about the Bible, about Jesus, and about God. We need to be reminded of the truth. Second, I am also preaching these messages because in the next month everyone will be talking about this particular book because it is coming out as a movie, and by equipping you with the truth, you can talk with others hopefully to lead them to the truth about Jesus.
The book of course is Dan Brown’s fictional mystery thriller, The DaVinci Code, on the NY Times bestseller list for forever. It has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, in 44 languages. Some of you, like myself, have read the book, some of you may not have, but no doubt you have probably heard about the brewing controversy. I’m not going to go into all the details of the book, but I do feel I need to address some of the ideas presented by the book because these ideas are not new, they have been around for centuries, and I feel this can provide a good learning experience for us.
What is the controversy? What is the big deal over The DaVinci Code since it is just a work of fiction? Who cares what it says?
The big deal is on page three which states:
“Fact: All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
While this statement does not directly state that the history of Christianity or belief about Jesus is presented in a factual way, it does imply that most of the book is essentially true.
In fact, last year, in an interview of ABC televisions, 20/20, Dan Brown spoke of his “conversion” to a new way of thinking that he’s been introduced to. He acknowledged that he sees himself as being on a mission to bring this new religious message to mainstream America. In other words, Dan Brown believes it is true, and he is actually trying to promote his religious agenda through the book. This is what makes it dangerous.
In a national sample of adults who have read The DaVinci Code from cover to cover, 53% stated that the book had been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.”
So while I don’t want to give Dan Brown much credibility for his work of fiction, I do realize his book is influencing millions of people with false claims of a counterfeit Christianity, causing Christians and non-Christian alike to doubt the Christian faith. Over these three weeks we are going address three issues raised by the book: 1) The reliability of the Bible, (Is the Bible reliable?) 2) the divinity of Jesus (Is Jesus really the Son of God?), and 3) the Christian churches view of women (Does the Christian church have an anti-women bias?).
I. The Reliability/Accuracy of the Bible Challenged
One of the claims The DaVinci Code raises is the unreliability of the Bible. In one particular chapter of the book, the character, Sir Leigh Teabing, says this about the Bible:
“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”
“More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.”
“Who chose which gospels to include?” Sophie asked.
“Aha!” Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collaborated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.”
“Constantine commissioned a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.”