Summary: It turns out that very little of The Da Vinci Code is based on history. This sermon examines only two issues: (1) The Truth about the Scriptures, and (2) The Truth about Jesus’ Deity.
Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, has sold some 43 million copies, making it the biggest-selling adult novel in history. With the release of the movie adaptation of the book on May 19, interest in this controversial tale has risen substantially.
A new nationwide survey by The Barna Group says that the book has impacted millions of lives—but perhaps not in the way that many Christians have imagined.
According to the Barna research, The Da Vinci Code has been read “cover to cover” by roughly 45 million adults in the U.S.A.—that’s one out of every five adults (20%)! That makes it the most widely read book with a spiritual theme, other than the Bible, to have been read by American adults.
The audience profile of the book is intriguing. Despite critical comments from the Catholic hierarchy, American Catholics are more likely than Protestants to have read it (24% versus 15%, respectively). Among Protestants, those associated with a mainline church are almost three times more likely than those associated with non-mainline Protestant congregations to have read the book.
Among the adults who have read the entire book, one out of every four (24%) said the book was either “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” helpful in relation to their “personal spiritual growth or understanding.” That translates to about 11 million adults who consider The Da Vinci Code to have been spiritually helpful.
The Barna study also explored whether or not the book caused people to change some of their religious beliefs. Among the 45 million who have read The Da Vinci Code, only 5%—which represents about 2 million adults—said that they changed any of their beliefs or religious views because of the book’s content.
“Before reading The Da Vinci Code people had a full complement of beliefs already in place, some firmly held and others loosely held,” explains George Barna, the author of numerous books about faith and culture. “Upon reading the book, many people encountered information that confirmed what they already believed. Many readers found information that served to connect some of their beliefs in new ways. But few people changed their pre-existing beliefs because of what they read in the novel. And even fewer people approached the book with a truly open mind regarding the controversial matters in question, and emerged with a new theological perspective. The book generates controversy and discussions, but it has not revolutionized the way that Americans think about Jesus, the Church or the Bible.”
“On the other hand,” says Barna, “any book that alters one or more theological views among 2 million people is not to be dismissed lightly. That’s more people than will change any of their beliefs as a result of exposure to the teaching offered at all of the nation’s Christian churches combined during a typical week.”
And so it is for this reason that I would like to address the issue in a sermon I am calling “Responding to The Da Vinci Code.”
This message will not be my normal exposition of a passage of Scripture. Rather, it is a topical message. However, as we begin I do want to begin by reading a passage of Scripture. Please follow along as I read to you from Psalm 25:4-5:
4 Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is part action, part mystery. Robert Langdon, a professor who is in Paris for a conference, becomes swept up in a murder, religious intrigue, and a hunt for clues revolving around paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci. As he and Sophie Neveu run from the police and follow clues, they meet Sir Leigh Teabing who tells them they’re on the trail of one of the most ancient cover-ups ever perpetrated by the Church: the true nature of Jesus and the Holy Grail.
According to Teabing, the Grail secret is that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had a child by her. Jesus and Mary still have descendants today. And, Teabing says, the Church has been wrong all along about who Jesus really was. According to the earliest, Gnostic Gospel writings, Jesus was a wise man who lived in Palestine, but he never claimed to be God. No one believed Jesus was divine, Teabing says, until another faction of Christians believed in his divinity and rose to leadership in the Catholic Church. The Roman emperor Constantine, in order to bring peace to the Empire, called the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., where members of the Council voted to make Jesus the divine Son of God. Teabing then says that at the same time, the Church declared that Gnostics were heretics, and refused to allow the other, earlier Gnostic Gospels (numbering around 80), to be included in the New Testament. As the action progresses, Robert, Sophie and Sir Teabing find out just how far the Church will go to hide its secrets.