Summary: Dan Brown raises questions about the integrity of the Bible as we have it today. This message addresses acqusations that the canon of Scripture was manipulated for political purposes.
Introduction: On December 26, 2005, a tsunami, created by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, killed thousands of people from 12 different countries. It registered a 9.0 on the Richter scale. To provide you with a little perspective, the most powerful quake to ever hit America occurred in California in October of 1989. It registered 7.1. What is the difference? Each whole number step in the Richter scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number. This means that the quake that caused the tsunami that ravaged Indonesia, India and several other countries was about 60 times more powerful than the largest one ever recorded in America. Now, suppose for a moment that geologists and geophysicists had been able to predict the quake and ensuing tsunami with a great deal of accuracy. How many lives do you think would have been saved? What would the people living in Southeast Asia have done differently if they had known that a tsunami was coming? We’ll never know, will we? We can only conjecture, because there was no advanced warning and the largest natural disaster of the last thousand years was the result.
On May 19th, a spiritual tsunami is going to hit America. It is the day that the movie, "The DaVinci Code" will be released for public viewing. Sony Pictures who has put more than $130 million into the movie is engaging in an all-out media blitz that will likely make this film the biggest money maker in the history of Hollywood. You may wonder why we should be concerned about this. If you have not read the book (and this may put you in the minority since an estimated 100 million people have already devoured the hardback version), then I’d like to take a few moments to lay out some of the prominent themes of this fast-paced fictional story from Dan Brown.
The main plot goes something like this: While in Paris on business, a Harvard Professor who specializes in interpreting symbols named Robert Langdon receives an urgent late-night call. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum. A baffling secret message has been found near his body. As Langdon and a gifted French cryptologist, Sophie Nevue, who just happens to be the granddaughter of the slain curator, solve a series of bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo DaVinci. These clues, though visible for all to see, are ingeniously disguised by the painter.
The stakes are raised when Langdon uncovers a link between the clues and a secret society named the Priory of Sion, whose more famous members include Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo and DaVinci. Gradually they come to understand that the two are on a hunt for the holy grail and a breathtaking historical secret that would completely change the way people look at Christianity forever. SOUNDS PRETTY EXCITING, DOESN’T IT? It is a fast-paced tale that eventually leads to the home of Sir Leigh Teabing, an English knight living in Paris who has been searching for the Holy Grail for most of his adult life. It is a conversation that the principle characters have in his study that has caused many who have read the book to question the very integrity of the Christian faith in three important areas. Next Sunday, we’ll be discussing one of them, "What did it mean for Christ to be human?" On Easter Sunday we’ll consider another, "How Do We Know That Jesus is Really God?" Today, we’re going to consider if the Bible we have in our possession is the same one that was written in the first century by the Apostles and their associates.
I. The Controversy: (pg. 231-234). In his book, Dan Brown claims that the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men at the Council of Nicea in 325AD. These men, led by Emperor Constantine, himself a lifelong pagan who worshipped the sun, possessed a political agenda--to promote Jesus to the status of the Son of God while using His influence to solidify their own power base. Since Christianity was on the rise and sun worship on the decline, the emperor, quite simply, decided to back the winning horse! He ordered those at the Council to edit the original message of the gospels endorsing Jesus as the Son of God and to destroy the rest, nearly 80 other accounts which would have negated that claim. Fortunately, according to Brown, some of the texts (The Gnostic Gospels, i.e. The Gospels of Thomas, Phillip and Mary of Magdela and the Apocalypse of Peter are a few) were not destroyed but hidden and were rediscovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. Later in ’50s, more were found (The Dead Sea Scrolls) in a cave near Qumran in the Judean Desert. These documents detail the lies of the Bible and paint a very different picture of Christ. Application: See where this is going? Don’t think for a moment that people aren’t being influenced by this conclusion. Erwin Lutzer, the pastor of Moody Church, met a woman recently who said to him, "I can never go to church again, because now I know that the church is based on lies."