Summary: This message deals with the likely possibility of people choosing to believe both the Bible and The Da Vinci Code. It addresses the issues of absolute truth and syncretism.
The Issue: “Few will choose to totally dismiss the Bible and believe instead in The Da Vinci Code; there is a greater danger, though, of many choosing to believe both the Bible and The Da Vinci Code.”
- I imagine that relatively few people will choose, after having read The Da Vinci Code, to completely buy into its line of thought and totally reject the Bible. There will be some, but they will be relatively few.
- The greater likelihood, I believe, is that people will come away from the novel or the book thinking that some of it is probably true while still believing that the Bible is also true.
- The fact that the two books makes conflicting claims is not a problem for the mindset of most Americans. George Barna (Virtual America, 1994) asked Americans if they agree with the following statement: “There is no such thing as absolute truth; two people could define truth in totally conflicting ways, but both could still be correct.” The results? 72% of Americans agreed with that statement! 72%! Despite the fact that it is an obviously ridiculous notion.
- The idea in play here is called “syncretism,” or to put it a more colorful way - welcome to the salad bar! Syncretism is a fancy word for the very common belief today that you can combine elements of different “belief systems” - a little Christianity, a little Buddhism, a little American dream, etc. - and create your own custom faith. It’s kind of like going to the salad bar - choose what you like and leave what you don’t like.
- For example, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar argues, “I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in an idea of God, although it’s my own personal ideal. I find most religions interesting, and I’ve been to every kind of denomination: Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist. I’ve taken bits from everything and customized it” (from Christianity Today). Her misuse of the term “denomination” notwithstanding, she’s a shining example of syncretism.
- It doesn’t really matter, syncretism says, if some of those beliefs are contradictory - just choose what you like and put it together. (For instance, Gallup found that 20% of born-again believers believe in reincarnation and 26% believe in astrology, despite that fact that those ideas are ardently anti-biblical.)
- People often utilize a salad bar approach to their opinion of the teaching in the Bible. They like the idea of God’s unconditional love, so they’ll keep that; but the idea of an eternal hell seems a bit harsh, so they’ll ditch that. They like the idea of Jesus’ compassion, so they’ll keep that; but the idea of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross pointing to our desperate sinfulness is unpleasant, so they’ll ditch that.
- In our situation this morning, many may choose, despite the conflicting claims of the two books, to choose to syncretize a little Da Vinci with a little Bible. Maybe Jesus did die on the cross, but maybe He was also married to Mary Magdalene. Maybe He did rise from the dead, but maybe there also are secret societies that are withholding some of the truth about Jesus.