Summary: That’s what we’re going to find out in this new series on The Da Vinci Code. Garry Poole and I traveled to Europe to investigate the sites of Dan Brown’s story, but our biggest surprise occurred in Lincoln Cathedral. That’s where director Ron Howard filme
Cracking the Da Vinci Code
Part I: Do the Winners Write History?
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[Note: This message was immediately preceded by the video segment from Session 1 of the Discussing the Da Vinci Code DVD, available at www.outreach.com]
That’s what we’re going to find out in this new series on The Da Vinci Code. Garry Poole and I traveled to Europe to investigate the sites of Dan Brown’s story, but our biggest surprise occurred in Lincoln Cathedral. That’s where director Ron Howard filmed scenes for the movie because he had been denied admittance to Westminster Abby.
We walked through the massive front door and down a corridor, opening a creaky door and seeing some impressive artwork. From a distance, one piece really caught my eye – a beautiful marble statue that could have dated back from the 16th Century.
But as I examined it more closely, something was amiss. I reached out and picked it up – and it was as light as a feather! It was made of Styrofoam! It turns out that Ron Howard had left behind some of the props that he created to make the inside of the cathedral look like the interior of Westminster Abby. I looked at a beautiful fresco painted on a stone wall in the room – but when I touched it, it turned out the fresco and the stone wall were both painted on canvas! I knocked on what looked like an 18th century monument – and it was made out of plywood.
Ron Howard had been doing what Hollywood does best – creating illusions. This was merely movie-making trickery to fool movie-goers into thinking these props were real artwork.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this sort of Hollywood illusion. But Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code that there’s a more insidious illusion that has been perpetrated for centuries by Christians.
You heard me describe on that video some of the biggest allegations made by Brown. To sum it up, one character in the book says, “Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.”
The book claims you can’t trust the four Gospels in the Bible – and we’ll deal with that in the second part of this series. It makes the sensational allegation that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that she was supposed to have run the church and that Christianity has systematically suppressed women through the centuries – which will be the topics of the third installment. And it says Jesus never claimed He was the Son of God and, in fact, wasn’t considered divine until he was “upgraded” to a deity in the 4th century – which will be answered in the final week. These four weeks correspond to the Discussing the Da Vinci Code curriculum that many of you are using in your small groups.
Some of you might be wondering, “Four weeks? Why are you devoting all this energy to refuting a novel? Come on – it’s just fiction!” But the truth is, The Da Vinci Code is more than just another novel. For one thing, it’s one of the biggest-selling novels in history, with 45 million copies in print. And, frankly, it’s a skillfully-written page-turner that keeps readers glued to its pages. But more importantly, Brown mixes fact and fiction in such a clever way that people don’t know where reality leaves off and fantasy begins.
In fact, one out of three Canadians who’ve read the book now says they believe its premise that there are descendants of Jesus walking among us today. According to pollster George Barna, a majority of Americans – 53 percent – said the book has been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.”
Even some of the media have bought into it. USA Today said the book consists of “historical fact with a contemporary storyline.” The Library Journal called it “a compelling blend of history and page-turning suspense.” Dan Brown himself told ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas: “I began as a skeptic. As I started researching The Da Vinci Code, I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer.”
Brown specifically claims that much of his book is true. He begins the novel with a page that says FACT, and includes this statement: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”
Since this series was announced, I’ve received emails from some parents here at Willow Creek whose teenagers have read the book and now have serious doubts about their faith. One man told a pastor I know that he will never set foot in a church ever again, because now he knows the truth.