Summary: When a fictional story purports to tell the truth – and that truth directly contradicts the teaching of the Christian church over the past 2000 years – confusion is going to be the result. The power of books and especially movies to shape our thinking as
Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery. He lunged for the nearest painting he could see, a Caravaggio. Grabbing the gilded frame, the seventy-six-year-old man heaved the masterpiece toward himself until it tore from the wall and Saunière collapsed backward in a heap beneath the canvas.
“As he had anticipated, a thundering iron gate fell near by, barricading the entrance to the suite. The parquet floor shook. Far off, an alarm began to ring.
“The curator lay a moment, gasping for breath, taking stock. I am still alive.”
You might recognize those opening lines from author Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code.
“Minutes later, elderly curator Jacques Saunière is dead, murdered by a massive albino monk in the Grand Gallery of one of the world’s most renowned art museums, the Louvre.”
Without giving away the plot, The Da Vinci Code revolves around three main characters:
Robert Langdon, middle-aged American professor, a Harvard expert in ancient religious symbols and their meanings.
Sophie Neveu (noo-VOH), young French codebreaker who works for the French equivalent the FBI.
Langdon and Neveu are mysteriously brought together to solve the murder of the late curator. As the plot thickens, they seek the help of Sir Leigh Teabing, wealthy Royal Historian of England, who for his whole life has sought to unearth a priceless ancient relic.
The murder inquiry quickly becomes a quest to expose a shocking ancient conspiracy—the greatest cover-up in human history—that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene… fathered a child… left a line of descendants still alive in Europe… and that our traditional, biblical picture of Jesus is wildly amiss from the real truth.
Some wonder: what’s the big deal? It’s a fiction story. Yes – but the problem is that on the first page of the book it says this:
All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate. (page 1)
When a fictional story purports to tell the truth – and that truth directly contradicts the teaching of the Christian church over the past 2000 years – confusion is going to be the result. The power of books and especially movies to shape our thinking as a culture is hard to underestimate. And unfortunately, as a whole, those who call themselves Christians have very little idea why they believe what they believe. The issues raised by the DaVinci Code give us a great reason to discuss the reasons for our faith. Have no fear – truth is on the side of Christianity.
So, we’re going to spend this week and next getting a deeper understanding of the historical reasons for rejecting the conspiracy theories of the DaVinci Code and embracing the Bible’s teaching about Jesus Christ.
ISSUE #1: The Authority of the Bible
At the heart of the disputes raised by the DaVinci Code is the matter of authority. What sources from ancient times tell us the truth about Jesus Christ, and which ones do not. If there is doubt over the validity of the New Testament’s record of history, then the door is open to look at other sources of historical fact. So what does the DaVinci Code say? And what does history tell us? First – from the “DaVinci Code”:
“The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven… 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.” (p. 231 The DaVinci Code)
These are some pretty weighty allegations made by the supposed “expert” Sir Leigh Teabing.
It’s a quote that makes a lot of people nod their head in agreement – but it is completely in error. Throughout the story, the authority of the Bible is consistently maligned, and other documents that the church rejected are lifted up as telling the “truth” that has been suppressed for 2000 years. “So dark the con of man” or something like that!
The DaVinci Code
“The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great….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. (p 231.)
“Constantine commissioned and financed 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…
“Some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi.