The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown’s best-seller, The Da Vinci Code is delightful as a novel. His compelling plot and quick vignettes move along effortlessly in a story cast upon a backdrop of Western History. The cultural allusions which punctuate the narrative provide intellectual stimulation without overburdening the story with unwelcome sophistication.
Heretical Fiction
For Christians, however, The Da Vinci Code presents a real challenge, in spite of its literary merits. Brown casts his story as historical fiction, based on the Gnostic Gospels, early heretical writings unearthed over the past century. Using these Gnostic texts as a starting-point, Brown claims that Jesus wed Mary Magdalene and had children by her who were hidden away in France, the early church leaders keeping these details under wraps because they would discourage worship of Jesus as God.
According to the novel, this truth about Jesus has been preserved by an underground movement called “The Priory of Sion”. Many great figures of ancient and modern history, ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Walt Disney, were allegedly members, placing symbolic clues concerning the truth about Jesus in works of art ranging from medieval cathedrals to modern cartoons.
Brown’s popularity is largely due to his skillful presentation of feminist themes. He depicts Mary Magdalene as a woman slandered by the early church leaders as a prostitute, but who was actually married to Jesus, bore his children, and served as a leader in the early church. She is put forward as validation of the feminist claims that women have been repressed and dominated by the authority of men throughout history.
Perhaps for Christians the most disturbing assertion of the book is that Emperor Constantine maneuvered the editing of biblical texts to fabricate the doctrine of Christ’s divinity at the Council of Nicea in 325. “Until that moment in history, according to the novel, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet … a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.” (p.233)
Art versus Truth
The skill with which Brown weaves his tale is what makes The Da Vinci Code so dangerous. Undiscerning readers may well become so drawn into the intrigue of the narrative that they forget to critically consider what is being put forward as historical fact. Tragically, our society since the 1960s has tended to embrace anything that positions itself as an attack on the status quo. The Da Vinci Code plays into this liberal bias.
For Christians, The Da Vinci Code represents the best example of a movement which is threatening the church on many fronts, the confusion between that which is emotionally compelling and that which is actually true. Much deviant theology is presented today in music, drama, and literature. This approach is at the heart of narrative preaching, which has largely eclipsed the presentation of Scripture in many pulpits. Packaging error artistically in an appeal to the emotions, heretics are able to get their lies into the hearts and minds of people with little resistance.
To be faithful to God, Christians must learn to look beyond the emotional appeal of the packaging. We must develop the strength of character to look beyond the superficial and ask the central question, What has God told us in His word? As God’s children, we must stand firmly in God’s truth.

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Greg Tidwell

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