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Presented May 28, 2006
THE DAVINCI CODE AND CHRISTIANS
Tonight, we want to present a different type of lesson than normal, but one that is very relevant. We want to talk about the recently released movie, The Davinci Code based on the book of the same name by author Dan Brown. What the impact can and will this movie have on us as Christians? Should we see it? Since it is touted as a work of fiction does that make it acceptable? Why is there so much controversy surrounding it?
One might ask, “Why address this subject from the pulpit?”
The answer lies in the fact that the book sold over 40 million copies and the movie debuted in the #1 position with some $224 million dollars in revenue worldwide and the #2 all time weekend opening. (LA Daily News). That means that someone you know (probably many of them) have either seen the movie or read the book and are going to be discussing it. Maybe you have seen the movie or read the book.
Because of its blasphemous content, it will
give fuel to critics of Christianity and those who want to water down the
inspiration of the Bible and their need to accept Jesus as the Son of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 notes that if one does not want to believe the
truth, he will find lies to believe.
Also, it could shake the faith of weak and ignorant believers, if they are easily swayed.
This movie, while directed specifically at the Catholic Church portrays Christianity (making no distinction between Catholicism and other “Christians” including denominations and those with the truth) as corrupt from the beginning to present time. Without proper understanding we are put in the awkward position of either defending Catholicism OR this movie.
As Christians, we need to be able to give a defense to every one who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15). An understanding of this book and movie can possibly give us opportunity to discuss God’s word with those who bring them up in conversations. It is with that in mind, that I present this lesson.
By its nature, some of the material presented in this lesson is probably unfamiliar, based on church history beyond the text of the Bible as well as some of the background related to the various books of the New Testament. In this lesson, we will deal with some of the basics of the movie and how it blatantly contradicts (and blasphemes) God’s word.
NOTE: As I begin, I want to note that I have not seen the movie, nor have I read the book. I do not intend to do so, though I know some have read and seen these items with the intent of accurately addressing their concerns with the blasphemy being presented. It is from some of these sources and other materials that I base this lesson. IF for some reason, I have stated something that is inaccurate, please let me know and I will give it consideration and correct any errors found. TATJR
I. Background of the Movie & Book
The story in short is about a Harvard professor of
religious symbols who is called to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France to help in
the investigation of the murder of the museum’s curator. Becoming the prime
suspect, he and his partner flee and begin searching for answers to clear
themselves. This leads them to discover that the Holy Grail, rather than being
the cup of Jesus at the Last Supper, is several chests of documents that reveal
a cover-up about who Jesus really was and two secret societies that have existed
for centuries, one to expose the cover up (the Priory of Sion) and one to crush
their opposition because of the devastating consequences if revealed (Opus
Among the facts discovered in these documents:
1) Jesus was not actually viewed as the Son of God, but a prophet
2) Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, whom He intended to set up as the first head of the church. They had a daughter together named Sarah.
3) These facts were kept secret because the Catholic Church ruthlessly suppressed the information because they wanted to maintain power.
4) They oppressed women and belittled them to help advance this theory.
5) The Bible was actually a product of human compilation, with the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Catholic Church colluding to have Jesus voted as deity at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. AT that council they also set the books that would be considered part of the Canon.
IT IS in these “discoveries” that we find our concerns and the need to expose these works.
The book claims to be based upon factual evidence
While Dan Brown admits that TDVC is a work of fiction; he claims that it is based upon historical accuracies. On page one of the book we read, "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." In a few moments we will see that his “findings” are both inaccurate and blatantly dishonest.
While he appealed to many sources for his background, one major contribution was a book called, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh & Henry Lincoln, first published in 1982. It is a book that claims to be NON-Fiction which calls into question the New Testament and the life of Jesus as there recorded. It appeals to other documents, many of them known as the Gnostic gospels (The Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Truth, Etc.) Each of these “gospels” were rejected for among other reasons, their dating in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries. In other words, they were NOT written during the time of Jesus and His apostles and therefore they COULD NOT be inspired (cf. Jude 3).
The book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail which claimed Jesus was married and had children was quickly discredited and discarded by scholars and historians.
We need to be concerned about the way God and Jesus
are being viewed more and more in society.
These works are just the latest in a series of releases.
You may remember a few years ago, the movie, “The Last Temptation of Christ”
The Secret Gospel, a book by Morton Smith, referring to Christ as the master magician.
In the 70’s there was the play, “Jesus Christ, Superstar”
In all these and many other works, there is an attempt to soften the strictness and severity of God, Christ and His word.
You may know there is something wrong with movies like this (I hope that is the case), and even if you went to one, you would not be swayed, but understand that there are masses out there who are very ignorant when it comes to God’s word. They will take the claims of Dan Brown and Michael Baigent at face value. After all it gives them the right to believe in God and not have to submit to all of God’s word! Therein lies the danger – and the reason we need to resist efforts such as these.
authors of these works have a problem with traditional Christianity and they are
not hesitant to attack it.
Don Brown in an interview with Matt Lauer on June 9, 2003 on the Today Show, he was asked, “How much of this is based on reality in terms of things that actually occurred?” Dan responded, “Absolutely all of it. Obviously there are—Robert Langdon (a key character in the book and movie – tatjr) is fictional, but all the art, architecture, secret rituals, secret societies, all of that is historical fact.” (A video tape of this interview can be found at his website, http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/breakingnews.html )
On another occasion, on Good Morning America, November 3, 2003, when interviewed, Charlie Gibson asked about The DaVinci Code, “If you were writing it as a non-fiction book, how would it have been different?” Dan Brown’s answer was, “I don’t think it would have…”
The point is that Dan Brown believes (or at least claims to) that the background of this book is based on established facts. This means that he has an anti-traditional Christian view (e.g. Jesus was deity, no married, no children, etc.).
Similarly, Michael Baigent, one of the authors of the book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail also wrote another book recently released entitled, The Jesus Papers, which supposedly calls the death of Jesus a cover-up that is contrary to the Bible. In a Dateline NBC interview that aired on April 2, 2006 Sarah James asked Michael Baigent, “You believe that much of what we think we know about Jesus is a lie? Michael Baigent, author: It’s a lie. It’s an obvious lie. James: So basically, you’re asking anybody who is a Christian to question their fundamental beliefs? Baigent: Absolutely.” The interview continued, “James: Some might call your position heresy. Baigent: I should hope they would. James: So you’re saying that there’s a cover up? Baigent: There is a cover up. Of course there’s a cover up. . . . I don’t think Jesus died at the crucifixion. I think he survived.” Also in this interview it is noted that in the book, Jesus made a deal with Pontius Pilate to fake His death. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12084683/
AGAIN, I note these things for one reason – to show these authors have an agenda to discredit the Bible and Christianity as taught therein. DON’T BUY INTO IT OR LEAVE THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU APPROVE OF SUCH (2 John 9-11).
The movie and book are based on “gospels” written
by those opposed to traditional Christianity – they are sometimes referred
to as the “Gnostic gospels.” Gnostics had numerous theories about who Jesus
really was. They believed that flesh was evil and as such, Jesus as God could
NOT inhabit a human body. As a result they distinguish between His flesh and
His soul. Time will not permit a detailed discussion of this, but understand
that this theory was alive even during the first century. 1 John was written in
part to combat Gnosticism. James makes no apology in calling those who believed
these things about Jesus were an antichrist. (1 John 2:22).
Gnostic gospels include, “the Gospel of Judas” which purports that Judas also made a deal with Jesus to betray Him, “The Gospel of Thomas”, “The Gospel of Philip”, “The Gospel of Truth”, etc. These gospels were rejected immediately as being false by reputable men sometimes known as “the church fathers” who believed in Jesus as we read of Him in the Bible. These “gospels” were ALL written during the 2nd & 3rd centuries and inspired by paganism rather than Christianity. They were STORIES about what some believed about Jesus. I am not even sure that all professed them to be written as truth and expected to be part of the Canon (inspired writings).
c. Having said all this, there are numerous inconsistencies and errors in the book. Some major and others trivial. But together they show sloppy and/or lazy research As such, it is to be REJECTED as a false work. Some of these inconsistencies include:
i. P. 234, Brown claims that Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the 1950’s, when in reality they were discovered in 1947. Further, he calls these scrolls as being among the earliest Christian records. But the DSS does NOT mention Christianity.
ii. Concerning Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene, p. 246 states that in the “gospel of Philip” (Gnostic) the term “companion” actually meant “lover”. The actual Greek word was commonly used of friends and associates
iii. Pg. 232-233, Early Christians observed the Sabbath. Constantine changed it to Sunday. Consider Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, the resurrection, etc. All point to “the first day of the week.”
iv. Pg. 244, Any gospel that describes the earthly aspect of Jesus’ life had been omitted from the Bible. BUT, the 4 gospels tell us plenty about His humanity as well as His deity.
v. In addition to this he misses less important facts like the number of tiles in the glass pyramid of the Louvre. He stated there were 666, while in actuality there are 698. (I wonder where he got that number?), the Olympics were held every 8 years instead of 4, the gas mileage of certain cars, etc. The point of noting these is to illustrate that NOTHING in the book can be accepted as truth without careful, further scrutiny.
The book is also built on numerous speculations,
such as DaVinci’s painting of the Last Supper. Brown states that Mary
Magdalene is there with the apostles. I don’t know enough about these paintings
to make an accurate judgment. But I know SPECULATION when I see it!
Let our faith be established not on “I think”, but the sound, complete truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17, Romans 10:17, etc.)
e. These reasons show why we ought to reject this book and movie.
III. Biblical Issues
a. There are many biblical doctrines that we need to give consideration to as we examine these works. IF we are knowledgeable in these things, we can silence “those who contradict” (Titus 1:9. 2 Timothy 2:25)
b. The deity of Jesus. We need to study this issue from time to time.
It is A PIVOTAL doctrine upon which our faith is
Understand, if Jesus is NOT deity, then the Bible is a lie. (And that this is what many of these authors want us to believe).
ii. The claim is made in TDVC that Jesus was declared Deity at the Council of Nicaea by a close vote and that prior to this, it was believed Jesus was just a man. This is FALSE. The Council DID discuss 2 differing views about the deity of Jesus, but neither view denied His deity. And the vote concerning the deity of Jesus was nearly unanimous (with on 2 dissenting votes – less than 1%).
iii. First, there are numerous documents outside the Bible that predate that Counsel in which Jesus is called the Son of God including Clement of Rome (95), Ignatius (95), Polycarp (117,118), etc.
iv. Consider also passages such as John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 2:9, “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” Romans 1:4 where Paul said that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness…”
v. Consider also the fact that Jesus claimed to be “the Son of God” which the Jewish leaders of His day understood. Those who opposed Him called His claims blasphemy (cf. Matthew 9:6, John 8:58-59, 10:33, etc.)
c. The Canon of the Bible.
i. By Canon we mean those books accepted as inspired of God and thus to be treated as holy. The actual word is from the Greek which means, “a rule, a standard (of faith and practice), or a boundary.” WE NEED a standard that all can respect if there is to be unity.
ii. While there are “books” that were rejected as being uninspired, the reasons had more to do than with the simple opinions of men. There were reasons. It is an interesting study to examine which books were accepted and rejected. Most of the books that were rejected were filled with fanciful details that made it easy to reject them.
New Testament Books accepted were written by either
apostles or those who interacted with the apostles. THIS would reject all the
so-called “Gnostic gospels” because they were written much later. They were
also referred to as inspired by the earliest preachers, some of whom were
associates with some of the apostles themselves.
The process of determining these books is fascinating, but at this time I choose to not address the process because of time constraints. This can be addressed in more detail at a later time, if that is your desire.
Understand that we need to have faith in the Bible as
the word of God.
2 Peter 1:19-21 tells us that prophecy came from God, not man and is not subject to “private interpretation”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – it can make me complete. If God wrote it, it is profitable.
v. And we CAN trust the Bible. If you question the Bible, are you willing to do the legwork necessary to reach an honest and informed conclusion?
Who was Mary Magdalene? Was she married
to Jesus? Did she have a child by HIM?
Mary Magdalene was simply a friend of Jesus. NO she was NOT married to Jesus and Jesus had NO children. There is simply NO credible evidence to the contrary.
e. What does the Bible say about women?
i. One of the implications of TDVC is that the Catholic Church oppressed women and thought less of them than men. This is used to explain why they are not permitted to take prominent roles in worship services, the priesthood, etc.
ii. This argument also PLAYS INTO the hand of feminist organizations that don’t like what the Bible DOES say about the submissive role of wives and women in leading the public worship.
But the fact is that the Bible does NOT belittle
women. In fact, it placed them in higher esteem than some in society viewed
Consider Luke 10:38-42 where we read of Mary and Martha. Recall that Martha was doing “woman’s work” and asks Jesus to make Mary help. Jesus rebukes Martha noting what was more important (for men and women alike).
Galatians 3:27-29 – we are ALL one in Christ. There is neither “male nor female…”
1 Peter 3:7 cautions husbands to treat their wives properly “as the weaker vessel”
The Bible also records many women in pivotal roles such as Priscilla (Acts 18:24-28), Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), Elizabeth (Luke 1:41), etc.
f. The value of church history – while not necessary for our salvation, a good general understanding of church history can:
i. Help us explain why the world is so religiously divided, the emergence of the Catholic Church, etc. This can help us identify the true church.
ii. Help us refute various secular doctrines (by noting their origins being foreign to the time of the New Testament – e.g. when “Christmas” and “Easter” began, why are the instruments of music, etc.)
iii. Help us answer fallacies that call Christianity into question, such as those addressed in this movie & book.
Movies and books like this one feed into numerous doctrines and groups who have cheapened the impact of God’s word. Works like these will tell the homosexual that he doesn’t have to change, women that they have the right to assume more prominent roles that God restricted to men within the church, divorce and remarriage is no big deal, and that it really doesn’t matter what you believe because, “the Bible is inaccurate” or “just a commentary on what Jesus really taught” or “just a book of ideas and suggestions”, etc.
For these reasons I believe this to be a movie that should NOT be endorsed by Christians. One, even if you consider it as nothing more than fiction, the supposed story line blasphemes who Jesus was and the church as it developed (and apostatized). Why fill your mind with that type of trash? There is enough good stuff out there – both truth and fiction to keep you busy without trash like this. Two, consider this: Why reward those who participate and/or advance such ungodly theories and stories. Three, there will be those who are ignorant and will assume the many lies to be based upon facts thereby justifying their hatred of Christianity.
Can any good come from this movie? Given the right circumstances it is a possibility. I will give you two good things. ONE – it could promote honest dialogue with some about who Jesus really was. This could possibly lead to one’s conversion. TWO – it could provoke individuals to study the issues for themselves and as a result they become more knowledgeable and as a result more capable of giving a defense for the hope within them.
Rest assured: Your only hope of salvation is found in the Bible as we have it now. If you desire to go to heaven you need to obey the gospel. And then you need to study God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15) and live it realizing that it will be the standard God uses to determine your eternal destiny. Why not do so today?