The Da Vinci Code
I just finished reading Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Before you read any further, if you plan to read this book, be warned that I am going to include several SPOILERS in this post. Be warned.
A very brief synopsis: A secret organization has been guarding the “grail” for 2000 years or so. The “grail” is not the cup of Christ used in the Last Supper, but is instead the idea that Mary Magdalene was his wife and was pregnant with his child when he was crucified. The four protectors of this “grail” are murdered by someone intent on exposing the “truth,” and the main characters are attempting to find the “grail” – which is actually Mary’s body and documents supporting the “truth.” This quest involves much code-breaking and symbology “translation” along with narrow escapes and plot twists.
It is relatively well written and kept my attention.
Will it challenge my faith? No.
Is it fiction? Yes.
- One basic premise of the book is that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that she was pregnant when he was crucified. What if that were true? (I’m not saying it is; I don’t believe it was, but let’s explore). My faith tells me that Jesus is sinless and totally obedient to God. True? Yes. Then I am not going to point fingers in judgment at Jesus and say that this was wrong. I’ve mentioned before that I need to KNOW that Jesus understands, from his time on earth, what it means to be human. Marriage, sexuality and having children are a BIG part of our lives – it would be a comfort to know that Jesus was a husband and father – wouldn’t it? I certainly don’t think marriage, sex or parenting are sinful. One more thing – doesn’t it make the time in the garden and his sacrifice even more of a sacrifice, if he were willing to give up his family for us? No, I don’t think it is true, but would it change my faith? No.
- Another premise of the book – Jesus was only human, not divine. If I believe that Jesus was sinless and totally obedient to God, then I certainly have to deny that he was only human. And that’s only one small piece of evidence for his divinity. (The Word passage from John is a pretty powerful statement of divinity in and of itself). I think even a quick glance at the early church would refute the book's claim that Constantine established the idea of divinty for his own purposes. Evidence points to the belief that the majority of Christians prior to Constantine believed in the divinity of Jesus. He was totally human; he was also totally divine. It’s a paradox, and difficult to understand, but it is true. I’ll let God take care of the how of it. Did the DaVinci Code challenge my belief in this? No.
- So how can I say that it wouldn’t be a challenge to my faith if Jesus had a child and that I believe that he was human and divine? Here again, I’ll trust God to take care of it, but a wholly human man can have a wholly human child. Again, I don’t believe that it is true, but it would not change my faith.
- Another premise – Constantine altered Christianity to serve his own political means and what we have today is not what Jesus or God intended. Would it alter my faith to think that politicians have tried to twist religion to their own ends? No. They do it all the time. I do believe that God works in the world, and that he wouldn’t allow us to go 2000 years with a completely false faith without intervening. Which he does, and has. God didn’t drop Christianity in our laps and then run away to see what we would do with it. I also think an examination of history will give evidence that Constantine's influence was not nearly as extensive as the fictional book states that it was.
- One more – The role of women – the balance between men and women – was altered by society in order to subjugate women. It’s hard to disagree with that one. I don’t believe that Jesus or God values women any less than men, but our society has certainly done so for centuries.
So what is the basic question that so many seem to want to answer regarding this book? I think it is whether this book will mislead Christians – whether it will harm the faith of some Christians. To tell you the absolute truth, when I was discussing this book with S, I was a little hesitant to do so in front of our boys. They are just beginning to hone the skill of discerning truth from fiction.
If you have the ability to tell fact from fiction, and if you are worried that this book will mislead people, then I think you ought to read it. If you are really worried that this book (or the upcoming movie) will damage the faith of some people, then read the book. Be ready. Know what you are talking about when you encounter those who cannot discern fact from fiction. Be credible. Speak from truth rather than what you think the book is about. Read your Bible, and then tell people what you really think.
If you are interested in what someone much more knowledgable than me thinks, try out Christianity Today.