False Advertising

Dan Brown’s historical thriller The Da Vinci Code has now reached its sixtieth week on the bestseller list with more than five million copies sold in the United States alone. Plans are being made to turn the book into a movie. It would seem that the influence of Brown’s novel—which is based on the premise that Jesus was only human, not divine—has never been greater. Yet a number of Christian voices are now speaking out about the flaws and fabrications of The Da Vinci Code. The New York Times reports that in the past couple of months, at least ten books refuting Brown’s argument have been released. One such book is Dr. Darrell Bock’s Breaking The Da Vinci Code. A lot of people don’t understand why Christians are making so much fuss about a mere adventure novel. But in his book, Bock asserts that The Da Vinci Code is much more than a novel. The book is an attempt to promote a worldview, one that’s deeply antithetical to the Christian worldview. Through his characters, Brown argues that the divinity of Jesus and the authority of the four Gospels were not decided until the Council of Nicea in the fourth century. He also claims that the church unjustly suppressed the view of the Gnostics. By examining church history, however, Bock proves Brown wrong on all counts. The Gnostic gospels of which Brown writes were written well after the Gospels in our New Testament, and the church never considered them authoritative. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were always considered the “preeminent” sources of authority on Jesus’ life. Bock also points out what any serious reader of the Bible would realize: The original Gospels proclaimed Jesus the Son of God, and they were accepted centuries before the Council of Nicea. Gnosticism was rejected, in fact, because it differed from this long accepted and practiced belief. What’s really surprising is that Brown doesn’t even get his facts about Gnosticism straight. According to the Gnostic gospels, Jesus is a spiritual being who didn’t die on the cross; a human “substitute” was crucified by the people while the real Jesus was “laughing at their ignorance.” And Gnosticism teaches that salvation comes not through God’s grace, but through secret knowledge that is given only to those intelligent and self-aware enough to receive it—nice if you’re one of the chosen ones, but not so nice for the rest of us. But we get none of this in Brown’s account. To the contrary, Brown misstates Gnosticism by asserting Jesus was human. The book is yet another example of what Frederica Mathewes-Green calls “our culture’s penchant for pick-and-choose religion.” She goes on to say that, “every pick-and-choose religion has this limitation: The follower can never grow any larger than his own preconceptions. He has established himself a priori as the ultimate authority, and his thoughts will never be larger than his hat size.” By contrast, Christian truth is rooted in the authority of the Scriptures—tested, reflected upon, and debated over two millennia—and is rooted in the Church and creed, not in personal preferences. Critiquing The Da Vinci Code is a matter of defending truth, and you need to learn to do this from Bock’s book or from another. Set your neighbors straight; with five million copies out there we’ve got a big job.  
For Further Reading and Information
BreakPoint Commentary No. 040120, “The Da Vinci Conspiracy: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction.” Mark Gauvreau Judge, “Debunking Da Vinci,” BreakPoint Online, 6 May 2004. Darrell Bock, Breaking the Da Vinci Code (Nelson Books, 2004). Erwin Lutzer, The DaVinci Deception (Tyndale, 2004). Amy Wellborn, De-Coding Da Vinci (Our Sunday Visitor, 2004). Laurie Goodstein, “Defenders of Christianity Rebut ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ New York Times, 27 April 2004. (Free registration required.) Kate McCann, “‘Da Vinci Code’ Author Left Out Material,” ChicagoTribune, 19 May 2004. Sandra Miesel, “Dismantling the Da Vinci Code,” Crisis, 1 September 2003. Helen T. Gray, “Unmasking ‘Da Vinci’ author,” Monterey Herald, 21 May 2004. Darrell Bock, “The Good News of Da Vinci,” Christianity Today, February 2004. Darrell Bock, “Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene?”, 12 November 2003. Frederica Mathewes-Green, “What Heresy?” Books & Culture, November/December 2003. Bruce Boucher, “Does ‘Code’ crack Leonardo?” New York Times, 5 August 2003. (Free registration required.) Deborah Caldwell, “Da Vinci’s Secret Agenda,” Beliefnet,27 April 2004. Collin Hansen, “Breaking The Da Vinci Code,” Christianity Today, 3 November 2003. Luke Timothy Johnson, The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters (Doubleday, 2003).


Chuck Colson


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