Unless you have been living on Mars, you certainly have heard of the runaway best-seller, The Da Vinci Code. It has dominated the New York Times best-seller list for more than 150 weeks—often in first place. This book has sold more than 40 million copies. Now comes a movie based on the book, almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster hit. This major motion picture, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks (the Jimmy Stewart of our day) will no doubt get its message across to millions and millions of people who never read the book. This is a significant piece of work in our country. That is why it is important to address it.
The second reason for addressing it is because it is extremely deceitful. For example, on the front cover of the book it says, The Da Vinci Code, "a novel," but if you open the book and begin to read, you will see that the first word, all in capital letters, and standing all by itself, is "FACT." Well, now, is it fiction or is it fact? That first page says: "FACT All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."1
I assure you that as you read it, you won't have a clue which it is—fact or fiction—because the author, Dan Brown, carefully mixes in facts with errors. However, he weaves these in with a fictional story that does draw you into it, and in the process of doing this, he is promoting a pagan religion.
It is, indeed, a broadside attack on the basic foundations of the Christian religion and Western civilization, but it is not promoted as such. It is promoted as a novel, as a murder mystery, which it certainly is, but then there are these so-called facts, which we are told right up front are all true. That is the first lie in the book. They are not all true. There are numerous things he portrays as facts which are not facts at all.
Therefore, I think it would be well if we learned a little bit better what many of our fellow citizens have or are going to be exposed to, because it already is making a lot of people question many of the things they have believed.
I talked to a couple of Christian ladies recently, and they told me the book was wonderful, and they didn't see anything wrong with it at all. You see, therein lies the problem. Given the abysmal understanding of the average American today of history; add to that their lack of understanding of theology, and their limited biblical knowledge; mix all of that up with many factual errors; and combine it in an entire fictional novel, the result is that you won't have a clue whether what you are reading is fact or fiction. Since it sets out to demolish the basic foundations of Christianity, it becomes an extremely important matter for us.
"It doesn't really attack any of the foundations of the faith," some Christians told me. Well, in this book you have sort of a hero, who is going along trying to solve this mystery. The book opens up with a murder, and then some promise of the revelation of something incredible. Then the whole next 454 pages of sometimes-tedious reading is an effort to find the solution to all of that. This draws you into the plot, into the quest for the truth, but in doing that, you are fed a great many lies.
In addition to the hero, Robert Langdon, there is Dr. Leigh Teabing, a renowned historian—highly esteemed in the professional field of history. However, when you read what he has to say, as someone commented, he would be pulled over by the history police and remanded to History 101, because much of what he says would be recognized as nonsense by any high school student that ever studied history at all.
For example, he talks about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which he claims were found in the 1950s. Now would you know whether that is true or not? I hope so. A significant discovery of the twentieth century—they were found in 1947. In the book, his characters state as fact that they included many gospels. OK. Let's see. I wonder what all those gospels were. Actually, the fact is that there weren't any gospels in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Those documents were completely Jewish. However, Brown presents these things, and they come out of the mouth of Dr. Teabing, an allegedly accomplished historian. One historian remarked, "The history he recites would give the whole profession a bad name. But he is used to undercutting the truths of the Bible."
The book is also portrayed as a quest for the Holy Grail, and so you go through the whole book trying to find out what the Holy Grail is and where it is. It tells us that when they find the Holy Grail, they are going to find manuscripts which will destroy Christianity as we know it. Now that makes it, I think, particularly significant, since it really is a broadside against the very foundations of Western civilization and Christianity. It is, indeed, very deceitful.
Again, the book places most of these startling historical revelations in the mouth of the "historian" named Leigh Teabing, who is being dragged along all through this long quest for the answer to these riddles. Many people like a murder mystery, but in this one they don't realize that as they are drawn into the plot and carried along with the mystery, they are also having their faith in Christianity, in the Bible, in Christ, and Western civilization demolished in the process.
Therefore, it is a very dangerous book, and the movie will be even more so. It is destructive to the Scriptures, it is destructive to the Church, and it is destructive to the deity of Christ. It is, indeed, a totally foreign, pagan religion, that is being very subtly introduced through this particular book.
You know what I am going to do? I am going to tell you how it comes out. I hate it when someone does that to me, because when someone tells me who won the Super Bowl, I don't want to watch it. I am hoping to have a similar effect here. As I said, it is a quest for the Holy Grail (but I will reserve the revelation of the end for a little longer).
THE CHURCH HID THE TRUTH?
What Dan Brown says, essentially, is that there is this great plot, a conspiracy by the Catholic Church and by the Church as a whole, even involving the apostles. In this conspiracy, the great truth that Jesus had to tell the world is suppressed, and the real truth about Christianity is what is contained in these manuscripts, which is totally different from anything you have ever thought about or imagined.
Do I have your attention? So does the author, and that is what makes it so deceitful. It bases its concept upon discoveries of some other gospels—the Gnostic gospels. They have been known for a long time, and they originated in the late second, third, and fourth centuries. Gnosticism was an anti-Christian heresy, one of the early ones, and the Gnostics wrote a number of gospels that are pseudo-gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and other such pseudo-gospels.
Why do we say they are pseudo-gospels? First of all, they were not written by Thomas, Philip, Mary Magdalene, or any of the other people whose names they bear. How do we know that? Philip couldn't have written his gospel unless he lived to be 250 years old or more—and so with the other writers. They are all second, third, and fourth century false pseudo-gospels. They have been thoroughly researched and examined and shown to be written several centuries after the original Gospels. Dan Brown says that there were eighty different gospels, and the Church suppressed most of them and only kept four.
To begin with, let us get the facts straight on this. There were only four Gospels in the first century—only four Gospels by those who were contemporary with Jesus, by those who knew Him or knew the facts intimately and first-hand. Matthew and John wrote their Gospels as eyewitnesses. From the beginning of Church history, it has been widely held that Mark wrote his
Gospel based on the memory of Peter. Luke tells us that as an historian, he carefully went back to investigate the sources. You can tell, for example, that he interviewed Mary, the mother of Jesus, because there is more about her in his Gospel than anywhere else in the Bible.
All of the other so-called gospels—the one on whose Dan Brown's case supposedly rests—were second, third, and fourth century productions, which claimed to be written by Philip the Deacon, or Thomas the Apostle, or someone like that. This is not possible because of their late dates, so they are fraudulent, spurious, Gnostic, heretical gospels.
Dan Brown takes these spurious gospels (and there were about five of them, depending on how you count them) and claims that they were really the original teachings of the Church, and then they later came along and put the authentic gospels on top of those and wiped out the Gnostic gospels. There is just absolutely no way, factually, that this could be true, because we have quotes from those authentic Gospels that go back to the first quarter of the second century. Numerous church historians and theologians quote the four Gospels, but not the Gnostic gospels.
One of the key aspects of Gnosticism is the view that matter is evil, and it was created by an evil deity, the "demiurge." Gnostic scholar Roelof Van Den Broek writes, "The Gnostic view of the world is anticosmic; the material world was only devised to be the prison of the soul"2 Van Den Broek summarizes well the essence of Gnosticism: It is "characterized by an absolutely negative view of the visible world and its creator and the assumption of a divine spark in man, his inner self, which had become enclosed within the material body as the result of a tragic event in the precosmic world, from which it only can escape to its divine origin by means of the saving gnosis"3
One of the Church Fathers, Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, tells what happened when he came across some Gnostic believers in Egypt, "about the same time the Nag Hammadi library was being collected,"4
For I happened on this sect myself, beloved, and was actually taught these things in person, out of the mouths of practicing Gnostics. Not only did women under this delusion offer me this line of talk, and divulge this sort of things to me. With impudent boldness, moreover, they tried to seduce me themselves.. But the merciful God rescued me from their wickedness, and thus—after reading them and their books,understanding their true intent and not being carried away with them, and after escaping without taking the bait—I lost no time reporting them to the bishops there, and finding out which ones were hidden in the church. Thus they were expelled from the city, about eighty persons, and the city was declared of their tare like, thorny growth.5 We can find other references from the Church
Fathers refuting some of the Gnostic writings. They include Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. Irenaeus (130-202 a.d.), the Bishop of Lyons, wrote Against Heresies to refute Gnostic beliefs and other heterodox opinions. He said, "The argument of those who maintain that this world surrounding us was made by an angel or by any other kind of power, or by another god, has no basis at all, for once a person is driven away from the creator of all things and concedes that the world in which we live was made by another or through another, he has to fall into many absurd and contradictory notions..."6
There is a great irony here. Dan Brown and other moderns who exalt the Gnostic Christians over the orthodox ones are buying into a worldview that denigrates the creation. If matter is evil, then sex is evil. The Gnostic document, The Gospel of Philip (c. 250 a.d.) says of Abraham, "[he circumcised] the flesh of the foreskin, teaching us that it is proper to destroy the flesh."7 Now, presumably Dan Brown would reject the notion that sex or matter is evil, but his basis for rejecting the Jesus of the four Gospels is because of the Gnostic gospels. Meanwhile, the orthodox Gospels declare that God in Christ visited our world: "And the Word became flesh." (John 1:14). At the beginning of creation, God said over and over,". . . that it was good" (Genesis 1). In a sense, Dan Brown is picking and choosing what he wants from Gnosticism. Furthermore, some of the Gnostics were sexual libertines; others were ascetics.
Talking about the first Gospels in the first century, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, author of The Da Vinci Deception, notes that eyewitnesses were still around when the New Testament was being written. If there was something wrong with it, it could have been challenged. For example, "Paul in I Corinthians 15 even said, in effect, 'If you don't believe in the resurrection of Jesus, remember that He appeared to 500 people, many of whom are living until this day. Go check it out.'"8 This is not something that was written several hundred years later. These people who saw the risen Christ were still alive. Therefore, what you have in the New Testament is a dogged insistence on facts, on reality, on history, on evidence—and The Da Vinci Code is based on anything other than that.
The reason for the title is the hypothesis that Leonardo Da Vinci was in on the secret and placed clues in his art—the Da Vinci Code—that pointed to the truth for those who had open eyes. I know of no evidence that da Vinci was a believer in Gnosticism per se or Dan Brown's goddess-worshiping version of Gnosticism. But even if he were, and even if he did put clues in his art— which no reputable art critic/historian that I know of believes—so what? Leonardo lived some fourteen or fifteen centuries after Jesus walked this earth.
The Gnostic gospels are so fraudulent that if the Christian faith were based on anything so late and so flimsy, it would have been laughed out of existence years ago. For example: The Gospel of Thomas, one of the favorites we find being dredged up today, has Jesus say ing things like this: "I myself shall lead her in order to make her a male and then she will be worthy to enter into your company. . . . For every woman who will make herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Thomas 114)." It is a funny thing, lots of feminists like to use that gospel, but very selectively, not wanting people to know that it absolutely blasts out of the water all feminist ideas. That, of course, they could not possibly take. I guess we could call them "Cafeteria Gnostics." So, even Dan Brown's own sources don't lead to the conclusion he was seeking.
The Da Vinci Code is a blatant though subtle broadside attack on the Bible. There is the hero, an historian, and a young lady (an ingénue, a very young and wide-eyed innocent girl) who is being introduced into this heretical religion. All of these heresies are placed in the mouth of this professional, notable, highly respected historian character named Leigh Teabing (the one about whom I said would have flunked History 101). For example, he finally gets around to giving her the truth about the Bible, saying, "The Bible did not arrive by fax from Heaven."9 We didn't know that, did we? How many of you thought the Bible came to us by fax from Heaven? But this is a great revelation to this dear young innocent girt.
"The Bible is a product of man, my dear, not of God," because she had said, "I beg your pardon?"10
I had some Christians talk to me about this book recently, and they said, "Oh, it doesn't deny anything Christian." Really? How about that? "The Bible is not of God; it is of man. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds."11 Really? Gee, I thought I saw a book fall just the other day when it rained. Must have been mistaken.
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.12
Here is another of the old saws that is used—that the Bible was, first of all, written in Hebrew, then in Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac, French, and finally, in English, and that is how we have the Bible. We really don't know what it actually said, because, you know if you tell someone something, and they tell someone else, and they tell someone else, and they tell someone else, by the time you get to the tenth person or so, you won't even recognize the message that you gave to the first person.
That is very true, but totally irrelevant, because we have the message in the original Greek text. I have read it almost every day for the last forty-five years—and so do millions of others who know the Greek language.13
I don't rely on what someone thinks that someone told them that someone told them, and it's just third- or fourth- or fifth- or tenth-hand whispered rumors. We have the facts, and the facts have been indeed substantiated, but there in The Da Vinci Code is this continued attack against the Bible and the pushing forth of these Gnostic texts.
"knowledge." The word gnosis in Greek means knowledge. However, this is a peculiar kind of knowledge. What kind of knowledge is it? It is the coming to this saving knowledge, when you finally come to understand yourself, that you are "divine." If that doesn't remind you of something very prevalent in our day, you are not informed about what is going on in the religious world. That is a perfect description of New Age religion which, of course, is anything but Christian. It is totally fallacious, but that is the so-called knowledge of yourself that is one of the ways of getting to Heaven.
Gnosticism was a heresy that was dualistic. Again, the Gnostics believed that spirit was good, but matter was evil. They held that a lesser god, an evil god, was responsible for the creation of the world. They would never affirm what the New Testament declares—that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. He may have looked human, but in reality, He wasn't. One of the Gnostic gospels has Jesus appearing to be dying on the Cross— when in reality, He is separated from it, above the scene, laughing it off, because it wasn't really happening to the real Jesus, but to a body that He discarded, like shedding a garment.
Of course, The Da Vinci Code is also an attack upon Jesus Christ as well as the Scriptures. For example, Teabing goes on to tell this young lady that Jesus Christ is just a man, and that Christianity has said that He was God, but that was only decided by a vote at the Council of Nicea in 325 a.d. Then Teabing says, "A relatively close vote at that."14 The Church did not believe in the deity of Christ until three centuries after He lived and died, and that by a very narrow vote.
Now it is true that at the Council of Nicea they voted on a number of aspects of Christianity. One of them had to do with the nature of Jesus Christ, because there were a group of heretics—another group called Arians from an Alexandrian theologian named Arius—who denied the deity of Christ. This view was having some impact upon a few people in the Church. Therefore, it was determined that they should act upon this matter. There were 318 bishops there at that time, and when they had discussed the deity of Christ at some length, they voted. They wanted to have it determined solidly that this is what the Church believed. According to the author, it just barely passed.
Let's look at another factual error. Of those 318, only two did not sign the statement that they believed the Nicene Creed, which states that Jesus is "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father"15—that He is the divine and eternal Son of God. Two! Now that is really a very close vote: only two voted against the Nicene Council. Gee! We may have to have a revote on that. Check the hanging chads. This is just another blatant falsehood used in trying to deny the deity of Christ. What does the Scripture—the first century witness— say about these things?
• "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). And in verse 14, "And the Word became flesh, [this Word that was God] and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father."
• When Thomas, the skeptic, saw the risen Christ, he fell on his knees and said, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), the strongest term in the Greek language to describe who Jesus Christ was.
• In Hebrews, the Father refers to the Son; He is talking about angels. To the angels He said this and to the angels He said that. "But to the Son, he says: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8). When God the Father, speaks to the Son, he calls Him God.
Therefore, the idea that the deity of Christ is something that was invented three centuries later is utterly unhistorical, unfactual, and unsupportable. The book is filled with errors like this.
Let's take an example from secular history. In the early years of the second century, less than a hundred years after Christ, Pliny the Younger wrote to the Emperor Trajan. He explained that he had two Christian deaconesses tortured to extract information from them about this alleged dangerous sect. They confessed that they got up early Sunday mornings and met as a group and worshiped Christ as a God and sang hymns to Him.16 Keep in mind that this is one of the many testimonials from secular history from the first and second centuries that showed that Christians believed Jesus was divine. This example predates Nicea by more than 200 years.
The Da Vinci Code is definitely a blast against the deity of Christ, but what is it teaching? I said earlier it is the "quest for the Holy Grail." Do you know what the Holy Grail really is? It is a reference to the cup that Jesus passed around at the Last Supper. It was in front of Him, and He passed it around to the disciples that night at the Last Supper before His crucifixion. That cup has always been known as the Holy Grail.
Well, not according to our author here. When finally the quest is completed, the hero at last arrives at the place where the Holy Grail is. I let my daughter read that passage. I told her, "Honey, I want you to read the last paragraph on the last page of this 454-page book, and I am telling you right now what the outcome is. Here is the Holy Grail. Here is the outcome of the quest. Here is what the book is all about. So our hero says this, 'The quest for the Holy Grail is the quest to kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene.'"
My daughter exclaimed, "What? To kneel before the bones of Mary Magdalene—a journey to pray at the feet of the outcast one?"
According to this book, Jesus is the first and ultimate feminist. According to this book, He was in love with Mary Magdalene; He married Mary Magdalene, and He had a daughter by Mary Magdalene. Furthermore, it was Jesus, the ultimate feminist, who wanted the Church to be completely run by women, and He appointed the first woman to take over the Church when He died. That was Mary Magdalene. Then these entire very bad apostles— the architects of the patriarchal Church—wouldn't hear of it, and so she was cast out by them.
Wait a minute. See if I have this right? Where did all of these apostles come from? Who appointed them? With whom did they walk and sleep and eat for three and a half years? It was Jesus. It wasn't some other group, and these are people coming in trying to hijack His religion—the religion of the deified feminine. No. They were His apostles that He appointed, and there isn't the slightest indication that Mary Magdalene was supposed to take over the Church or that she was thrown out. It is totally without historical foundation.
The Da Vinci Code would have us believe that original Christianity believed in the sacred feminine, and that it was a goddess religion, as found in some pagan religions, until the wicked Catholic Church came along to suppress that truth. They even kill to suppress it—have killed in centuries past and kill in the present day.
Another example, just to bring all of these facts and distorted facts and supposed facts together to support his thesis, he says, "Even the first Olympics were all done to the honor and glory of Aphrodite." Whoops. Did I miss something in my history? I thought they were done to the honor and proclaimed honor of Zeus.
Facts and history don't fit the picture Brown wants to proclaim here. My friends, according to him, if you want to have the real knowledge of yourself that is going to bring you to salvation, you have to understand: Is it faith? Is it grace? Is it love? Is it communion? What is it? It is sex, and when man has sex, it must not be considered, even out of wedlock, to be fornication or adultery or something unclean. It is the most spiritual experience, because since God is a goddess, the women represent this goddess when you have this intimate relationship with a woman, you are as close as you are ever going to come to a relationship with God.
If that is not blasphemy, I don't know what is. Well, yes, I do. In the temple in Jerusalem, in the Holy of Holies, where Jehovah resided over the Ark of the Covenant, between the cherubim, you find God visibly seen in the Shekinah glory. The Shekinah was the glory of God as it manifested itself there in the Holy of Holies. But according to our author, Shekinah was a woman. She was the companion of Jehovah, and what was going on in the Holy of Holies was sex between Jehovah and Shekinah. You could go in on special occasions and watch and participate, and this is the highest form of spirituality.
There it is, stripped naked—The Da Vinci Code. As I said before, given the abysmal ignorance of religion, history, and the Bible in our country today, we need to pray that many people might have their eyes opened. If someone asks you what you think about it, you might be better able now to answer.
The Da Vinci Code is saying that sex is divine. We experience God in the act. Certainly, God created sex. God created all those pleasurable feelings. When a man and woman are together in matrimony, that is even a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church. What the Bible says about sex is very different than the libertine view Dan Brown is presenting. Somebody must have edited out the Song of Solomon from Dan Brown's Bible.
I trust that out of all of this, God, who is able to turn all things to our good, will use it to give opportunities for us to share the true Gospel of the true Savior, who gave His life and shed His blood that we might be forgiven and redeemed and saved by His grace through faith. God has been pleased to make the wisdom of this world foolishness because the foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of men, and through the preaching of the Cross we can come to know God and have the true gnosis or knowledge of the living God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
In the rest of this book we want to explore many of the errors of The Da Vinci Code—beyond just the few we have looked at. In addition, we will look at the kind of theological assumptions that have pushed for The Da Vinci Code. Next, we will look at why we believe the Bible is, indeed, the Word of God—and not the spurious Gnostic documents, which were rejected by the early Church Fathers. Then, we will look at the solid facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus. The fact that He rose from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. It is based on solid historical evidence, which we will examine. After all, if Jesus rose from the dead, wouldn't that put a clincher on His divinity once and for all? That is what convinced the disciples—that is what should convince us, although some won't believe, even if a man rises from the dead (Luke 16:31). Finally, we will look at the ultimate and most important question that The Da Vinci Code raises, and that is: Who is Jesus?
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