A Christian Response to “The Da Vinci Code”: What’s the Attraction?

(christian response to the book)

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This is Part Two of an edited version of an address given to the Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland on May 7, 2006.


A Christian Response to “The Da Vinci Code”: What’s the

Attraction?

The movie industry estimates that Ron Howard’s film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code
pulled in over 77 million dollars in its opening weekend. Despite
dozens of critical reviews released last week, and despite
well-documented and obvious flaws in the story’s logic and history,
Americans saw the film in record-breaking numbers.

Now, why would so many persons be drawn to this story? Of course, it is not just The Da Vinci Code, either. Earlier this month, the news media were captivated by the release of The Gospel of Judas,
thirteen little pages of reconstructed papyrus found in an abandoned
cave that supposedly were about to completely upturn Christianity.
There can be no doubt the document is very old. In fact, one of the
bishops of the church, Irenaeus, dismissed it as obvious heresy in 189
A.D. What we are experiencing now in the modern age is that the old
heresies are coming up all over again. It is a bit like rewinding
history, and all the ancient heresies that were tried long ago, opposed
by the church, and declared by the church to be false, they are coming
back.

People seem to have taken a renewed interest, for example, in the
Gnostic gospels. During the early centuries of Christianity many groups
tried to hijack Christianity and make it into something else, even as
today there are cults and sects who do the same. Because there were so
many of these radical groups, archaeologists and other scholars are
always coming up with new documents and shreds of evidence–the Nag
Hammadi library, for example–and when they are released to the public,
the very fact that the church rejected them seems to be proof positive
to the postmodern mind that they must be true.

We are living in strange times. Here’s the question: Why would
persons prefer a lie to the truth? Over the next few weeks, all the
shows on the cable news networks and talk radio will most certainly be
talking about this new movie, discussing the storyline and the art and
the history. They will be talking about the argument this movie makes
about Jesus, and the Christian response to it. But what they will not
be talking about is this: Why would persons prefer the false gospel to
the true?

This is why: If the true storyline concerning Jesus Christ was that
He was merely a mortal prophet who came to establish an earthly dynasty
and to help us all celebrate the divine feminine and be a part of His
circle of knowledge and enlightenment, then the fact is that we do not
have to think about the fact that we are sinners. If that is what the
life of Jesus is all about, then it is not about how we must be
redeemed from our sin, but rather about how we can simply be
enlightened and informed. The truth is, the human heart would much
rather be told it is uninformed than that it is sinful.

If the truth about Jesus is that he was merely another human being,
then God does not lay claim upon your life. He does not lay claim upon
your marriage. He does not lay claim upon your sex life. If this is
true, then God does not much care about any of that; he simply wants
you to be informed. There is no “take up your cross and follow me.”
There is no discipleship. There is no dying to self and living to
Christ. There is none of that, and there is no judgment. All of which
sits well with the postmodern mind, for there are many people who think
the best news they could hear is that they will never have to face
judgment. As a matter of fact, the only way to understand the world
around us is to acknowledge that the vast majority of our neighbors do
not believe they will face judgment.

The reason false gospels are so attractive and so seductive is because it is convenient for us to be told that we
are not the problem. We would much rather believe that the problem is a
conspiracy–that humanity has been held in darkness because some have
conspired to suppress the truth.

Beginning in Matthew 16:13, we encounter one of those great texts
that informs us about the identity of the Gospel, the identity of
Christ, and the identity of the church: “Now when Jesus came into the
district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people
say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say ‘John the
Baptist’, others say ‘Elijah’, others ‘Jeremiah or one of the
prophets’.’ He said to them, ‘but who do you say that I am?’
Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh
and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father, who is in
heaven.'”

That is the central truth claim of Christianity, and in this passage
and the verses that follow, we see the constitution of the Christian
church based upon this truth–the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the
Son of the living God. Look at Jesus’ question to his disciples: “But
who do they say that I am?” That is almost like a pollster’s question,
and it will not be surprising if pollsters all over the country are
asking a question much like that one over the next few weeks. Brace
yourself for the release of the polls and for all of the discussion
about this movie. The newsweeklies and newspapers will be going to
Americans and saying, “Who do you say Jesus is? Here is what The Da Vinci Code
says, and here is what this expert says. What do you say?” Without
doubt, the answer will be a mass of confusion, and that is nothing new.
When Jesus asked His disciples, “but who do they say that I am?,” what
came back was a report of confusion. “Well, some say Elijah, some say
Jeremiah, some say one of the prophets”–mass confusion.

But then Jesus turns to His own and says, “But who do you say
that I am?” Though Jesus has been revealing Himself to His disciples
through His words, His deeds, and His presence, He had never asked them
this question until now. Yet Peter says, “I know. You are the Christ,
the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Promised One, the Consolation of
Israel, the one whom God promised, the Prophet that Moses promised in
Deuteronomy, the Suffering Servant promised in Isaiah’s prophecy, the
one who would come and save His people from their sins. You are the
Christ, the Son of the living God!”

Brothers and sisters, that is why we are here. It is because every
one of us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have made the same
confession of faith, and we have stood in the line of Peter and said,
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!” When we say that, we
are confessing together that this is the one who came as the Christ,
the one who came as the Messiah, the one who was fully divine, the one
who had no sin, the one who was conceived of the virgin Mary, the one
who lived a sinless life, and the one who died on the cross as our
substitute, paying the penalty for our sins, shedding His blood for the
salvation of sinners. “Thou art the Christ,” the one who rescued His
people from sin, the one who came not only to lead people out of
captivity to Pharaoh and Egypt, but the one who came in the new Exodus
to lead sinners out of captivity to sin into salvation. “Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God,” not only the one who was crucified
for us, but the one whom God raised from the dead–His own Son, even of
the same substance as the Father. “He who has seen me” Jesus said, “has
seen the Father. I and the Father are one.”

What is our response to this movie and this book? Very simply, it is
the response the church is called to every single day in the face of
falsehood and evil. Share the Gospel. Confess Christ. Follow Christ
joyfully, and show your joy to a fallen world that so desperately needs
to know Jesus the Christ. Our friends and neighbors, coworkers and
family members are going to be talking about Jesus, because they are
going to be talking about a movie. They are going to be talking about a
story, and they are going to be allowing themselves to enjoy the idea
of a giant conspiracy theory.

In coming weeks, the Lord may well use you as a means of taking the
Gospel to one who desperately needs to hear the truth rather than a
lie. It may be that the Lord will use you as an agent of clarification
in a world of confusion. It just may be that the Lord will put you in
such a place that you are going to hear the murmuring of those who are
talking about a movie. You are going to hear the excitement of those
who thought it was a thrilling story. You are going to hear the
critique of those who will talk about plotlines and lighting and all
the things that Hollywood cares about. You will hear some people say,
“You know, I really wonder–was it true?” You are not there by
accident. God will sovereignly place you where you can be a witness to
the Gospel and say, “I have a story that will top that one! You want to
know an exhilarating, thrilling story? Let me tell you a story that
leads from death to life. Let me tell you about who Jesus Christ really
is, because I know Him as more than a character in a plot. I know Him
as the Lord of my life.”

Let us pray that God’s church will be emboldened “to be ready to
give an answer for the hope that is within us.” Let us pray that just
as the New Testament commands us, we will do so with gentleness and
humility. But brothers and sisters, let us do so with courage and
clarity. And let us pray to see a church that says in response to this
movie and to all falsehood, “We are not afraid to talk about this. We
have met heresies before. Just give us a chance to tell you the truth.

Click here for Part One. Click here for Dr. Mohler’s 2003 review of The DaVinci Code.