Deconstructing the Da Vinci Code - GCLI

Tom Short, Columbus, Ohio

 

The Book

            The Da Vinci Code, written by Dan Brown, is one of the top selling hard-cover fiction books of all time. Millions of people have read it and millions more will see the movie when it is released on May 19th of this year. There will also be massive new marketing efforts this spring to release special editions of the book and screen-play and a mass market paperback which will enhance The Da Vinci Code as the “the book you’ve just got to read” among adults in our society and throughout much of the Western World. 

            The Da Vinci Code is a fictitious, murder-mystery thriller that begins in Paris and follows a list of clues leading the main character on a journey to England. Author Dan Brown does a masterful job of keeping the reader on the edge of his seat as the characters uncover a plot of gargantuan proportions. And what is that plot? None other than what is portrayed as the biggest conspiracy of all time – a conspiracy by Constantine and the Council of Nicea to totally recast Jesus into someone he wasn’t, and to do so through politics and ruthless force. The book claims that a secret society has known all about this for centuries and that this secret was about to be revealed – hence agents of the Catholic Church were sent to silence those who revelations would bring down the church and expose Christianity as a myth created by power-hungry political leaders.               

While Brown’s conspiracy theories and his myriad of historical inaccuracies have been debunked by numerous experts through both books and television documentaries (airing on PBS, The Discover Channel, The History Channel, TLC, etc), one must never underestimate the power of deception this book has. Huge numbers of people have accepted it as gospel truth and they see any attempt to discredit the book as just evidence of how powerful the church is in covering-up its deceitful conspiracy. 

            People read The Da Vinci Code because it is such exciting fiction. However, it opens a door of deception that many walk through. The Da Vinci Code should not be seen as an innocent work of fiction that people will be able to see through, but as a powerful and blatant attack on historical Christianity. And as The Da Vinci Code undermines the historical basis of our faith, it is also a straightforward attack on the legitimacy of our Christian faith today. Furthermore, it aggressively and unabashedly promotes the pagan religious beliefs of Gnosticism and claims that this was the true teaching of Jesus before his teaching were corrupted at the Council of Nicea. Thus, this book is blasphemy of a very serious nature and has been a stumbling block to multitudes. 

            Having made such strong statements in this introduction, one obvious question a pastor would have (and one that I’ve been asked numerous times) is, should people in our churches read the book and see the movie? On one hand, the movie is a direct and defiling attack upon our faith and, on the other hand, people want to know what everyone is talking about in the hopes that they can use this as an opening for sharing the gospel. I suppose many issues should be considered before you would counsel an individual whether or not to read this book, including their own maturity in the faith and how good of a handle they have on apologetics. However, let me say that it is difficult to read this book without having serious questions come to mind – questions that the reader does not stop to ponder because the book is so hard to put down. Thus, these subtle attacks on our faith are left to fester and, I fear, undermine a person’s faith in the trustworthiness of the Bible. I’ve heard many people who have read the book and say they realize it is just a bunch of fiction, and yet, on further discussion, it is obvious that some of the accusations made in the book hit their target and have left this reader with doubts and confusion. 

            I suppose whether or not a person should read the book could be compared to whether or not you would counsel them to take a New Testament as Literature class at the secular state university. You expect that it will be taught by a skeptic who will through more information at you than you could possibly counter in class. This is exactly what will happen to a reader of The Da Vinci Code (and I suspect the movie will be even more of an attack). Thus, on my part, I would recommend people not read the book or see the movie, but I doubt most people will heed this suggestion. Thus, I recommend that we pastors do our best to prepare our people for this onslaught on our faith and use it as an opportunity to further the gospel. 

The Claims of The Da Vinci Code

            Basically, The Da Vinci Code claims that all of historical Christianity was simply fabricated for political purposes. However, some of the more specific and outrageous claims of The Da Vinci Code are:

  1. Jesus never claimed to be “God.” The idea came up at the Council of Nicea where Jesus was declared to be “God” by a vote – and a fairly close vote at that.
  2. The true gospels of Jesus – the Gnostic Gospels --  were collected and burned after the Council of Nicea declared them to be heretical. The New Testament gospels were then manipulated to make Jesus into God and take out references to His humanity.
  3. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and they had a child. This secret bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene continues to this day.
  4. Famous and influential people throughout history (including, as the title of the book suggests, Leonardo Da Vinci) have known about this lineage of Jesus, but have kept it quiet for fear of retribution if they revealed the secret.
  5. Jesus was actually a Gnostic and engaged in pagan rituals. In fact, Jesus discovered that he was “a god” through a pagan sex ritual with Mary Magdalene.
  6. We, too, will discover our own divinity as we engage in a similar pagan sexual ritual called the Hieros Gamos. Understanding the Sacred Feminine and participating in the Hieros Gamosis the way we can become one with the cosmic deity practiced by modern day pagans. 

Thus, Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code that Christianity is “the greatest story every sold.”

 

The Answers Point by Point

            A paper of this scope and length can not hope to provide detailed answers to each and every accusation made in The Da Vinci Code. However, I will mention some of the more egregious claims and provide a rebuttal to them.

 

“… [Constantine] was a lifelong pagan who was baptized on his deathbed, too weak to protest”    (pg. 232)

“Jesus’ establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea … a relatively close vote at that”   (pg. 233)

 

Teabing cleared his throat and declared, “The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven.”

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. 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.” (page 231)

 

“The Bible has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions.”

 

Has the Bible been changed over the years?

 

Teabing burst with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.”   (page 231)

“The twist is this,” Teabing said, talking faster now. “Because Constantine upgraded Jesus’ status almost four centuries after Jesus’ death, thousands of documents already existed chronicling His life as a mortal man. To rewrite the history books, Constantine needed a bold stroke. From this sprang the most profound moment in Christian history.” Teabing paused, eyeing Sophie. “Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up and burned.” (page 234)

 

“Fortunately for historians,” Teabing said, “some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert.”

 

These are photocopies of the Nag Hammadi and Dead Sea scrolls, … the earliest Christian records. Troublingly, they do not match up with the gospels in the Bible.” (  page 245)

 

“The marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is part of the historical record.”   (p 245)

 “I shan’t bore you with the countless references to Jesus and Magdalene’s union. That has been explored ad nauseam by modern historians.”   (p 247)

“Jesus was a Jew and the social decorum at that time virtually forbid a Jewish man to be unmarried.”   (p 245)

 

“The Gospel of Phillip is a good place to start … ‘and the companion of the Savior is Mary Magdalene.’ … As any Aramaic scholar will tell you, the word companion, in those days, literally meant spouse.”   (p 246)

 

The claim that Jesus was married and had a child(ren) raises several disturbing questions:

  1. Would Jesus’ children have been part divine?
  2. Would Jesus’ children have been born with a sin nature?
  3. Would Jesus’ children have lived forever?

But the most disturbing aspect of this is the pagan claim of the “Sacred Feminine”

“Physical union with the female remained the sole means through which man could become spiritually complete and ultimately achieve gnosis – knowledge of the divine.”   (p 308)

“The ability of the woman to produce life from her womb made her sacred. A god. Intercourse was the revered union of the two halves of the human spirit – male and female – through which the male could find spiritual wholeness and communion with God. What you saw was not about sex, it was about spirituality. The Hieros Gamos ritual is not a perversion. It is a deeply sacrosanct ceremony.”   (p 309)

“Professor Langdon, are you saying that instead of going to chapel we should have more sex?...”

“Gentlemen,… without being so bold as to condone premarital sex… I will give you this bit of advice about your sex lives. The next time you find yourself with a woman, look in your heart and see if you cannot approach sex as a mystical, spiritual act. Challenge yourself to find that spark of divinity that man can only achieve through union with the sacred feminine.”   (p 310)

Thus, The Da Vinci Code must be seen as advocating a false gospel, contending that pagan, ritualistic sex acts are the means to true spirituality as opposed to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.        

      1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Additional Resources

Appendix A: Questions and Conversation Starters about The Da Vinci Code

Appendix B: Church Fathers and the New Testament on the Deity of Christ 

Justin Martyr (100-165 AD): "...the Father of the universe has a Son; who being the logos and First-begotten is also God" (First Apology 63:15). 

Irenaeus (130-200 AD): (referencing Jesus) "...in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, . . ." (Against Heresies I, x, 1) 

Clement of Alexandria(150-215 AD)
"Both as God and as man, the Lord renders us every kind of help and service. As God He forgives sin, as man He educates us to avoid sin completely" (Christ the Educator, chapter 3.1). In addition, "Our educator, O children, resembles His Father, God, whose son He is. He is without sin, without blame, without passion of soul, God immaculate in form of man accomplishing His Father's will" (Christ the Educator Chapter 2:4). 

Hippolytus(170-236 AD)
"And the blessed John in the testimony of his gospel, gives us an account of this economy and acknowledges this word as God, when he says, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' If then the Word was with God and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two persons however, and of a third economy, the grace of the Holy Ghost" (Against the Heresy of One Noetus. 14). 

What do the Gospels say?

 What did Paul say?

What did other New Testament writers say?