DaVinci Code Distortions [v87]

MAY 2006

SCANDAL OR DISTORTION?—G. K. Chesterton famously said something to this effect: When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing—they believe in anything. A good example of this is Umberto Eco’s 1988 novel “Foucault’s Pendulum,” in which a group of friends program a computer to ‘write’ a book about secret hidden knowledge. Titled “The Plan,” the book is the result of random links between things like Kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, the Knights Templar, and other ‘crackpot’ ideas. While “The Plan” was intended as a prank, many people take it seriously, with tragic results (just remember the furor created by the 1938 radio broadcast of Orson Wells’ drama, “War of the Worlds”).

Well, Foucault’s Pendulum and War of the Worlds show us how gullible people can be—and this is particularly so in our ‘postmodern’ age when there is no absolute truth—that every belief is a personal ‘preference’. This phenomenon partly explains the remarkable success of “The Da Vinci Code.” Like Eco’s novel, it’s about a ‘heretofore’ hidden knowledge that promises to let us all in on the ‘true’ history of Christianity.

Author Dan Brown gives us a Jesus who neither died on the cross nor rose from the dead. Instead, He married Mary Magdalene and had children by her. This “sacred blood line” is the treasure safeguarded by groups like the Knights Templar and the Masons. And the Catholic Church, in a desperate attempt to cover up this secret, murders those who threaten to expose it.

Devotees of The Da Vinci Code—like the fictional fans in Foucault’s Pendulum—have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction. They visit places mentioned in the novel, and “Da Vinci Tours” are a booming business. With the upcoming film, interest in The Da Vinci Code will explode. There are many doubting church ‘history’ because of this, so let me encourage you to search out good sources to answer questions you may be asking (like the “opportunities” mentioned at the beginning of this newsletter, and the ones sited at the end).

One question being asked is: Are the historical events portrayed in Brown’s story true? Brown claims to have done extensive historical research and gives his readers no reason to doubt the novel’s accuracy. Since the average person knows almost nothing about Christian history, they’re vulnerable. For example, when Brown says that Knights Templar were put to death by the Catholic Church because they knew the “true story” about Jesus, people have no basis to question it, never having heard of the Knights Templar. Or when Brown says that at the Council of Nicea, the Vatican consolidated its power, most people are unaware that the Vatican didn’t even exist in A.D. 325.

Brown sites any more claims, all of which are not historical. Recently the officials at Lincoln Cathedral in England said that the claims of The Da Vinci Code “collapse upon full and open scrutiny,” and site the following to back up that claim:

1. The Gospels are rooted in direct or indirect eyewitness testimony
2. The Gospels were written too close to the actual events that they can’t be the product of  legend
3. They contain embarrassing and material about the disciples and hard to explain sayings by Jesus that certainly would have been deleted if the writers felt the freedom to ‘protect’ or manipulate the record or wanted to ‘white-wash’ it
4. Archaeology and ancient writings outside the Bible tend to corroborate what the New Testament says

In addition, they also mention that the “fanciful” Apocrypha gospels, that were written much later, come nowhere near the credentials of the four Gospels of the New Testament.

Even the critical German scholar Peter Stuhlmacher said recently that, “We have good reason to treat the Gospels seriously as a source of information on the life and teachings of Jesus, and thus on the historical origins of Christianity.”

People flock to stories like Foucault’s Pendulum and The Da Vinci Code in part because all humans are searching for the ‘secret’ knowledge that answers the mysteries of life—and when The Da Vinci Code debuts in a few weeks on the 19th of May, millions more people will get, in my opinion, a condensed “tour de distortion.”

For me, the good news is that The Da Vinci Code readers and viewers are seeking answers to the central questions of life—and I encourage you to seriously investigate the Gospels with an open mind and then ask yourself this ‘life-changing’ question: “What is the central message that the Gospel writers have for me personally?”

[Excerpts from: Lee Strobel; Chuck Colson]

“Blessings”… Mark

(If you would like a small ‘booklet’ that presents all of the ‘issues’ in a very plain manner, click on the following link to download a PDF file:
http://www.spiritedesign.com/misc/DaVinciCode-SeparatingFactFromFiction.pdf ).

(If you would like to investigate further the reliability of the Bible, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q4_d1_1of10.html ).

NOTE: I have collected a lot of ‘research’ on “The Da Vinci Code,” so if you are interested in delving more deeply into the subject, just contact me and I will get it all to you.

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Already an international publishing sensation, The Da Vinci Code now is a feature film directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks. The compelling story written by Dan Brown blurs the line between fact and fiction, so moviegoers have joined readers wondering about the origins and legitimacy of orthodox Christianity. This guide offers brief answers to five important questions.

Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene?
No. Mary Magdalene was certainly close to Jesus. She wept at Jesus’ tomb [John 20]. Jesus even entrusted her to return and tell the disciples about his resurrection. But we have no reason to believe they were married. Brown says that Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper reveals the secret. He writes that the figure to Jesus’ right, traditionally known as the apostle John, is actually Mary. Not true. Artists often gave characters feminine features to portray youth. John was the youngest of the disciples. Brown correctly observes that few Jewish men of Jesus’ day did not marry. But why, then, did the apostle Paul, himself celibate, not mention Jesus and Mary when he argued that apostles could marry? [1 Corinthians 9:5]

What about these alternative gospels that aren’t in the New Testament?
It’s true that the Bible did not arrive as a “fax from heaven,” as Brown writes. The New Testament canon in its current form was first formally attested in AD 367. Nevertheless, church leaders applied important standards when compiling the Bible. Authors of accepted writings needed to have walked and talked with Jesus, or at least with his leading disciples. Their teaching could not contradict what other apostles had written, and their documents must have been accepted by the entire church, from Jerusalem to Rome. Church leaders considered earlier letters and reports more credible than later documents. Finally, they prayed and trusted the Holy Spirit to guide their decisions. The so-called Gnostic gospels, many discovered just last century, did not meet these criteria. Many appeared much later than the Bible and were dubiously attributed to major Christian leaders. Their teachings contrasted with what apostles like Paul had written. For example, many Gnostic writings argued that Jesus did not appear in the flesh, because flesh is evil, or they rejected the Old Testament.

Were there really competing Christianities during the early church?
Yes—in the sense there were many disputes about the nature of Jesus. And the church has done its best to vanquish challengers to orthodoxy. Once the church decided against the Gnostic writings, they gathered and burned all the Gnostic manuscripts they could find. Later church councils convened to discuss other threats to Christian orthodoxy. Constantine, the first Roman emperor to make Christianity legal, called the most important of these meetings in AD 325. Leaders from around the Christian world gathered in Nicea, where they debated Arianism, which taught that God created Jesus. Brown writes that Constantine called this council so he could introduce a new divine Jesus on par with the Father. On the contrary, documents from before Nicea show that most followers of Jesus already called him Lord, the Yahweh of the Old Testament. The church leaders at Nicea rejected Arianism and affirmed that God and Jesus existed together from the beginning in the Trinity. This council produced the first drafts of what became the Nicene Creed, a landmark explanation of Christian belief.

What is Opus Dei?
A conservative religious group within the Roman Catholic Church. Opus Dei urges priests and laypeople to strenuously pursue sanctification through everyday discipline. The group has taken criticism for its conservative views, zeal, and secretive practices. There is no evidence that Opus Dei has resorted to murder; nor has the Vatican entrusted Opus Dei to violently guard the church’s deepest secrets, as Dan Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code.

Does the Priory of Sion really exist?
Yes, but not as described by Brown. Researchers suspect that members of the real-life Priory of Sion, founded in 1956, forged documents that placed major historical figures—such as Isaac Newton and Leonard da Vinci—in an ancient secret society. There is no evidence for this group beyond dubious documents. Any story relating this group to a dynasty begun by Jesus and Mary Magdalene is a fanciful work of fiction.
[Collin Hansen – Associate editor of Christianity Today]

What can history really tell us? Can we trust the four Gospels? What was the role of women in Christianity? And is Jesus really the Son of God?

The link below addresses the following subjects with short video ‘vignettes’:
– What are the claims by the Da Vinci Code”
– Can we trust the four Gospels?
– What does history reveal about the claims?
– Is Jesus the son of God?

Lee Strobel

Darrell Bock’s “Breaking the Da Vinci Code”
Erwin Lutzer’s “The Da Vinci Deception”

[NOTE: There are many more resources. If you are interested in delving more deeply into the subject, just contact me and I will get it all to you].

Law of Probability: The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.   [Anon.]



SUNDAY NIGHTS, JUN 4/11/18/25 – 7:00-8:30 PM
Four sessions will address the following questions: What Can History Really Tell Us? Can We Trust the Four Gospels? What’s the Role of Women in Christianity? Is Jesus the Son of God?

So, give me a call if you are interested (or if you know someone that might be),
and I can give you/them more details (248.788.1758)—or just visit the following link:

Location: Faith Covenant Church, 14 Mile and Drake Roads


I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
[2 Corinthians 4:2].


Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright is used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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