Perhaps you think the Da Vinci Code phenomenon has reached its high point; that its influence is waning. Can it possibly sell any more copies? People surely reject its shocking message — that Jesus was a mere man who taught earthly wisdom and had a child with Mary Magdalene. It’s time to move on.
Some of you have never even bothered to read the book. You assume that Dan Brown’s attack on orthodox Christianity will go the way of the Celestine Prophecy, or other attempts to undermine the life–changing message of the Bible. Cardinal Bestone of Turin exhorted Catholics never to buy or read the Da Vinci Code. (I wonder how many faithful hit the bookstores the next day!)
I’m sorry to tell you, but the Da Vinci Code phenomenon is not going away. On May 19, 2006, the movie, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard, will hit the big screen. Dan Brown’s faithful readers, and many who have never read the book, will flock to the theaters. Christians need to realize that the attack on our faith represented by the Da Vinci Code’s message, is not waning, but growing in social influence and cultural power.
Christian organizations are reacting. Campus Crusade for Christ has produced ten million copies of a booklet, the Da Vinci Code, A Companion Guide to the Movie, which they intend to use in a massive evangelism effort. There are at least twelve books of Christian response from the publishing world. My own publisher, Cook, is planning on–screen ads in some regional theaters, and advertising the book Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, which I co–authored with Jim Garlow. They have produced a pop–tart sized abridged edition, which they hope to sell in airports, shopping malls, and in large churches that will find it useful in ministry. The church is waking up and taking seriously this current challenge to the gospel.
In the providence of God, our ministry finds itself, like a watcher on the beach, announcing the spiritual tsunami that may well wash far inland on our cultural shores. The wave has been caused by the clash of two spiritual techtonic plates, far below the surface of the cultural whitecaps. The upheaval is not about a novel turned into a movie. It is due to the eruption of deep, age–old streams of occultic religion, now appearing as a revival of pagan spirituality, joined with the practice of Eastern religions. Christian communities are raising their heads to see what threatens to wash over them.
What can the Church do? How do we prepare the next generation? We cannot close our eyes and hang on, knuckles whitening, to some ideal past. Under threat in the past, the Church has responded not with ghettos and retreat, but with confessions, creeds and deep analysis of the nature of error in order to speak with clarity the antithetical nature of the Truth.
So I respectfully disagree with the Cardinal. Find a copy of the Da Vinci Code. Read it and think about it. Read a few Christian responses to it. Go back and read the gospel accounts of Jesus. If you’re really eager to understand, find a copy of the Gnostic gospel of Thomas and read that, too. You will come away with a far clearer picture of the glory of Jesus, and with the reality of his physical life, death and resurrection. You will know how to talk to your hairdresser, your golfing buddy, your son–in–law, or whoever else goes to see the Da Vinci Code and is attracted to its subersive spiritual message.
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)