Kris and I began the day in Louisville, Kentucky, at Springdale Community Church, where I spoke about The DaVinci Code (and the bad version of the book in the new movie). My talk went a full hour, but the audience seemed to keep up. My purpose was to see how Dan Brown fared when it came to biblical study and church historical awareness. I don’t think he fares so well, but he has clearly tapped into trends of a current generation.
At any rate, we so enjoyed being again with David and Gayle Butler. By the way, if you’re a young pastor and want role models: David and Gayle are sterling examples of pastoral gifts and generosity — both of them. Kris and I resonate with them so much we feel like we’ve known them forever.
We then hopped in our Rav4 and drove up to Indiana. Convinced as we were that Chicago’s traffic, with all its construction, would be nightmare, we ditched highway 65 and headed over toward Champaign on 74, but in Danville decided to take Hwy #1 north — which was a fun drive through the flatlands of central Illinois — until we got to the end of 57 and found ourselves mired in a massive traffic jam. We found our way out somehow, and that got me to the Vineyard Fellowship of Oak Park, where I once again did a DaVinci Code talk. The host, Perry Marshall, a sharp-thinking Christian orchestrated a splendid event with a nice Sunday night turnout. Good questions. Lots of good ones.
Here’s an outline of my talk; use it as you want (if you want). I asked folks to grade Dan Brown’s work (imagining they were teachers). Sorry for the formatting. The talk is now online in my sidebar under Studies I have Online.
The Challenges of The DaVinci Code
1. 160+ weeks on bestseller list.
2. 300+ items on Amazon.com with that title in them, including DVC games
3. 44 languages
4. Diet Code: Revolutionary Weight-Loss Secrets from the DVC!
Ingredients to Popularity
1. Conspiracy against the Church: “greatest cover-up in history.”
2. Mystery and Intrigue
3. Feminism: quote p. 454.
4. Revelation of sordid lives of religious leaders: Silas the albino priest.
5. Claim to be factual: p. 1.
6. Self-flaggelation: visible in movie.
Five Challenges to the Church: What grade would you give Dan Brown?
1. Challenge of Desirability to Believe the DVC
1. Driven to the heart of a suspicious generation: priestly scandals, televangelists, local church failures, personal wounds, Clinton.
2. General conviction that the Church has suppressed women.
3. Presentation of weird religious people.
4. Proposal of an alternative, more credible story that tells this generation exactly what it wants to hear.
5. Surprising connections with symbols.
6. Offering the theory that a power-broker (Constantine) used power to establish religion (tapping into the seeds of worry in our political climate).
7. Caught the Church napping on self-awareness on history.
8. Reponse has to be both rational and relational.
2. Challenge of a Conspiracy: What is it?
1. Jesus was a pluralist; EC was pluralist.
2. Redemption was up to the individual
3. The divine feminine was central to ancient religions
4. Orthodoxy suppressed the #s 1-3.
5. Gnostic gospels make this clear.
6. Restore the feminine; restore pluralism; junk the orthodox.
3. Challenge of the Central Factor: Was Jesus Married?
Everything in the DVC rests on one fact: Jesus was married.
1. To disprove this, one must have proof to assert it.
2. Statistics: since all Jewish males were married, Jesus was.
3. The Gnostic Gospels indicate this.
4. Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married.
First, Christians are not afraid of marriage.
Second, when we would expect a wife to appear, she does not: at Crucifixion (mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, John told to take care of Mary, the mother); 1 Cor 9:5: Paul could easily have appealed to Jesus.
Third, Christians told the truth about Jesus’ life: Mark 6:3; Mary as a sotah become na’ap; Joseph as a disgraced tsadiq.
Fourth, Jesus’ teachings about celibacy could well indicate personal life: Matthew 19:10-12; Mark 9:42-48
Fifth, the Gnostic Gospels are (1) late and (2) do not say Jesus was married.
Sixth, had the Magdalene been married, she would have been called “wife of Jesus” and not “from Magdala”.
4. Challenge of Historical Background to the Novel
1. DBrown is right in this: history is at the core of our faith.
2. Constantine compiled Bible at Nicea: p. 234.
3. Constantine deified Christ: p. 234. (“upgraded Jesus’ status”; 233: just a prophet)
Close vote: not close. Nor did they really vote; they signed or didn’t.
4. Gnostic texts are more feminine
5. Mary Magdalene was the leader of the faith.
First, the Bible’s books were never voted on; they were in play from the second century on; the four gospels were always the only gospels in play. Muratorian Canon (gospels); Irenaeus; Justin Martyr (four gospels); Tatian (4G); Origen knows of other gospels and condemns them.
All but 2 of the bishops signed the Nicene Creed
Second, John 1:1; Romans 9:5; Jesus’ personal claims.
Third, Gnostic Gospel of Thomas says Mary has to become a “man” to become saved (114).
Fourth, what do we know about Mary? (1) from Magdala, (2) demonized and exorcised (Lk 8:2), at cross (Mt 27:56, 61), sees empty tomb (Jn 20:1-18).
Implication: foreground is fiction; background must be historical; bad move.
5. Challenge of the Reliability of the Gospels
1. Jewish oral tradition: R. Meir; CFD Moule
2. Gospel comparisons: reliable with some flexibility.
3. Inter-relationship shows an early conviction that these Gospels saw the original Gospel (Mark; connected to Peter?) as authoritative and the foundation for all Gospeling. I call this the Apostolic Sayings of Jesus Blog
4. Jewish milieu is in tact: Mark 7.
5. Criterion of embarrassment: Mark 6:5; Peter’s words at Jesus’ confession.
6. Dating: 30-40 years after Jesus’ life we have our Gospels.
7. John 14:26; 16:13: Spirit-directed memory of eyewitnesses.
8. Gnostic Gospels: c. 150 AD at earliest; clearly against the other Gospels; non-Jewish; heroize the losers and debunk the orthodox.