The Da Vinci hoax: A tour de distortion

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By Chuck Colson
Opinion — CHRISTIAN EXAMINER

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 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, other people take it seriously, with tragic results.

Well, Foucault's Pendulum shows us how gullible unbelieving people are. And this is particularly so in our postmodern age when truth doesn't matter. 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 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. Christians need to seize this teaching opportunity, preparing ourselves to answer questions readers are asking.

The first 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.

It is our job to expose the falsehoods. We can learn to answer Brown's lies with the truth by reading books like Darrell Bock's Breaking the Da Vinci Code and Erwin Lutzer's The Da Vinci Deception.

People flock to stories like 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 May, millions more Americans will get a condensed tour de distortion. Knowing our neighbors will see this film, churches ought to begin to get ready now—preparing to answer questions about it and to tell our neighbors that there is no secret knowledge about God. It's all in the Bible and all true.

The good news is that The Da Vinci Code readers and viewers are seeking answers to the central questions of life. The challenge is for us to supply the true answers.

Copyright© 2006 Prison Fellowship Ministries
Reprinted with permission
BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries