Posted by: Nathan | May 18, 2006

Whom to Believe: Dan Brown or God?

All right, Church of God, this one’s for you. If you’re not yet a part of the Church but want to read on, feel free. Basically, I’m writing this because I’m disappointed, frustrated, and concerned about the Church’s reaction to the novel and upcoming movie The Da Vinci Code. It’s been bedlam. Books flying off shelves at Northwestern Books, pundits and talking heads trashing Dan Brown‘s works and ideas on TV, and regular, normal Christians with fear in their eyes: “What if what’s in this book is true?” It’s going to be difficult for me to write this without going on a diatribe, so hang in there with me.

The first step in calming down about the book and movie is to take a little lesson in genre. I laughed out loud when I encountered this website: www.thecodeisfiction.com ! Okay you guys, under which section would you find Dan Brown’s novel at any library or book store? Biography? No. Nonfiction? Nope. Religion/Spirituality? NO. How about Fiction? The above website is redundant; The Da Vinci Code is fiction by definition; it’s a fictional novel! Please, Christians, before you worry about the veracity of a book or its claims, check its genre. I personally found The Da Vinci Code to be a fun read*; check it out if you’re interested. It shouldn’t destroy your faith. There’s so much in there that’s been discredited for centuries, and even non-Christians know that. It’s fiction. It’s not going to be 100% true, but it should get some lee-way to be somewhat false. It’s a page-turner; it’s better than watching most TV I’d posit.

Second step to moving past Da Vinci-itis is to know the Church’s history. What books are in the Bible, and why? Who decided? Why? What claims do we make about Christ and on what basis do we believe those things? The problem here, I believe, is that many Christians first encountered Church history in Brown’s pages, so they only heard a critical (and at points laughable) account of Christ and the Church. Go find some books that lay it out for you. Our faith is not so poorly founded.

The third step is to put down some roots in the Lord, beloved. Remember the sower and the seed (Matthew 13)? Don’t be the seed choked out by weeds or the seed on rocky soil that died in the first drought. Drink deeply from the Spirit and believe. Jesus says that many will hear his words but not many will follow his way; what will you do?

Fourth, and this is something is rises beyond the Da Vinci issue, expect opposition from the secular world. It seems to me that Christians are frequenly being surprised and upset by governments, organizations, or regular folks opposing the Christian agenda. Don’t be. This world is not our home, and we’re at war here with very powerful spirits. The world is opposed to the work of Christ; it’s always been that way, and it always will be (ask Stephen, Paul, and Peter about opposition). Our work is to be lights in the darkness, but that implies that darkness abounds. Point to the better way, don’t get bogged down in the fact that others are opposing us.

Fifth, exercise critical thinking. Not everything you read is true, and not everything is false. There’s a lot of grey, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Read critically. Check out Colossians 2:6-8 (NIV): “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Hmmm, what would we classify Mr. Brown’s novel as?

All right, so those are some proactive things we can do to fight this silly Da Vinci fear; however, I’d also like to encourage and exhort some negative steps. Firstly, stop making such a big stink about it! It’s a movie and a book. Do you think this will be the last time that a popular phenomenon will blantantly counter things we know to be true in Christ? Beloved, don’t be foolish. The bigger the noise you make about how EVIL this book is and how DECEITFUL Brown is, the more people will pay attention to what the book says and who its author is. There’s no such thing as bad press; your angry shouts and ranting essays just bring in more interested people.

Second, walk away if it bothers you or (better yet) laugh it off! If you’re of the opinion that the book is a negative influence, ignore it. Don’t get all worked up; just laugh it off. You know the Truth, right? In one of my favorite C.S. Lewis moments, he describes Christ as the center of all reality–it all springs from Him. If you know him, why do you let a fiction thriller scare you? Demons cringe and flee at the Name of Jesus Christ; why are you afraid of an author? Laugh! This is just a little book with interesing but inaccurate thoughts. It’s chaff in the wind; here today and gone tomorrow. You’ve got eternity with the Most High God of the universe. Let’s maintain some proportion here, eh?

Finally, don’t let it distract you from the work of the Lord. If we’re too busy picketing movie theatres and preaching anti-Da Vinci messages, we’re forgetting to feed the poor, help the helpless, and love everyone. We are to spread the Kingdom of God down here, not get worried about movies. You’ve got more important things to do! “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV).

It’s a book! It’s a movie! Enjoy them for what they are (entertaining, I think) or laugh ’em off. As a side note, a reliable source tells me the movie’s not getting rave reviews, but who cares? Live in the Lord and believe in what you believe in! Don’t be so easily led astray, my brothers and sisters. Someday, we’ll mention this controversy on the streets of gold and we’ll all laugh at how silly we were. Why not start now?

*I’d give the book a 7.6/10 at a solid B. It was a good read but lacked any real depth of character or meaning.

Update: I’ve made the post less diatribe-esque and added my grade for the book.

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Responses

  1. Good post and good points.

    An associate of mine (who I will unnessisarily label as Christian who is VERY ignorant of the world outside the evangelical church) recently told me that TV minister Robert Schuller (of the Crystal Cathedral) was accepting donations to buy paid-advertising time on TV to broadcast a show speaking against the Da Vinci Code. This associate said he was overjoyed for these efforts and planned to donate money himself.

    I think I’ll have him read your post.

    Oh, and my associate was wrong. Whoever was taking people’s money to waste was not Schuller. Mr. Crystal Cathedral himself has no problem with his congregation viewing the film – as long as they take it as entertainment, and feels the film is good fodder for discussion.

  2. Well stated, sir. Much more uplifting than demonizing the thing. Great perspective!

  3. Check out Peter’s take on the dreaded DVC: http://intelligentconfusion22.blogspot.com/


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