Monday, May 01, 2006
Nineteen days from now Ron Howard’s movie, The DaVinci Code, hits the theaters. With Tom Hanks in the lead role, the movie is bound to be a blockbuster. Frankly, I’m looking forward to it! The book was “a real page turner.” At the same time, I know it is going to raise a storm of criticism on one hand and a lot of questions on the other.
God providentially let me prepare for the release of the movie. Knowing it was coming, I began looking for resources a long time ago. One of the best books was Dr. Jim Garlow’s, Cracking the DaVinci Code. I bought and read that book with interest. Garlow is a historian and was able to shed a lot of light on Dan Brown’s mistaken understanding of the Nag Hammadi Library and Gnostic writings in general. Garlow, a Wesleyan Methodist, presents a defense for traditional Christianity from the perspective of a conservative Christian.
Written from the perspective of one who accepts much of the liberal critical scholarship, Dr. Bart Ehrman’s work, Truth and Fiction in the DaVinci Code, scathingly repudiates Brown’s book. I purchased Ehrman’s book at one of the local Barnes & Noble stores along with his Lost Christianities. When I picked up Ehrman’s book on the DaVinci Code, I fully expected him to support Brown. Imagine my surprise when I found him rejecting Brown and his book. Ehrman is a historian who understands early Christian history. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised.
It seems, then, that both those who accept some of the current critical theories and those who reject them out of hand reject Brown’s assertions.
Now let’s admit one thing. In spite of Brown’s comment on the “fly leaf” that a list of things is fact, what he says about them is fiction. There is in the Catholic Church an organization known as Opus Dei. It is not, however, what Brown says it is. There was an ancient militaristic monastic order known as the Templars, but they did not do what Brown says they did. There were amazing discoveries of Gnostic writings at Nag Hammadi in the late 1940s, but they do not say what Brown says they tell us about Jesus. There were documents discovered in caves above the Dead Sea in 1947 (not the 1950s as Brown says), but they tell us absolutely nothing about Jesus. So, while many of the places, organizations, and so on are real places; Brown treats them fictionally. His book is a book of murder, mystery, intrigue, and conspiracy; it is not historical fiction!
Dr. Garlow encourages people to see the movie. He also encourages you to take unsaved friends with you. Then, after the movie, spend time discussing it. That means you have to be understand where and how Brown twists history to suit his fictional purpose. Here at Christ’s Church of the Valley, we intend to screen a response to the movie on Wednesday, May 24. By then the buzz will be underway and people can view the video presentation then remain for Q&A. I will moderate and answer as many questions as I can.
For those of you wondering about resources, let me direct you to a couple of possibilities. Lee Strobel’s website at http://www.leestrobel.com/ has a lot of good stuff. D. James Kennedy will air a documentary May 13, 14 on “The Coral Ridge Hour.” More information at http://www.coralridge.org/. Check out the Worldnet Daily website at http://www.worldnetdaily.com/ for a link to a documentary done on what was once PAX TV. You can also go to www.ionline.tv/specials. Josh McDowell has a book out and a handy downloadable personal study at http://www.truefoundations.com/. McDowell’s stuff has a 3-part sermon series and notes, multi-media presentation, and more for approximately $50. Jeff Bigelow has a downloadable sermon you can get at www.preachingstandard.com/private/resourceprint.asp?id=209.
Well, I hope this all helps.