Many non-Christians have been confused as to the response of the Christian community to The Da Vinci Code. Some have even ridiculed Christians for discussing it – “It just a novel [movie].” While I have and will be discussing the novel’s ignorance of most of what it discusses, those questioning Christianity’s response to this seem ignorant of human nature and the data that is already on hand concerning the novel and the impact on people.
When people question deer hunters as to why they hunt the largely harmless animal, they don’t quote facts or figures as to why hunting deer should be banned. They ask one question – “How could you kill Bambi?”
The impact of stories, fictional and otherwise, are documented through out our existence. Most of what people think they know about the Scopes “Monkey” Trial does not come from history, but from the movie “Inherit the Wind.”
Movies or novels that are based on some type of history or some kernel of truth are the ones that seem the most real and affect our thinking. The Da Vinci Code is this type of story. It begins by telling the reader that many aspects of the story are true or at least based on facts. Then it proceeds to go in the entirely opposite direction – dealing with thinly sourced, even more thinly supported conspiracy theories.
But that again bring us to the question of “Why bother, it’s just a novel?”
Some recent polling data illustrates why Christians should be on the offense, debating the premises raised in the novel.
An IPSOS poll found:
…13 percent of Americans and 17 percent of Canadians hold that Jesus’ death on the cross “was faked”, and that, as portrayed in the best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code,” Jesus was also married and had a family, according to the poll.
“That belief has been around as part of a Gnostic tradition for about a thousand of years, but it really had not been popularized until ‘The Da Vinci Code’ really hit the mainstream,” Ipsos senior vice president Andrew Grenville told AFP.
That shows “the power of story, the power of a novel to change and shape opinion,” he said.
In France, a Science et Vie poll found that “nearly a quarter of French adults believe that the novel The Da Vinci Code is based on facts surrounding the life of Jesus Christ.”
This article by Jeffrey Weiss of The Dallas Morning News gives more reasons why Christians should take The Da Vinci Code seriously.
George Barna reported that 53 percent of American adults who finished the book said it had been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.” A Canadian survey commissioned last year by National Geographic showed that 32 percent who read “The Da Vinci Code” believed its theories. A Catholic Digest poll found that up to 27 percent of Catholics (14 million) may have had their faith or opinion of the church affected by the book.
Even liberal scholars who doubt the New Testament’s account of Jesus believe DVC should be challenged.
“In our experience, readers are taking it as true,” said Bart Ehrman, a religious studies professor at the University of North Carolina and the author of “Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code.” “Historians care about what happened in the past, and it’s important … to separate the fact from the fiction.”
Robert Price is a member of the Jesus Seminar, an academic group that has tried to sift the Gospels for “historical truth” by rejecting accounts of miracles and other supernatural elements. He’s also the author of “The Da Vinci Fraud.” He’s not angry at Brown for casting doubt on the official histories of Christianity. He’s mad, he said, because Brown did it so badly.
When you have scholars who believe the New Testament and thoe who doubt it lining up together, that should be of interest. Why would people who vehemetly disagree on some many issues all agree that Dan Brown’s version of history presented in his book should be challenged? Unless they feel that people are accepting what Brown says, they have no reason to come together to debunk a novel.
Many of those who reviewed the book for prominent magazines and newspapers felt it had some grounding in history: http://www.danbrown.com/novels/davinci_code/reviews.html
The Library Jounral said, “Brown solidifies his reputation as one of the most skilled thriller writers on the planet with his best book yet, a compelling blend of history and page-turning suspense.”
Chicago Tribune said, “Brown doesn’t slow down his tremendously powerful narrative engine despite transmitting several doctorates’ worth of fascinating history and learned speculation, “The Da Vinci Code” is brain candy of the highest quality …”
Salon.com called it “an ingenious mixture of paranoid thriller, art history lesson, chase story, religious symbology lecture and anti-clerical screed …”
BookReporter.com said, “Dan Brown’s extensive research on secret societies and symbology adds intellectual depth to this page-turning thriller. His surprising revelations on Da Vinci’s penchant for hiding codes in his paintings will lead the reader to search out renowned artistic icons as The Mona Lisa, The Madonna of the Rocks and The Last Supper. The Last Supper holds the most astonishing coded secrets of all and, after reading The Da Vinci Code, you will never see this famous painting in quite the same way again.”
Over and over again through out the reviews you find writers praising the book as “intelligent,” “brainy,” “culled from 2,000 years of Western history,” “rich food for thought,” “incorporating massive amounts of historical and academic information,” as managing to “entertain and educate,”
Just recently in their glowing article, “Why the world loves ‘The Da Vinci Code,'” The Chicago Tribune, says that “fans can claim honorary doctoral degrees in ecclesiastical history.”
The author himself gives us reasons to approach this book differently than just another thriller novel. Dan Brown told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he would not have done anything any differently if he was writting a non-ficition book. Brown said, “I began the research for `The Da Vinci Code’ as a skeptic. … (A)fter numerous trips to Europe, about two years of research, I really became a believer …”
He told National Geographic something very similar: “As I started researching The Da Vinci Code I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer.”
In the few interviews he has given, Brown has stated the book is about history. He has said the “novel touches on how and why this shift (from gods and goddesses to strictly gods) occured…and on what lessons we might learn from it regarding our future.”
So we have large portions of the world’s population having their views on Jesus impacted by this book, numerous Biblical scholars on both sides saying the book should be challenged, book reviewers praising the novel for the historical basis and the author himself claiming to believe the theories and speaking of the impact his novel may have on the future. Now you tell me why we should treat this the same way we do the latest best-selling fiction novel.
Update: I failed to mention numerous other examples of fiction been purposely written to influence people. Most authors have some type of theme or idea to promote behind their writing. Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, JRR Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (just to name a few) used works of fiction to promote ideological ideas. No one has ever doubted this until now apparently. Many of those chastising Christians for being concerned about the ideas proposed in DVC are the same ones who complained the loudest about the message presented in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and The Passion.