Resources / The Da Vinci Hoax
The Da Vinci Hoax
by David Chong
Why would a Christian care to respond to a piece of fiction like “The Da Vinci Code”?
We certainly have no problem with historical romances of Georgette Hever or Francine Rivers.
So, what’s the big deal with Dan Brown?
Apart from his controversial claims about Jesus’ supposed marriage to Mary Magdalene and conspiracy theories on the origin of Christian faith, Dan Brown actually made his millions by the claim that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate”.
By blurring the lines between fact and fiction, many readers were misled into thinking his theories really have historical basis.
With the movie starring Tom Hanks due next summer, Christians could not afford to react with angry histrionics. We need to use this opportunity to engage our friends with the truth through informed, calm and winsome conversations.
It was with this purpose that CDPC organized Unlocking the Da Vinci Code forum last Saturday. More than a hundred persons turned up in full force.
To kick things off, David Chong introduced some Gnostic texts, which were supposed to prove Jesus’ marriage. By reading passages from the Gospel of Philip, participants could see for themselves that such late third century writings were not historically reliable. On their own terms, the Gnostic heresy had a negative view of women, sex and the physical world. Dan Brown’s descriptions of the documents proved inaccurate.
Reverend Wong Fong Yang presented a light-hearted slide show on the person of Leonardo Da Vinci and his grand accomplishments in art. In particular, we were treated to the stunning pictures of Mona Lisa, Madonna on the Rocks and of course The Last Supper. With flashes of humor, our pastor showed that Leonardo’s portrayal of John as a handsome, effeminate young man was evident in his sketches and other paintings as well. The Priory of Sion was also exposed as a hoax of Plantard. Clearly, Dan Brown’s descriptions of hidden messages in the artwork were inaccurate.
Dr Ng Kam Weng addressed the central claims of the novel that:
- Constantine upgraded Jesus, a mere mortal, to godlike status
- The Bible is merely a product of man. Constantine has suppressed Gnostic gospels
- The character of early church as having no apostolic authority or defining orthodoxy of Christ’s deity
In response, he took us on a tour de force of many early Church Fathers who wrote on the deity of Jesus centuries before Constantine came into the scene. The evidence shows that Nicene Council merely recognized the overwhelming existent consensus of the church.
At the Council of Nicea, the debate was not over whether Jesus was human or divine. What happened was the council’s overwhelming agreement (with two dissenters) that Jesus was eternally God, not a created angel. There was no doubt that Jesus was more than a mortal.
The canonical gospels written before 70 AD and Paul’s epistles (c. 50 AD) showed that the church was deeply concerned that the documents they accepted as Scripture were truly inspired and carried apostolic authority. Pressured by persecutions, they need to determine which books could be surrendered and which ones worth dying for. So the Muratorion Canon (c. AD 200) listed almost all the New Testament as authoritative long before Constantine was around.
Contact among the early churches was frequent and intimate for maintaining of authority, discipline and orthodoxy. For example, the representatives of Cephas and James visited Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13; Acts 8). The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 showed that leaders were working out common position in theology and ethics. They hungered for news and mutual prayers, meeting each other’s needs. Orthodoxy preceded heresy.
The church did not invent the canon. It merely fulfilled the duty to acknowledge its authority.
In conclusion, Dan Brown propagates a relativistic and indifferent attitude towards truth, religion and history. He has hit some hot buttons in today’s culture with its radical feminism, suspicion on authority and self-centered Gnostic spirituality.
As a church, we need to proclaim the biblical gospel grounded in history and demonstrate its life-transforming power.