About eighteen months ago, we were meeting with the community clergy of Schuylerville and the Episcopal priest came into our Monday morning meeting. He asked us if we had heard about a new book titled, The Da Vinci Code. Most of us had at least heard about it. He suggested that we check it out as a group. In the process several of us read the book and then we also read several books that were a defense against the book. One of those books that we suggested was Cracking Da Vinci’s Code by Jim Garlow and Peter Jones. Jim Garlow is the pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, CA. Jim has done a great job at co-writing this book. In addition, Jim has appeared on numerous radio and television broadcasts. Recently, Jim appears on Scarborough Country on MSNBC. I came across the video clip on Jim’s website. He is articulates his point well and is intelligent, yet everyone can understand him. Because the movie is coming out this week, I believe that it is important enough for us to take a look at this movie and as Jim Garlow puts it, “You’ve read the fiction, now read the facts.” In the beginning of the book, Jim quotes from Jeremiah 23:28. I loved the way it read from the New Living Translation so let me read verses 25-32 to you.
25“I have heard these prophets say, `Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. 26How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. 27By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. 28Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between chaff and wheat! 29Does not my word burn like fire?” asks the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes rock to pieces?
30“Therefore,” says the LORD, “I stand against these prophets who get their messages from each other– 31these smooth-tongued prophets who say, `This prophecy is from the LORD!’ 32Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people,” says the LORD.
Part of my concern with this book and the coming movie is that Dan Brown states that his book is fiction, but based on facts. If you go to his website, you will find that he really believes some of the facts that he presents throughout the book. We need to remember that The Da Vinci Code is a book of fiction, from what I’ve heard it is a great mystery novel, but we need to remember that what is presented as fact in most cases is fiction. We want to take a look at just a few of the most blatant falsehoods in the book this morning, with help from James Garlow and his book. We want to take a look at three falsehoods that Dan Brown has given us in his book and compare them with the real facts.
One of the things that Dan Brown loves is conspiracy theories. Many of his “facts” are based on these. He makes a point that for centuries the church has repressed women and has many references to sexual repression in the “church.” The scriptures tell us that sex is part of God’s plan, but only in the context of marriage. Most of us don’t have any problem obey the laws of the land. Matter of fact, obeying the laws of the land makes it safer for us. For example, because we know that a red light means stop, we can usually safely pass through a green light. Because we obey the boundaries we have greater freedom. The same is true with God’s laws. Sex was only meant to be between a married man and woman, period.
As we continue to look at the scriptures we see that they actually promote women even in a patriarchal culture. For example, in Judges Deborah led the nation of Israel. In Matthew’s gospel, five women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. That’s significant, because genealogies typically only emphasized the father. Where ever Jesus went women were elevated. In Luke’s gospel, three women are counted among the followers of Jesus. Jesus broke down the cultural barriers when he engaged the Samaritan woman at the well. Throughout the rest of the New Testament, many women were part of God’s plan to spread the gospel, such as, Lydia, Dorcas, Aquilla, Pricilla, and others. These women contented with Paul in the ministry of the gospel. We will take a look at this subject more next week.
Before we leave this subject of women, Dan Brown advocates the worship of the Divine Feminine. For the past few days we have been reading how Israel is fighting with those in the land of Canaan. The gods that they worship are Baal and Asherah. These are in effect the god and goddess of sex. Dan Brown is giving us nothing new. Worship of the Divine Feminine is really just ancient pagan worship. Instead of valuing women, it ends up devaluing women.
Second, Dan Brown calls into question the divinity of Jesus. We’ve have recently look at this subject, so let me quickly review. Brown says that Constantine (a pagan emperor) was responsible for making Jesus divine. In his book he even claims that the “church” voted Jesus divine by a close margin. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Council of Nicea, voted on several heresies that were confronting the church. The Nicene Creed is the result of this council in AD 325. This creed contrary to what Brown says did not pass by a small margin, instead passed 316 to 2. They only affirmed what Christians had been willing to die for for hundreds of years.
Here are just a handful of His claims to divinity.
· He allowed others to call him the Christ.
· He said He could forgive sin.
· He did not stop others from calling Him the Son of God
· He promised to rise from the dead.
· He said He would be the ultimate judge at the end of time.
Put yourself in the place of the disciples. Would you die for a lie? James the son of Zebedee was beheaded. Simon Peter was crucified in Rome. It is said that, at his request, he was crucified upside down saying, “I am not worthy to die in the manner of Jesus.” Paul was beheaded by Nero in AD 66. Stephen was stoned by a mob in AD 38. Many of the early church fathers up to AD 325 affirmed that Jesus was God.
Again, there is much that can be said that we don’t have time for this morning.
Third, Dan Brown asserts that “history is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books – books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, “What is history, but a fable agreed upon.”
Was the Bible written by the winners? Was church history written by the winners? Let’s look at some of these so-called “winners.”
· Adam and Eve disobeyed God and bringing death on us all.
· Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lied and deceived others.
· Moses committed murder and gave into outburst of anger
· David covered up his affair with a married woman by killing her husband.
· Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, showed profound lack of wisdom on several occasions.
· Peter was impetuous and frequently put his foot in his mouth.
· The mother of James and John showed selfishness in her ambitions for her sons.
· Paul and Barnabas feuded and did not resolve it and parted company (thus we have the first church split)
These are just a few of those recorded in scripture. How about those not part of the early church and Old Testament?
· Augustine had a mistress and fathered a son and abandoned him.
· Jerome, the first translator, had a very contentious personality.
· Martin Luther, who sometimes became drunk, said some unfortunate things.
· John Calvin was demanding and rigid in his thinking.
· John Wesley had two pathetic marriages.
· D. L. Moody and Charles Spurgeon battled depression.
Garlow suggests, “The church doesn’t have to rewrite history to hide anything.” The church is not a museum for the saints, by a laboratory for sinners. We fail in our effort to imitate Christ. The saints of the past were well-known for exposing rather than covering up their problems. If the church is rewriting history, we would have no idea of the sins and other failings of saints of the past.
One of the ways Brown claims that the winner have rewritten history is in the area of the canon. The canon is the scriptures that we have accepted as God-inspired. Again, Brown claims the Constantine rewrote history, by commissioning a new Bible. The old gospels were thrown out and four new gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John were put in their place. Brown makes a terrible history professor. All texts contained in the New Testament were written in the first century. The canon was almost entirely in place by the time of Constantine. The four Canonical gospels, which all serious scholars, liberal and conservative, date far earlier than any of the other non-canonical gospels. Brown has his history mixed up. Irenaeus in AD 180 said, “It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are.” Further council only affirmed the selection of the texts that we currently have.
What does all of this tell us? 1 Peter 3:15 declares, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” My agenda in preaching this message is that you can be prepared to answer questions regarding this book and movie. I have only really brushed the surface of the whole topic. Let me give you a few resources. One I encourage everyone to read Jim Garlow’s book, Cracking Da Vinci’s Code. In addition, you can go to www.jimgarlow.com, to get additional information. Also as you leave this morning, we have a handout available to those would like more supporting information. All of this to help you battle in the war for truth!!!