Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What have we done? (another Da Vinci Code column, sorry)

When it comes to the massive, overblown, popularity of the DaVinci Code I fault the church. It is we who have taken a fictional romp through a fabricated history and made it the great evil and the best seller that it is today. Combined with our complicity in the crime of inflating the book's importance, is the odd reality that Christian publishing houses, para-church organizations, and churches themselves are making millions of dollars selling anti-DaVinci Code programming, T-Shirts, and bumper stickers. There is a minister in my city who has dedicated his full ministry to combating “The Code”. He has spent barrels of money on small, white, “Jesus was not married” signs and a website.

Recently I surfed to Christianbooks.com (CBD) and did a search for “Da Vinci”. There were 100 different books, DVDs, audio CDs, and tracts available. The Discovery channel, the History channel, A&E, PBS, have all spent a bundle on “deciphering the code” programs. Some good, some…not.

During a conversation with the manager at my local auto parts store I learned that the “DVC” had the potential to sway the hearts of millions of Christians.

“Why do you say that?” I asked him, “Have you read the book?”

“No,” he replied, “but my pastor tells me that it’s full of lies about the Bible and about Jesus.”

“What lies?” I pressed

“It says that Jesus was married and that certain books of the Bible were left out because of a conspiracy.”

“Where do you get your truth about Jesus?” I asked him

“The Bible,” came the answer.

“Good answer.” Said I, “Where do you get your understanding about how the Canon…uh…the Bible was put together?”

“Here, I have it right here…this book…it’s called Stomp Da Vinci’s Face. [1]

“Has your pastor ever talked to you about the history of the early church and how the Bible was put together?”

“No, he said read this book.”

So there’s the problem…we, the clergy, have failed on the front end. Our congregations, by in large, do not know the history of the Canon or of the Church. Why haven’t we pointed our flocks to the multiple volumes that we ourselves had to suffer through in seminary? Even the liberal seminaries read church history. Or better yet why haven’t we presbyters translated the church history books into understandable language and fed the flock? The untruths of this book should bounce off of our people like so many autumn leaves against a learned brick wall of faith.

If I'm asked to teach an “anti-Da Vinci Code” class this summer I’ve decided to not use Leonardo’s name in anything I publish or teach. This can’t be about reacting to a work of fiction or a historically corrupt movie. It has to be about building up the body, training the baptized to be disciples. Putting on the armor of God which is the truth so that when the winds of popular culture whip at the walls of our spiritual homes…we are not broken…we stand firm in the midst of the tempest.

This is not the first time this has happened to the Body of Christ.

It will not be the last.

The Church of Christ endures.


[1] Not really a title but it was one of the MANY Anti-DaVinci books.

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