Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown's book will soon come out as a movie directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks. The book is filled with many lies and distortions concerning Christ and His Church. No doubt many Christian groups will stage mass protests when the movie comes out. But is that the wisest response, and are modern Christians really equipped to mount a good defense against the Gnostic ideas presented in Brown's book? Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter…

I read "The Da Vinci Code" when it first came out, before I had heard anything about it. I was not familiar with Dan Brown or with his apparent one-man campaign against Christianity evident in previous books by him. Imagine my surprise as the story unfolded and I discovered that it is essentially a thinly-veiled catechism for Gnosticism.

If the movie successfully captures the essence of the book, I think it could become fairly popular for several reasons. First of all, despite polls that claim that 80% or so of Americans consider themselves “religious” there is an incredibly high degree of religious ignorance in our culture. Most people simply don’t study the scriptures, religion, or Church history and have little if any foundation of knowledge in these areas. All those folks who—in our post-literate age—don’t read books but do go to movies, will get to sit through Dan Brown’s cinematic Sunday School cleverly disguised as entertainment and be unwittingly indoctrinated.

These people will likely find many things in the story that appeal to them. Everyone it seems, even many Christians, love to hear stories that denigrate the historic Church. The whole idea of an originally benign and matriarchal religious society that was suppressed and taken over by “evil male church leaders” will certainly resonate with many. No doubt many Christians who are already inclined to demonize the post-apostolic Church will jump right on Brown’s bandwagon in this.

Secondly, much of contemporary Christianity has migrated toward Gnostic thought in many areas and is perhaps ill-equipped to defend against it. Many Christians, while proclaiming belief in the Incarnation of Christ, have essentially denied its sheer and unadulterated physicality by reducing the sacraments to “symbols only”, shifting union with Christ from a direct participation in His glorified humanity leading to the deification of man to a largely cerebral process centered on “bible study”, have rejected the incarnational aspects of the Seventh Ecumenical council and its defense of Holy Images, and so forth. In modern thinking, the sole reason for the Incarnation was simply to provide God a “body” to bear our sins upon the Cross. The greater implications of the Incarnation of Christ, the very union of the Creator with the created and the infusion of the Divine energies of God into man and creation itself are more or less foreign to many Christians today, though they are classic elements of traditional Christianity. The dualism of classic Gnosticism is alive and well in much of modern Christendom.

In the end I tend to think that rather than make fools of themselves by staging mass protests of yet another anti-Christian movie, our faith would be better served if Christians boned-up on these matters and were able to present inquirers with good biblical and historical answers to the foolish claims of Dan Brown. Who knows? Christians themselves may even discover a deeper faith through the whole process and begin to reject their own residual Gnosticism.

Well, I’m allowed to hope for the best anyway…


At 2/23/2006 9:15 AM , Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

Thanks for the remarks.

When the "Last Temptation of Christ" came to theaters, there was a big projest by fundamentalists. They established pick lines outside movie theaters.

This roused my curiosity about the movie, so I went to see what all the fuss was about.

After seeing the film, I approached the picketers and thanked them for demonstrating against the movie. They showed delight at my thankfulness.

Then, I said that their protests had inspired me to see the movie. That I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. And, that I really enjoyed watching the movie.

Their joy turned to anger.

In addition, gnosticism has always been more popular than the Apostolic Church. That's why the Church burned all those gnostics at the stake. If it weren't for the vicious reaction of loving Christians, people wouldn't see the value of gnosticism.

At 2/23/2006 9:23 AM , Blogger Aaron said...

Father Michael,

You have a troll.

At 2/23/2006 12:31 PM , Blogger Fr. Michael Reagan said...


If he is a troll, he is a good one, for I agree with many of the points he makes here.

I simply think his conclusion is wrong.

At 2/24/2006 12:29 PM , Blogger Aaron said...

Care to elaborate Father?

At 2/24/2006 4:09 PM , Blogger Fr. Michael Reagan said...

I agree that organized protests of films only serves to arouse more interest in them.

I disagree with his contention that people are attracted to Gnosticism because of an alleged "vicious reaction of loving Christians" (Documentation, please?). As St. John said, people are attracted to heresy because they are not of the truth, and the love of God does not abide in them.

At 2/25/2006 12:56 PM , Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

Documentation supplied:

The Church's treatment of Giordano Bruno has been fuel for the fire in favor of gnosticism. One of my favorite Bruno quotes is something to the effect that those who persecute people and wage war in the name of Christ, violate the law of love.

At 2/25/2006 1:59 PM , Blogger Fr. Michael Reagan said...

That incident has nothing to do with Eastern Orthodoxy. Are we Orthodox Christians now responsible for the actions of the medieval Catholic Church which by then was already in schism from us?

At 2/26/2006 4:29 PM , Blogger Sophia Sadek said...

Someone asked me if we were orthodox. I pointed out that our only orthodoxy is heresy. Since most of us swim in Latin waters, we focus on the errors of Rome.

As for the Eastern Church, we hold up Basil's support of Athanasius as an example of what to avoid. He outlined a definition of substance that allows for the substantial differences between Father, Son, and Spirit to be named "hypostases," thus preserving the error of "homoousion" embraced by Athanasius.

In the texts of the previous centuries, "hypostasis" was defined as being like the lees at the bottom of a cask of wine. When the wine is separated from the lees, it loses its quality. The lees are essential to the wine.

At 5/17/2006 6:01 PM , Blogger Newbirth said...

I followed a link from Gina's blog.

I also wouldn't have seen "Last Temptation" is people hadn't raised a fuss. Like Sadek, I enjoyed it.

I may see The DaVinci Code movie, if only out of curiosity. I'm reading the book now but it is slow going. I alreaedy read a rebuttal to the claims of the book.

I took two semesters of church history in college, but it's been so long that I've forgotten most of it. :(


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