Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Danger of the Da Vinci Code

This does not only apply to the Da Vinvi Code, but to other such literature that seeks to destroy some of the very foundations of the Christian faith. The deceptive danger of the Da Vinci Code is this: it is still to be considered "just a fictional novel" but sprinkled with many historical "facts" done by allegedly painstaking research. Therefore, since it is not a historical work, there is no need at all, the author and the reader believe, to validate claims, to interact with other historical research that counters the claims made, or to even acknowledge the existence of evidence that refutes or at least seriously challenges the "research" and "facts" presented. In short, this type of novel presents a forum for displaying inaccuracies, personal opinion masked as historical facts, and the author's biases without any checks and balances. Most readers will just pass over these claims as part of the story while at the same time accepting them at face value. The average reader will not research these things to evaluate the claims made. It's just not gonna happen -especially since most readers already reject the historic claims of Christianity by default. After all, its just a novel, right? Why bother? Out of one side of their mouth, most readers will say we are taking it "way too seriously" for demanding historical validation and the vindication of historical accuracy, but out of the other side of their mouth they are praising the "wonderful and in-depth historical facts." Quite a convenient position to be in!

This is why this book is deceptive. Dan Brown is probably a great writer, but for this reason alone I will have a hard time reading the Da Vinci code or any novel like it. I came face-to-face with the fallout of this deception in a conversation with my dad. Both of us are very hard-headed and stubborn. He was extolling the great "historical research" done in the Da Vinci code. I replied by telling him that the research is not as good as he thinks -that there are some serious untruths in there passed off as truth. This, of course, led to an argument as voices raised and emotions ran high. Immediately, according to my dad, people who write and speak against the Da Vinci code "have an axe to grind." We are all just fundamentalist fanatics of some sort. And although I tried to point out that it is Dan Brown who seems to have the axe to grind, I was becoming more and more akin to a fanatical religious book-burner or Spanish Inquisitor in his mind than anything else. I am biased, I have not read the book, and therefore I am just another one of those ignorant Bible-thumpers who try to suppress anything that challenges their way of thinking. Amazing! Looking back, I was admittedly a jerk. I reluctantly apologized, being still upset, but knowing that I did hurt his feelings and embarrass him in front of a few other people. That much was wrong. It still bothers me, though, that the prima facie assumption is that people who have something negative to say, if they are "religious", have an "axe to grind" and are somehow frantically trying to cover up things. It bother me even more that my dad, whom I love, has fallen into the same trap as so many others.

It is funny in a sad, distorted way. To have a widely circulated book come out that reinforces and shows the great historicity, reliability, and integrity of the Bible and the process of canonization would be scoffed at for sport, but if someone produces something that seeks to destroy the claims of the Christian faith, and we dare to speak against it, we are seen as complainers, at best. They say, "Oh, you are just upset because it doesn't agree with your view." We can't win. The world has a double-standard that will always put those who faithfully confess Christ in the wrong. The Bible is true in what it says about the human race. We hate God, we hide from Him, and we actively suppress His truth in unrighteousness. The world will hate us -Jesus promised this much- no matter how fair we try to be.

One lesson I have learned from this is that we can't address these things head on, really. We must learn to chip away at these assumptions in other ways -knowing that even if we prove beyond a shadow of a doubt how false things like this are that we still may not persuade our hearers! Persuasion on these matters comes from the work of God in a man's life alone. We must be ready to defend the truth, but we must learn good and gentle and loving ways to do it. Let them think we are fundamentalist wacko's still -they will no matter what we say, but let us at least be known for our gentleness, fairness, patience, ability to listen, and ability to carry on a meaningful conversation on controversial topics and yet remain above reproach. Peter says we need to be able to give an answer with gentleness and respect so that those who oppose us shall be brought to shame. I have a lot to learn, and yet I am still angry about this. I pray God would use this as a productive lesson for me. Sometimes I just get plain sick of living in this world that hates God so much. I get sick of my gut-reactions to it, too!

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