GREG DAVENPORT: Answering The 'Da Vinci' Challenge
Published in 40 languages and one of the best-selling novels of all time, "The Da Vinci Code" (TDVC) fictional plot theorizes that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered a daughter, that Leonardo da Vinci included a figure representing Mary Magdalene in "The Last Supper" painting and that The Church hid the truth, favoring Matthew, Mark, Luke and John over later-written "gospels."
"You are going to have your faith challenged," says Christian author Josh McDowell. "This film is going to undermine a lot of people's faith."
But McDowell says the TDVC film can provide a platform to share Christian faith.
"This film can make Jesus Christ an issue, more than anything (that's come along) in 50 to 100 years," he says.
Do we Christians really know what we believe, or do we only repeat what some preacher said? Do we just say things we've heard for years? It's no longer going to be good enough to have a scratch-the-surface faith -- if we want to keep it. If someone doesn't have a deep and abiding relationship with Christ, there's coming a time when he won't have a relationship with Christ, at all.
Many Christians know so little about the Christian faith that "their faith" can be taken away by someone with a good argument. We often hear of young people who go off to college and lose their faith.
"TDVC" wrongly proposes that some "gospels" left out of the Christian canon of New Testament Holy Scripture were more reliable than the four included.
Jesus said, "False christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as, if it were possible, to deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24).
Gnostics believed people needed special knowledge to know God ("gnosis" is Greek for "knowledge"). They proposed that all matter is evil and the spirit is righteous; therefore, humanity is evil. They left evidence showing they believed man's spirit was righteous but asleep and needed to be awakened or illumined -- so he could gain salvation through special knowledge. They speculated that if Jesus came in a physical human body, he couldn't be the son of God. Some believed Jesus' body was an illusion.
Gnostic theory disputes the Bible with its 66 books -- 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Though written by over 40 authors from various backgrounds over thousands of years, the Bible focuses on one theme -- the Messiah -- and is consistent and trustworthy.
St. Paul said, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another gospel, but there are some that trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-10).
"Gospel" means "good news." The idea that only certain people can receive special knowledge and be saved is not good news.
I believe Jesus is the Son of God for good reasons. One of those reasons is that our Bible's four Gospels tell about people who were eyewitnesses to Jesus' life. And over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection. Over 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled concerning Christ's coming, death and resurrection; the Old Testament contains books written hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. And the four Gospels were written within the lifetimes of people who could have refuted them. The Gospel of Judas, like other Gnostic gospels, was written 100 to 300 years after Christ's resurrection.
The gospel recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is even proven accurate by how it affects the lives of people who believe that gospel.
"TDVC" may be an interesting fictional story, but it won't change your life -- except maybe to cause doubt. When you read the Bible, you're taking in life. Read it; devour it; it's active and alive. Many have been transformed by it.
The Rev. Greg Davenport serves as pastor of Vineyard Assembly of God in Tramway and may be reached at email@example.com.
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