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THOUGHTS ON THE DA VINCI CODE
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, May 21, 2006
“His spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16).
I am going to speak on The Da Vinci Code this morning. Nearly everyone else is talking about it, so it seems appropriate that I should throw my two cents worth in with the rest. Make no mistake here - The Da Vinci Code is an attack against Christianity. You can’t read the book (which I have done, researching this and two other sermons on the subject) without realizing that the author, Dan Brown, has turned the full force of his energy against Christ, the Bible, and Christianity in general.
Richard Abanes has written what I believe is one of the best books on the subject, titled The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code (Richard Abanes, Harvest House Publishers, 2004). It answers all the major questions Dan Brown raises. You can order it from Amazon.com on the Internet. And, if you still have questions about Dan Brown’s novel, I hope that you order it and read it.
Richard Abanes takes The Da Vinci Code apart limb from limb, and shows it to be nothing more than a poorly researched piece of Christian-bashing trash. Having studied much of the history and art in the book when I attended college and seminary, I actually laughed out loud several times while reading it. It’s a real “howler” if you have studied the matters brought up in the book. But the average person hasn’t had the time or inclination to dig out the true facts behind the novel. Those of us who have taken the time to study Christian history know that the book is filled with distortions, half-truths and outright lies. Richard Abanes says,
It is an understatement to say that many people have been outraged by the claims of The Da Vinci Code. Beyond being a page-turning thriller, Brown’s novel seems to be little more than a well-crafted, cleverly written 454-page diatribe [attack] against Christianity…The book launches repeated attacks against Christian beliefs, the Bible, and early [Christian] leaders. And when it comes to the most sacred of all Christian doctrines - those related to Jesus - Brown writes that “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is wrong” (ibid., page 9).
One theologian said, “If such lies and errors had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust, they would have justly provoked a world uprising” (U.S. News and World Report, May 22, 2006, p. 46). It seems to me he is right on this point. When some Danish cartoonists drew several cartoons of Mohammed a few months ago, churches were burned, and many people were slaughtered by the Muslim extremists. When someone discovered that Mel Gibson’s elderly father had once made a comment that the Holocaust never happened [he was wrong, of course], it brought a firestorm of protest from the Jewish community just before Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was released in theatres. But now we have Dan Brown’s attack on the basic foundational truths of Christianity, and there is little protest. The Christians in America and the West just grit their teeth and hope that the movie won’t confuse too many people.
Whatever the reason, the Christians in North America did next to nothing to protest this attack on Christ and the Bible.
That was not the reaction of Christians in the Third World. . CNN reports,
In India, the government Tuesday put a temporary hold on the movie’s release because of complaints, The Associated Press reports. In South Korea …The Christian Council of Korea, an umbrella group of 63 Korean Protestant denominations, said it…would lead a boycott of the movie, which it said defiles the sanctity of Jesus Christ and distorts facts [about Christianity]. In India [a leading minister] began a hunger strike [as Gandhi often did] and said other people were joining him. “We want the movie to be banned” [in India], he said. Indian Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmshi said he put a temporary hold on the movie after receiving [hundreds] of complaints. In Thailand …government censors [have called for]…the last ten minutes of the film [to be cut]. The National Council of Churches in Singapore …also requested a ban…The censorship board [in Singapore] gave the movie an NC16 rating, barring viewers under 16
These actions against The Da Vinci Code were all from Third World countries where Christianity is coming to life with new vigor and revival. But what are Christians doing about this movie and book in the U.S. and other Western countries? Nothing of any real significance. The Christian “leaders” of America and the West have largely kept silence about a book and film that blatantly, and falsely, accuses the Lord Jesus Christ of having a relationship with Mary Magdalene that produced a baby shortly after His Crucifixion. The book and movie also say that Jesus was not the divine Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity.
Oxford University professor J. N. D. Kelly said that the conviction that Jesus was both human and divine was “all but universal” in the centuries prior to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. (U.S. News and World Report, May 22, 2006). Kelly is right, of course, but it seems to me that leading Christians in the West could have made it far plainer that the book and movie are monstrous attacks on the Christian faith. And where are the Southern Baptists? There’s nothing new in their weak response.
While Western Christian leaders remain largely silent, India, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore are the ones on an international scale who are left to answer this truly blasphemous book and movie.
Why such a weak, anemic response from the conservative Christian leaders in America and the West? Let Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, the renowned new-evangelical theologian who passed away a few years ago, give the answer:
Unless evangelical Christians break out of their cultural isolation, unless we find new momentum in the modern world, we may find ourselves so much [outside] the mainstream of modern history that ours will be virtually a Dead Sea Caves community [a small group of Jews who lived in caves at Qumran and were cut off from the life of their culture]. Our supposed spiritual vitalities will be known only to ourselves, and publicly we will be laughed at as a quaint…remnant of the past (Carl F. H. Henry, Ph.D., Twilight of a Great Civilization, Crossway Books, 1988, p. 19).
How can we overcome this sad situation in our Western churches? The late author Leonard Ravenhill said that “We need a baptism of holy anger!” When the Apostle Paul was in the city of Athens,
“he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16).
The Bible says, “his spirit was stirred in him” when he saw that. The word “stirred” is translated from a Greek word which means, “exasperated, provoked.” He was - provoked when “he saw the city [of Athens] wholly given to idolatry.” He was grieved and roused to holy anger when he saw the idolatry of that city. Leonard Ravenhill said,
Let me make some suggestions why Paul’s spirit was roused to anger as he [walked] the streets and [saw] Athens’ sins. Paul was angry at the power of false religion to delude [trick] the people. Paul was angry at the reckless devotion of these devotees to powerless gods. Paul was angry that Christ was cheated of the love which He should have had from men and women who [should] have been born [again, but were not]. Paul was angry that men with hearts of flesh cried out in vain to [false] gods with hearts of stone. He was angry that the atoning blood of Christ was trampled underfoot [by the people of Athens] and scorned as dung. Paul was angry that the intellectuals mocked at the resurrection and ascension [back to Heaven] of the divine Son of God. Paul was angry that within a heart’s beat of an inconceivably horrible hell men could eat, drink, and be merry [with no thought of Christ]. Paul was angry that the Devil could keep living men captive in [the] chains of fear and lust, and then after this life hold them prisoners in the bottomless pit [of Hell]. The average believer’s complacency towards the lostness of men is appalling. We believers today need a baptism of Paul’s holy anger…For false gods (false cults) many people in many countries move out to testify [to their false beliefs] today, not just once a year or once a day, but many times a day. With an appetite far reaching the [demonic] Greek dragon, this…hell-filling monster of the cults consumes souls. But who [truly] cares? It is not a…zealous…Baptist who knocks at my door to witness. It is a deluded [confused] Jehovah’s Witness or a messageless Mormon. We have in false cults a horrible picture of lost men seeking [other] lost [people] to lead them to a lost eternity.
Ask yourself these soul-searching questions: Why don’t we [go on the] attack? What do we fear? Why do we hesitate? [Where is] our urgency? Have we nothing [to say]? Do we lack personal assurance of [our own] salvation? Are we convinced that…sinners stand in [danger] of an eternal hell?
Most likely if [a new evangelical] walked down Main Street today and saw the [large buildings] dedicated to strange gods (false cults), we would shrug the thing off with the cold-hearted…comment, “It’s a pity that folks have no more sense than to fall for that kind of stuff.” Let me repeat: I believe the hour is come when we, God’s people, need [a] baptism of [holy] anger…We should remember that in the Bible’s [record] Jesus was angry at the hardness of the hearts of those who meticulously followed the synagogue’s law and system (Mark 3:5).
Ours is the most chronically unhappy [and lonely] world in history. [What is] criminal (in my judgment) is our attempt to appease the soul hunger of the millions around us by sermons that are not [focused on man’s sin], sermons that are not Christ-centered, not born in the burning heart of a… preacher, and not wet with the tears of his own travail and anxiety for fallen [lost] men.
Our situation is not like [Paul] walking down Main Street in Athens, where ignorance, superstition, and strange [false] gods held [power over the people]…Ours is a far worse and more terrible situation. We have pulled down the old altars to Jehovah [God] and built chrome-plated [churches] to Ashtaroth and Baal…
To stir [the] sickly [church members] to rescue the perishing, we need the smell of hell. Oh to be angry like Thee, blessed Redeemer - angry! More than ever we need to [actually pray] with Mrs. B. P. Head [Bessie P. Head, 1850-1936]:
O Breath of Life, come sweeping through us;
Revive Thy church with life and power.
O Breath of Life, come cleanse, renew us,
And fit Thy church to meet this hour.
(Leonard Ravenhill, Sodom Had No Bible, Ravenhill Books, 1971, pp. 36-39).
Fortunately, the movie is a “dud.” It has been panned by virtually all the major film critics. For instance, USA Today critic Claudia Puig calls Tom Hanks’ performance “surprisingly wooden,” and calls the movie “a bloated wannabe epic,” with a script that is “pedestrian and unintentionally comical” (USA Today, May 18, 2006, p. 10). Reuters news service said, “Most Critics Hate It,” calling the film “grim,” “unwieldy,” and “plodding” (Reuters, May 17, 2006).
A lot of people will see the film because they have read the book. Others will see it because the other movies this summer are trashy and it has little competition. But critics say that “word-of-mouth” will probably hurt the movie after the first couple of weeks. When people tell their friends the film is “boring” the crowds will stop coming. [Indeed, the movie fell to fourth place the second weekend, and out of the top ten after the third weekend]. I do not recommend either the movie, the video or the book. I only read it myself as background for the three sermons I have preached on it.
The Bible itself is the only trustworthy source of information on Christ and salvation. Stick to the Bible and you will not go wrong! The Apostle Paul said,
“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
That’s why I’m asking you to avoid the movie and get
into this church every time the door is open. Yield your life to Jesus Christ, and come into this church
with full commitment. Christ died
on the Cross to pay for your sin and rose from the dead to give you life.
Strive with all your might to find Christ.
Then throw yourself fully into the work of this church.
And may God bless you as you do so!
(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: II Thessalonians 2:7-12.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1944).