“The Da Vinci Code,” which remains atop national best-seller lists, is a book that has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. But I’m concerned that the novel is spreading a false “gospel” that could convince casual readers that the wonderful story of Jesus Christ is nothing but a man-made fabrication that bears no merit.
Here’s a brief rundown of the book: An extremist sect of the Catholic church sends a monk on a killing spree, wiping out four noteworthy art figures who are safeguarding age-old secret documents that allegedly prove that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, fathered a child with her and to this day maintains a sacred bloodline.
This conjecture greatly concerns me, especially in this age of moral relativism and situational ethics that take our society further and further from the absolute truths of the Bible. As a result of my uneasiness with the theories of “The Da Vinci Code,” I asked two members of the theological community at Liberty University to address the issues of this book in order to dispel its hypotheses.
In a special interview in my National Liberty Journal newspaper, pre-eminent Liberty professors Dr. Edward Hindson and Dr. Gary Habermas, experts in church history and biblical theology, resourcefully defended the faith and discounted the theories suggesting that the Bible is just another book and that Jesus is an overall good guy – but certainly not the Son of God – who had a secret romance with Mary Magdalene. (These speculations go beyond “The Da Vinci Code,” and have appeared in many recent non-fiction works. At our local Barnes & Noble, an entire display of these books appear under the heading, “Crack ‘The Da Vinci Code.’”)
In the interview, Dr. Hindson noted that modern-day “conspiracy theorists are fascinated with trying to fill in the blanks of some unknown aspects of Jesus’ childhood or his life; and these fanciful tales begin to be spun.”
He continued, “I think that with many such modern writers, there probably is an attempt to discredit the integrity of Christ in some way. I mean, it’s obvious that ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has a very strong secularist and pro-feminist agenda. It’s obviously a very anti-Christian thesis that the author develops throughout the book.”
Dr. Habermas added, “There is absolutely no early data leading us to believe that Jesus was married or had a family. The Bible teaches the exact opposite. Jesus never married, never had a romance. He came with a solitary, heaven-inspired purpose – to provide a means of salvation to the world. He didn’t have time for a relationship! And we don’t have any reliable data suggesting anything else. There’s nothing there. People on wild-goose chases can speculate forever on these issues, but the absence of timely historic data – data, I mean, that pre-dates or is from the same time as the New Testament – makes their speculations factually ridiculous.”
Asked about one of the novel’s characters saying that “historical evidence” proves that Jesus never portrayed Himself to be more than a mortal prophet, Dr. Hindson challenged this notion.
“What these biblical detractors are essentially saying is that Jesus never portrayed Himself to be anything more than a principled prophet. And that is simply not true,” he said.
In fact, Jesus clearly said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10: 30). And He said, “… before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). In many other biblical references, Jesus makes comparable declarations.
Dr. Habermas added the best text showing Jesus making unambiguous claims to be the God-Man is Mark 14:61-64: “Again, the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, ‘I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! …’”
“This is absolutely the strongest affirmation of Jesus proclaiming His Deity,” said Dr. Habermas. “How much more assertively could He have made this claim than to say, ‘I am,’ when asked this point-blank question by the high priest. So even biblical critics should admit that we have texts which say that Jesus claimed to be somebody special, someone who will occupy God’s throne.”
Both men noted that Jesus’ disciples would later give their lives defending Christ. Dr. Hindson said, “They died for what they believed to be a fact of history – that Jesus did in fact die on the cross and did literally rise from the dead and announce that He would come again for His followers.”
The disciples certainly didn’t die believing that Jesus was just a pleasant prophet; they died defending His claim to be the Son of God who came to save the world.
I close this column with the remarkable words of C.S. Lewis, who brilliantly defended the fact that Jesus was in fact God: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool. You can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
To read the complete Hindson-Habermas interview/story, please visit the National Liberty Journal website.