Heresy or history? That's the question swirling around one of the hottest selling books in America, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Although a novel, the 450-page thriller claims to contain “facts” that demolish the foundation of Christianity. The book's allegations include such bombshells as these:
· The four Gospels were frauds imposed upon the church by the Roman emperor Constantine and a circle of power-mad theologians at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. These Gospels replaced the true written accounts of Christ's life and doctrine, which were systematically hunted down and burned.
· Jesus was not, and never claimed to be, God. There was no resurrection. The virgin birth and resurrection were borrowed from pagan mythology.
· Jesus married Mary Magdalene. After His death, she fled to France with their child, where their bloodline still exists.
· The truth has been kept for centuries by a secret society that has included painter Leonardo da Vinci, who encoded the story via symbols in his most famous works of art.

Too crazy to be believable? Guess again!

The Da Vinci Code has been number one on Amazon.com, a New York Times bestseller for 32 weeks, the subject of positive media coverage such as an ABC News special, and has been purchased by Sony for a major motion picture to be directed by Ron Howard.

And the “unbelievable” is being believed. Non-Christians have been drawn to the theory like a magnet, and even large numbers of Christians say their faith has been shaken or that they don't know how to respond.

CRACKS IN THE CODE Because the mission of Living on the Edge includes transforming “how America thinks about God” and “how individual believers live out their faith,” we want to equip you with some facts about The Da Vinci Code.

You need to have intellectual confidence in your faith to weather the trials and challenges of life. If the Bible is erroneous about Christ, then maybe it's wrong about sex, marriage, prayer, life after death, heaven, hell, and God's love, right?

Frankly, The Da Vinci Code is too crowded with errors to begin to cover all of them. But here is some information to help you decode the deception and fortify your faith.

Is The Da Vinci Code thesis supported, as it claims, by well-accepted historical and art authorities?
Just the opposite. Brown, not a scholar or historian, cites no accepted historians or New Testament scholars to back him up. But a long line of scholars - Christian and non-Christian, conservative and liberal - has dismissed the book's allegations.

Brown does cite in his favor a handful of conspiracy theorists as if they were reputable sources, yet none is regarded as an expert or scholar in history. One of them has even written a book claiming that Egyptian culture was shaped by space aliens!

Further, The Da Vinci Code bungles elementary facts, raising serious doubts about its overall reliability:
· The famous Dead Sea Scrolls are said to have been discovered in the 1950s. They weren't.
· Brown says the Dead Sea Scrolls contained outlawed gospels that have shed new light on “the truth” about Jesus. In fact, it is well-known that the Scrolls contain no material about Jesus. Most date to about 200 years before Jesus lived, and their main significance is that they include Old Testament documents.
· Brown claims the vote on Christ's deity at the Council of Nicea was “relatively close.” The actual count was 298-2!

Are the four Gospels in our New Testament reliable, or were they invented at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325?
The four Gospel accounts are considered to be accurate histories of Christ because they pass several tests:
1) We possess early portions of the Gospels, written mainly on papyrus, including some fragments dating back to almost the first century.
2) There are thousands of early copies of the Gospels-many even dating before the Council of Nicea - that come from various parts of the old Roman Empire. This indicates that they were widely circulated and accurately transmitted throughout the international Christian community.
3) The Gospels are extensively quoted by the numerous writings of church fathers in documents dating before the Council of Nicea.
4) The Gospels harmonized with the theology of the entire church and letters of the apostles and were widely accepted.
5) The Gospels contain specific names, dates, places, and details that are characteristic of accurate history and eyewitness testimony.