The impending release of a movie version of the blockbuster novel "The Da Vinci Code" is stirring debate in Christian circles.
To many, the release represents an attack on the Christian faith. Many others also see in it a door opener for sharing the gospel. The resulting impact will depend on how prepared Christians are to respond effectively.
"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown combines a murder mystery with a conspiracy theory that challenges the foundations of Christianity. In this fictional story, Brown's protagonists discover that the Holy Grail is actually Mary Magdalene. According to their sources, Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, the mother of Jesus' child, and the chosen leader of Jesus' church. This information has been kept from the world through a plot instigated by Emperor Constantine to hijack early Christianity for his own purposes. The conspirators commissioned a revised set of gospels promoting the deity of Christ while destroying more accurate documents portraying Jesus as only a great moral teacher. As one of Brown's fictional experts states, "almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."
"The Da Vinci Code" movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, is scheduled for a May 19 release. Its release will introduce a broader audience to the disturbing claims of the novel. Should Christians ignore the movie, picket the movie, or encourage people to see the movie? Each of these positions is being espoused by at least one well known Christian. Whatever position one takes on viewing the movie, it is clear that Christians should be prepared to respond to the public reaction it for the following reasons:
Impact on Culture. The novel has sold over 30 million copies and the movie will be a major media event. According to research by the Barna Group, "Nearly one-third of adults (29%) contend that movies have had a substantial impact on the development of their personal morals, values and religious beliefs."
Challenge to Our Faith. Many Christians who are not well grounded in apologetics were influenced by the book, says Barna. "... 53% of a national sample of adults who have read 'The Da Vinci Code' from cover to cover stated that the book had been helpful in their 'personal spiritual growth and understanding.'"
Opportunity for the Gospel. The novel/movie creates a natural bridge to eternally important topics. The ease with which these conspiracy theories can be unmasked as flimsy fictions can move the Christian into an authority role adding weight to their testimony.
Materials and events are being produced to prepare Christians for the release of the movie. Some of the organizations offering material include:
- Campus Crusade – "The Da Vinci Code: A Companion Guide to the Movie," a 20-page mini-magazine
- Church Communication Network – two satellite conferences, one for evangelism training and one as an outreach event timed to the release of the movie
- Josh McDowell / Beyond Belief – "The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers," a paperback with on-line study guide
- Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer – "The Da Vinci Deception Experience," a DVD-based group study with sermon aids
- Probe Ministries and EvanTell – "Redeeming The Da Vinci Code," a DVD-based small group study toolkit combining apologetics, evangelism training, and outreach materials
- Lee Strobel and Gary Poole – "Discussing The Da Vinci Code," a DVD-based group study filmed at locations mentioned in the novel
Churches and other Christian organizations should check out these resources to see what best fits their equipping needs.
© 2006 AgapePress. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Steve Cable is a research associate with Probe Ministries, which has been applying a biblical worldview to renew the mind, equip the church, and engage the world since 1973. Most recently, Probe has teamed with EvanTell to help churches equip their people to redeem The Da Vinci Code by turning it into an opportunity to strengthen their faith and share with their friends.