Friday, May 19, 2006

Are you feeling DaVinci Code Overload these days? And to think, the movie finally opens today.

I confess right out of the box that I haven't read the book (Mandy has and has given me the skinny). And I confess my lackadaisical interest in seeing the flick (the reviews are too critical to make it worth the investment).

But I do know Dan Brown's best seller has spawned a change in the arena of Bible-related material available at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders. Last week, when we were in Austin, we popped by Borders, only to be greeted in the entry by a display of all the books spawned by Brown's work. There is a fascination at work today about "the lost books of the Bible" unlike anything I've ever witnessed.

And while the fascination might be new, the root of all these works are as old as the second century Gnostics. Gnosticism never cottoned to the orthodox practices and beliefs of the church, believing instead in a special knowledge or understanding that often stood uniquely opposed to traditional wisdom and history. Sound familiar? It should because the DaVinci Code craze is nothing more than Gnosticism masked within our contemporary day and culture. In fact, if you check out Brown's website, he has a link entitled "Secrets" to help rookie Gnostics better understand the special knowledge he has unearthed.

What should Christians do?

Tuesday night, I did something I never do...I watched “Nightline.” I typically tune in a West Coast baseball game on the Dish Extra Innings package, but because of the excruciating way the Rangers lost on Tuesday night -- 14-13 to the Evil Empire after blowing two 9-run leads –- I couldn’t stomach anymore baseball.

I’m grateful, though, to have tuned in Nightline on Tuesday night. The second segment of the show was devoted to a Christian perspective on the DaVinci Code.

Nightline featured Darrell Bock, a New Testament history scholar at a Dallas seminary, and his crusade to debunk the myths advanced by Dan Brown in the DaVinci Code. I loved what Bock had to say about the church’s responsibility to those intrigued by the message of the DaVinci Code because it gives us clear marching orders regarding what we should do:

"Between 20 [percent] and 33 percent of the population say they believe the book or feel they benefited from the book," Bock said. "That's the combined populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Take everybody in those cities, they all believe it. Now what's the church's responsibility to that group … of people who believe that? You can't say, 'Oh, sorry, you shouldn't believe it'. You better engage them."

Rather than casting stones at those who take Brown’s claims at face-value -- as history says we Christians have been want to do -- Bock calls on Christians to be proactive in participating in the conversation; to stretch ourselves into uncomfortable places and conversations with people whose knowledge of Scripture is such that Brown’s deceiving claims are enticing.

If you'd like some more on-line meat to sink your teeth into regarding a Christian perspective on the DaVinci Code, check out John Alan Turner. Turner is co-author of The Gospel According to the DaVinci Code