The Da Vinci Code:

-A Christian Response-

Part 2:

Answering the Attacks

By Dr. Ron Woodworth

Introduction

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answerto everyone who asks [or attacks] you to give the reason for the hope that you have [in Christ].” (1 Peter 3:15a)

In Part 1, we reviewed the main attacks/criticisms leveled against Christianity from The Da Vinci Code as well as five preliminary observations about “the code”—including a primer on Gnosticism. Here, in Part 2, we will specifically address the heart of those attacks with results from both biblical and historical research. [Please note: All discussions of controversial issues, including history and religion, have two opposing sides—liberal and conservative. The conservative scholar will always argue from more of an absolute position whereas the liberal scholar will always argue from a more relativistic position. The conservative emphasizes faith; the liberal emphasizes doubt.]

Attack/Criticism #1: There are other earlier and more reliable gospel accounts than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, called the Gnostic gospels, which the Catholic Church suppressed in order to retain religious and political power.

Answer-Response #1:

  1. The “Gnostic Gospels” are part of a collection of texts discovered in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. All of the manuscripts were written in Coptic1, an Egyptian language dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries, with the earliest, Gospel of Thomas, possibly being written in the mid to late 2nd century. However, since all of the New Testament books were written by the close of the 1st century2, there is no way that any of the 2nd to 3rd century Gnostic Gospels predated any of the Gospels canonized in Scripture: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  2. The bishop of Rome did not evolve to become “pope” until the 5th century–with Leo I (A.D. 440-461) considered by many scholars as the “first pope.”3  In other words, the church was catholic (literally meaning “universal”) long before the Roman bishops borrowed the term to substantiate their claim to be the sole proprietor of the universal Body of Christ on earth vis-à-vis the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, it wasn’t the Roman Catholic Church, but rather, local bishops, who were the spiritual guides of the Christian believers in their areas that fought to reject any heresy—their mandate to do so coming from the text of Scripture itself:

“He [the bishop/overseer/pastor/shepherd] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people…and deceivers…[who] must be silenced, because they are upsetting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach…”(Titus 1:9-11)

Indeed the eradication (by argumentation and excommunication) of heretical teaching (and teachers) was and is a biblical mandate that all godly spiritual leaders must continually pursue in their quest to protect the church from harmful heresies.

“…there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them…Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”

(2 Peter 2:1-2)

Attack/Criticism #2: Jesus’ divinity was always in doubt until Constantine politicallyforced a vote at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD—prior to which time neither Jesus nor his disciples thought that he was anything more than a good man and mortal prophet.

Answer-Response #2:

  1. The Council of Nicaea was a universal conference of bishops throughout the Roman Empire in A.D. 325. Though convened by Constantine, the convention was originally recommended by a synod, which was led by the 68 year old Hosius of Cordoba, after investigating the trouble brought about by the Arian controversy.4  As a result, the agenda for the conference included, among other things, the Arian controversy, the date for Easter celebrations; and the status of those who rejected their faith under previous Roman persecutions.
  2. The Arian controversy never contested Jesus’ divinity, but only whether or not Jesus (as the divine Son of God) was co-eternal or created by the Father. In the end: all but two of the some 300 attendees affirmed that contrary to Arius, Jesus was co-eternal with the Father.
  3. Constantine, though doubtlessly motivated by political concerns (the potential fracturing of the Roman Empire) wasn’t nearly as concerned about the theological outcome of the conference as he was simply that the Christian church stay united. Indeed the theological arguments would have been, for the most part, far too complex for a head-of-state to even venture an opinion about. In fact, to this date, neither one of the historic branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant) argue that the Council of Nicaea was anything other than an important historic event in the history of Christianity and the re-affirmation of the emerging understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Though politics may have been the arguably reasonable concern of Constantine, the process and outcome of Nicaea was, for its time, Church enhancing.5
  4. The best answer to the argument against Jesus divinity is the argument from the New Testament itself. Hence, here are a number of Scriptural texts that unequivocally (for conservative scholars) prove that Jesus was considered divine from the beginning of his ministry:
    • An Old Testament prophecy about Jesus birth: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)
    • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-3, ESV)
    • “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)
    • “I and the Father are one. Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘…For which of these [miracles] do you stone me? [And the Jews answered] We are not stoning you for any of these [miracles]…but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’” (John 10:30, 33, ESV)
    • “Christ is God over all, blessed forever.” (Romans 9:5, ESV)
    • [We are] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13, ESV)
    • [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created…for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…” (Colossians 1:15-17, 19, ESV & NIV)
    • “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being/image, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3, NIV)
    • “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…” (Colossians 2:9, NIV)

[Note: Use these references to find many more related verses throughout the New Testament and to trace the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament.]

Attack/Criticism #3: Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene who was pregnant with Jesus’ daughter [later named Sarah] during the crucifixion—after which she fled eventually to Europe, and ultimately her descendants commingled with the royal line of the French kings.

Answer-Response #3:

  1. Only in the Gnostic Gospels (and very few of them) do we find any mention of Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene. Consider the following excerpts from the Gnostic Gospels that supposedly describe Mary’s intimate relationship with Jesus: [No doubt after reading these you’ll find why such writings are rejected as being very far from biblical revelation]
    • “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary, his mother, and her sister, and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion [Gnostics say “companion” here means “spouse”]. His sister and his mother and his companion were each a Mary.” [Source: The Gospel of Phillip @ http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gop.html]

i.  Response: Regardless of what the Gnostic Gospels say, the New Testament Gospels never mention Mary and Jesus being married.  This is nothing more than an argument from silence which is completely insufficient for historical fact.

    • “As for the Wisdom who is called “the barren,” she is the mother of the angels. And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. The rest of the disciples [...]. They said to him “Why do you love her more than all of us?” The Savior answered and said to them, “Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness.”  [Source: Also from the Gospel of Phillip]

i.  Response: So I guess when the disciples become spiritually enlightened then they will understand why Jesus used to kiss Mary on the mouth and loved her more than them. What can I say? This is so sacrilegious that it is nothing short of laughable. 

    • “114. Simon Peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.” Jesus said, “Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.” [Source: The Gospel of Thomas @ http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/gosthom.html, Note: this text is preceded with an editorial comment indicating that these words were probably added to the original collection at a later date]

i.  Response: Now we are to believe that Peter was a sexist refusing life for all women. Furthermore, making all females into males is not prerequisite for inclusion into God’s kingdom. Instead: the primary biblical requirement is “repentance.” (Matthew 4:17; 18:3)

    • “Peter said to Mary, “Sister, we know that the Savior loved you more than other women [cf. John 11:5, Luke 10:38-42]. Tell us the words of the Savior which you have in mind since you know them; and we do not, nor have we heard of them.” Mary answered and said, “What is hidden from you I will impart to you.” And she began to say the following words to them.” [Source: The Gospel of Mary Magdalene @ http://reluctant-messenger.com/gospel-magdalene.htm]

i.  Response: This is where TDV gets that idea that Mary was supposed to be the Pope instead of Peter. Actually, neither Peter nor Mary was offered the pontificate. In fact, though Leo I is said to be the “first pope,” the term “pope” (from which we derive “papa” in English) was an endearing term for all bishops and even priests—that is until 1073 when Pope Gregory VII restricted the use of the term in the Western church to the bishops of Rome and their successors in office.6  Incidentally, and with no intention to demean Mary in the slightest, it is interesting that Peter, not Mary, was the one who stood representative of the eleven other apostles to declare the gospel of God‘s kingdom on Pentecost. (Acts 2:14)

Modern Gnostics use these sayings to insist that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and furthermore that she was considered “Jesus’ equal and co-preacher of the Gospel”…functioning much like that of a “divine nurse”…she “inspired and facilitated the outpouring of secret knowledge” from the Gnostic Christ.7  Such nonsense hardly requires more response than mentioned in these two brief articles.

Conclusion

Finally, rather than take up the other tangential attacks, I hope that the line of reasoning represented in these articles will provide for the reader a biblical perspective from which to view the Da Vinci landscape of Daniel Brown. As a result, and as a statement of historical fact and biblical revelation I can confidently assert that contrary to The Da Vinci Code, as well as other Gnostic authors…

    • Mary Magdalene is not the missing Holy Grail in Da Vinci’s Last Supperpainting
    • Opus Dei’s charter is anything but a secret Catholic society set out to kill the descendants of Jesus Christ8
    • Sir Isaac Newton was never a part of a ritual sex-cult secretly commissioned to protect the offspring of Mary Magdalene

These and other Gnostic notions are the stuff of imaginary tales–not of history or biblical theology. Suffice it to say that The Da Vinci Code’s “authoritative” reference to the Gnostic Gospels as verification of its claim to a different gospel, a non-divine Christ, and a married Jesus are at best fanciful tales for fictional novels and at worst a serious attack on the veracity of revelatory truth contained in Holy Scripture. I have decided to take my stand as a witness to the truth of God in Jesus Christ our Lord…will you join me?

“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints…For certain men…have secretly slipped in among you…who turn the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 3-4)

“…but when you do make the case/defense for your hope in Christ, always do so with gentleness and respect—making sure to let your actions confirm your words. For in so doing the Holy Spirit will convict those who contradict the truth—hopefully leading to their change of heart and mind.” (1 Peter 3:15-16, adapted)

By his grace, Ron                              


[1] “Coptic is the most recent phase of ancient Egyptian. It is the direct descendant of the ancient language written in Egyptian hieroglyphichieratic, anddemotic scripts…As a living language of daily conversation, Coptic flourished fromca. 200 to 1100. The last record of its being spoken was during the 17th century. Coptic survives today as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.Egyptian Arabic is the spoken and national language of Egypt today.” Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coptic_language

[2] Source: http://www.carm.org/questions/written_after.htm

[5] I say “for its time” because few will dispute the precarious entwining between the Christian Church and Roman state from that time on leading to a good deal of the misery of the Middle Ages. However, the problems of the future do not necessarily imply that the beginning was without merit. As is so often the case: historical hindsight is 20/20.

[7] From Tau Malachi, a “Chevalier (a dubbed Knight) in the International Order of Chivalric Companions, a Martinist, and is an ordained and consecrated Independent Bishop. He is co-founder of The Gnostic Apostolic Church of Sophia and is among the leading exponents of Christian Gnosticism and Kabbalah[ism] today.”   Source:http://www.llewellynjournal.com/article/659

[8] Source: Opus Dei website @ http://www.opusmembers.com/