Tomorrow I’m starting a sermon series on the issues raised by The Da Vinci Code. There has been a surprising amount of controversy about this… ranging from comments that we are now “The Da Vinci church” to “I don’t need to know about that” to “just let me read/see it and form my own opinion.”
Theologian Karl Barth urged pastors to prepare their sermons “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other” lest the church become irrelevant and “do no earthly good.” This is what’s going on so it has to influence my choice of texts for preaching. (I’m still going to be preaching form the Bible, of course.)
The reactions I have seen to The Da Vinci Code even among Christians tell me that it is an issue we must address. How can I leave people out there thinking that Constantine invented the deity of Christ. How can I leave people believing that their faith – if they’re able to hang onto it – is based on nothing, or worse yet that the church has been misleading them for 2000 years? The use of history in The Da Vinci Code is so obviously wrong that it’s farily easy to straighten out, if people will listen.
Why the reactions? Well someone people are legitimately “creeped out” by The Da Vinci Code. The religious claims are creepy. But they’re based on misinformation. Why now know the historical truth? Why not learn the basis for the hope that lies within us? I’m not encouraging anyone (except our staff) to read the book or see the movie.
Another claim is that we should just go on with business as usual. Well that’s another problem. Americans like to compartmentalize our faith. If we let our faith and our lives touch too much, we might have to take seriously the claims that Christ makes on our lives. Now that’s scary! I don’t know how many of the protests are about that.
Well, I have to do it. It’s based on lies and it’s making some people lose their faith. Plus it gives us an opportunity to look at some basic issues like “What is the nature of scripture?” and “Who is Jesus?” We can also look at the role of women in the church. And everyone’s favorite old heresy, Gnosticism, is back again. That thing sure has nine lives.
Well, off to work on my sermon on “Is Jesus God?” It works out nicely that the next passage in John 20 (we’ve been preaching through John 18, 19, 20 over the past few months) contains Thomas’ confession that Jesus is “My Lord and my God.” Hmmmm… That’s certainly earlier than the Council of Nicaea where Constantine allegedly forced the divinity of Christ onto the Church for his own purposes…