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This is post 1 of 2 in the series “THE DAVINCI CODEBREAKER"
  1. The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 1
  2. The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 2

The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 1

Gracious Heavenly Father, we do indeed come to you for wisdom, strength, inspiration, encouragement. We know that our human efforts fall so miserably short of what your desire is, and so we have to count on the invasion of your supernatural power to help us to deal not only with the great good news of the Gospel but with all of those attempts that are around us in the world to undermine the great, good news of your gospel. So our Heavenly Father, I pray that you will help us to bring energetic, active minds to the task, that you will reveal to us the things that we need to know, and block from us the things we don’t need to know, and then enable us in our own circle of influence, to share with others the revelation which is ours through your Holy Spirit. Our Heavenly Father, right from the very beginning, Jesus and the faith to which He gave birth have been under attack and that is still true today. And so we plead for your power and your grace upon us in Jesus’ name. Amen.

We are going to be looking at the novel the Da Vinci Code. Now, the reason that we’re doing it is first of all, this particular novel has now sold 42 million copies all over the world. It is one of the most popular novels ever written. It is widely spread, discussed quite liberally across the world even, and it has spawned what I think I could say is a cottage industry of related matters; novels, books of nonfiction, souvenirs, not the least of which is the production of a movie. The movie will premiere one week from this coming Friday on May the 19th all over the world. It may well be one of the biggest blockbuster movies ever made. Too early to say that at this stage of the game, but certainly the publicity machine leading up to it has been quite extraordinary. It is making its small contribution to the economy of Hilton Head Island because it is directed by the part time Hilton Head resident Ron Howard, who is widely respected in the Hollywood community. The lead actor in the movie is Tom Hanks, the modern day Jenny Stewart—everybody loves Tom Hanks. And in addition to that, it carries the imprimatur of the Hollywood establishment. For example, in contrast, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was actually worked against by the Hollywood establishment. It became excessively popular but not by any effort of what we would count the motion picture industry. This movie is different. It will carry the blessing, the imprimatur, and the encouragement of the Hollywood community, and that is not only because it is a bestselling novel but it is also because of the message the novel delivers. And that is a message which ought to be of concern to us.

We are going to be looking at the novel today only in the most general of terms, but I would ask you to focus on what I count to be the single most significant line in the whole book. It’s to be found on page 235. Listen to this very carefully please because this sets the tone for everything else that follows. This is beyond any question the most significant and the most telling line in the whole novel, “‘What I mean,’ Teabing countered, ‘is that almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.'” That is the linchpin for the whole novel. And if you see it as anything other than that, then you really have missed the point of the book as well. I have had any number of people say to me, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a novel. Why be so concerned about that?” Yes. It is just a novel, and we will put it in its proper context in that light as we go. But the reality is there is an underlying purpose, agenda and meaning for the novel which flows directly out of not only the author’s heart, and his particular approach to life, and his philosophy of faith, but it also flows out of a massive movement that is at work all over the world today. It is not simply a novel. It is a novel. Yes. But it is a novel which carries amazingly serious implications, and I hope that we can see that as we go.

So let me just review for you very briefly the general outline of the novel. By the way, how many of you here have read the Da Vinci Code? Fair number—Most of you. Let me, therefore, just give you sort of the broad outlines. There are three primary characters in the novel. Robert Langdon, who is a professor of symbology at Harvard University. By the way, there is no such academic discipline. The second character is a young woman named Sophie Neveu. She is a French policewoman, part of the investigating service of the French police. She happens to be the granddaughter of the figure who is murdered at the very beginning of the novel. The third figure is Sir Leigh Teabing claiming to be a professor of history at Oxford, who has relocated to France in order to pursue his study of and search for the Holy Grail.

Now, what is the Holy Grail in traditional Christianity? The Holy Grail is the chalice which Jesus used at the last supper. This novel wants to redefine the Holy Grail to be not an object but a person. The novel begins with the murder of the Curator of the Louvre Museum in Paris. As his dying act—he is murdered for what he knows, and as his dying act, he wants what he knows to be communicated on. And so he does two things. One, he manages in his last moments to strip himself naked and stretch himself out on the floor of the Louvre in the pattern of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “the Vitruvian Man”. You’ve seen that drawing in the circle of the man with the limbs at different spectrums on the clock. He also takes his own blood and writes certain clues on his body which he hopes and believes ultimately will lead those who have the eyes to see to the real truth. And what is the real truth? I don’t want to necessarily spoil the novel for you if you haven’t read it, but maybe I’ll just do it anyway.

The real truth is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene. Jesus was not single, and everything did not end with the crucifixion, the death and the resurrection. By the way, the novel never even mentions the resurrection, does not even imply that it occurred. Everything stops with the death of Jesus. But Mary Magdalene then becomes as the spouse of Jesus, the sort of head, figure, and force of the church. She also has a child by Jesus. That becomes an important element, but in the meantime, the other disciples resent her power, and they try to silence her and try to put her into a bad light so that they can then take the church in the direction in which they wish for it to go. The ultimate line of Jesus begins with the child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, continues on down to ultimately the royal family of France so that the Merovingian dynasty of France becomes the direct bloodline of Jesus.

Now, is it any great surprise that that royal bloodline of Jesus runs through the man who has been murdered and is on the floor of the Louvre and whose granddaughter is Sophie Neveu, who is the investigating officer for the Paris police department, and she is, therefore, in the line of Jesus? And that’s part of the message that he is attempting to deliver.

The other side of that same coin is that the church has developed in a manner designed to put all of this into hiding, to make all of it disappear. The early disciples—male—had their own idea of what the church ought to be. They then created the material of the Bible. They then set the pattern for the church, and whenever there has been an effort to unearth the, “True line of Jesus and the true story of the church,” then the church established—particularly the Roman Catholic Church—has gone to any length including murder to stop that from occurring. And so the premise of the novel is that these three primary characters; the historian, the symbologist, and the investigator are going to unearth the true story of Jesus Christ and what the church ought to be, and—the novel actually says this at one point—if that truth can be told, then the church as we know it will disappear. The purpose is to destroy the church as we understand it.

Now, I will tell you that the story is a wonderfully written, well-plotted I suppose I should say, well-plotted, page-turner. I mean, it’s exciting. And it flows very quickly. You don’t get a whole lot of character development, but you get a lot of action, and that’s the way most current novels are nowadays. Anyway, here’s what I do want you to understand, the novel ends pathetically. How could this guy have written this wonderful page-turning novel and couldn’t come up with the right ending? He blew it. I mean, even if he had revealed the truth—so-called—that would’ve been better than what happens. What happens is that this truth remains undiscovered, unknown, and you are simply left with him as this pathetic figure wishing he had found something that he didn’t find. It’s a miserable ending to a novel. I don’t know how the movie is going to end, but surely they can improve on that. So that in general is the story.

Now, why was the story written? Dan Brown has a website. If you go to that website, you discover that he, in essence, believes in large measure what he has written, that there is a, “Secret strain of truth that the church has sought to obscure or destroy throughout its history, and that truth needs to have an emerging effect, and it needs to be loose in the world, and people need to understand that for all of these years all that we’ve been taught about Christ is false.” Remember the line from the novel. He will then go on to tell you in his website that all of the characters in the novel are fictional, but all of the historical surroundings in which the characters perform is accurate and true.

He wants to have you believe that he has written the genre that we call historical fiction. There are any number of those kinds of books published, and you probably read some of them. Here’s the difference. Historical fiction has a fictional story set into the midst of well-documented historical accounts. There is nothing documented in the Da Vinci Code. The history which you are treated to on the pages of the novel bears no resemblance to recorded history as we know it. There is virtually nothing in the novel that is true in the historical sense of the word. It is all fiction. Now, we’re going to see a little bit later on that he sets from the very first page of the novel the tone that there is a web of truth and history that is incorporated into the novel. Then, next week, we’re going to take that completely apart.

So here is how we are going to function. We recognize that we have a very popular piece of pop culture, a novel that has been extraordinarily popular. Why is it popular? For several reasons. One, it is a broadside attack on the Roman Catholic Church. We are living in a time when there are many Catholics particularly here in America who have become somewhat disillusioned with the Roman Catholic Church. The abusive priest and all of the headline-making stuff that has occurred in recent years has caused some adherence of Roman Catholicism to become disillusioned with the established church. This broad attack on the Roman Catholic Church has found a fertile soil in the minds of those who are so disillusioned.

The second reason the novel is so popular that it actually gives permission for sexual freedom. It wraps the whole idea of sexual freedom in the terms of this so-called true line of the faith. It gives credence to the free sexual expression apart from marriage and apart, particularly, from marriage male and female. And so we are living in a time where the sexual revolution and everything that has followed has removed the barriers, and this novel takes advantage of that and finds a home in the hearts and minds of all of those who are looking for, “Sexual freedom.” In addition to that, we are living in a time where absolute authority and truth are called into question constantly. There is in our society today if…you don’t have to look very far to see the evidence. There is no such thing as absolute truth. Truth is as you see it yourself—as you behold it. Authority—well—everybody questions authority. We have traditionally had certain lines of authority in this country. Now, none of that is there. Everybody is engaged in tearing down any symbol of authority be it personal or structural. This novel goes at the ultimate structure of Western Civilization and its foundation, which is the Christian Faith. And so it feeds there again that point of view that says, “There is no real truth, and there is no ultimate authority in life.” In addition to that, because of the nature of the novel itself, it is feeding on the woeful ignorance of so many millions of people including Christians about their own history. No one is exempt, I suspect, but the fact of the matter is this is a frontal attack on the history of the Christian Church, and most Christians today, unfortunately, do not have sufficient knowledge of their own history to be able to combat it, and so they get sucked up into this milieu which in essence says, “Everything you’ve believed to this point is really wrong. You’ve been led astray. All that your fathers have taught you about Christ is false.” And so all of those streams flow together to make the novel very popular, and my guess is the movie will be popular as well.

Secondly, what is the matter of concern for us? I think I’ve made that abundantly clear, but let me say it again. I am not saying to you that you ought not to read the book or see the movie. Now, there are a lot of preachers who would tell you that you ought not to. I’m not one of those. You see I happen to believe that the best way for us to attack the culture is not to withdraw from it but to engage it, and it wouldn’t do me any good to teach on the Da Vinci Code if I hadn’t read the novel. It wouldn’t do me any good to attack the movie if I hadn’t seen it. And so, yeah, I’m probably going to go see it, but why? I’m going to go see it remembering what it really is. It is an attack on everything that I hold dear in my faith, in my life, in my historical context, and in the context of the people I love, the Church of Jesus Christ. Knowing that’s the case, then I will look at it the same way I read the novel and that is to see where is this in error and on the basis of that will attempt to try to attack it from a rational, intelligent and faithful perspective. That’s what we’re going to be doing together for these two times. Now, I do think it is interesting that if you see the trailer for the movie, or if you look at the advertisements which already are appearing, there is the kind of catch phrase—the motto for the movie—three words, “Seek the truth.” I want you to do just that. Not seek the truth as Dan Brown conveys it but the truth as God conveys it through His word. So, therefore, what we’re going to do now is to try to put a context around all of this, and we’re going to do that by looking at how the Bible came to be.

The novel, and my guess is the movie, will be an attack on this book. It basically sets out to undermine the truth of this book. So how in the world did this book come to be? One of the things the novel tells you is there were 80 gospels that were written, only 4 were accepted by the male patriarchy of the church, and that’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All of these others were buried, hidden away. They need to be unearthed because they are the real truth, and some of those have been unearthed, and you will see that Dan Brown bases the novel on some of those, “Hidden gospels of ancient times.” What he is not saying to you is that there were not 80. There were at most 15. It could be 14 depending on how you account for them—at most, 14 or 15. There were not 80. There are not thousands of other writings that are contrary to the writings of the Bible as he alludes. There are thousands of documents, writings, texts and manuscripts that are fully in support of the Bible as we have it. So how did it all happen?

The Hebrew Bible was formulated in 400 BC. The People of Israel took all of the writings that had been a part of their history, brought them together and picked out the ones that they believed made clear the message that God created the world, moved into history, had worked through His chosen people Israel to accomplish His ends in the world. That is what we have today as our Old Testament. 400 BC, the Hebrew Old Testament was formulated, and it has never been changed. Never. And those books of our Old Testament are the very Hebrew Bible that was formulated in 400 BC. Obviously, you can recognize there was a time lag between 400 BC and the time of Jesus. There were some writings that occurred during that period of time. Those writings are called the Apocrypha. We will look at that again in a moment. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was pegged on the life of Jesus Himself and by the latter part of the 1st century within. Hear this please. Within 50-60 years of the life of Jesus, basically, the New Testament as we know it was formulated. There were three or four books that were questionable in that process. Hebrews, Second Peter, Jude, even the Book of Revelation. People didn’t understand it. And so they were a little suspicious of it in the early going. But the four gospels, each of which had to be tied to a direct eye witness of Jesus and Jesus’s ministry; His life, His death and His resurrection. And so how did that occur that you wind up with Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John?

By the end of the 1st century, those four gospels had been accepted by the church as authoritative, and they were understood by the church to be complete. They would never be added to. There would never be any other gospels. Why? Well, very quickly, Matthew, written by one of the disciples, an eyewitness to Jesus Christ. Mark, Mark was not necessarily an eyewitness to Jesus although he undoubtedly as a young person saw Jesus and the disciples and understood something of what was going. But Mark was the assistant and the secretary to Simon Peter. And as Simon Peter would preach, Mark would write down the stories of Jesus, the sayings of Jesus that Peter used as illustration for his sermons. And so Mark is reflecting the eye witness of Simon Peter. John, quite clearly, the beloved disciple, always there in the inner circle, able to see and to hear everything that occurred during that roughly three year window of Jesus’ ministry, and he writes his gospel. His comes later, and his carries a much greater sense of reflection on what has occurred. He is not so much telling the story of Jesus life as he is reflecting on the significance of Jesus’ life. And so most of the gospel of John covers just the last week of Jesus’ life, not the whole three year period. That leaves Luke. How in the world does Luke fit the picture? Luke is a Greek. He is not an eyewitness. Well, Luke, obviously, early on, hooked on with the Apostle Paul, became Paul’s doctor and companion, traveled with him, heard the preaching of Paul, was intrigued by all of that, was transformed by the power of the Gospel that he saw. It’s absolutely interesting to note Luke wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. Both of those are his.

In the Acts of the Apostles, in the 21st chapter, up to that point in the Acts, always speaking of Paul, Luke says, “We did such and such, Paul and I,” or, “Paul, and others, and I, we did this. We did that.” The 21st chapter, what happens? Paul is arrested in Jerusalem, put into prison, and from there to the 27th chapter of Acts, it is always Paul spoken of in the third person never, “We.” He is never including himself in that. We know that that period of time covered two years. It says so in the Acts of the Apostles. 27, everything changes. Paul now is going to be sent to Rome to have his case adjudicated, and in 27 it says, “When we boarded the ship bound for Rome.” And from there to the end of Acts, it’s always, “We.” There is a two year period where Paul is incarcerated in Jerusalem. Luke is in Jerusalem because he knows everything that’s happening during that two year period. It is during that two year period that Luke undertook his own personal quest to find the truth of the story of the Gospel and deliver it in terms that the Greek world could understand. He was a historian, a very accurate historian. Historians have looked at the Gospel of Luke and have said, “There is not one single historical or geographical error in the Gospel of Luke. Not one.” He worked to perfection.

Now, I want you to listen, please, to the very first verses of the Gospel of Luke. You probably never paid much attention to this, but listen. “Many,” he says, “have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us just as they were handed down to us by those from the first who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” What that means is he did his homework. He interviewed people who had been a part of the ministry of Jesus. He interviewed the disciples. He interviewed people in the cities and towns. He had a two year window where he was engaged in research documenting the Story of Jesus to the nth degree. And that’s why the Gospel of Luke if you want the true historical story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, Luke is the authoritative figure because that was simply his purpose to tell the story in its historical setting with all of the accuracy possible.

And so you have four gospels the church has declared by the end of the 1st century, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Also, the letters of Paul were incorporated together— accepted by the church as being authoritative under the terms of the inspiration of God. There were other writings that were included in that so that by the end of the 1st century with the exception of those three or four books that I mentioned, they were incorporated later, by the end of the 1st century, basically the Bible as we have it now was the accepted authoritative standard for the church. Here’s what I want you to realize. There are more than five thousand existing manuscripts, writings—whatever—that support the basic Greek text of the New Testament. Now one of the things they say in the novel is the Bible’s got all these versions. You can’t count on any of them. It got a lot of versions. It has only one text, the Greek text of the New Testament and that the accuracy of that text can be traced back to the 1st century. It is the most widely supported text in all of antiquity. There are, for example, the histories of Tacitus. For example, those histories are supported by three or four documents all of which were written 4-500 years after Tacitus wrote his history. And yet it’s accepted by everybody as being valid and authoritative. The Bible has more than five thousand, the latest of which is before the end of the 1st century. So within the lifetime of the people who were living during the ministry of Jesus, within their lifetime, the Bible was put together, completely supported, written down. Texts were formulated, and they were supported by documentation, and that is what has been handed down to us. It is the single most widely supported document in all of human history. And the documentation came virtually contemporary to the life and ministry of Jesus.

Later on, as the faith began to spread and impact other cultures, there were other ideas that crept in. One of those, for example, was Gnosticism, and there were a number of writings that came out of that. Some of those are called “gospels”. We’re going to take a quick look at that in a moment. Here is the point I want you to grasp. They use the titles of apostles in order to gain the authority of the church. These so-called gospels are called the “Gospel of Thomas”, the “Gospel of Phillip”, the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene”, the “Gospel of Peter”. But they all were written—the earliest, the earliest—the “Gospel of Thomas”, just before the year 200 AD. The others were written in 3 & 400 AD, 3 & 400 years after the ministry of Jesus, and yet they want to claim the authority of the four gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It’s utterly absurd.

Now, you do have the books of the apocrypha. Remember, I said those are writings that took place between 400 BC and the time of the New Testament. In 1500—see how late that is—these apocryphal writings were never accepted by the church—not from the beginning until 1500. In 1500 at what is called the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church under some pressure adopted the books of the apocrypha. There are 15 of those. They are now to be found if you have Roman Catholic friends or if there are Roman Catholics here, the apocryphal books are in the Roman Catholic Bible. They are not in the Protestant Bible. They are not in the Bible of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Only the Roman tradition carries the books of the apocrypha. And even there, they are referred to as Deuterocanonical, that is, of secondary importance. So that came in 1500, and yet Dan Brown wants you to believe that these writings have always been there—not the case. In addition to that, there are a raft of documents called the Pseudepigrapha. That is a term which literally means, “False writings.” There are dozens, and dozens, and dozens of those false writings. They’re actually published. You can buy them in two volumes. They’re about that thick, and if you want to read them, go to it.

I will tell you that when Trisha and I were at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in post graduate work years ago, one of my fellow students was Jim Charlesworth. I went on just to become the local preacher. Jim Charlesworth went on to become the world’s leading authority on the Pseudepigrapha. He is the ultimate source now for knowledge about all of these false writings. Dan Brown would’ve done well to have consulted with Jim Charlesworth. They are false writings. They are as Dan Brown terms them, “Banned books.” He says, “They have the real truth, and so the church banned them, refused to have them come to the surface.” Dear friends, they’ve been there for years. Like I said, you can pick up a couple of volumes and start reading, but let me give you a sample. I’m not going to bore you with all of this at this stage of the game, but just as an example. These are the teachings that I’ve just lifted from some of those Pseudepigrapha. Just look at that, “When Jesus was a boy, He killed a child by pushing him off a roof, and when accused, responded by using His power to raise him from the dead. In fact, Jesus apparently used His power for apish personal reasons until He grew up and only then used His divine powers to accomplish good,” or let me go down to the last one from the Gospel of Thomas. The Gospel of Thomas is the Gospel that Dan Brown most frequently refers to, “But the son of Annas, the scribe, was standing there with Joseph. He took a branch of a willow and, with it, dispersed the water which Jesus had gathered together. When Jesus saw what he had done, he was enraged and said to him: ‘You insolent, godless dunderhead, what harm did the pools and the water do to you? See, now you shall wither like a tree and shall bear neither leaves nor root nor fruit.’ Immediately that lad withered up completely; and Jesus departed and went into Joseph’s house. But the parents of him that was withered took him away, bewailing his youth, brought him to Joseph and reproached him: ‘What a child you have who does such things.'”

You read the Pseudepigrapha and you realize this is puck. This is manufactured. It has come out of some fevered imaginations, and it is not in any way consonant with what we know to be the stories of Jesus in the gospels. That’s the ultimate standard. Does it mesh with the Gospel accounts that are there documented, eye witness accounts? Does it mesh? None of those writings do. And I’m going to tell you, I could go on for days having you look at items from the Pseudepigrapha. It’s absolutely absurd that Dan Brown puts so much weight in those documents.

One of the great sources for the Pseudepigrapha was a movement that began in the church or outside the church and then glommed on to the church in about 2-300 A.D. It was called Gnosticism. Gnosticism, the Greek word, “Gnosis,” means, “mind.” Gnosticism basically believed that we have everything that we need in our minds. We don’t need outside supernatural help. We can do everything we want to do on our own. It was the ultimate self-help ministry. That’s the way it began. And it took root and began to spread, and as a result, many of these writings that flowed out of Gnosticism—they attempted to have those writings accepted by the church. The church consistently said, “No.” Ultimately, by the year 367 I think it was, the canon that is the Old and the New Testaments were declared to be closed. There would be no additions to it, and that was to withstand these efforts to change or add to the biblical accounts that were authoritative for the church. Now, Gnosticism creates what I choose to call the four spiritual flaws. Bill Bright has the four spiritual laws, and those are the steps that one takes to true faith.

Gnosticism offers four spiritual flaws. Gnosticism says, “I am God. Everything is God. God’s in the trees. God’s in the animals. God’s in you. God’s in me. You and I are divine. We have a divine spark which happens to be clothed in an evil body. Everything in the world, everything of matter, is evil. Only this divine spark is the source of anything good, and that is what is always going to exist.” The second spiritual flaw is, “I determine my own destiny. I do not need to be saved by some Christ coming from outside the world into the world. Christ can come and show us the good things that we need to do in life, but I don’t need to be saved by some supernatural force. I can determine my own destiny. I can determine my own morality. Whatever I think is right is what is right for me.” How often do you hear that these days? What is right is determined by each individual for him or herself. And four, “I have all the knowledge I need. I don’t need to learn anything more. It is a closed book. I’ve got everything I need within myself. I can stand alone.” “I am,” William Ernest Henley, “I am the master of my faith. I am the captain of my soul.” That is the ultimate gnostic poem, and those are the four spiritual flaws.

The New Age Movement, which is very popular now—it’s not quite so widely reported on, but it is still there—still spreading. Dan Brown is an adherent of the New Age Movement, and the New Age Movement has the four spiritual flaws in bas-relief. That is what the New Age Movement is all about. And so it is very much with us these days, and he has taken advantage of that reality.

In addition to that, and what I want to do is just to put this up here for you…in 1993, there was a gathering called the “Parliament of World Religions”. It brought together representatives of all the world religions—the purpose being to find a way for all of the religions of the world to get along together and to in essence encourage each other. What they did was to adopt these four bullet points as official. Read them, and you will see the spiritual flaws, “No one religion is superior to another. Doctrines should be viewed as subjective paths that need revision rather than as inflexible truths. Proselytizing should be forbidden because trying to persuade others to believe in a particular religion only raises the specter of exclusivity and the dreaded word superiority. The most important pursuit is one that seeks a religious experience defined according to personal taste and inclination.” Dan Brown adopted in his own life the four principles of the Parliament of World Religions. He acknowledges that and is influenced by it. Furthermore, in 1993, another rather remarkable occurrence—sad to say—basically financially underwritten by the Presbyterian denomination of which this church is a part. A conference was held called the Re-imagining Conference. It was designed to exalt the sacred feminine. The sacred feminine is an incredibly important part of the novel as you’ll see next week. The Re-imagining Conference basically attacked the concept of God as Father, of the trinity and sought instead to replace that with an understanding of God as Sophia, the goddess, the divine feminine, the goddess of wisdom. And in fact, that conference whenever someone would mention God the Father, that person would be booed. Whenever the trinity was mentioned, they jeered. Whenever the crucifixion was spoken of, it was spoken of as being a horribly sick violent act that was not needed, is not necessary, and Christ died for no good reason at all. We save ourselves.

Now, just to give you the full impact. That conference ended not with the sacrament of the Lord supper but with an erotic milk and honey celebration directed toward the goddess Sophia. The liturgy included this prayer which all of the participants said together, “Sophia, Creator God, Let your milk and honey flow. Our sweet Sophia, we are women in your image; With nectar between our thighs we invite a lover, we birth a child; With our warm body fluids we remind the world of its pleasures and sensations.” When I speak of the novel exalting the divine feminine, that’s what it is exalting. Now, what I hesitate to say to you is that there is still a very widespread devotion to Sophia in the Presbyterian Church. And at the general assembly meeting every year, they have a service of worship for Sophia, and they have seminars that teach the divine feminine. The Jesus seminar, biblical scholars, 40 to 70 of them, liberal, left-wing, have sat down and taken all of the sayings of Jesus and have voted among themselves by secret vow—they take little beads and drop them in a box—which are the authentic sayings of Jesus and which are not. For example, in the Lord’s Prayer, the only words they regard as being authentic from Jesus are the words, “Our Father.” They have snipped and cut the gospels and all of the sayings of Jesus down to just a handful that they regard as legitimate sayings of Jesus. Everything else they say has been manufactured by the first disciples and by the church through the ages and then placed back into the lips of Jesus.

Remember what Dan Brown says through Leigh Teabing, “Almost all that we have been taught by our fathers about Christ is false.” The Jesus seminar is a small fraction. There are 8,000 scholars of biblical literature today in the English-speaking world. Only 40 to 70 of them take part in the Jesus seminar. The others are in the camp of believing that the Greek text is in fact the divine word of God. All of that is what’s going on and into that mix comes this novel.

Now, I want to take a look at Dan Brown’s agenda, though I’ve alluded to that. I want to look at his sources as well. These are sources he claims for himself. He used these documents, these books, writings, in developing his novel; the first, Holy Blood,Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. Michael Baigent teaches psychology. He has no advanced degree. Richard Leigh is an actor and a screenwriter. Henry Lincoln is a newspaper reporter—not an academic in the bunch. They wrote this book in the early 1980s. Interestingly enough to show you how dependent Dan Brown was upon this book, look at the name Baigent and Leigh. The primary historian character in the novel is named Leigh, L-E-I-G-H, Teabing, B-A-I-G-E-N-T. If you scramble the words, it comes out T-E-A-B-I-N-G.

Now, here’s the ultimate irony. Not long ago, you read in the papers about a trial where these three accused Dan Brown of plagiarism drawing the material of their book and incorporating it into the novel. Why was that case filed now? That book has been out since the early 80s, discredited on every account. The Da Vinci Code first appeared in 2003. It has been out for quite some time. Why would they have a court case now, and why would they have it in London, England where the laws are much freer in terms of plagiarism? I would suggest to you simply to build publicity for the movie. If they were truly concerned that he had plagiarized their material, they would’ve sued long, long, long ago.

The Templar Revelation by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince. These two guys have only to declare themselves as the world’s leading authorities on UFOs. They are both members of the occult. They have no academic credentials whatever.

The Woman with the Alabaster Jar. Margaret Starbird is a new age figure here in the United States. That book is about Mary Magdalene. Margaret Starbird labels that book fiction. Dan Brown declares it to be fact. The author herself calls it fiction.

The Gnostic Gospels and Beyond Belief. Elaine Pagels for a number of years has been a respected academician, a professor at Princeton University. But in her personal life, she’s undergone a rather radical transformation—lost her husband to a tragic death, lost a child to illness, suffered a number of other personal struggles, grew up in a fundamentalist home, and reacted against that. In the face of the struggles of her own personal life, has basically renounced the traditional understanding of the Christian faith—now belongs to a gnostic temple in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, therefore, has lost her respect in the world of academic scholarship. Yet it is her writings that Dan Brown has depended upon. The sources are simply ludicrous, and he’s actually twisted the sources.

So we find ourselves then looking at this novel, and we shall do that next week. Fact versus fiction. And believe me, it is all fiction. I hope that that will become absolutely clear, and what I want you to remember is that the real story is this: you and I are created by God. We are in a world that has fallen from God’s good graces. We are victims of sin. The only way we can be saved or survive is by supernatural intervention. God has chosen to enter history in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus gave His life for us, and on the power of His death and His resurrection, we are not only forgiven of our sinfulness. We are made clean in the eyes of God and shall spend eternity with Him. That is the real story. That’s the story that ought to be the focus of our attention and of our lives. You can count the Da Vinci Code as idle entertainment if you wish. You can count the Da Vinci Code as an unabashed attack on everything that we as Christians hold dear. I would submit it is both, but remember the real story.

Next week, we will look at the fictional story, and we will look at the real story and let you draw your own conclusions.

Thank you. God bless you. Go in peace.

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