This is post 2 of 2 in the series “THE DAVINCI CODEBREAKER"
- The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 1
- The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 2
The DaVinci Codebreaker Session 2
Our gracious Heavenly Father, we thank You that we know, love, revere and are saved by Jesus Christ. You created us. You gave us the gift of life. You brought us into this world. We have not measured up to what it is You expected of us, and yet, our Father, You loved us so much that You gave us Your only begotten son to die for us for the forgiveness of our sin, to be raised from the dead to give us the promise of eternal life. That’s the real story. That’s the real code. And it is so simple and so clear. It doesn’t need to be broken. It simply needs to be accepted by faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.
I entitle this second sequence of teachings “A Detailed Dismantling of Dan Brown’s Story.” Is the Christian faith the greatest story ever told or is it the greatest ever sold? Dan Brown would have you believe that it is the greatest story ever sold and that you and I have bought it hook, line and sinker with all of the lies that are part of it. Obviously, I would argue to the contrary that it is, in fact, the greatest story ever told. Dan Brown loses his credence, his credibility, his ability to deliver anything approaching truth, by the virtue of the story he has told in the novel he has written because he deliberately makes the point that everything in the novel is fact, apart from the characters, when in fact virtually everything in the novel is fiction. And when one purports to be telling the truth and in fact is not telling the truth, then one loses one’s credibility and therefore his position cannot be defended, ought not be acknowledged or accepted, and this book ought to go the way of most bestselling novels: popular for a time and then gradually disappears into the dustbin of the human experience, gathering dust on bookstores or in secondhand bookstores. Will that happen? I don’t know. A lot depends on how we as Christians respond to the reality that this novel and the subsequent movie set before us. I will finish our time today by referring you to the fact that the Chinese word for crisis also means opportunity. That word has two meanings, crisis and opportunity. I regard The Da Vinci Code novel and movie as a crisis to some extent for those of us in the faith, but also as an opportunity. And that is the purpose for our time together here now.
We are going to begin by looking at Dan Brown’s facts, which are fiction. Now, right here on the screen before you is actually the first page of the novel. It is entitled “Fact.” I want to begin dismantling Dan Brown’s facts right here with his own statement of fact. The first: “The Priory of Sion, a European secret society founded in 1099, is a real organization. In 1975, Paris’ Bibliothèque nationale discovered parchments known as “Les Dossiers Secrets”, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo DaVinci.” Is that a fact? No. There is no such organization as the Priory of Sion, and it was not founded in 1099. There was a social club consisting of six people founded in the year 1954 by a Frenchman named Pierre Plantard. In 1953, Pierre Plantard was convicted of fraud and spent several months in jail. Shortly after his release, he formed a social club of five or six people in his little village in France and they chose as the name for that club a mountain that was nearby this village. The Mountain is called the “Priory of Sion”. They then decreed that they were an organization and they lasted for approximately three years before they just vanished. Pierre Plantard, however, remained very much active. He spent a considerable period of time developing what he called documents to prove that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, that there was a child by that marriage. The child’s bloodline was then traced to the royal family of France, and, as he unfolded these documents, that royal line from Jesus was traced also down to—wouldn’t you know it?—Pierre Plantard.
In 1980, the three people—none of whom were scholars, who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail, one of Dan Brown’s sources, took the documents created by Pierre Plantard to be factual. And they built their whole premise on those documents. In 1993, Pierre Plantard was summoned to court in France because he was involved in a scandal involving one of the top lieutenants to the French President François Mitterrand. During the course of the trial, the documents that he claimed gave him the right to call himself the rightful king of France were brought into court. They were then examined very, very carefully. They were determined to be fraudulent. On the stand, under oath, Pierre Plantard ultimately admitted that he had created the documents and that they were all forgeries. There was no truth to them. The judge then gave him a very stern warning that these documents were to be destroyed and he was never again to call himself the rightful heir of the throne of France. In essence, the judge decreed him to be mentally unstable. That is the Priory of Sion. Founded in 1099? Absolutely not. Is it a fact? No. It is fiction.
Second: “The Vatican Prelature known as ‘Opus Dei’ is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brainwashing, coercion and a dangerous process known as ‘corporal mortification.’ Opus Dei has just completed construction of a $47 million national headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City.”
The only thing true in that paragraph is the last line, and it is only partially true. Opus Dei does, in fact, occupy offices in an office building at 243 Lexington Avenue, which did cost $47 million to build, but was built by another landowner, landholder and therefore Opus Dei is simply a tenant in that office building. Opus Dei is a real organization, but it is not anywhere near the organization portrayed in The Da Vinci Code. It is, in fact, an instrumentality of the Vatican. It was created by a Spanish priest, Josemaría Escrivá, who died in 1975. He actually was named a saint in 2002. His purpose was to create a vehicle for lay-people in the Roman Catholic Church to develop their spiritual gifts and to serve Christ in the world.
It is a lay-dominated organization and it does fall under the purview of the Vatican. You can well imagine that there are a number of local bishops who are somewhat perturbed about Opus Dei feeling that they have a direct line to the Vatican and the Vatican controls what they say and do, that Opus Dei today, with regards to the Vatican, matches in parallel the relationship that the Jesuits had with the Vatican in previous centuries. They are devoted to the Pope, they are devoted to traditional Catholic teaching, doctrinally, and in this day and in this country, where Catholic doctrine is being questioned on every hand, that is the reason that there is some controversy. In addition to that, Opus Dei has Roman Catholic CEOs together with Roman Catholic day-laborers, all of whom are lay-people, and these individuals are engaged in building their own faith and in making a difference for Christ in the world. Their work is magnanimous, it is quite generous, and they have, because of the nature of their organization, generated an enormous amount of money, which they have devoted to good causes all over the world.
Opus Dei does have what are called numeraries, that is individuals who are a part of that tradition who give themselves to special spiritual discipline, including what he refers to as corporal mortification. That is to say, they engage in a measure of physical suffering as a way of demonstrating their devotion to and dependence upon Jesus Christ. They want to, in their own lives, try to experience something of the suffering of the Savior. And so these numeraries in Opus Dei do, in fact, engage in what he refers to as corporal mortification. But there are no monks in Opus Dei, although Silas, the albino monk in The Da Vinci Code, is reported to be a monk of Opus Dei. And by the way, it says that he is an albino. Very interesting that Dan Brown does not have him exhibit the visual limitations that albinos normally suffer from. One more little detail. I could go on and on. You don’t want me to do that. So therefore, let me just focus on the fact that his portrayal of Opus Dei is 180 degrees away from the truth. This is not fact.
Then, he comes to this very, very significant statement: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” We are getting ready to demonstrate just how foolish that statement really is. I am going to look now at errors in the arena of art and architecture. We’re going to start there. I figure that’s the easiest place to begin. First, this is called The Da Vinci Code. Right there, you get an indication of how fast and loose he is playing with the truth. The artist’s name is Leonardo. He had one name—Leonardo—sort of like Cher or Elvis. DaVinci is where he was from. Da, of, Vinci, a small town near the city of Florence. Leonardo of Vinci. It would be like referring to the Gospels as the Gospels of Nazareth. Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the name. Nazareth is where he is from. DaVinci is where the artist is from. His name is Leonardo. And so this ought to be called, properly, the Leonardo Code, if, in fact he is dealing with the truth.
Furthermore, he makes the point in here that Leonardo was a flaming homosexual. Let me say to you that on one occasion in the late 1400s, Leonardo and three other artists in the region of Florence were hauled into court on charges of sodomy, that is, engaging in homosexual practice. There was a trial and all of the charges were discovered to be completely groundless. They were manufactured. The charges were dismissed. They were completely exonerated. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is hard evidence that Leonardo was homosexual. The fact of the matter is we don’t know whether he was or not, but there is no evidence to indicate that he was, and in fact the indication from the evidence is that he was not.
Dan Brown says that he had literally thousands of commissions from the Vatican. That is completely in error. He had maybe a handful, perhaps three or four. He didn’t actually have that many paintings. He is, in fact, more noted for his work on things like flight and the human anatomy and science and a whole variety of other disciplines. He was a Renaissance man. Art was one of his gifts and abilities, but he did not use that gift to an extraordinary degree as many of the other great artists of his age. He had only a few. His relationship with the Vatican was somewhat uneasy. He was very comfortable with the belief in Christ. He was not so comfortable with some of the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church in his time. Remember, please, he died shortly before the Protestant Reformation. He was already becoming concerned about things that Luther, Calvin and other reformers brought to the surface and attempted to address or redress within the Roman Catholic Church, and ultimately, of course, there led to the break that we know as the Reformation. His relationship to the Church was somewhat uneasy, but it was not a hostile relationship and he was not engaged in some secret development of a faith that was an alternative to the Roman Catholic Church of his time.
Code. Is there such a thing as the Da Vinci code? DaVinci, as the author calls him, Leonardo, as I call him—Leonardo was a great prankster. He loved playing jokes on people. One of the things that he did—he was left-handed. And believe me, I understand this. When you write left-handed, you tend to drag your hand across the page and if you are writing in ink, or, for that matter, in pencil, you smear the writing. I regularly do that, and the back of my hand is usually colored by whatever it is I happen to be writing with. Leonardo developed the ability to write opposite so that his hand did not drag across the ink and smear it. And so he wrote backwards and then when you wanted to read what he wrote, you simply held it up to the mirror and there it was. Dan Brown would have you believe that he was engaged in some kind of secret machination creating a special code that then was designed to undo the Roman Catholic Church. No art historian—no art historian—would put forth the idea that Leonardo developed a code which he then planted in his paintings. That is completely far-fetched, has no basis in fact at all.
Now we want to look at some of the paintings themselves. He makes a great deal out of the Mona Lisa. He says that the Mona Lisa is, in fact, part of the code, that it is an anagram using the letters of the Egyptian god Amon and the Egyptian goddess Isis, that he is, in essence, delivering the message that there is this androgynous reality to life and that male and female are equal in the way we are to understand them in life, and that this is a secret code against the male-dominated Roman Catholic Church. Sounds quite delightful, doesn’t it? The problem is, Leonardo never named the painting Mona Lisa. It was named The Mona Lisa by a biographer of Leonardo many years after Leonardo was gone. He learned that the model for the Mona Lisa was a woman in Florence, the wife of a nobleman, and her name was Monna Lisa, M-O-N-N-A L-I-S-A, and so he applied that title to the painting. Leonardo never entitled the painting at all. The fact that it is the secret-bearer of some code is absolutely absurd.
Madonna of the Rocks. Now I want us to look a little more closely at this. By the way, if you are looking at the trailers and things for the movie, you will see the phrase, “So dark the con of man.” That is a taking of the letters of the painting Madonna of the Rocks and that Leonardo’s intent was to make the point that all of the traditional understandings of the faith were basically a con. Well, the word con is English. Leonardo did not speak English. Madonna of the Rocks, if you want to play with it, actually can be made to read, “Tom Hanks fed raccoon.” That’s all I’m trying to say to you is just how absurd the whole thing is. Madonna of the Rocks was not a painting commissioned by a group of nuns, but rather by a group of monks, and this group of monks dictated that Leonardo was to paint the painting in a manner to their pleasing. They had a contract. Leonardo offered his amendments to the contract. He then painted the painting as he wished to paint it. They didn’t like it, and they refused to pay. And so he took them to court. And as a result, the painting was never a part of that particular monastic tradition and it ultimately got sold. And later on, Leonardo painted a second version of the painting. This version hangs in the Louvre in Paris. The second version hangs in the National Gallery in London. We’re going to look at the second version in just a moment. One of the points that the novel makes is that basically what you have here is John the Baptist blessing Jesus. Now it is very important to understand the whole idea behind the Gnostic faith that Jesus was really not the Son of God, and that’s also the argument, basically, of the novel itself. And so the idea is that Jesus doesn’t bless John the Baptist. John the Baptist blesses Jesus. Well, he’s got it all wrong. If you look very closely—you can’t see it too clearly here. You see it a bit more clearly in the second version. The baby on the left—and that is Mary—and Mary has her hand around there, and so Dan Brown wants you to believe that that’s Jesus. But the baby on the left actually is clothed in a small animal skin. Who wore animal skins? John the Baptist.
And so what you have is the Angel on the right pointing to John the Baptist, who is the predictor of Jesus, and then you have the baby Jesus blessing John the Baptist. And so that is in essence the painting as Leonardo created it, but Dan Brown has fed all kinds of symbolism into that, none of which is there. You see it more clearly in the second version where you see the staff—that is the staff with the cross is an artistic symbol for John the Baptist. And so in the second version, he makes it very clear. And you can actually see more clearly the little animal skin wrapped around John the Baptist here. And so Mary is, in essence, placing her hand over her son. Jesus is blessing John the Baptist. Dan Brown turns that message completely upside down and it is absolutely in error. Any art historian would be happy to share that truth with you.
The main thrust of everything that takes place in the novel surrounds Leonardo’s The Last Supper. In the first place, Dan Brown refers to this as a fresco. It is not a fresco. Fresco is fresh plaster, is placed on a wall, the wet plaster is then painted on, and when the plaster dries, it congeals or adheres to the paint. And so frescos last forever, practically. Fresco is a form of art that is highly refined. The Last Supper was not a fresco. It is a mural. Dan Brown calls it a fresco. His wife is an art historian. How could he be so stupid? I’m just a preacher and I know the difference—it is a mural. He painted with tempera paint on a blank wall. Little wonder that over the years, The Last Supper has disintegrated. There have been many efforts to restore it. Now you can see it in Milan, but you can only go in a handful of people at a time and it is very closely guarded because it is gradually disappearing. And the quality is certainly not as sharp now as it would have been in the time of Leonardo.
One of the things that Dan Brown says is that—basically two things—one, if you notice, this is the table of The Last Supper. There is no chalice. There is no grail. Remember: one of the arguments of the novel is—we’ll come to this later—is that the Holy Grail is not a cup. It is a person, Mary Magdalene. She is the one who holds the blood and the seed of Jesus because of their marriage. And what he is trying to say to you here is that that’s the first thing. The second thing is he is arguing that the figure right next to Jesus is, in fact, Mary Magdalene and that she is engaged in an argument with Peter. And it is the premise of the novel that Peter and Mary Magdalene got into a fight over who was going to control the early Christian Church, Peter won, and therefore Mary Magdalene was subservient, and that’s why the Church has become a patriarchy, male-dominated force in the world and women have been so abused by the Church ever since. So says Dan Brown.
Now the reality is that if that is Mary Magdalene, that means that one of the other disciples must have left the room. There is no accounting for the one who left. Leonardo has many, many notes and sketches that he prepared prior to painting this. In none of those, notes or sketches, does he ever indicate that that person next to Jesus is Mary Magdalene. It does have a sort of young, fresh, clear complexion. It is somewhat feminine looking in its appearance. But you must understand that in that day and time, Renaissance painters painted those who were young as being angelically beautiful. And so he is simply acknowledging the fact that John is young. And furthermore, remember this. Leonardo, whatever else may be said of him, was an expert in human anatomy. If that were a woman, you can count on the fact that there would have been breasts. There are none. Not in the final painting, not in any sketch, not in any note that he ever wrote. His whole understanding of The Last Supper, which he infuses with meaning, is, in fact, once again, completely in error.
Now let me return to our basic outline. What I want to do now is to move onto architecture and let me just simply say—where in the world have I put that thing? There it is. So sorry—The Rose Line, which he says is in Paris—he adopts the premise that the rose is the ultimate sign of femininity, that, pardon me, it is the floral representation of the female vagina. And therefore, the Rose Line in Paris is the ultimate proof that Mary Magdalene was meant to be the head of the Church, not Peter. He uses what he calls a line that he calls a Rose Line that begins in the Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris. Well, once again, he has played fast and loose with the facts. There is something of a line in Saint Sulpice. It goes from an obelisk in one corner of the church down that obelisk and across the floor and then over to the opposite side of the church. That line was created in the 1700s as a means of determining the date of Easter. A hole was pierced in the roof of Saint Sulpice. The sunlight coming in through that hole at certain points of the year falls upon that obelisk. As the sun moves through the course of the year, that dot of light moves along that line and then ultimately goes to the other side before starting the whole sequence again. And when that point of light arrived at a certain point on the line, that was the date of Easter. The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. And so the thing was used to set the date of Easter. It had nothing to do with Mary Magdalene.That is one more architectural fault. Yet another is to be found in the Temple Church in London.
The Knights Templar were a Roman Catholic order founded in the late 1000s, really taking hold in 1118. This was during the time of the Crusades. The Muslims had moved in to occupy Jerusalem in the Holy Land, and the Crusaders went to liberate the Christian sites from the Muslim hands. The Knights Templar were knights who were military figures, but who were blessed by the Church and were charged with defending the sites of Jesus and Christianity in the Holy Land and with defending pilgrims—Christian pilgrims, to the Holy Land, while they were there. Now these knights would travel from England, France, and other places on the continent to the Holy Land. In order to do that, they soon recognized that they had to develop means of financing that would make possible these long journeys. The Knights Templar then developed means of transferring money by paper. They are the forerunners of the present system of banking that exists all over the world today so that your money, which is held here, can be used wherever you happen to be in the world. That began that far back with the Knights Templar.
Because of their business acumen and their military power, they became very powerful forces in the Church and in the world, so much so that they wound up being given large pieces of property that they could use as they wished. One of the things that they did was to build churches, not cathedrals, as Dan Brown says—to build churches and those churches were patterned after the sites that they had liberated in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land. The Temple Church in London is a church built in the pattern of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. It is a circle. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem is a circle. It is not some pagan symbol as the novel would have you believe. The Temple Church was, in fact, a source of great power in the Christian faith and then ultimately, the power of the Knights Templar became a problem. Not for the Church, although Dan Brown says that’s what happened.
It became a problem for the King of France. He was jealous of their both monetary and military power, and so he ordered the Knights Templar disbanded and put to death. Many of them were. And as a result of that, in the 1300s, the Knights Templar ceased to exist. The Temple Church stands to this day in London. You can visit it, and the knights of the Knights Templar, some of them have their burial effigies on the floor of the Temple Church, and Dan Brown wants you to believe all sorts of wild and wooly things about those knights’ effigies. In fact, they are simply the spots marking the places where those knights are buried. They believed that if they were buried in the Temple Church, that was as close as they could get to being buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher because it was patterned after that church. And their desire was to be in Jerusalem.
And then finally, the Rosslyn Chapel. When I studied in the University of Edinburgh, one of my professors was Canon Walls, who was the rector of Rosslyn Chapel. It is six miles south of Edinburgh. It is a magnificent medieval chapel, it is not large, and it is exquisitely carved on the inside. There are many, many symbols in the Rosslyn Chapel. Tourists for years have gone there. Here is the point: those carvings were designed to deliver a message that Christianity has superseded all of the pagan faiths that have occurred through the course of history. And so there are pagan symbols in the Rosslyn Chapel, but they are done in such a way that you get the notion of the superseding power of the Christian symbols over those pagan symbols. That is not the message that Dan Brown gives you about the Rosslyn Chapel.
Now let me move on to matters of Bible and belief. Remember last week we talked about the canon. The Bible as we know it, basically the Old Testament scriptures, were in place in 400 BC. By the end of the first century, the four Gospels and the Letters of Paul and several others of the Epistles were already accepted as the authoritative word of God by the Church. Now, subsequent to that, in the years following, there were all sorts of strains that grew out of the different cultural settings in which Christianity found itself, one of which was the strain of Gnosticism, which was a divergent idea not at all in keeping with the Gospels. But basically, the Bible as we know it was already in place by the year 100 AD. It was accepted, documented, eyewitness accounts—everything is there. What happened later is that these other writings—remember we called them last week pseudepigrapha, false writings. These false writings were generated all over the place and some of those have come to life in subsequent years. The earliest of those false writings has been dated at 150 AD—50 years after our Bible basically was accepted as authoritative.
Most of those writings occurred 200, 300, 400, even. They are not to be understood as being authoritative. They are false writings. And the nature of the writings themselves gives that away. Now what Dan Brown has done is to cherry-pick those pseudepigrapha, pulls out things that he wishes were true, or he would like to think are true and uses that to buttress his own particular agenda. For example, he makes a great deal out of the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip. Those are pseudepigrapha. False writings. They came much later. What is ironic is he uses those, particular verses from them, to demonstrate the fact that the true Church was a Church built on Mary Magdalene when, in fact, the message of those two pseudepigrapha—the message of those two is that women are never going to make it to the Kingdom except through the grace of men. The message of the two documents that he uses are exactly the opposite of what he wants you to believe. Don’t fall for the trick of cherry-picking or proof texting, lifting verses here and there, and then using that to make a point. He also says that Constantine formed the Bible—Rubbish. The Bible was already formed long before Constantine.
Normally I wouldn’t do this—I’m going to read to you a part of the novel. It’s actually a very critical, critical exchange. Takes place in chapter 55. The three main characters, Leigh Teabing, the Oxford historian; Robert Langdon, the Harvard symbologist; Sophie Neveu, the police detective cryptographer from Paris; are engaged in a conversation. Teabing, the historian, says, “‘Constantine was a lifelong pagan who was baptized on his deathbed too weak to protest. In Constantine’s day, Rome’s official religion was sun worship, the cult of Sol Invictus, or the Invincible Sun. Constantine was its head priest. Unfortunately for him, a growing religious turmoil was gripping Rome. Three centuries after the crucifixion of Christ, Christ followers had multiplied exponentially. Christians and pagans began warring and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two. Constantine decided something had to be done. In 325, he decided to unify Rome under a single religion: Christianity.'”
“Sophie was surprised. ‘Why would a pagan emperor choose Christianity?'”
“Teabing chuckled. ‘Constantine was a good businessman. He could see that Christianity was on the rise. He simply backed the winning horse. Historians still marvel at the brilliance with which he converted the sun-worshipping pagans to Christianity. By fusing pagan symbols, dates and rituals into the Christian tradition, he created a hybrid religion that was acceptable to everyone. The vestiges of pagan religion in Christian symbology are undeniable. Egyptian sun disks became the halos of the Catholic saints. Pictograms of Isis nursing her miraculously conceived son Horus became the blueprint for the Virgin Mary. All the elements of the Catholic ritual were taken directly from earlier pagan religions.’ Teabing said, ‘Don’t let me get started on the Christian icons. Nothing in Christianity is original. The pre-Christian god Mithras, called the Son of God and the light of the world, was born on December 25, died and was buried in a rock tomb, then resurrected in three days. By the way, December the 25th is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans. Christianity honored the Jewish Sabbath. Constantine shifted it to coincide with the pagans’ veneration of the day of the sun. To this day, most churchgoers attend services on Sunday morning with no idea that they’re actually there because of pagan worship.'”
“‘Indeed,’ Teabing said, stay with me. ‘During this fusion of religions, Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian tradition and he held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea. At this gathering, many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon: the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of the sacraments and of course, the divinity of Jesus. Until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet; a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. Simply a mortal, not the Son of God. Jesus’s establishment as the Son of God was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.'”
Absolute rubbish. The divinity of Jesus was stated by Jesus. We read about it in the Gospels. The writings of Paul affirm the divinity of Jesus. The Church from its earliest moments declared Jesus to be the Son of God. Jesus never questioned that. No one who followed Him ever questioned that. That was accepted belief all the way. As the Gnostics and others began to have some influence and visibility, they began to suggest that Jesus wasn’t really a man. He was divine, but He wasn’t really human. They didn’t want Him to be human. It’s interesting that Dan Brown has reversed that equation in his understanding of Gnosticism, but the true Gnostics thought that everything happened in the mind. The body, remember, is evil. There were others who came along, like Arius, who said that Jesus was a man. He was just a man. God used Him in special ways, but that’s all he was. And so these competing views—the Church believed that they needed to make a firm, clear statement.
And so the Council of Bishops gathered at Nicaea in 345. Constantine was simply the ruling figure who permitted the council to occur. It had to have royal approval in order for these people to travel from all over that part of the world to come together to meet. The purpose of the meeting was to establish once, for all and forever that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, fully God and fully human. Dan Brown, through Leigh Teabing, tells you that it was by a close vote. Actually, there were more than 300 delegates at the Council of Nicaea. In the final affirmation of Jesus Christ as truly divine and truly human, Son of God, Savior of the World—that’s the Nicene Creed that we sometimes say in church to this day—the vote was actually 2 against and 316 in favor. That is not my view of a close vote. Everything that he says in that very critical section of the novel is not true.
We move, then, to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi find. Basic errors. He says that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1950—Not true. They were discovered in 1947. He says that the Dead Sea Scrolls contain writings which support a different view of the understandings of Christianity and the early Christian Church and the life of Jesus—Not true. None of the Dead Sea Scrolls in any way are written at the time of the New Testament or after. They all are reflective of ancient Hebrew history and documents. For example, the prophecy of Isaiah. The manuscript of the prophecy of Isaiah was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are all Jewish documents. They have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. The Nag Hammadi find in the deserts of Egypt—that occurred in 1945—he says that they were scrolls. They weren’t. They were leather-bound books, much, much later. Books were not in vogue until hundreds of years after the first century. And so they had these Gnostic writings that were collated, put in book form, buried in vessels in the desert, and were found in 1945.
Many of these passages from the Nag Hammadi texts he uses to defend his point of view. For example, one of the places that he uses is a note in the Gospel of Philip where it says that Jesus kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth. He uses that to support the idea that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. Well, what he does not tell you is that the manuscript actually at that point has holes in it. And so the only words that are extant that you can actually translate are, “Jesus kissed,” and then there is a hole, and then “Mary Magdalene,” and then there is another hole. He has manufactured words to go in where the holes are in the manuscript. That is hardly good scholarship.
Jesus’s singleness. One of the arguments that he makes is that it was absolutely unheard of for a Jewish male, particularly for a rabbi, to be unmarried. That is absolutely untrue. We know, for example, that Moses, after he encountered God on Mount Sinai, that from that point on for the rest of his life, he was celibate. We know that Elijah was single. We know that Jeremiah was single. We know that probably Paul was single. Certainly there is nothing to say that Jesus was or was not married in the Gospel accounts, and yet, with all of the other details we have there, would it not make sense that Jesus would be acknowledged as being married somewhere in the course of the four Gospel stories? Furthermore, if he was married to Mary Magdalene, remember Mary Magdalene was at the cross, along with Mary and Salome. Jesus spoke very kindly and tenderly to His mother. He made no mention, no word directed, to Mary Magdalene. If she had been His wife, would it not make sense that He would have done that?
In addition to that, Paul at one point says, “I have the right to have a wife if I wish, like Peter and like other apostles.” Believe me. If Jesus had been married, He would have said, “I have the right to have a wife like Jesus, like Peter and like the other apostles.” There is no evidence anywhere to indicate that Jesus was married. Furthermore, there are many instances of rabbis themselves not being married. In addition to that, the Essene community who created the Dead Sea Scrolls were all single men. Jewish leaders who had chosen to live the single life as an act of obedience to God. Therefore, John the Baptist, we know, was single. John the Baptist was heavily influenced by the Essene community in their approach to their understanding of the faith. It is absolutely absurd to say that it couldn’t be that Jesus was single. He did not have to be married. I will tell you if he had been married, far as I’m concerned, that doesn’t alter anything. He is still Son of God and Savior of the World. But the reality is—clearly there is no evidence to support the idea that He was.
Then we move on to the role of Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was not put down by the early Church. She was venerated by the early Church. Why? Because Mary Magdalene is the person to whom God chose to reveal the greatest news the world has ever heard: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. She’s the first one to see the reality of the resurrection, and because of that, she was venerated by the early Church. She has been venerated by the Church through the years. There was a period of time in the Middle Ages where there were efforts to try to label her as a sort of a prostitute who came to Christ and that put her in a bad light and people kind of got down on her a little bit. But that subsequently passed and has never reappeared either in the Roman Catholic tradition or the Eastern tradition. One of the most magnificent churches in Paris is called the Madeleine. That’s the Magdalene. The church is named after Mary Magdalene. It sits opposite the Palace of the Congresses in Paris, an absolutely magnificent structure built many, many, many years ago to the glory and honor of Mary Magdalene because she is the one who first trumpeted the news that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. It is a complete fabrication to say that she was put down by the Church and only now through The Da Vinci Code is she being resurrected into consciousness.
Holy Grail. The Holy Grail, for your information, first appeared in the Christian tradition in the 12th century. A group of monks who had a lot of time on their hands began to sit around and wonder, “Wonder what happened to the chalice that Jesus used?” They decided, “Well, maybe He gave it to Joseph of Arimathea as payment for using His tomb. Maybe then it kind of got passed on and because Jesus had His hands on it, it had miraculous powers.” And so they developed this sort of wonderful web of little stories and legends around the Holy Grail. That was picked up later on in England with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table seeking the Holy Grail. Pure legend. It was picked up again in the 19th century when Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a poem called “The Idylls of the King.” And ultimately Richard Wagner wrote two operas, included in that the pursuit of the Holy Grail. And then you have modern movies like Monty Python, for heaven’s sake, and Harrison Ford and The Raiders of the Lost Ark. The pursuit of the Holy Grail has been a great story and legend through history. But it is new on the Christian scene. It has no—no—historical foundation in what we call Biblical Christianity.
Mithras and pagan rites. Remember, I just read to you from the novel. Mithras was never called the Son of God, the Light of the World. Never. He may have been born on December the 25th. We don’t know. Nobody knows. But Jesus in the Bible, his birthday is not December the 25th. That was set much, much later when the Christians decided they were going to overcome the power of the Feast of the Invincible Sun; that is the winter solstice. They were going to overcome that by creating a celebration of the birth of Jesus. So the Church later on just said, “We don’t know when Jesus was born, so we’re just going to pick December the 25th.” Mithras never died, was buried and was raised again. That came in the year 300 to 400 in the followers of Mithras. They borrowed from the story of Jesus and put it on him, not the other way around. You have all of these pagan rituals and ideas and rites that he says were basically a part of the Church. He’s got it absolutely wrong—180 degrees wrong.
Persecution of witches. He says that the Church, because of this desire to put down Mary Magdalene and exalt the male aspect of the Church, the Church has persecuted witches. Over one period of time, five million women were put to death by the Roman Catholic Church—absolute lie. There were some persecution of the witches in a 300-year period of time, concentrated for the most part in the 16th and 17th centuries. At most, 30 to 40 thousand people were put to death. Interestingly enough, one-third of those were men. Furthermore, the vast majority of those 30 to 40 thousand were not put to death by the Church. They were put to death by the civil authorities. The Church actually reached out to those people and sought to convert them, win them back to the true faith. Everything that he says about the persecution of the witches is wrong. History has plenty of documentation to demonstrate that. Don’t fall for the lie that the Church has persecuted women and put to death millions of them through the years because they were trying to maintain the “true faith.” Not so.
And then the sacred feminine and Biblical womanhood. He wants you to understand, in his point of view, that the sacred feminine is the true expression of the Church. It is sexual in nature. He wants you to believe that there were sexual rituals as a part of the early Church. That is not the case at all. He wants you to believe—and this is a dead giveaway. In the novel, there is a group sex act and during that, the grandfather of Sophie Neveu actually achieves gnosis where he receives the ultimate revelation from God. It’s because he is making love to a woman and at the moment of orgasm, that is the purest moment, at least as far as the sacred feminine is concerned. What you don’t see, if you don’t think about it, is that the sacred feminine is actually an exploitation of women, not an exaltation of women. Women are designed to give men the pleasure, the ultimate gnosis, and so his whole theory actually is undermined by the very arguments that he tries to make. Furthermore, the sacred feminine in history always has two dimensions. One is fertility. The other is death. There is always human sacrifice as a part of the exercise of the sacred feminine. Hinduism, I said to you last week, involves the sacred feminine and Hinduism involves human sacrifice. I have witnessed it myself. We cannot believe that there is any measure of credibility to his idea that the true expression of Christ and faith in the Church is the sacred feminine.
And so the movie triggers crisis and opportunity. Yes, it does call into question all that we believe. Remember he says in the novel, “Everything you and I believe about Christ and the faith is false.” Well, that’s also an opportunity to share the good news that we know. And what I want you to understand is that the day will come when everyone, the Bible says, not just those who believe, everyone, will bow the knee to Jesus Christ: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam Hussein, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bishop Spong, Madonna, Dan Brown. The day will come when every knee shall bow and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. The difference is for those who believe, the word that comes back from the risen Christ will be a word of grace. For those who do not, the word that comes back will be a word of judgment. But the day will come when every knee shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. For you and for me, the word will be grace.
Enter into the joy of your Lord. God bless you.