Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 21, 2006


Is the Da Vinci Code the greatest threat to Christianity in our time?


          Is it possible that a popular work of fiction, now a movie, can become a serious threat to Christianity? Some Christian leaders say it is, labeling the Da Vinci Code the greatest challenge to the church in the last 50 years.

          Others dispute this idea, saying it is almost silly for clergy to give so much attention the book or the movie. Why make a big deal out of it? It is simply a book of fiction made into an entertaining movie. Why create such a fuss about it?

          Yet the debate goes on. The book angered some clergy to the point that they wanted to have a book-burning. One pastor remarked, “When I read the book’s fallacious attack upon the deity of Christ, I wanted to burn the book!”

          First reviews of the movie suggest that it may not be the blockbuster some thought it would be. A New York Times reviewer called the movie “one of the few screen versions of a book that may take longer to watch than to read.”

          What moviegoers think has yet to be known. They, and not the critics, will decide what the box office response will be.   

          Some Christians say they have not read the book and do not plan to see the movie. They will ignore both and hope the furor will soon subside.

          However, some pastors are convinced the threat to the Christian faith is so serious that it must be challenged. My friend Ken Himes sums up what many pastors feel:

          “Tens of millions of people will read this book and see this movie and come away with serious questions about Christianity. They will question their faith, the Deity of Jesus Christ, the validity of the Bible and much, much more. These questions have eternal significance.”

          This possibility has persuaded many clergy to address Dan Brown’s novel in current sermons. Lester Spencer, senior pastor at Saint James United Methodist Church in Montgomery, is doing just that. He sees the controversy about the book and movie as “an opportunity to open a dialogue and get people really talking and thinking about the core issues of our faith.”

          The Bible warns us that “evil people” will flourish and will deceive people. This comes from Paul’s warning to Timothy (2 Timothy 3) as he admonishes Timothy to “remain faithful to the things you have been taught.” Paul says, “You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.”

          The Apostle goes on to tell Timothy that what he had been taught was the holy Scriptures that “have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” This is a crucial issue raised by The Da Vinci Code for at one point the author has the main character (played by Tom Hanks) to say, “What I mean is that almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.”

          It may well be that many people, even devout Christians, need for their pastors to help them understand why they can trust the Bible. Many who enjoy singing the song, “Thy Word is a Lamp unto My Feet,” may be encouraged to hear their pastor explain why that is true.

          Unlike most Hollywood movies, The Da Vinci Code does give the church an unparalleled opportunity to talk about the greatest book ever written and the greatest person they can ever meet – Jesus Christ. + + + +