Da Vinci Code: Debunked

Have you read this book? It's a decent read and a run-away best seller. Since Ron Howard and Tom Hanks are making a movie based on Brown's novel (due out next summer) I'm sure the topic will continue to be water-cooler fodder. The story is full of drama, intrigue, violence, betrayal, mystery, etc. Dan is also writing a follow up book based on the secret Masonic society.

Make no mistake - the Da Vinci book is a complete work of fiction. The book makes many outrageous and unsubstantiated claims that directly attack tradition and the historical record. That might be okay for a fictional novel. But Dan says that he actually believes his story. Naturally, the sensationalism is just good marketing. And I'm betting that many of you have read the book and might even think there is something to the claims. Dan starts the novel by claiming journalistic accuracy, and goes on to suggest that (for example):
  • Jesus was not considered to be God until 325AD, when voted in by a narrow margin at Nicaea
  • Eighty Gospels were considered, but only four made it into the New Testament
  • Mary Magdalene was pregnant with Jesus' child when Jesus was crucified
  • etc, etc, etc
Let's look at that first one, which is a very serious claim if taken as more than a just a fabricated story element in a fictional work.

The historic record confirms that a few years before 325AD, an elder named Arius promoted a controversy that suggested that Jesus was inferior to and created by God. Arius was ex-communicated. But he had some followers and it split the church. The Roman Emperor Constantine didn't like to see this split, so he called a Council of 318 church leaders from all over the kingdom to resolve the argument and heal the church. The Arius Controversy was: is Christ "homo-ousious" (one substance with God - deity) or "homoi-ousious" (a similar substance - but inferior to God). Arius tried to rally the troops at Nicaea, but the final vote was 313 to 5. The five were Arius and his few followers. It was a resounding defeat.

As a side note, there are still some major religious groups today that embrace the Arius position, such as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Besides the overwhelming vote against Aruis, the Council of Nicaea produced one of the most famous creeds that is still in use today by many Christian denominations. The Nicene Creed clearly articulates the position held by the Church since the ministry of Jesus - that He and God are one:

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.

Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Da Vinci Code was the subject of a TV program on UK's Channel 4. Hosted by Tony Robinson the program looked into and debunked the major claims in the book (see here for details). I'm always amazed by how many people seem to believe this kind of thing. This G K Chesterton quote seems appropriate:
"It's the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense."
[The Oracle of the Dog - 1923]

Posted by Phillip Fayers on April 11, 2005 at 03:10 AM EDT #

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