The Expository Files


Why The DaVinci Code is Broken

No doubt you have heard of it, or you will. It is a fictional novel and also a movie. The author, Dan Brown, claims that his novel, though fiction, is based on reality. He claims the historical events really happened. The book is titled, "The DaVinci Code".

While some wish to tear down faith in Jesus as God's Son, I also know that it will provide opportunity for us to talk about our faith. It may cause people to ask us "Why do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?" and I always look forward to the opportunity to tell others why I believe as I do (1 Peter 3:14-16). By all means, prepare yourselves to take advantage of the opportunity to give answer to those who ask!

A Serious Divine Warning of Things to Come
First, I wish to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31; Colossians 1:13-23). My eternal salvation is in His hands and no one else's (John 3:34-36). But some would deny this. The early church was warned that there would arise false teachers even from among themselves (Acts 20:28-30). Some of them would come to deny the truth about Jesus (2 Peter 2:1) The remedy - return to the teachings given by Jesus and His apostles from the beginning of the gospel (2 Peter 3:1-2). Do not accept later gospels with different messages about Jesus.

Toward the end of the first century, doctrines denying the nature and role of Jesus in God's plan of eternal salvation began to make some inroads at some places. The apostle John was yet alive and dealt with this near the end of his life (1 John 1:1-5; 2:18-19; 22; 4:1-3; 4-6; 5:20-21). These false teachers made disciples, who in turn made others, and began a movement that became known as "Gnosticism". They taught that people were not saved by faith, but rather by mystical knowledge concerning the nature of God, the human spirit and the flesh. This movement lasted for several centuries before dying out, but some of their writings have endured time. While the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John date from the first century, the Gnostic gospels date from no earlier than mid-second century. To get people to more widely accept them, they assigned names to them such as "The Gospel of Peter" or "The Gospel of Truth" or "The Gospel of Judas" (which Irenaeus in 180 AD refers to as a "fabrication"). Note that these gospels were not really written by those whose names they bear. They were forgeries. Also, note that not all Gnostics agreed with one another on everything.

Concerning some of these "lost gospels", early Christians wrote of them and noted them as forgeries. Concerning the Gnostic gospel "Gospel of Truth" one wrote, "For if what they have published is the Gospel of Truth, and yet is totally unlike those which have been handed down to us from the apostles, any who please may learn, as is shown from the Scriptures themselves, that that which has been handed down from the apostles can no longer be reckoned the Gospel of truth." - Irenaeus; Against Heresies; Book Three 11:9 - (180 AD).

The same writer also discussed the "Gospel of Judas" and said, "They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas." - Irenaeus; Against Heresies: Book One 31:1 (180 AD)

There were such men as Valentinus, who considered himself a Christian. He died about 160 AD. He did the most to combine Greek mystical thought with Christianity to produce Gnosticism. This philosophy held that knowledge of and fellowship with the Supreme God is impossible; that a lesser god created the world; that all matter is evil and that Jesus only seemed to be human, that He did not die on the cross and that only men who are spiritual by birth and therefore can know these things can be saved . Others, such as Marcion and Arius were also leaders among these teachers. It was to address these views that the Council of Nicea was called in 325 AD. They did this by examining the teachings in light of the writings handed down from the apostles and their associates.

What is the "DaVinci Code"?
The DaVinci Code denies that Jesus is the Son of God; denies His death, burial and resurrection and denies that eternal salvation from sin depends on Him. The story borrows from and depends on ancient philosophies, propaganda, forgeries such as the Gnostic gospels and historical inaccuracies to formulate the fiction, much of which can be disproved.

The fiction of the book claims to be based upon the following alleged "facts":

1. Up until 325 A.D., disciples of Jesus held Him to be a great Rabbi and teacher, and that is all He was, and all He had ever claimed. He did not die on a cross. He married Mary Magdalene and they had children. He was a great teacher, but that is all. He was not the Son of God. Note that it is not suggested that there were debates about this. "The DaVinci Code" suggests no one had even thought of Jesus as Lord before Constantine.

2. Mary Magdalene has a much more prominent role among Jesus' disciples, becoming "an apostle to the apostles". There is a rivalry between her and Peter. She is actually "the holy grail" (because Jesus' bloodline was passed on through His and her children) and identified as "the sacred feminine" (This also was a part of Gnostic teaching).

3. There circulated stories about Him describing His life in this manner. However, in 325 AD, Emperor Constantine called together a council of church leaders at Nicea and from there changed the doctrine about Jesus. In order to cement his political power, Jesus was changed from a great teacher into the Son of God and it began to be taught that you could be saved from sins and go to heaven through accepting His Lordship. He was never referred to as "Lord" before Constantine. Constantine, with the blessing of the church leaders, became powerful because now people, in order to be faithful to Jesus and go to heaven, had to submit to Constantine. (By the way, why didn't someone notice such a thing? If they were not worshipping Jesus before the Council, what caused everyone back home to forget that?)

4. A secret society, called "The Priori of Sion" continued to know the truth about all this through time. DaVinci was associated with this group and wove into some of his work hints and codes.

5. The book and movie is a fictionalized account of how the Romans Catholic church resorts to murder and mayhem to keep it all a secret. However, says the author, though the book is fiction, it is based on this concept of Jesus which is true. Many people are going to be led to think this is true. What shall we say to them?

In What Ways is the Code Inaccurate?
First, The Holy Grail - supposed to have been the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper, according to legend (not according to the Bible - the Bible does not mention a "Holy Grail" but does talk f the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper). At any rate, Jesus did have a cup, though no special significance is attached to the container itself. But rather, the contents that represented His blood to be shed was where the emphasis was (Matthew 26:26-30). The source of the idea that Mary Magdalene was the Grail appears to be a recent story called "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" written in 1981 and based on Gnostic gospels (the authors sued Brown but lost - but if it is true history and not total fiction, then how can they sue for "stealing" their idea in the first place?).

Second, concerning Constantine - The idea that Constantine and the Nicean council elevated the status of Jesus is disproved by the many, many documents preserved from times before 325 AD which clearly show they believed that Jesus was the Divine and only begotten Son of God. For example, the Didache (the "teachings") is a list of the beliefs of disciples that dates from not later than 100 AD or soon thereafter.

Third, concerning the secret organization; "The Priori of Sion" - In WW2, a forged document speaking of the secret society was planted in French archives and used as a means of promoting anti-semitism in Vichy France, by a man named Pierre Plantard who claimed to have been an descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It was proven a forgery in court. Then later, in 1956, he bagan a secret organization called "The Priori of Sion." It did not exist before then. Listen, anytime someone comes up to you claiming to be a descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, you need to be at least a tiny bit circumspect about believing what he has to say!

Also, when we consider the place of Jesus in the early church and consult the writings of early Christians, such as Clement of Rome (95 AD); Hermas of Rome (100); Ignatius of Antioch (110); Polycarp of Smyrna (117-118), we find that they did, in fact, hold Jesus to be the Son of God and Lord. In their writings they quote the Scriptures as authoritative because it came down from the Apostles.

YES! Contrary to the fiction of the DaVinci Code, they did refer to Jesus as "Lord" before 325 AD! "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so, but in a lowly condition, as the Holy Spirit had declared regarding Him." - Clement of Rome; Epistle to the Corinthians; 16:2 (see also 20:11; 21:6; 24:1) - 96 AD

YES! They did teach the literal death, burial and resurrection of Jesus before 325 AD! "All these sufferings, assuredly, He underwent for our sake, that we might be saved. And He suffered really, as He also really raised Himself from the dead. It is not as some unbelievers say, who maintain that His suffering was a make-believe. In reality, it is they that are make- believes: and, as their notion, so their end: they will be bodiless and ghostlike shapes!" - Ignatius of Antioch; Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans - (Before 110 AD).

(IMPORTANT NOTE: In this outline, all quotes of men such as Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, are for the purposes of showing that the early church did, in fact, historically believe what Dan Brown in 'The DaVinci Code", denies they believed. They are not being quoted as authorities, only the inspired Scriptures have the authority of Jesus Christ).

Speaking of the Scriptures, consider:

Papyrus Bodmer II - from @ 200 AD: "Perhaps the oldest book in substantial condition" - Neil R. Lightfoot in How We Got the Bible - This papyrus contains Gospel of John; includes John 1:1-3; 14 (read John 1:1-3; 14). This manuscript predates the Nicean Council by 125 years! The DaVinci Code says the Nicean Council doctored the documents and people started believing these things only after the Council (re. that Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God from the beginning)! Tyhis manuscript utterly disproves Brown's faulty history.

The Gnostic Gospels - The reason they (the so-called "lost gospels") lost out is because they were fabricated. Early disciples do not quote from the "lost gospels" before mid-second century (because those forgeries did not exist yet). Remember, not only were these people fighting against the developing false teachings the apostles had warned would come, but also against severe Roman persecution. They believed that Jesus was the Divine Son of God (John 1:1-3; 14).

They did not appear at the right time at the right place, they were not written by the men they claimed to have been written by and contradict those writings of the eyewitnesses to these events which were actually there!

Jesus said "Know the truth" (John 8:32). That is the first step in reacting to this or any other thing that challenges our Lord. Second, is have the courage and conviction to stand for the truth. It saddens me that old battles must be refought over this same material. This should have been settled centuries ago, and was, but now is being recycled. But hear this: Those who propagate these things are in the same situation as those who taught them centuries ago. They "have not God" (2 John 7-9).

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 13.6; June 2006