Did you hear the one about the black helicopters flying over the area at night? How about, “They’re watching us through our TVs”? Or, those aliens are planning a mass kidnapping?
Fanciful stories and conspiracy theories are nothing new and often are embraced by well-meaning and thoughtful people.
The church is no stranger to theories and conjecture.
In 1986, some people thought Jesus was coming back on Sept. 15. There were those of us who took a stance and said, “No, he will not.”
In 2000, many were prepared for some level of disaster as computers failed. Remember: cars would stop running, computers would fail? Again, Y2K was a no-show.
The truth is Americans love a good story, and the hot ticket on the bookshelves has just become a movie. Out this week, “The DaVinci Code” is taken from the best-selling novel by Dan Brown.
Since Hollywood’s best are involved, I have no doubt it will be a popular film.
Take ancient theories, and some not-so-ancient ones, the mystique of the Knights Templar, the legends of the Grail, the Canon of Scripture, the works of DaVinci, and many other aspects of 2,000 years of history and you have an interesting soup of conjecture and fiction.
Our culture loves a story, and Brown has given us a whopper.
Time and space do not allow for a rebuttal, and that is not my purpose here. Some good works will be posted on our blog at www.Abundantlifealaska.org/alag_blog.htm.
What I do want to address is the need of the church to be informed.
Recently an individual was quoting “The DaVinci Code” as fact to me. It is a novel fiction yet the author puts on the robe of historian within the fiction. Some have missed the point that he is playing a role, not writing history.
In today’s world, reliable research is at our fingertips; however, so is fantasy and fiction.
An informed church is an empowered church. You do not have to sacrifice your intelligence at the altar of your faith.
In fact just the opposite is true. The more you know, the more reliable you will find the Bible and the matters of faith.
Brown’s book is full of conjecture, subtle twists and downright foolishness.
At points it is even heretical. For instance, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, department chair of religious studies at the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill, states, “Not a single one of our ancient sources indicates that Jesus was married,” contrary to Brown’s conjecture.
A quick read at Wikipedia will reveal that the Priory of Sion was established in the late 1950s and much of Brown’s history comes from writings not so ancient.
In fact, in commenting on the works of Brown, Wikipedia states: “If this is not a mere marketing trick, it would seem that Dan Brown takes the fantastic claims of the Secret Dossiers more or less at face value, like the authors of “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” did before him. “In the body of the novel itself (chapter 48), it is said that ‘the dossiers’ secrets had been authenticated by many specialists and incontrovertibly confirmed,’ that the famous people listed were indeed former Priory leaders, something ‘historians had suspected for a long time.’
“It should be understood that this fictionalized treatment completely reverses the judgment of real-world researchers, who, with the exception of dedicated conspiracy theorists, have rather dismissed the dossiers as obvious forgeries. Nor had any historians ever suspected that Newton, Botticelli and others were members of any ‘Priory of Sion’; this claim first appeared in the dossiers themselves.”
The encyclopedia concludes its comment: “In short, ‘The DaVinci Code’ describes a world where Pierre Plantard’s hoax was the truth, where the Secret Dossiers were genuine and not forgeries, and where people who support such ideas are reputable historians rather than conspiracy theorists and fringe researchers.”
What this movie will do is create opportunities for discussion.
Be informed, be bright. It is time for the church to rise out of an uninformed position of fearful emotionalism and carry forth a conversation based on present tense realities of encounters with the divine and an informed historical stance.
The historical accuracy of the Lord’s death and resurrection, of the witness of the apostles and of the protection of the written word are longstanding.
The movie is another volley in a long list of assaults against the veracity of the Bible.
In the end, Brown has given us some fanciful writing and a conglomeration of conspiracy theories.
Good fiction? I leave that to you, but a little research will show you it is lousy history.
Have fun, but stay sharp.
Robert Reasner is senior pastor at Abundant Life in Sterling. Abundant Life is at Mile 81.5 of the Sterling Highway. Church services are at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays. The phone number is 262-7266, and Reasner can be reached at email@example.com or www.abundantlifealaska.org.
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