Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
It Was Only a Matter of Time...
10/31/2005 - James WhiteI hope the few folks left in sound evangelical churches who might be tempted to in any way listen to or utilize any materials produced by Paul Owen, will read his latest musings here. Note his consistent use of "expiate" instead of "propitiate," the sure sign of heterodoxy and a collapse on the central aspects of the faith. Owen's self-destruction is complete. Watch for a move into a realm allowing much wider latitude in theology in the near future. And I wonder how far the lesser-lights of rCism will follow their patron scholar?
The Da Vinci Code (Part III)
10/26/2005 - James WhiteAfter mentioning Constantine, Teabing goes on to insist he remained a pagan his entire life. While that could be argued, at least at this point you do have disagreements amongst historians as to the exact state of Constantine's religion. He then continues, insisting that “Christians and pagans began warring, and the conflict grew to such proportions that it threatened to rend Rome in two.” I don't believe the Christians can be blamed for warring with pagans as much as the infighting within the church itself was at issue. Be that as it may, Constantine clearly saw the conflict arising out of the Arian controversy as a threat to the peace he so desperately needed to keep the Empire united. But Brown can't give us the truth about the real reasons for the Council of Nicea. Why? Because he is going to tell us that Constantine made up the deity of Christ at this point in time. Yet, the disagreement was over that very issue! If Constantine made up the concept, and no one prior to Nicea believed in the deity of Christ, there couldn't have been a controversy over the idea! So Brown is forced to ignore the actual historical reasons for the calling of the Council of Nicea so as to “fit” the event with his theories.
Teabing goes on to naively assert that in AD 325 Constantine just up and decided to bet on Christianity as the future religion of the Empire. He forgets to mention that in reality Constantine showed himself to be the consumate politician indeed: but in a fashion that completely contradicts his thesis. Specifically, the Council of Nicea did not end the controversy that had been brewing for years beforehand due to the conflict between Arius and Alexander of Alexandria over the deity of Christ: in fact, even after Constantine's death, Arianism reigned supreme in the external, visible church. If it had been Constantine's purpose to use the deity of Christ as his anti-feminine trump card, he failed, miserably, to follow through on his plans. He only cared about keeping the peace: if that was through enforcing Nicea, or a later council, it didn't matter much to him.
Beyond this, Brown seems ignorant of the fact that Nicea took place a scant dozen years after the “peace of the church,” the official ending of imperial persecution of Christianity itself. I have always found it amazing that people would think that the very men who had suffered so much for so long under the heel of Rome, refusing to deny their faith, would, a scant decade later, collapse in disarray in allowing the Emperor to determine the heart of their own faith. Brown's theory is simply laughable at this point: he will, as we will see, actually assert that up until this point in time no one actually believed in the deity of Christ. Constantine foisted it upon the church out of whole cloth, and we are actually supposed to believe that they went along, though Brown again causes the historically aware to laugh hysterically at his assertion that the vote on the matter at Nicea was “close.”
Don't be fooled: the Constantinian era is, in fact, a turning point in Christian history, but not for the reasons Brown alleges. He can mix in just a small amount of truth with a huge dose of utter foolishness to create his story. He notes that various pagan symbols entered into the faith during the same time period, and you can certainly make a case that the period during which the church went from persecuted minority to “religion of the Empire” was one during which many unbelievers entered into the formal membership of the church and they brought their baggage with them. But to assume this was purposeful on Constantine's part once again begs both the question and the historical sources. The fact of the matter is, Constantine simply did not have the kind of power that would have been required to do even 1/10th of everything Brown, via his characters, alleges.
The Da Vinci Code Part II
10/24/2005 - James WhiteUpon announcing his sweeping attack upon the validity of the Bible, Brown continues his work through the dialogue of his characters. Sophie's in-depth response, “Okay,” then leads to these claims by Teabing:
"Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen. As the prophesied Messiah, Jesus toppled kings, inspired millions, and founded new philosophies. As a descendant of the lines of King Solomon and King David, Jesus possessed a rightful claim to the throne of the King of the Jews. Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land….More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.
“Who chose which gospels to include?” Sophie asked.
“Aha!” Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the pagan Roman emperor Constantine the Great.” (231)
This is quite the mixture of claims, some of which are not overly consistent with others, and this gives us a possible “hook” in talking to devotees of the book and opening up a dialogue on the errors and inconsistencies of Brown's position. Brown says Jesus was the promised Messiah. That would mean the Old Testament, at the very least, contains valid prophecy, divine prediction of future events, and that Christ fulfilled those prophecies. Well, obviously, if the Old Testament is accurate enough, “inspired” enough, to contain true prophecy, then would it not follow that God could protect the New Testament as well? Once Brown opens the door on that level, we might as well step through and begin to press the same claims that the Lord taught us to use:
And He said to them, "O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?" Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-27)...
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The Da Vinci Code Part I
10/21/2005 - James WhiteThe Da Vinci Code (hereafter TDVC) is not one big long attack upon the Christian faith. In fact, if you fall asleep for about ten minutes in the film...ok, and run to the bathroom a little later for another couple of minutes...you'll probably miss the main objectionable portions. But more problematic, from an evangelism/apologetics viewpoint is just this: the anti-Christian material in the book is absolutely central to the plot; therefore, I can't possibly see how it can be "cleaned up" in the movie version, even if there was a reason for Ron Howard to do so. And since it is central to the theme, it is the main thing the reader, or the movie-goer, takes from the experience. "What if...?"
The primary section of the work in which this material is found comes as Langdon and Sophie are running from the police, bearing the cryptex, the key to the location of the Holy Grail. They go to Leigh Teabing's residence. Teabing is an eccentric old man, an expert on the Grail legends, and far more involved in the entire story than Langdon and Sophie know. In any case, they enter into Teabing's library and there educate Sophie, who we later find out is actually a descendant of Mary Magdalene and hence of the "royal bloodline," about the "true nature" of the Holy Grail. The fundamental nature of the book's attack upon the Christian faith can be seen when Teabing and Langdon begin weaving their conspiracy theory:
Sophie sensed a rising air of academic anticipation now in both of her male companions.Teabing produces quotes from da Vinci, "Many have made a trade of delusions and false miracles, deceiving the stupid multitude" and "Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!" (231), informing Sophie that da Vinci was talking about the Bible. He continues,
"To fully understand the Grail," Teabing continued, "we must first understand the Bible. How well do you know the New Testament?" (230)
"And everything you need to know about the Bible can be summed up by the great canon doctor Martyn Percy." Teabing cleared his throat and declared, "The Bible did not arrive by fax from heaven."...
"I beg your pardon?"
"The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book. (231)
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First Objection: It's Fiction, Dummy
10/20/2005 - James WhiteVery shortly after posting the previous article the following e-mail was sent through our website:
Someone at Alpha and Omega ministries might like to encourage James White to point out at the beginning of his blog that The Da Vinci Code is marketed as a fictional story. Fiction defined as: a making up of imaginary happenings. He should point out that there is no need for any defense except to point out the fact that the author himself has marketed the work as not true. There is no need to argue with an author who never claimed to be telling the truth in the first place. It is a movie made for entertainment value and nothing more. Such a story is meant to be enjoyed, not critiqued. The arguments made in this book should not be addressed unless they are common arguments found in more serious venues. Because of this there is no need to badmouth the book itself, but it may be helpful to address its fictional claims if it serves to educate others.
Are we making a mountain out of a mole-hill? Should we just laugh at the The Da Vinci Code, enjoy the story, and ignore the statements it makes about the Scriptures, Christ, the apostles, the Church, etc.? Does this author have a point? ...
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Heads Up, Folks. It's Coming
10/20/2005 - James WhiteMay 19, 2006. That's when one of the most outrageous anti-Christian films we've ever seen will explode onto American movie screens. Powered by big stars (Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen) and Oscar winning director Ron Howard, the film adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code represents the investment of millions of dollars in spreading the clear message that the Bible "was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda-to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base" (234) all at the cost of the truth about the "divine feminine."
If you haven't read the book (unlike more than twenty million others), you may have only heard bits and pieces about its blatant attacks upon the Christian faith. I have had the opportunity of addressing the book in a number of contexts, and will continue doing so in an attempt to equip believers to respond to the onslaught. But I would like to document some of the major errors and the way in which they are presented by Dan Brown here on the blog. I encourage you to take this information and be prepared to use this opportunity to present a strong case for the Christian faith. Yes, you read that correctly. We need to see that attacks upon the faith are opportunities if we are prepared and if we are willing to count the cost and go against the cultural flow. We all know that nothing like this could ever be produced if the main target were, rather than the Bible and Christianity, the Quran and the Muslim faith, or Judaism. No, that would never be allowed, but Christianity is fair game at Sony Pictures, that's for certain. But since it is going to appear, we need to be ready to take advantage of it, and provide not only a strong denunciation of its errors, but a positive presentation of the truth of Scripture. And in doing so, we need to be willing to draw clear lines between those who call themselves Christians and yet are unwilling to view Scripture as Christ did, and ourselves.