The 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.
“To fully understand the Grail,” Teabing continued, “we must first understand the Bible. How well do you know the New Testament?” (230)
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,
“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)
This bald denial of the divine origin of the Christian Bible garners a compelling response from Sophie, “Okay.” Indeed, the fact that there are meaningful replies to such assertions is never even acknowledged. In fact, Brown makes it plain through his characters that these facts are so well known that all educated Christians know them (and those who do not are obviously not educated, p. 234).
Now, one could argue that the true Christian view of the Scriptures is not even in view here: God did not, in fact, “fax” the Bible down. He did not produce it through automatic writing, either. As Peter put it, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). But clearly Brown is not even aware of these central elements of Christian faith. He is speaking as an outsider, and his target is the divine nature of the Scriptures themselves. This can be seen in asserting the Bible is human in origin, rather than divine. “Not of God” is a fairly bald statement. The Bible is a human document, and it is subject to human editing and alteration, a central aspect of the theory being presented. The use of the term “evolved” without any explanation of what this could possibly mean (is Brown ignorant of the fact that modern translations are translated directly from Greek and Hebrew?) is likewise problematic. “Additions” and “revisions” are thrown out without any qualification outside of one thing: we know these are human additions and revisions, not divine. And finally, we can’t even know what the Bible is, allegedly, for “history has never had a definitive version of the book.” Of course, one would have to ask who gets to define “definitive” in this context as well.
The key note in this opening attack on the Word will be expanded greatly in what comes after: just as the Jesus Seminar seeks, at its start, to find a way to present a “new” kind of Jesus that “fits” a secular age, so too Brown seeks to present a radically different view of Christ as well. And what is the sole barrier to such a theory? Well, the Word of God, of course. So, you have to deny the divine nature of the Scriptures before you can ever hope to establish your theories.
But, since Brown hides behind the “fiction” mantle, he can make these bald statements without bothering to provide any kind of substantiation, and this will only become more frustrating with each passing page and each passing denial of the inspiration of the Word of God.