My apologies to all the Les Brown fans out there. I am so utterly sick of The Da Vinci Code I don’t know what to do with myself, but it is not going away, and with a movie now in the works, it is time to make every believer an expert on the issues involved.
A plethora of books/booklets have come out in response to Brown’s work of pseudo-fiction (I say that because he has come to believe his own fiction, and clearly the book is intended to communicate an underlying matrix of “facts” even while presenting them in an allegedly fictional milieu), but all of them combined won’t touch 1/3 of the audience of over 6 million that the book itself has reached. I can’t walk through an airport without seeing it on store shelves or, more troubling, in someone’s hand, being read. The clearly anti-Christian character of the book is, in our modern society, one of its selling points. Bashing Christ sells.
One of the reasons the books that have been written in response are rather brief is simple: how many ways can you say, “That’s absurd, and since there isn’t even an effort made to seriously ground that claim in reality, what more can be said?” It only takes a few pages to express utter and complete disdain for the fallacious nature of the book’s “history,” so after that, you can wrap up fairly quickly. But one is still amazed at the brazen falsehoods that Brown has promulgated while raking in his millions of dollars. Here is a glowing example from p. 233 of TDC:
“Indeed,” Teabing said. “Stay with me. During this fusion of religions, Constantine needed to strengthen the new Christian religion, and held a famous ecumenical gathering known as the Council of Nicaea.”
Sophie had heard of it only insofar as its being the birthplace of the Nicene Creed.
“At this gathering,” Teabing said, “many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon—the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus.”
“I don’t follow. His divinity?”
“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”
“Not the Son of God?”
“Right,” Teabing said, “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”
“Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?”
“A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added.
Given that only two participants did not sign the creed, how is a vote of 99% to 1% “relatively close”? If Brown showed any kind of seriousness in researching the rest of the story, one might extend some grace at this point and discuss the real issues of the council, the homoousios, homoiousios, and heteroousios positions, but since Brown does not, we need not concern ourselves. But notice the claim that “until that moment in history” (italics in the original) Jesus had been viewed as a mere mortal, and that the concept of his deity (divinity) was, plainly, the brainchild of Constantine. Such an utterly absurd claim is so easily refuted that it makes one wonder at the audacity of someone who could collect millions for putting it in print. The Council of Nicaea met in AD 325. More than two centuries earlier the following words were written by Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch:
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to her who has been blessed in greatness through the fulness of God the Father, ordained before time to be always resulting in permanent glory, unchangeably united and chosen in true passion, by the will of the Father and of Jesus Christ, our God, to the church which is in Ephesus of Asia, worthy of felicitation: abundant greetings in Jesus Christ and in blameless joy. (Ephesians 1)
Jesus Christ, our God? How could Ignatius come to this conclusion when the deity of Christ would not be invented as a political ploy by Constantine for another two centuries? There is only one answer: Brown’s two years of “research” wasn’t nearly as exhaustive as he’d like us to believe. Here are a few more quotes from Ignatius:
My spirit is but an offscouring of the cross, which is a scandal to the unbelieving, but to us it is salvation and life eternal. Where is the wise man? Where is the disputer? Where is the boasting of those who are called understanding? For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to a dispensation of God, from the seed of David, yes, but of the Holy Spirit as well. (Ephesians 18)
…the ancient kingdom was utterly destroyed when God appeared in the likeness of man unto newness of everlasting life; (Ephesians 19).
Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to her that has found mercy in the majest of the Most High Father and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things that exist, by faith and love toward Jesus Christ our God; even to her that has the presidency in the country of the region of the Romans. (Romans 1).
I glorify Jesus Christ the God gave to you such wisdom, for I know that you are fully established in immovable faith, just as if you have been nailed to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, both in flesh and in spirit, firmly established in love in the blood of Christ, completely persuaded with reference to our Lord that He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, but the Son of God according to God’s will and power, truly born from a virgin, having been baptized by John in order to by Him fulfill all righteousness. (Smyrneans 1).
There is one physician, of flesh and of spirit, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God, first passible and then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ephesians 7)
Surely these citations were not difficult to find. They are not hidden away in some gnostic library somewhere. Only a few moments of research would have uncovered them. Perhaps Brown wasn’t looking for information that is contrary to his thesis? But let’s allow another bishop, Melito, bishop of Sardis, this time a mere 150 or so years prior to Nicaea, likewise testify to Brown’s error:
And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled!
He who hung the earth in place is hanged.
He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place.
He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree.
The Sovereign is insulted.
God is murdered.
The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
This is the One who made the heavens and the earth,
and formed mankind in the beginning,
The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets,
The One enfleshed in a virgin,
The One hanged on a tree,
The One buried in the earth,
The One raised from the dead
and who went up into the heights of heaven,
The One sitting at the right hand of the Father,
The One having all authority to judge and save,
Through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time.
This One is “the Alpha and the Omega,”
This One is “the beginning and the end”
—the beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible.
This One is the Christ.
This One is the King.
This One is Jesus.
This One is the Leader.
This One is the Lord.
This One is the One who rose from the dead.
This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father.
He bears the Father and is borne by the Father.
“To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.”
So when you hear someone who actually knows something about early Christianity rambling on about how utterly absurd The Da Vinci Code really is, now you see why. The book is filled with this kind of completely false argumentation. Its very core is historically false, and hence, its branches are likewise rotten. It is so very sad to see millions confirmed in their disbelief by this kind of empty rhetoric.