I dedicate this lengthy article to my lovely and intelligent wife Pam, whose diligence in seeking God’s truth in Scripture has been a daily example and source of inspiration for new revelations in my own personal study of the Bible. My wife is a devoted book reader and an endless source of knowledge and she has been persistent in her passion for truth, to expose the haphazard misuse of words by Christian book authors, such as ‘Lord’ and ‘son of God,’ as being representative of the alleged “Deity of Christ.”
When I first learned of the Dan Brown novel the ‘DaVinci Code’ I thought its popularity would fade in time, like most dime store novels do. The book itself is fictional and historically inaccurate, evidenced in his portrayal of Mary Magdalene as the covert lover of Jesus and pretend mother of his child. Together, Jesus and Mary are purported by Brown to have started an imaginary offspring and generated an entire royal line of humans somewhere in France. Of course, no evidence for this wild claim from history is provided, but that is due to the fact the book is fiction.
At the center of the controversy are parts of the book that have been declared as official ‘blasphemy’ by modern Christian Evangelical church leaders. The label of ‘blasphemy’ assigned to Brown’s novel is its portrayal of Jesus Christ that denies his ‘Deity.’ Also considered extremely offensive, but not assigned the level of ‘blasphemy’ is how The DaVinci Code makes Jesus out to be a ‘sinner.’ His so-called ‘sin’ is implied, say many who oppose the novel, because The DaVinci Code depicts Jesus as having a clandestine affair with Mary Magdalene, in which they had sexual intercourse shortly before his crucifixion. The book shows Mary Magdalene being pregnant when Jesus is hanging upon the cross, and then she supposedly flees for her life.
Next, The DaVinci Code has some Jews, and various people hiding Mary Magdalene, as she travels to escape and eventually ends up living somewhere in Europe. The DaVinci Code’s entire plot ending is based upon the Roman Catholic Church’s attempts to cover-up an alleged offspring royal line of offspring in France somewhere around the 1500’s that resulted from Mary Magdalene’s pregnancy with Jesus. The papacy and higher ups in the Roman Catholic Church are said to have been the only ones that had any knowledge of Christ’s mysterious, royal offspring and that they were involved in a multifarious cover-up to conceal their secret.
In Brown’s novel, the Roman Catholic Church leaders go to great lengths to insure that the Deity of Christ would remain unchallenged, utilizing their nefarious, secretive knowledge to form secret societies of brotherhood in the Roman Catholic Church, and then covertly carrying out a plot to jockey their way into positions of great political and ecclesiastic power.
Supposedly, to keep the elite few in Rome from having their church authority challenged in any way or questioned by the people, they hid their secrets by manipulating the Roman Emperor Constantine and having him declare Christianity as the official Roman State religion. Thus, readers are led to conclude that the vast despotic rule of the Roman Catholic Church for hundreds of years was initiated for one, primary reason… to guard the papal secret of Jesus’ affair with Mary Magdalene and the resulting offspring.
The plot of the book is disclosed and the Roman Catholic Church secret divulged when years later, someone discovers the ‘code’ to unlock the mystery in Leonardo DaVinci’s famous painting The Last Supper. In the painting, The DaVinci Code wrongly assumes that one of the figures to Jesus’ right (which is left-side facing as you view the painting) is alleged to be a woman, which Brown says is Mary Magdalene. The DaVinci Code leads the reader to believe that DaVinci painted this woman as a ‘code’ to divulge the Roman Catholic Church’s secret.
He haphazardly mixes and matches events from the period of history when the Athanasian Creed was developed and uses events such as the Council of Nicea in 323-325 AD as examples of what great lengths the Roman Catholic Church went to continue the cover-up about Mary Magdalene’s pregnancy and this pretend royal lineage in France that Brown fabricated.
The DaVinci Code unfolds as a covert plot by the Roman Catholic Church to make Jesus into a “Deity” so that his words in the New Testament Bible are also considered to be infallible and equal to the words spoken by God (Yahweh) in the Old Testament. In his book, Brown weaves the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement in a complicated and highly secretive plot to develop the doctrine of the Trinity, which would incorporate Jesus Christ into a triad of “three Persons of God” and thereby makes him into the officially sanctioned ‘God’ of Christianity at the Council of Nicea in 323-325 AD.
During the various television programs, whenever Dan Brown appears on screen, the segment bytes are cunningly staged by the programming director; using special effects, strategically placed lighting, and antique-looking stage-props to engender a familiar ambiance to make the author of the ‘DaVinci Code’ appear as if he is an ‘expert’ in the field of ancient church history.
Greed and avarice proved too great a temptation for Brown to resist during 2006 television interviews and programs that aired in 2006. His words spoken were guarded but embellished to make himself appear more knowledgeable than he really is, and he publicly portrayed his book as a literary work that is more believable than mere fiction (only to an undiscerning television audience). Brown has written many books and is no stranger to history either, so he is well aware that The DaVinci Code is 99% BS and the other 1% a distortion of historical facts, a blatant misrepresentation of what the Scriptures teach, and tailored to fit the plot of what he admits is a fictitious writing. Knowing this, why doesn’t Dan Brown set the record straight and make a clear point of distinction between the contents of his fiction novel The DaVinci Code and historical fact?
The answer is quite simple: All of this media hype is great for book sales because each time another program about The DaVinci Code airs, it is tantamount to free advertising for his books and movie sequel. In his interviews, Brown couches his words, using only a select few parts of his novel that have any degree of historical accuracy as though representative of the truthfulness of the entire book.
The DaVinci Code book sales rode high and both novel and TV influence stirred widespread controversy amongst Evangelicals, who found Dan Brown’s denial of the Deity of Jesus Christ blasphemous and his other descriptions of Christ too offensive for them to handle without protest. Numerous Christian Church ministries, parachurch ministries, and several major Christian Publishers carried exposes and articles to counter The DaVinci Code.
Since the first television program about The DaVinci Code was broadcast, many others followed suit and DaVinci Code mania was all the buzz in the entertainment world for a short season. As the topic cooled off, the media began looking for other ways to milk it for all the ratings they could get, and as of September 2006, there are now programs that have scrutinized the historical accuracy of claims made in Brown’s novel.
One revealing example I saw while watching a brief clip on TV involved interviews with different art historians. It turns out to be the case that assumptions about the female identity of the personage at the right side of Jesus in Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper painting turns out to be a young boy. Apparently, the baroque style of artistic impressions in the era that DaVinci did his masterpiece commonly portrayed young men that had an effeminate appearance, much lighter skin pigmentation, with ornate clothing accessories, etc. Brown is no doubt rethinking his embarrassing, apathetic amount of Renaissance research, which should have been more thorough before he decided to make his entire book plot centered around one lone feminine-looking figure in a DaVinci piece of artwork!
Granted, Dan Brown’s novel is fictional, but to anyone with an educated background, it loses its appeal by forming the plot around something so essentially incorrect. From both historical and theological perspectives, his approach in The DaVinci Code is fundamentally off-center. The book’s premise implicates the Roman Catholic Church as being the first world religion to incorporate the deification of human beings thru the hypostatic union of Christ with Deity (hypostatic union = melding or blending of deity & humanity into one being, essence, or existence). This insinuation is derived from how the novel assigns secretive or clandestine motives and efforts on the part of the Roman Catholic Church to make the ‘Deity of Christ’ a believable Christian teaching (doctrine) to the widespread populace of the Roman Empire.
In reality, the TRUE Christians that were living and spreading the gospel during the first three centuries of its inception were working tirelessly and overtly proclaiming the man Jesus Christ (oftentimes as martyrs for the faith) for one central reason… because most of the Gentile population throughout the Roman Empire already held deep-seated beliefs in pagan Roman deities that were oftentimes held to be incarnations of this God, or that goddess.
Prior to the time of Christ and hundreds of years before the time of Abraham, polytheistic pagan ideas about ‘god’ and ‘deity’ were formed, becoming accepted wisdom throughout the East and Middle East. The ancient pagan worship included numerous ideas about the ‘incarnations’ of their favorite ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ in every aspect of life. The Babylonians, and Sumerians had gods that watched over their crops, gods that caused the rain to fall and the sun to shine; these were considered ‘good’ god and goddesses. Oftentimes, pagan priests and priestesses were revered as ‘deified’ incarnations of gods.
The historical records abound in the 1st thru the 5th centuries AD, which give detailed descriptions of the overt, public, and frequently hostile debates that took place in the Roman political church before, during, and after it became the Roman Catholic Church; i.e. the official religion of the Roman Empire thru the Edict issued by Emperor Constantine. The Roman Catholic Church fathers would have no problem gaining public acceptance for any ecclesiastic view that deified Jesus. Simply including Jesus Christ, as one more ‘god’ (of many in the Greco-Roman pantheon) added to the litany of deities that already existed, would easily gain approval by the Roman Empire’s masses.
Even though The DaVinci Code is a fictional novel, its misrepresentation of the historical record concerning the development of the doctrine of the Deity of Christ further contributes to the overall confusion surrounding this issue. It is true that the Roman Catholic Church was the amalgamating religious force behind establishing a Roman State religion, which did more to corrupt the world’s perception of Christ than probably any other single organization in church history. However, two wrongs don’t make one right, and The DaVinci Code is nothing more than one man’s greed exploiting religion in the form of a book. In terms of motive, Brown is no different than anyone else’s corrupted use of the name of God to serve and worship the god of money. What will Dan Brown say when one day he stands before the Judge of every person?
By focusing all of its attention on the Roman Catholic Church, the DaVinci Code fails to bring to bear earlier, more influential aspects related to belief in the Deity of Christ. This article will not address the details of these religious influences, but included as the most widespread of all contributing factors is the Hellenization of the Roman Empire. Hellenization refers to the influences in culture, society, education, government, and religion of the Greek Empire at its zenith under Alexander the Great. Hellenization includes things like NeoPlatonic philosophy, the Greco-Roman pantheon (a large group of similar gods & goddesses), and the mystic rabbinical teachings that abounded thru Philonic Judaism (Jewish rabbis schooled under Philo in Alexandria).
In fact, Hellenization has been a continuous influence upon mankind worldwide up until and including modern times. Pythagorean geometry is still in use today; Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other Greek philosophers live vicariously thru courses of so-called ‘higher learning’ (blech!) that are being surreptitiously taught under the guise as ‘humanities’ in universities across the nation and world. Western societies’ educational elite, being devoid of the spirit, has turned its affections toward the Greek philosophical views about ethics and morality.
The Greco-Roman pantheons were virtually identical, and the Greek incarnations of its principal deities became the sole influence in the creation of the Deity of Christ concept thru syncretism, dualism, hypostasis, the logos, and other terms, concepts, and rhetoric borrowed directly from Greek philosophical jargon.
So, what is the silver lining of Dan Brown’s fiction novel The DaVinci Code? While true believers should view Brown himself as a charlatan and false teacher, prior to publishing The DaVinci Code his popularity never hit such a high mark. He had written a few other novels, but never stood apart from any other fictional author until he touched upon two issues that were like sleeping giants in people’s minds and hearts… the controlling and devious ways of Catholicism and a core belief about the Deity of Christ that rubbed people the wrong way.
I believe that if an independent poll were taken to ask people that read The DaVinci Code about religious affiliations, the highest percentage would be from Catholic backgrounds. The remainder would either being from Christian churches or upbringing or those who have had enough contact with Christian influences to have questions about the veracity of the Trinity and Deity of Christ teachings. One thing is certain; people in America don’t pay money to read books and watch programs that they don’t have a keen interest about. Dan Brown is just another greedy fiction author, who simply got lucky by touching upon an area of vital importance to God the Father. God is using The DaVinci Code as one among many tools that will activate and bring to the forefront for ongoing discussion about the TRUE nature of His only begotten son, the MAN Christ Jesus!
& Wherefore, also Jesus — that he might sanctify through [his] own blood the people… through him, then, we may offer up a sacrifice of praise always to God; for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased… Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ… Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith…
(Hebrews 13:12, 15-16, 20-21, 7-8 Young's Literal Translation Bible with New American Standard Bible)