by Lee Strobel
May – June, 2006
I’ll be honest: my first reaction to Dan Brown’s huge bestseller was unmitigated anger. At its core, The Da Vinci Code’s message is that Jesus is not the Son of God and that Christianity is a fraud.
While the book is appropriately labeled fiction, its clever blending of fact and fantasy has managed to convince many people that its underlying premise is true. For example, one out of every three Canadian readers of the book now believes Jesus has descendants walking around today.
The book’s claims about Christianity are so outrageous and demonstrably false that the novel has spawned a mini-industry of books debunking it. Yet that doesn’t seem to have settled the matter. The solution, I came to realize, is to stop getting angry and start using the book as a positive impetus for spiritual discussions.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if the book that sought so fervently to discredit Christianity ended up spurring countless seekers on a spiritual journey that ultimately took them to the real Jesus? We can help accomplish that spiritual jujitsu, but only if we’re thoughtful about how we interact with friends and neighbors. Here are some thoughts:
•Dive into the adventure. Getting into spiritual conversations about the The DaVinci Code movie is going to be one of the easiest evangelistic endeavors in memory. People love to talk about this story. It’s going to feel quite natural to invite friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family members to join a “Discussing The DaVinci Code” small group.
•Read the book, see the movie. Okay, I don’t like putting money into Brown’s pocket any more than you do. So instead of buying the book, borrow it from the library and watch the movie at a lower-priced matinee. You’ll find yourself simultaneously fascinated by the storyline and frustrated by its mangling of history. Still, you’ve got zero credibility if you try to interact with someone without knowing firsthand what the controversy is about.
•Prepare yourself. Pick from one of the slew of Christian books that sets the historical record straight and get educated about the flaws — both obvious and subtle — in the Da Vinci story. (My coauthor, Garry Poole, and I have published a book version of our DaVinci discussion guide. It’s called “Exploring The DaVinci Code,” and it includes transcripts of the interviews with experts that are contained on the “Discussing The DaVinci Code” DVD.)
Exploring the Da Vinci Code
By Lee Strobel and Garry Poole
Link to DVD excerpt: http://184.108.40.206/davinci/DTDCteaser.zip
Week 1: What Can History Really Tell Us?
This session arises from Brown’s assertion that “the winners write history” and therefore competing views are suppressed, so we can’t really know very much about what actually took place long ago. What can history really tell us? How can we be confident that Brown’s most controversial assertions are historically inaccurate?
Week 2: Can We Trust What the Four Gospels Tell Us About Jesus?
According to The DaVinci Code, there were 80 gospels contending for the New Testament. How can we be sure that the best biographies of Jesus were included in the canon? Are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John really trustworthy?
Week 3: Is Jesus the Son of God?
Brown says Jesus was just a rabbi who wasn’t deified until the fourth century. Did Jesus ever claim to be the unique Son of God? Did he authenticate that claim by rising from the dead? How can we know for sure?
Week 4: What’s the Role of Women in Christianity?
Based on Brown’s assertion that Mary Magdalene was supposed to run the church and that the church’s male-dominated hierarchy has suppressed women through history, this session will explore what Jesus and the Bible say about the role of women in Christianity.
Copyright 2006 Zondervan. Used by Permission.
•Speak with gentleness and respect. After all, that’s what we’re told to do in 1 Peter 3:15. If we caustically criticize our friends for naively buying into the book’s phony history, we’re insulting them and putting them on the defensive.
•Don’t assume anything. Just because your friend has read the book or seen the flick, don’t presume he has bought into the story’s claims. Maybe he realizes they’re bunk. Ask diagnostic questions to determine the influence the book or movie had on him, such as: “What did you learn about history that surprised you?” Or, “How did the story affect your personal beliefs?” This way you can pinpoint problem areas.
•Don’t major on the minors. The big issue is the way the book undercuts trust in the Gospels and Jesus’ deity. When time is limited, focus on these topics rather than trying to resolve every peripheral sidelight.
Excerpt from Exploring the Da Vinci Code by Lee Strobel and Garry Poole.
[Evidence For The True Identity of Jesus PDF by Lee Strobel.]
Copyright 2006 Zondervan. Used by Permission.
•Partner with your church. Take advantage of outreach events, sermons, and other initiatives your church might be undertaking.
•Remember: you’re not alone. God is the Great Evangelist. Invite him to empower and equip you —and then proceed with confidence and courage. In a real sense, the end of The DaVinci Code hasn’t been written yet. What has wrought so much ill may very well be used by God to create great good. And the best news: he’s going to use you and me to be part of his solution.
Entire article copyright 2006,
Zondervan. Used by Permission.
Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of The Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of nearly twenty books and has been interviewed on numerous national television programs, including ABC’s 20/20, Fox News, and CNN.
Lee’s other books include God’s Outrageous Claims, The Case for Christmas, The Case for Easter, What Jesus Would Say, Exploring The DaVinci Code (co-authored with Garry Poole) and Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage, which he wrote with his wife, Leslie. For two seasons, Lee was executive producer and host of the weekly national network television program Faith Under Fire.
Read more about him and his ministry at [http://www.leestrobel.com/].