Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Dan Brown Code!

I just wrote this review of four of the 40+ books that are out there responding to The Da Vinci Code. It was written for Christ Church, Mayfair, but I thought I'd stick it here in case it was helpful to anyone else...

Engaging with the Da Vinci Code


This world-famous bestseller offers great opportunities to Christians and non-Christians alike. For Christians the chance to re-examine the foundations of faith in Jesus Christ, and discover the strength of the evidence for the facts. To non-Christians, the opportunity to examine almost all of the major challenges to Christianity, and to see whether it holds up under such scrutiny.

Further, as Christians we are not always brilliant at giving clear and simple answers when our non-Christian friends question us; the four books here reviewed are great examples for us to learn from others who have spent many hours honing their answers for clarity and brevity.

Thus I would encourage both Christians and non-Christians to read around this subject. Christians will learn things to strengthen their faith, and non-Christians will be challenged as to the sheer reasonableness of faith in Jesus Christ.

Four books to help this examination; the most difficult and technical is first – and all come highly recommended.

Darrell Bock Breaking the Da Vinci Code (Nelson)

This is a biblical scholar’s critique of the fallacies and errors in DVC, which also helps to show the agenda behind Brown’s re-write of the church’s history. Very strong in clear detailed arguments, but probably not a first read.

Great for a Christian to read as background or further detail on one of the others, or non-Christian who wants more detail.

Greg Clarke Is It Worth Believing? (Matthias Media)

This examines why we come to believe one thing over another, particularly with respect to Christianity. While dealing with many of the errors of DVC in some detail, Clarke focuses more on what forms our beliefs – critiquing DB’s paradigm and then offering and defending some great reasons to believe as a Christian.

Great to read as a Christian for background to what may motivate our friends to accept DB’s view, and to give away to non-Christians who are interested in thinking through what they believe (which probably presupposes some conviction that it needs examining).

Garry Williams The Da Vinci Code (Christian Focus)

This is the best starter-for-ten on DVC, being about 50 small pages and very readable. Garry Williams is a lecturer in Church History at Oak Hill College, so he knows his onions! He presents two simple chapters, one critiquing DB’s errors, breaking down the problems with the DVC, and one presenting the positive counter-case for historical Christianity. His book’s subtitle is From Dan Brown’s Fiction to Mary Magdalene’s Faith – which describes it perfectly.

This book could be given to anyone to start the discussion. It could easily be read on a single tube journey, and would be a great start to some Gospel conversations about the truth of Jesus. For a non-Christian this would be a straight-forward introduction to the issues and why they matter.

Mark Stibbe The Da Vinci Code (Word & Spirit Resources)

This 14-page booklet contains a scratch-card detailing 10 ‘fact or fiction’ claims, with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option, so you can take a test to see how clued up you are. Mark Stibbe then offers two paragraphs on each claim, giving the briefest of introductions to the issues. Anyone can read this, and it might be a great conversation starter. It would naturally lead on to Williams or Clarke, for a little more detail and a stronger presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The Da Vinci Code is an opportunity for Christian and non-Christian alike to examine the historical bases of faith in Jesus Christ: God made man, living on earth 2,000 years ago and knowable today, who alone is truth, in whom alone is eternal life.

Further Reading

For more on the bases of the Christian faith, Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ (Zondervan) is a great start.

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