The DaVinci Inquest part "0" - a pre-series message
How Can Christians Respond?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 7, 2006

 

Main Passage: Acts 17:16-34a (NLT)

 

For the past few years, you’ve heard about it. You’ve seen specials on TV about it. It has become a cultural phenomenon such as few things ever become. The The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown has now sold over 50 million copies, and it’s still going strong. When the paperback edition was released, it sold 500,000 copies in the first week! And it really is a compelling novel. It draws you right in… and it keeps you guessing… and little by little it reveals facts that are crucial to understanding the truth. And when the movie comes out on May 19, it’s going to reach an entirely new audience with this truth.

The problem is, the truth that the book is teaching isn’t necessarily true. There are all kinds of errors in the book which can have a drastic effect on people who are questioning God and looking for answers.

Now, really, there are a couple of options we have when dealing with The DaVinci Code. First of all, we could completely ignore it and hope it goes away. We could take the ostrich approach, and stick our head in the sand our butts in the air.

Or, secondly, we could take a real look at it and examine its claims. We could be prepared for it. We could make the best of it.

“Perhaps a… thoughtful and strategic reaction by Christian people would be to use the movie as a springboard for conversation and exploration regarding the roots and foundations of the Christian faith.”
~ George Barna

In fact, in the passage that Chris read for us earlier, that’s exactly what Paul did in the city of Athens. He got there, and saw all the idols and was deeply concerned about it. His gut reaction was probably to smash a few of them. But instead, he used those idols and the beliefs of the Athenians as a springboard to tell them about Jesus, the true God, and was able to introduce some of them to Jesus.

A little later, I’m going to show you some video of guy named Lee Strobel. But right now, let me just show you this quote…

“Dialogue and engagement are much more productive than protesting and picketing.”
~ Lee Strobel

And since so many people around the world have bought into it hook, line and sinker, I decided it was important for us to approach it head on and discuss it here. And it’s important for three primary reasons…

 

Why is this Series Important?

A. To support your faith

And to show you that there are legitimate and reasonable answers to the questions the book raises.

 

B. To prepare for the critics

For some people, especially if they already have a negative view of the Church and of Christianity, this will solidify their views. They will feel vindicated and they may become even more angry and openly hostile toward the Church and toward you as a Christian.

But the truth is, you probably won’t encounter many if any people who become hostile toward you because of this book or this movie. It’s much more likely that you’ll encounter people who are genuinely seeking answers.

 

C. To equip for seekers

The book does raise a lot of questions, and questions aren’t bad. But you’ve got to know where to go for the answers. I mean, there are lots of answers out there, but what are the trustworthy answers? This book has the potential of causing millions of people to explore spirituality. Maybe they’ve never done it before, but this book will spur them on. And you will probably know some of them. Conversations will come up, especially with the highly anticipated movie coming out in about a week and a half. And I want you to be prepared to give an answer. In fact, read this verse with me…

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Underline the words “give an answer”. And during this series, we’re going to provide some of those answers. The questions are going to come, and we have to be ready for them.

“With all the exposure to The DaVinci Code in the coming months, there is little doubt that our neighbours, colleagues, friends and even family members will be questioning us about the validity of the Christian faith. But let’s not be overwhelmed by what possibly lies ahead, and instead see it as an opportunity to explain why the reality of Christ’s life and teachings are so important to us.”
~ Today’s Family News May 3, 2006 commentary by Mark Penninga

 

Remember Hurricane Katrina? Well, one lady who was rescued during the hurricane was later interviewed on national television, during that interview she expressed anger and regret that she had not taken the warnings seriously.

Well, this morning, I’m telling you that a new hurricane is coming. In fact, it’s already here. The DaVinci Code has taken our society by storm. Are you ready for it?

Next week we will be beginning our official message series on The DaVinci Code and I would encourage you to invite all your friends to it. There are posters and invitation cards on the Information Table which you can use to do that. And for the next several weeks, all of my messages will be designed with seekers in mind… those who are spiritually seeking. But this morning, my goal is to help you as a believer know how to respond to The DaVinci Code and all the hype surrounding it. This morning, this is for you.

And we’ve got a lot of stuff to get through, and we’ll probably go a little overtime this morning, so let’s get to it. How can you positively respond to The DaVinci Code?

 

How Can I Positively Respond to The DaVinci Code?

1. Pray

This is kind of a no-brainer, so I don’t need to spend a lot of time here. But it’s good to be reminded that prayer makes all the difference. There is power and direction and courage and confidence and wisdom and understanding, and it’s all available to us through prayer.

James 5:16 (NLT)
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.
 

  • For myself

    Pray that we will be able to recognize the issues and understand the answers. Pray that God will open up doors to spiritual conversations with our friends. Pray that He would guide our words and our attitudes. And pray that He would give us the love and courage needed to point people toward the true Jesus.
     

  • For my friends

    Pray specifically, passionately, and consistently for our spiritually lost friends. Pray that they wouldn’t be confused by the The DaVinci Code, and that instead they will seek answers. Pray that God will open their eyes to their need for a Saviour, that He would open their minds to the truth of Scripture, and that He will prepare their hearts to hear the Good News about Jesus and will draw them toward His kingdom.
     

  • For revival

    This DaVinci frenzy is a sign of spiritual hunger. Our society is searching for truth. And we have it. And we need to share it. Pray that, regardless of what the original intent of The DaVinci Code was, it will spark a revival across our country and around the world as people search for the Truth.
     

Secondly, if I am to respond positively to The DaVinci Code, I need to…

 

2. Become familiar with the book/movie.

In other words, read it. Or go see it. You’ve got to know what it says. And let me tell you why. You see, we are missionaries to our society. We represent God and we carry His message to increasingly pagan culture. We are missionaries, and the responsibility of any missionary is to learn the language of the people you’re trying to reach. It’s not their job to learn our language; it’s our job to learn theirs.

Now let me clarify: If you’re just going to the movie for your own enjoyment, don’t go. I mean, why would you want to expose yourself to anti-Christian propaganda as entertainment? But if you’re going in order to be better educated and better prepared for the questions, then go. Learn what it teaches so that you can be prepared to respond.

So just to give you an overview, let me show you a video that will touch on several of the issues. I may be using this same video again next week, but you need to see it now so you know why it’s important that we’re doing this series.

Video – The_DaVinci_Code (from Essentials) 4:34

So as you can see, The DaVinci Code contains several outrageous accusations that cut to the core of Christianity – and which cannot withstand scrutiny. And yet because Dan Brown cleverly blends fact with fiction, many people think these allegations are true. In fact, next week we’re going to focus in on the first page of the book… the page before chapter 1… the page with the header in large bold letters: FACT. That’s what it says. It says “Fact”, and it implies that all of the historical and artistic and archaeological and religious claims of the book are based on fact. And so we’re going to examine that next week. But right now, let me give you some stats…
 

  • 32 % of all Canadians who have read the novel believe that the theories outlined in it are true. (National Geographic Channel)

  • 17 % of Canadians believe that Jesus’ crucifixion was faked. 8 % of Christian respondents also believed this. (Ipsos Reid)

  • 53 % of adults who have read The DaVinci Code said the book has been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.” (Barna)

  • 29 % contend that movies have had a substantial impact on the development of their personal morals, values and religious beliefs. (Barna)
    People are influenced by the movies they watch and the books they read. As one DaVinci Code reader said to a pastor; “I will never again set foot into a church, because now I know the real story.” It’s had a substantial impact on his beliefs. And that story is not unique. But the good news is…

  • 66 % of adults say that in a typical week they dialogue with friends and work associates about the content of movies and TV shows they have recently seen. (Barna)

    Which means you will have the opportunity to answers some of the questions and clarify some of the issues, and that can have implications right on into eternity. So…
     

3. Be ready with some answers

We looked at this verse earlier in the New International Version. Here it is again in the New Living Translation…

1 Peter 3:15 (NLT)
And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

Underline “always be ready”. Now, part of being ready is what we’ve already talked about… being familiar with the book. And let me add, if you try to talk with someone about The DaVinci Code, what’s the first question they’re going to ask? “Have you actually read it? Have you seen the movie?” And if your answer’s “no”, then boom, there goes your credibility.

So the first part of being ready is becoming familiar with the book. The second part is being familiar with the reasons why its claims don’t withstand scrutiny. You’ve got to at least know a few of them.

And understand, many of the issues that Dan Brown raises concern Church history and ancient history and art and architecture. And he uses those to raise questions about Christianity. So even if you know your Bible, that’s not going to address those issues. So I’d recommend that you do a little extra research.

So in your notes… you’ll find a list of books and websites that I’d recommend you check out. There’s a lot of good material out there… more than I thought I’d find. And if you just take a half an hour sometime to read some of that material, then you’ll be much better equipped. And of course, we’ll be dealing with a lot of this material over the next several weeks. So if you do go through this material, you’ll have a leg up on everyone else here because you’ll know what I’m going to be talking about before anyone else does.

Resources:
This message series (if you miss a week, read or listen to it at www.sunriseonline.ca/sermons.html)
Cracking DaVinci’s Code by James Garlow
The DaVinci Codebreaker: An Easy-to-Use Fact Checker by James Garlow
Exploring The Da Vinci Code by Lee Strobel & Gary Poole
The Da Vinci Code: A Quest for Answers by Josh McDowell
The DaVinci Code: Fact or Fiction? by Paul Maier & Hank Hanegraaff
Counterfeit Code: Answering The DaVinci Code Heresies by James Beverley
www.jimgarlow.com
www.leestrobel.com
www.rbcdavincicode.org
www.davinciquest.org
www.jesusfactorfiction.com
www.go.family.org/davinci
www.ChristianityToday.com/go/DaVinci

 

4. Participate in the conversations

Sometimes Christians complain about how hard it can be to initiate spiritual conversations. Well, now you’re not going to have to. People are going to bring it up to you! So don’t shy away from them. This is a tremendous opportunity.

And don’t be afraid that you don’t have all the answers. None of us do. But if you attend this series or, if you look at any of those extra resources, you’ll be fine. If someone asks you something that you don’t know the answer to, then a perfectly legitimate response is to say, “I don’t know the answer to that. Let me see if I can find out.” Maybe you could say, “You know, that’s an interesting question. Right now, my church is talking about this very thing… why not come with me this Sunday?”

I have every confidence that you can handle these conversations. Just be honest and be compassionate in your response. Back to that verse in 1 Peter with the following verse added on…

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way.

Underline the words “gentle” and “respectful”.

So people are going to bring up The DaVinci Code, and we can participate in those conversations with love and compassion. But perhaps you’d like to take it a step further. Maybe you’d like to throw a DaVinci Party. You know… get together with a group of people and go to the movie together, and then afterward go back to your house or to a restaurant to talk. In your notes are some questions you can use to help guide that discussion, starting with some lighter ones and getting into some deeper ones…

Discussion Questions:
Which did you like more, the book or the movie?
Which parts of the movie did you like best and which did you like least?
What did you think of Tom Hank’s hair? (Don’t laugh – that’s turning into a big deal. Apparently, the studio is upset because audiences that have previewed the movie have hated Hank’s hair style!)
What did you hear that changed your opinion about history?
What did you hear that changed your opinion about Jesus?
If you could ask God about one issue raised by the movie – and you knew He would address it – what would you ask?

So throw a DaVinci Party. And if you want to take it even one step further, then why not invite those people to meet in your home or at Tim Hortons or wherever, once a week for four or five weeks? I’ve been working on some material which you could use. You don’t need to be an expert… it will all be laid out for you. Basically, do the same thing we did with The Purpose Driven Life. Wouldn’t it be great to see people discover the true Jesus and have their lives transformed because they came to your home to talk about DaVinci?

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)
Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity.

And this is our opportunity. It’s not everyday that a major book and motion picture catapult Jesus into the center of daily conversations and media interest. This is your chance to reach your friends who would otherwise not be interested in having a spiritual conversation.

I think Tom Hanks, who’s going to star in the movie, said something very true—though perhaps unintentionally—when he said…

“I think the movie may end up helping churches do their job. If they put up a sign saying, ‘This Wednesday we’re discussing the gospel,’ 12 people show up. But if the sign says, ‘This Wednesday we’re discussing The DaVinci Code,’ 800 people show up.”


Okay, I want to show you one more video of Lee Strobel. I’ll be using a few videos of him during the series. This video will be a clip of him speaking before a group of people, and as he’s talking, keep your notes handy. There are some blanks to fill in. He’s going to talk about what you and I can do about The DaVinci Code. He’ll reinforce some of the things we’ve already talked about, plus a little extra…

Video - strobelT1113_M[1]How Can Christians Respond to The Da Vinci Code (6:43) (www.leestrobel.com)

 

Leveraging The DaVinci Code:
(by Lee Strobel)

1. Dive into the adventure
2. Prepare yourself
3. Handle conversations with gentleness and respect
4. Don’t assume anything
5. Partner with your church

Unlocking The Da Vinci Code Simulcast – Sunday, May 21 @ 8:00 p.m.
Not shown on PEI, but will be in New Brunswick at…
Main Street Baptist Church, 211 Main Street, Saint John, NB 506-642-8060
Penobsquis United Baptist Church, 27 Church Loop Road, Penobsquis, NB 506-433-4952
6. Remember that you are not alone

You know, when I first heard about The DaVinci Code, I wondered what all the fuss was about. It really didn’t set off any alarms with me. I didn’t think much of it. But then, as the book sold into the millions and people started talking about it, I started to worry and I became defensive about it. And as I started to learn more about it, I started to become just a little angry… maybe even indignant… about the whole thing.

But now, I’m optimistic about it. I’m excited about how I believe God’s going to use this. Because remember, He’s the expert at taking a bad situation and using it for good. Remember in the Old Testament after Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers? And later on he met up with them again? What did he say to them?

Genesis 50:20 (NLT)
“God turned into good what you meant for evil.”

So I’m excited about the opportunities that are going to arise because of this book and the movie. This isn’t a reason to panic, it’s a reason to celebrate that people are seeking the truth and that we can show it to them.

 

 

Major sources:
Leveraging the Da Vinci Code by Lee Strobel
Barna http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=Perspective&PerspectiveID=4
Plus video clips from www.leestrobel.com

 

 

 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2006 SunriseOnline.ca