Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci Dialogue

Last week was a ton of fun having Erwin Lutzer here on the Central Coast helping us with three nights of Da Vinci Dialogue throughout the county. We hosted the SLO city evening on Friday and had 675 or so show up. The Worship Center was packed with 140 in overflow in the Ministry Center. It was neat to see churches/pastors/believers from all over the county come together to be equipped.

Were you there? Were you equipped? If you missed it, we've posted the audio on the website for your listening pleasure.

If you're looking for printed resources, you can find them at centralcoastchurches.com.

Matt Willams over at K-Life/890AM sent a couple of interesting Da Vinci Code quotes. . . .

"If they put up a sign saying, 'This Wednesday we're discussing the gospel,' 12 people show up. But if a sign says, 'This Wednesday we're discussing The Da Vinci Code,' 800 people show up. I think the movie may end up helping churches do their job." —Tom Hanks, who stars in the big-screen depiction of Dan Brown's heretical novel [Christian Newswire, 5/9/06]

"Let the biblical scholars and historians battle it out." —Dan Brown's response to many Christians' and theologians' criticism of the claims he makes in his novel, The Da Vinci Code. "It's a book about big ideas," he told an audience of 850 at a sold-out writers' conference, "but we're all talking about them, and that's really the point." [AP, 4/24/06]
Any reactions? Will you see the movie which is being released May 19th? Why or why not?

27 comments:

Tim Weaver said...

Thanks for posting this. I couldn't be there, but I'm listening now. I grabbed the Grace Beyond and Mike Yankoski's for listening to later.

I like the Hanks quote. I probably won't see the movie. It doesn't interest me and I have a few more pressing things to do right now. But, I will inform myself so that I can speak about the truth of what it is based on and the truth of what the Bible is based on.

Andy Gibson said...

Yes, I'll be seeing the movie. Bottom line is it was a very good and engaging book and the movie has the potential to be the same. It should be a good thriller, nothing more nothing less. I'm already equipped to answer questions about it if people ask about it, which is my responsibility as a Christian. An informed Christian knows what to consider as truth and what to blow off as horsepoop, of which this movie is the latter. We need to know what others in the world think, and not sit in a cocoon thinking our way of life is the only way of life. That is just ignorant. We should all, at least, read the book. If this movie is like others written from a novel in the world, the book will be better anyways!

Having Lutzer here was an awesome experience. I was a bit dissapointed by how much we spent on the Gnostic Gospels, but in his defense, Brown spends a lot of time on it as well. I have some questions unanswered, but was equipped enough by Lutzer to debunk about 70-80% of the book from a logical and historical standpoint, and not just a faith standpoint. Using faith to try and debunk the book would just come off as bull to a non-believer. It has to be presented and argued in a form that they can understand. I'm glad to have heard Lutzer.

Josh Mock said...

I plan to see the movie, for the same reasons as Andy. It was a fun thriller story which has been turned into a movie that will hopefully be just as fun.

In regards to Lutzer's talk, though... honestly, I was somewhat disappointed. He went on a few tangents which left less time to directly address the book. Also, I found his lack of humility in presenting his talk frustrating. It seemed that his attitude was one of haughty derision rather than one of sincere trouble over the issues the book has presented. I know that if I was an unbeliever there that night, curious about the church's response to The Da Vinci Code, I would have been turned off to the church in general simply by his lack of respect toward the "opposition."

Jeannett Gibson said...

I too, was a bit disappointed by the Lutzer discusssion...I think he did a good job in general, but I was also hoping for some more specifics in regards to the book...like, looking at the DaVinci paintings and seeing if Brown's claims were really there...or, more information on Opus Dei as an organization and the Priory of Scion and it's historical roots/significance. But, either way, I was glad to have gone and feel much better equipped in general.

Unfortunately (or fortuantely, depending on how you look at it) it sounds like the movie has gotten some bad buzz. It was shown at Cannes recently and people were bored and thought it was poorly done. So, I may not want to go see the movie after all.

Roy said...

I don't see why anyone would want to see this movie or read the book for that matter, why should we have to make up excuses for the devils lies?

Andy Gibson said...

Because we need to be responsible in teaching our faith to others and in defending our faith. If they are the devil's lies, isn't it our job to try and debunk them, and be prepared to answer questions about them if friends, even family that may or may not be believers ask about them?

I think so. So do us a favor; if somebody asks your opinion on the book or the movie and how it attacks the gospel and your faith, please defer to somebody who has reached out of their bubble and informed themselves by either reading the book or attending Lutzer's discussion.

Jeannett Gibson said...

It's not excuses so much as helping others understand that they are lies in the first place. If we, as Christians, just stick our heads in the sand like Ostriches, it only adds suspicion to our "stupid leap of faith". Those who do not believe, are of the mind that Christians are silly, mindless sheep that believe in Jesus, the tooth fairy, and santa claus. If we understand what they are talking about, (i.e. the claims made in the book) we are much more informed in order to explain why they are works of fiction, NOT fact.

Lastly, a co-worker raised her brows and was surprised when she saw me reading the book. She explained that she didn't think I would read it...when I asked why she said that "well, it will certainly challenge your beliefs, it'll be interesting to see how you feel about church when you are done". My response to her was something to the effect of: "My faith is grounded in many things, and I am not worried that reading one lousy fictional book will alter the entire way I live my life, and what I believe. My convictions are not so easily swayed." She seemed to find my answer interesting, and I honestly think she respects me more for not just running in the opposite direction when someone challenges Christianity, instead taking it on headfirst.

Christianity has all the evidence behind it. To pretend that it is ALL faith is false. Much of adult conversion is based on logical and reasoned debate...and, that is why I personally wanted to read the book.

True understanding comes when you can see both sides of the argument...and then deciding that, yes, the side you are on is the right one.

Brianna Heldt said...

I'm currently reading the book (thanks Gibsons!) and I can't put it down; it's great!

I really don't think it's making up excuses for "the devil's lies, being that it's a fictional novel. I don't think it's unusual for an author to take something everyone knows something about--in this case Jesus and the Catholic Church--and make those things into a fiction story. I think that sure Satan will hope to use it for his purposes--BUT God is so much bigger and what man intended for evil, God will use for good...

When else in the recent past have we as Christians had the opportunity to say to our non-Christians friends or co-workers, "Hey, what did you think of 'The DaVinci Code', what do you think about Jesus?" What an amazing opportunity the Lord is giving us in opening up a totally non-threatening door for us to share. What a powerful testimony when a believer is not threatened by what's in that book (like what Jeannett shared.)

I think it is common for us as believers to flee our culture, but I think instead we have to fight that temptation so that we can be "salt" and "light."

I'm excited to see the movie (I love Tom Hanks) as well. Oh and I can relate to what Josh said about the talk. Definitely seemed to be geared more towards church people.

Joe Pollon said...

Dr. Lutzer’s presentation on the Gnostics was helpful to me as I knew nothing about them except the snippets in the media and Dan Brown’s info. Thus, I was vulnerable to some of the claims. I will see the movie since the book was really fun.

Not being a Christian, I would have to agree with Josh (but wasn’t surprised) that it was aimed toward the believer. Although Dr. Lutzer was certainly confident, I didn’t think he was too haughty. To those who want to believe Brown’s theory and have made up their mind that the Church is built on lies, it would have been a turn off, but they wouldn’t have shown up anyway.

It would have been really interesting to go through the book’s claims about DaVinci’s work and the other various things. But, that may have required a different speaker.

Roy said...

Yes, we need to be prepared to defend our faith, that's why we study the Bible and learn Church history. I don't have to watch pornography in order to dialog about it! It seems the Christian response to a Christ dishonoring piece of junk is to write books ( no less than seven) and hold seminars. If you want fiction, read the davinci lies, if you want Truth, read the Bible. And some of the comments, "Fun thriller", "It's great!", "Excited to see the movie!" , "A very good and engaging book!", What's that all about?

Brianna Heldt said...

Roy,

"It's great"--that's about the fact that I think it's a good book in that it's entertaining and fun to read. NOT great in the sense that I believe its' claims about Christ, which are ridiculous. And I DON'T think it's great that people out there are believing these things in the book. Hopefully that clarifies some things.

"excited to see the movie"--that's about the fact that I think the story will make for a good movie, and I like Tom Hanks.

What do you think about Christians reading fiction and watching movies in general? Where do you think we should draw the line? I've found that there are many books/movies that while not overtly "Christian," unknowingly portray very Christ-like messages.

Kevin and I just saw the movie "Crash" last night for example, which while not the feel-good, family film of the year, actually portrayed some gospel-centered ideas: the sin and prejudice in ALL of us, and how people cannot easily be categorized into either "good people" or "bad people." Good things for our culture to be thinking about, instead of the more prevalent idea of how we're all good people without the need for salvation or redemption. I think that movie would also be a great starting point for discussions with non-believers.

Roy said...

Brianna,
Entertainment is one thing, I like movies too but am very picky about what I go see. When somebody writes a book or produces a movie about my Lord Jesus Christ portraying him as having a sexual encounter with Mary, that's where I draw the line, I don't classify that as entertainment, Blasphemy would be a better word.

Tim Weaver said...

I understand not being totally ignorant about what is going on in the world, but I'm not going to pay money and spend 2 hours to put myself in a situation that I really don't want to be in just so that I can speak as one who has seen it. The gain doesn't seem worth the pain to me.

What I have heard about the story line does not intrigue me nor do I enjoy sitting there watching people twist the truth about my Jesus.

Nothing against those who go. I just won't one of them.

Andy Gibson said...

Wow...and to think I actually had to get work done today so I couldn't be in the middle of this fray....I'll make up for it.

If you don't want to go see the movie...don't go. Tim W., you laid that out in your second sentence. If you think it is something that will make you uncomfortable, you shouldn't see it and that is probably the right decision for you. I will say though, even being uncomfortable seeing it or reading it is something I don't understand. I respect your view and you respect mine, I know that. But like I asked of Roy, I would expect that you wouldn't try and know the book if asked or approached about it by a non-Christian. Pass it on to somebody else.

"It seems the Christian response to a Christ dishonoring piece of junk is to write books ( no less than seven) and hold seminars." - Let's give some examples of this. If you think that logically using the Gospel and our faith to try and counter events/book/actions in the secular world is a bad idea....Roy, you then need to step up to the plate and give a solution then, or a better idea.

Christians with attitudes like that scare me. I feel it is this type of Christian, this type of thought, which makes non-Christians hate Christians because of their "slam it down your throat" approach to the Gospel and preaching. In my opinion, like has been discussed, when somebody says "I can't believe your seeing that movie and read that book" I think it is way more powerful to throw back "what do I have to be afraid of, it is a ficional thriller and I am imforming myself about what it says about and against Christianity". So far, Roy, I haven't heard a better idea or solution from you, just complaining about a blasphemous book in a secular world in which we are trying to love and defend our Lord Jesus Christ and the idea he died for us.

Call it Blasphemy all you want because it is. 60 million people have read this book, most of them will see the movie, and it has stirred up a lot of trash. So, like I requested earlier, sit down and let somebody else handle it if you find yourself in a discussion with a believer or non-believer to discuss it.

I am dissapointed in this discussion, and I am sure that some will be upset with my post. Well, too bad. Christianity, in my opinion, could be taking a step back because of attitude like this....Grace Church might be taking a step back with ideas like this....I had to respond.

Roy said...

Andy,
My solutions, as posted earlier, Are to study your Bible and know Church History. You don't have to wallow in pornography to know its sin! The gist of this book is easily known by reading a review.
And as for you saying your not uncomfortable seeing the movie or reading the book, that really scares me!

Andy Gibson said...

The problem is it is being funneled down to "Church" history and only the Bible. There is a lot more out there and I feel it is my responsiblity to know about it. God gave us brains and discretion. You can just study the bible and church history all you want, but the rest of the world isn't like that, and you'll be incapable of articulately defending and preaching your faith with and through a solid knowledge of the secular world and other faiths and beliefs. If that is ok with you, so be it.

I'm not uncomfortable seeing the movie because I stand firm in my faith. I'm uncomfortable knowing I now worship with Christians, either at Grace or in the world in general, that thinks it is ok to float through life with blinders on.

I give credit to Brianna because she said it best here during this entire discussion:

"I think it is common for us as believers to flee our culture, but I think instead we have to fight that temptation so that we can be "salt" and "light."

Without constant learning and integration with an evolving culture, you can't be the salt and the light. Pretty simple to understand.

Roy said...

Let's give the Bible (God's Word)some credit, 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 says,"All scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching,for reproof,for correction,for training in righteousness;That the man of God may be adequate,equipped for every good work. Also, Romans 12:2 says,"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Andy Gibson said...

I know Romans 12:2 very well. I had it hanging on my wall all through college. How do you prove what God's pleasing and perfect will is without understanding and being able to argue against somebody elses beliefs?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't know the Bible. If that is what you read, you read wrong. You can be one sided in your faith, of course we all know that Jesus is the light and way. But I believe that to be equipped for every good work you have to be knowledgeable in the world around you. We live in a world where quoting the Bible just doesn't do it anymore. That is similar to the "because I said so" that parents feed their kids rather than presenting articualted and intelligent thoughts whether it be about the Bible, or doing math homework for that matter. As an example, I equate this Da Vinci code thing to learning evolution in school. As a Christion, evolution is a pretty big load, but I have to sit there and listen to is. But as much as I hated it 11ish years ago, I am glad that I was equipped with the knowledge to understand evolution, so I can know why the Bible is right; so I can know how to argue against evolution and for creationism.

Just like I have to argue for Genesis - Revelation, and against the Gnostic Gospels and Jesus' impurity. The only difference is, rather than the state mandating that the Da Vinci code be taught, people have decided to teach themselves and subsequently question Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You may feel my interpretation of that (the scripture above) is taken out of context, and I feel that your interpretation of those scriptures leave Christians crippled and doesn't further the Church's work in the world. How then, can we utilize this book and movie to preach and strengthen the Gospel? Like has been said before, if we play this right, we can fight back and make this very strong for the church. If we act scared....we're forfeiting this battle, sacrificing our own religion and backing down. That's not my cup of tea.

Roy said...

Andy, Are you saying that the Bible "just doesn't do it anymore"?

Andy Gibson said...

I love this blog. The one-line attempt to undermine my argument and disrespect my beliefs because you don't have a response, nice.

Let me use the same words in a new context: Quoting Bible verses "just doesn't do it anymore" in the secular society we live in for certain (read: a lot) types of people. If somebody doesn't believe that the Bible is truth, you can quote it all day long...it still is not truth to them. Other methods have to be utilized to try and bring that person to Jesus, and worse case, defend your beliefs against their potential attacks (aka, Da Vinci Code). To do that, you have to be familiar with what their particular beliefs might be. There are different ways to reach different people, this is just one of them. I think we can all further Christianity if we read the book of Mormon, the Koran, etc. Why? Because we can then use the Bible and successfully preach against these other religions and what is written in their text. How else do you answer the question "Andy, how does Christianity compare to Mormonism?" Really, you can't, and if you try, your ignorant and are probably doing more harm than good.

So in conclusion, Roy, are you saying that holing up in a cave and ignoring the world and other schools of thought is good for Christianity?

Kevin Heldt said...

The issue at stake here is not about whether or not Christians should look to the Bible as the very Words of Life, the true inerrant Word of God, and all that is necessary for life and Godliness. I think we would all agree that the Bible is this and more and that we should look to it as such. We're talking about how a Christian shares the truth about Jesus Christ with an unbeliever. I assume that we all take for granted (though perhaps I am wrong) that the Bible is only convincing to someone who has come to at least partially trust it. I assume (again) that that is the spirit behind Andy's statement that merely quoting the Bible doesn't cut it. If someone is adamantly opposed to the Bible or thinks that it is a bunch of made-up stories, then they are not going to be overly impressed with what they believe to be some of the silly things written in it. I should add that I do believe that there is great power in Jesus' very words and that God can and often does work simply through that power in an unbeliever's heart. So I am by no means advocating discarding the Bible when sharing with an unbeliever. But in the Bible I don't see a pattern of believers merely quoting Bible verses with those they are evangelizing. Yes, we do see a lot of "Bible preaching" in the New Testament but the audience in these cases are almost always Jews and Jesus and the apostles are beginning from what their audience knows and connecting the dots to what they need to know. When Paul speaks to the Gentiles, he does not quote a lot of OT to them. The example that rings in my mind is when Paul addresses the Athenians "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you..." Paul didn't just quote the OT to them, he found a common point of departure and went from there to boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. If we have friends and coworkers who are believing the lies masquerading as facts in Dan Brown's book, then this might be a great opportunity for us to strike up a conversation in the hopes of ultimately sharing with them the riches of Christ. As others have noted, this cultural moment can serve as a way to start up a conversation with people that might be unwilling to talk about related matters in any other circumstance.

I need to add one more disclaimer. I was very glad that at the Lutzer talk, someone asked the question about the Last Temptation of Christ. There are most certainly things in this world that a Christian is instructed to flee at all costs. And from everything I have heard about that movie, it would seem that it is one of them. I think this is the sense in which Roy's point about not needing to look at pornography to dialog about it is very true and important. So it is troubling to me when I hear about Christians who feel the need to be in the thick of the "party scene" and that kind of thing so that they can supposedly help their friends. What we avoid should also be a powerful testimony to unbelievers. But we are not to flee the entire culture around us. Somehow we need to be in and not of this world.

Now to personally answer the question at hand, I do plan to read the book and we will probably rent the movie when it comes out on DVD. I do not take the line that "it's just a novel" and therefore it doesn't matter whether or not the things in it are true or not. I think it is very irresponsible for a novelist to so egregiously mishandle known history. It's one thing to put crackpot conspiracy theories in the mouth of some mentally confused or unstable character but when it is supposedly the educated dude with the real answers, that is simply dishonest. This doesn't surprise me though -- each Easter, Newsweek or some "reputable news media" touts out some lame story about what an educated reader should really think of Jesus Christ and "the resurrection." These types of lies are not new.

To summarize this horribly inconcise post, I think it is important to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." And from the example I see laid out in the NT, I think we need to make at least some effort to understand where our hearers are coming from. It is hard to understand how we can be gentle or respectful if we do not. Clearly that doesn't mean we join in sin and clearly we need to be careful about where that line is for the things that we just need to steer clear of at all costs, but a goofy novel with a bizarre concept and some distorted and fabricated "history" conveniently "inserted" in chapter 55 is, in my opinion, on this side of that line. By all means, let's help those friends who are believing this rot.

Andy Gibson said...

I'm not a huge fan of TBN, but as I was flipping through the channels literally minutes ago, wishing a playoff game was on, I came across a program they made called the Da Vinci Delusion. It filled in a lot of the gaps that Dr. Lutzer (who was in this program) didn't have the opportunity to cover while he was visiting us. I recommend it. Towards the end, it laid out several reasons why we as Christian's need to understand and utilize this Da Vinci movement for the greatness of God, and we need to use it to witness to others. They also stressed the opportunity that we have to stand firm in our faith and not be shaken by the myths in the book or movie. (I think somebody said that earlier on this blog, maybe I'm not smoking a crack pipe, weird). So if you don't want to read the book or see the movie, please watch something like this (or read a debunking book) so you know what the heck is going on.

Joe Pollon said...

Saw the movie last night. Not being a movie expert, I thought is was better than the critics made it out to be. I would imagine it would have probably been a bit tough to follow if you hadn't read the book. With a few subtractions and a monologue or two added it tracked pretty closely with the book.

From a theological perspective it felt much more offensive than reading the book. I guess it is one thing to voluntarily read something to oneself as you can control the pace and digest the presentation. It is wholly more distrubing to sit with and watch this view of history be fed to a whole theatre full of people who probably aren't as skeptical as they should be about the entertainment industry and this author's agenda.

I have only walked out on a few movies in my life. I can imagine that some serious believers who go in unknowing and unprepared (I don't know how they could be) will feel compelled to leave.

Tim Weaver said...

I think that Andy's evolution analogy is close. Learning how someone else thinks and what is being sold to the public is not a moral issue like porn which we should not be involved in (there is a way to reach out to that segment too, but I digress). I think the analogy falls apart a bit because learning evolution is basically mandatory. Most of us had to go to schools that taught it. So we had to sit in class and either learn it or fail. Da Vinci is entertainment where we have a choice.

Kevin's parallel with Paul looking around Athens and seeing the various gods is better. Paul understood what the basic topics of Athenian conversation and their interests, but he didn't have to worship at their alters, spend a lot of time studying their gods, and experience the whole life to be able to bring the Gospel to them where they were at.

I think that in the same way we don't have to experience and financially support (money talks) things that stand against Christ to be able to speak intelligently about them. We can know our Bibles, know where it came from, and understand the claims that are being presented and why they are false.

That's not being scared. I don't think that anyone here fears that the movie will shake their faith.

I think that the difference here is this question. How involved and experienced in something that is clearly standing against the claims of Christ does a Christian need to be in order to be able to lovingly engage in conversation and steer toward Christ?
Each of us need to answer that for ourselves keeping in mind the experiences and personalities of the people that God has put in our lives for the purpose of showing them Christ.

Roy said...

Amen, Tim!

Kevin Heldt said...

Indeed, I don't think that any Christian needs to read the book or see the movie to understand it well enough to "lovingly engage" someone about it. Any old summary about the main points presented and some back knowledge about Gnosticism will probably do. As I said earlier, these lies are not new or earth shattering. (However, specific cases could certainly warrant a closer inspection.)

But I also don't think this book is necessarily more "against Christ" than a lot of other things. Don't get me wrong -- it's heretical with a capital 'H' but so is most of what comes out of this world. This book may be more blunt and direct about it, but how many TV shows, movies, or books are there that don't, in some way, completely mock, dismiss or mishandle the truths about our Lord and His creation that we hold so dear? I don't see much of a difference. So if you want to read it just to see what the fuss is about or because you've heard it is a well-written story, then I think you should be able to.

The question of financial support is an interesting one. Though I borrowed the book and will probably just do the $1 rental in a few months so I guess I'll have to let the more relevant yay and nay voices speak out on that.

Andy Gibson said...

"Amen, Tim". That is interesting, as you maybe have changed your stance. If, as Tim says, "we don't have to experience and financially support (money talks) things that stand against Christ to be able to speak intelligently about them." Wouldn't that just be making "up excuses for the devils lies?"

Sure, you can speak semi-intelligently about something without "experiencing" it, per se. But to me, that is like reading cliffnotes in college. It might get you past the test and do the job, but did you really earn the knowledge and learn the material, and do you really know the details what you are talking about in full? Maybe not.

Tim, you kinda missed my analogy as I think Kevin and I were going for two related things with different approaches. But I digress, as my interest has diminished in this. My view is well known and hasn't changed.

So this is almost a week old and I am over it. Nobody is going to change anybody else mind on here, that is obvious. I know what my plan is for this and I guess, throughout all of this, I have proven to myself that myself and how I feel about it....might be all that matters. Unless the leaders we submit to come up with a plan to try and unite us (aka, Da Vinci Deception talk, where we learned about the devils lies). I think we all have the same goal, just different approaches.

Maybe we can argue about this in person at Sunday's picnic.

Ok, PT, I'm ready for some new material .....But I'm still seeing the movie sometime soon.