The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


May 19, 2006


Treating Believers like Children

Ted Baehr: ‘Code’ not benign

A few pundits are arguing that Christians should read the bestselling book The Da Vinci Code and see the movie to “engage the culture” and as a tool for evangelism.

By that argument, we should encourage people to read other popular, but infamous, works: Chinese dictator Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, or The Communist Manifesto. Or, why not Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic diatribe popular in Muslim circles?

You’re darn right, we should encourage people to read those books. After all, only by knowing your adversaries’ beliefs can you argue against them. There was a reason I took the “Classic and Contemporary Marxism” class at Purdue, and it wasn’t because I was aspiring to become a Marxist. What’s so scary about people reading the opposing view?

It would be wonderful to believe Christians can argue the facts to Dan Brown’s hate-filled, fictitious attack on Jesus Christ, Christianity, the Bible, Christians and history. The truth is, however, that many people have not read a Bible or understood their faith sufficiently to counter the story’s intricacies.

Shouldn’t this guy be a little bit more concerned that the Church is filled with people who have very little understanding of what they purport to believe? How can anyone be a good Christian without having a fairly clear understanding of the tenets of that faith?

Of course, there are areas where in-depth knowledge is not necessary for daily life. I don’t need to know the intricacies of string theory and quantum mechanics to understand basic physics. The approximate laws of gravity are close enough for government work. But I think that if we’re gambling with an eternal soul, it would be worth it to learn enough to make an informed decision.

Does the average person know what Gnostic Gospels are? Are people familiar with the Catholic group Opus Dei? What is the answer when Christians are asked whether Jesus married Mary Magdalene? Did they have children? Has the church hidden important facts from the faithful? These are just some of the complex issues discussed in The Da Vinci Code. Although it is fiction, it contains enough references to history to make Christians question their beliefs.

The slanderous distortions and falsehoods are as dangerous as they are numerous. The movie threatens to strike another massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, Christianity and history.

How can this book and movie threaten to strike a massive blow to people’s understanding and knowledge of God, when the writer has just claimed that people don’t have enough understanding or knowledge of God to counter the arguments of the movie?

I question my beliefs all the time. A year ago, I would have made the argument that the protections of the Bill of Rights only applied to American citizens, because I hadn’t even really considered the opposite. Since, I’ve learned quite a bit and changed my belief. At the same time, I’ve been bombarded with knowledge about the tenets of anarcho-capitalism, and yet I haven’t made the leap there. I’m an adult, and I can evaluate these things for myself. I don’t need someone to “protect me from these ideas”. Neither do Christian moviegoers.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 10:13 pm || Permalink || Comments (6) || Trackback URL || Categories: Books, Pop Culture, Religion

6 Comments

  1. Look Brad, I haven’t read the Da Vinci Code yet, but Bonnie and TF have read it. Both of them have said that the book was a great work of fiction. It didn’t change their faith or rattle them one bit. They both have a solid idea in what they believe.

    Hollywood is always looking for a way to generate contraversy so that their films will sell and make big bucks. Looks like they are succeeding with this one. Bonnie went and saw the movie this afternoon and she said that it didn’t compare to the book. She was rather disappointed in the movie.

    I think this book would compare with the movie “The National Treasure”. It has some fact and a lot of fiction.

    Comment by Lucy Stern — May 20, 2006 @ 1:47 am
  2. Brad,

    Nice write up. I couldn’t agree more with every one of your points.

    The reaction of many to The Da Vinci Code (TDVC) just highlights how shaky the beliefs of many, many Christians are. That said, some of its biggest critics have never read the book (which I found somewhat mediocre, personally).

    I think TDVC is dangerous – it’s dangerous in that it opens the door to more questions than it answers (although there are plenty of books that “decode” TDVC). It’s dangerous if you’re afraid that it might destroy your long-held-but-weakly-based-beliefs. It’s dangerous to priests/pastors/clergy who thrive on the control that dogmatism provides.

    Ignorance isn’t quite bliss, but it sure makes some things easier to deal with. TDVC pulls back the curtain – if only hypothetically – on other possibilities. How could this be anything but a good thing?

    Comment by Neal — May 20, 2006 @ 8:11 am
  3. Brad,

    Say what you will about the way some Christians — and we’re not just talking about Pat Robertson here, but Pope Benedict and the Patrich of Eastern Orthodox Church — but I think it stands in stark contrast to the reaction over the Mohammed cartoons.

    Comment by Doug — May 20, 2006 @ 6:25 pm
  4. Okay, I meant to say “the way some Christians are reacting to this movie…….”

    Comment by Doug — May 20, 2006 @ 6:26 pm
  5. Hey Brad – I understand Ted Baehr’s point, but as you’ve pointed out, it begs the question that *if* the reason it’s dangerous is that it leads people astray because they haven’t studied their bible or beliefs enough, weren’t their beliefs rather vain to begin with?

    As I said before, I don’t believe the Lord or His Son wants anyone who accepts blindly – in fact, in one place He said He’d rather someone be either hot or cold – not lukewarm. And I think those who would be lead astray could definitely be argued to be “lukewarm”.

    Glad to see you’re still questing and questioning!

    Comment by Kay Harrison — May 21, 2006 @ 7:16 am
  6. Well said!

    Comment by Libertarian Jason — May 21, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

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