Answering the Questions Raised by the Da Vinci Code/Program 5
|By: Dr. Erwin Lutzer; ©2005
|Dan Brown, through the novel is talking about goddess worship as being the original message; and that was being suppressed by the church. What Is Brown promoting and what did the Early Church said about that.
Today on The John Ankerberg Show, why has the fictional book, The Da Vinci Code, caused so much controversy?
- Dr. Erwin Lutzer: Even though The Da Vinci Code is fiction, it’s being passed off as a historical novel. And Dan Brown says in the book that many things are fact, and he gives the impression that all that is fact. And those who have read it will know that it is a vicious attack against the Christian faith.
At the beginning of his book Dan Brown makes this declaration, “Fact: All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” But is this true? And what about the claims in his book:
- That Jesus had sexual relations with Mary Magdalene resulting in children;
- That all the early Christians believed Jesus was only a man, and it wasn’t until 300 AD that the church invented the idea that he was God;
- That Jesus was the original feminist, and power hungry men in the church suppressed this information, then recast sex as something shameful in order to put down women;
- That the early Christians believed that men encountered God only through sexual union with a woman;
- That the original gospels about Jesus life were burned by the Roman Emperor Constantine around 325 AD and false documents were put in their place that form the Bible we now have;
- That the church has been hiding the truth of Jesus’ marriage in order to suppress the truth of who he really was. If this secret were uncovered, it would destroy Christianity as we know it.
- Lutzer: It takes old, heretical ideas and wraps them in a fast-paced novel so people are reading the novel, and they’re getting the idea, number one, the Jesus Christ isn’t God at all; he’s a mere man, but he was elevated to the status of godhood by a man by the name of Constantine, whom we are going to be talking about. And, secondly, people are saying that there is another Bible out there. It’s called a Gnostic Bible, the Gnostic gospels; and these Gospels are more accurate than our New Testament.
Our purpose in this series is twofold. First, if you have read The Da Vinci Code, we want to provide you with accurate historical information about the questions raised in this book. Second, if you are Christian, we want to help you know how to answer the questions of family and friends who have been troubled by this book.
- Lutzer: I remember a young woman in a restaurant telling me, she said, “I can never go to church having read The Da Vinci Code, because,” she said, “the church clearly is based on lies.”
My guest today is Dr. Erwin Lutzer, author of The Da Vinci Deception. He has been interviewed by NBC, ABC, and CNN as a Christian authority on this topic, and is senior Pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois.
- Lutzer: The Da Vinci Code strikes at the heart of Christianity by denying the deity of Jesus Christ and the validity of the New Testament documents. Now, John, what our listeners need to understand up front is simply this, that the claims of The Da Vinci Code can be shown to be false.
To learn the truth about The Da Vinci Code, we invite you to join us.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re talking about The Da Vinci Code. Have you read it? What did you think about it? Well, if you know a friend, and you’re interested in this information yourself, call that friend and tell them to join us and listen. We’re going to talk about the punch line in the book. It has to do with goddess worship. What’s this all about?
- Well, Dan Brown makes this statement in his book: Constantine, the king that ruled the Roman Empire around 325 AD, and his male successors, successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism—this is goddess worship—to patriarchal Christianity by waging a campaign of propaganda. And he demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.
- And what Dan Brown is portraying through this book is that the original message of Jesus was all about goddess worship; and that the message that we have now, that we think is Christianity, was actually something that came in later. It was a power play by the later Christians, specifically Constantine and the Council of Nicea, that put down this original message of free sex, and ritualistic sex, and all of this kind of thing. And it was supplanted by what we have in Christianity today. This is a complete fabrication, and we need to hit some of these things.
- My guest is Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of world-famous Moody Memorial Church. He has written a book, The Da Vinci Deception. And, Erwin, help us unscramble this thing. Why is this so popular: Goddess worship? Why is Dan Brown trying to take us back to that, and giving us the lie that that was the original Christianity?
- Lutzer: First of all, paganism has always been interested in sexuality. And the idea that a man can encounter God by having sex, through sexual rituals, certainly fits in with fallen human nature. But what The Da Vinci Code does, as you have so properly explained, is that Dan Brown wants to say that that’s the original Christianity; that’s the way you encountered God. And it was these power-hungry men who decided to steal the church away from Mary Magdalene and then make it into a sex-hating church. Where do we even begin? But before we actually begin to dissect this more, I have a quote or two I’d like to read, John.
- Ankerberg: Okay.
- Lutzer: I read another book to write my book, and it was entitled The Templar Revelation.
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Lutzer: Now, of course my book is against The Da Vinci Code, but The Templar Revelation contains a lot of these pagan ideas that are found in The Da Vinci Code. And what the authors say is that John actually did not put himself under the authority of Jesus—this is John the apostle—but rather, the fact is that Jesus was a disciple of John. Notice how things are twisted. And catch this: John’s anointed successor was actually the Gnostic sex magician, Simon Magus, who is mentioned in the book of Acts [chapter 8]. Talk about a twist of history!
- But now we come to the part about Jesus and sex. Jesus himself turns out to be the son of a goddess, and the anointing by Mary of Bethany—the authors believe that she is Mary Magdalene—was a sexual ritual performed by a priestess. Quote: “The anointing of Jesus was a pagan ritual. The woman who performed it, Mary of Bethany, was a priestess. Given this new scenario, it is more than likely that her role in Jesus’ inner circle was as a sexual initiatrix.” That is to say, that Mary introduced Jesus to sex.
- Ankerberg: She initiated Jesus into the whole system, via sex.
- Lutzer: Right. Now, if that doesn’t rankle Christians, what has to happen before we become upset?
- Ankerberg: Right.
- Lutzer: This is pure blasphemy. And could Jesus be a part of that when he said that “he who looks upon a woman to lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart?” [Matt. 5:28]. If there’s anything true about the New Testament it is its call to purity. The apostle Paul says, “Do not be deceived, those who are immoral [and then he lists others], will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” [1 Cor. 6:9-10]. “It is the pure of heart that see God” [Matt. 5:8]. So the question is, how can Dan Brown, and the authors of The Templar Revelation, twist things so badly that they make sexuality the heart of encountering God?
- Ankerberg: And they do. Now, before you go on, let me just document the fact: Brown claims that Constantine not only eliminated goddess worship in the Roman Empire, which would mean that it had to exist for the first 300 years of Christianity, that was true Christianity; he also collated the Bible; used Christianity for political gain; moved Christian worship from Saturday to Sunday; decided that Jesus should be made into a deity where he was a mortal man before. He states all these things through his characters in his books. And actually, Constantine did none of those things, but this thing of the sexual aspect of all that he’s talking about, keep going.
- Lutzer: Well, how could Dan Brown even come up with this? I mean, we know it’s a novel; and if he’d just said, “Oh, this is pure novel,” we’d say, “Well, yeah, it’s a badly written part of the novel, but okay.” But he claims it to be based on history.
- What these authors do is they take all of paganism with its expressive sexuality—encountering the divine through sex, etc.—and they say—contrary to all historical evidence—this was the original Christianity. And then they come along and they say it is the New Testament authors that came along and they hijacked Christianity and turned it into what it is today.
- Now, there’s one problem with all that: there is not one shred of historical evidence for it. The original Christianity was Jesus teaching purity; teaching holiness; exhorting them to leave the world, to leave immorality. And he, of course, had his apostles. Some of them ended up writing some of the books of the New Testament. You have the apostle Paul, of course, converted later. He writes many of the books of the New Testament that exhort us to holiness. This is the teaching of the Church. This is what the Church has always taught, based on good, solid historical evidence. The rest is pure bogus.
- Ankerberg: Let’s stick with Paul. You and I took some folks and we visited Corinth. And in the Temple there, they had exactly what Brown is talking about. They had this goddess worship….
- Lutzer: Yes, and 1,000 prostitutes.
- Ankerberg: …and 1,000 prostitutes. The way you worshiped is a Hugh Hefner philosophy; you went in, you had sex with the prostitute, and you were suppose to have a divine moment right there, okay? That would sell, alright? Paul, writing the book of 1 Corinthians in 50 AD—Jesus passed off the scene, resurrected, 30 AD—twenty years later, Paul writes to the church at Corinth about that practice. He says, you know, that’s what some of you were, but now you’ve been changed, you’ve been transformed, because you’ve put your faith in Jesus Christ [1 Cor. 6:9-11].
- Lutzer: Exactly, and now you’re called to a life of holiness. And so the apostle Paul was speaking against the very thing that Dan Brown advocates in his book.
- We’ve come to a point in this series, John, where I think people need to just be outraged. You know, the idea that people are reading the book, The Da Vinci Code, and coming away believing part of it, or thinking, “Could it be true?” or, even saying, as some have, “I could never be a Christian again, because Christianity is based on lies.” That, of course, is absolute bogus!
- We urge people who are listening today: just look at the evidence. History in Dan Brown’s book is like a house of cards held together by ropes of mist. And yet, it’s purported to be the true historical fact. And that’s our problem.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’ve got to take a break. When we come back we’re going to look at some of the other broadsides: the church, according to Brown, cooked up Jesus and his divinity. The church suppressed women. We need to touch on that. The church made sex the original sin. And the church—we’ve touched on it, but we need to talk about it and summarize it more—made Mary Magdalene into a prostitute for a reason. We’re going to talk about those things, answer all those questions. Come right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back, we’re talking with Dr. Erwin Lutzer about The Da Vinci Code. And we’re talking about the errors, historical errors, that Dan Brown has put into his book. Two of them that we want to touch on: the Christian Church put women down; and Jesus was the original feminist.
- Lutzer: I want to comment on “Jesus was the original feminist.” That’s a very interesting statement. We can’t agree with Brown because of what “feminist” means today, okay, but there is some truth in that. Jesus did break the mold. I mean, the very fact that he sat with a woman on the well, and was willing to talk to a woman without men present. I mean, he was breaking the customs of the day. You have Jesus actually allowing women to touch him in several instances in the Gospels. And Jesus was constantly taking women who were beaten down and giving them dignity.
- Mary Magdalene and other women, for example, followed him; and that itself, no rabbi would have done that. So Jesus really elevated the position of women. Now, does that mean that Dan Brown is right when he talks about sexuality and so forth? The answer is “No.” But Jesus did elevate women to a remarkably high position.
- Ankerberg: Right along that line, he says, “the church cooked up Jesus [at the Council of Nicea], and gave him divinity.” He did not have it before that point. And in the process, the church suppressed women. What’s that all about?
- Lutzer: Well, first of all, let me say that we covered this in a previous show. The Council of Nicea was not where the divinity of Jesus was invented. New Testament, Church Fathers, the folks in Rome dying for Jesus, all believed in the divinity of Jesus.
- “The church suppressed women.” We could have a discussion here as to how, historically, perhaps the church has often times not recognized women and giving them the roles that the New Testament would have them function in, so that would be an interesting discussion. But the idea which lies back of that, that Dan Brown wants to communicate, is that it was Jesus Christ’s original intention that the Church be based on Mary Magdalene and then Peter and the other men stole it from her. That, of course, is totally bogus!
- Ankerberg: Yes, the other thing is “the Church, in the process, made sex the original sin.” That’s not true either, why?
- Lutzer: No. Because sex, by the way, never was the original sin. Adam and Eve in the Garden, it was not sex that was the original sin. That’s very important. Now, some theologians have taught that throughout the centuries; and it shows you how people can get off onto something if they don’t base their theology squarely on the Bible. But that, of course, has nothing to do with the point that Dan Brown wants to make: of making sexual expression the way to get to God.
- Ankerberg: Original sin was when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. They made a choice; it had nothing to do with sex. Sex was good and something that God gave before the Fall.
- “The church made Mary Magdalene into a prostitute for a reason,” Dan Brown says. That’s not true either.
- Lutzer: Well, you know the Pope, in 591, Pope Gregory, did preach a sermon in which he confused the prostitute of Luke 7 with Mary Magdalene of Luke 8. So, there is some truth to that. We should not consider her to be a prostitute; there is no evidence for that. But the point is that that was not done, so far as I know, to somehow suppress Mary Magdalene. It was just taking something that wasn’t in context and preaching it. And since that time, we’ve realized of course. But she was a woman out of whom seven demons were cast.
- Ankerberg: He says, “The church killed 5 million women [witches],” during the Middle Ages.
- Lutzer: Totally—what’s the expression that people use today?—over the top? Five million? I mean we can talk in terms of thousands that the church, perhaps, killed. But five million is just a number that he threw out there that is totally, totally, bogus.
- Ankerberg: His main premise, “Goddess worship, this sexual rite, is the truth and not the Christianity we hold today.”
- Lutzer: Again, we dealt with that briefly: totally bogus! The Christianity that we hold today originated with Jesus and the apostles. Let’s not read into history something that is not there.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, let’s hit on that little saying of his that, “History is a fable that people have agreed upon.”
- Lutzer: Yeah. And if it is, then of course, we just all gather together, let’s make up our fables and let’s run with them. Simple fact is, that’s not true. History has certain brute facts, and if you don’t respect those, then don’t even talk about “history.”
- Ankerberg: You visited The White House and you had a neat experience that took place there that ties into what we’re talking about in terms of the truth of Christianity. And I want those of you that are listening right now to really not miss the point that Erwin is going to make, because this talks about what the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is. Tell us about it.
- Lutzer: Yes. We don’t want to leave anyone watching these shows without understanding why Jesus is the only way. He’s the only One qualified to take us to the Father. He’s the only One who has the righteousness that we need to be saved. There’s nobody else out there.
- Ankerberg: And this is what the Church Fathers all said as well.
- Lutzer: Exactly. But, you know, we went into The White House, I and two of my daughters. This was when the elder Bush was President, and security was not as tight at it is today. And the Secret Service allowed us in. They just said go on in, because we were with a Secret Service Agent whom we had met. And wherever we went, they said, “Oh, you’re with him? Just go on it.” In fact, we were even allowed to put our toes into the Oval Office. We couldn’t go to the President’s desk, but every battery of guards along the way said, “Oh, you’re with him? Go on in.”
- Now, I ask people to visualize us dying together. And Jesus meets us on the other side of the curtain. And there are angels guarding the way to The Holy City. And I can just imagine that the angels say to us, “Oh, you’re with Jesus? Go on in.”
- And then we have a flashback because of all of the sins that we’ve committed and we see that God is more holy than we believed Him to be. And we say to ourselves, “I can’t go in.” But the angels say, “You’re with Him. Go on in.”
- Then, I like to visualize the Father, after we have gathered together, he says to the Son, “Thank You so much for bringing my children home because I love them.” And then he says this, “I’ve carefully examined them, and I find no fault in them.”
- That, John, is the reason why we preach Christ, the Christ of the New Testament: because he alone can take us all the way to the Father, to present us to the Father faultless, because we’ve received his righteousness [Jude 1:24]. That’s the good news of the Gospel that I hope everyone who is listening responds to.
- Ankerberg: You spoke at Promise Keepers one time and you had a great illustration for people in our audience that have committed great sins and they feel guilty. And they don’t think they can come to Jesus because they don’t think Jesus would love them or accept them, because they’ve gone too far. Can you recall that illustration and give it to us?
- Lutzer: I can. It’s a long one, I have to make it short, don’t I? A man is in a room and there are these card files that are based on his entire life, every incident, every sin. And he looks at these cards, which are so many. He’s weeping, and a Man comes in—Jesus—and takes every one of those cards, and at the bottom, signs His own name, Jesus Christ, in His own blood.
- And so the man is totally acquitted from all of those sins, because Jesus looks upon those sins as if he, Jesus, committed them. He bore them for the man and took them away. The file cards in our lives are cleansed and forgiven by Christ.
- Ankerberg: That’s a terrific illustration. Erwin, you’ve written a book and let’s use some fighting words here, okay? Do you think that The Da Vinci Code is a threat to Christianity?
- Lutzer: A serious threat, the most serious threat that I have encountered in all of my years of ministry. People reading the novel, people believing it, and coming away with doubts. And that’s why I believe so passionately, in all of humility, that’s why I wrote that book with such passion. I mean, I wrote it with a studying and working focus. Why? Because I want to get the truth out there, and I want to have people have their faith deeply rooted in the Christian faith. Whether or not they’ve read The Da Vinci Code, that book that I’ve written deals with the origins of Christianity that everyone should know about.
- Ankerberg: One last thing, and that is for people that say, “Okay, Dan Brown might be wrong. How can I independently find out that you are telling the truth about Jesus Christ?”
- Lutzer: Well, what they need to do, if they want to do their own research—which is perfectly fine—go into a library, find a seminary; go back, read Eusebius, read what the early documents have to say about the development of the canon. Look at the Gnostic gospels. See what the ancients said about them, take a look at them and evaluate the evidence. If you do that, no question, you’re going to be convinced that the New Testament is reliable and Dan Brown’s scenario of Christianity is pure fabrication.
- Ankerberg: Erwin, thank you for being with us. And I highly recommend his book. It’s called The Da Vinci Deception. Thanks for joining us. Join us next week.