Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Da Vinci Blasphemy

As the media blitz for the movie version of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code begins, I began to think about the whole concept of the book/movie in terms of its explicit blasphemy. So much attention has been paid to its accuracy, its plagiarism, its wretched writing (Salman Rushdie said it was a book that made bad books look good), that the central idea - that Jesus marries Mary Magdalene and produces children who eventually become the royalty of Europe - has failed to produce any real outrage from the church. Moslems rioted all over Europe because of some lame cartoon of Mohammed, but most Christians seem blissfully tolerant of a hideous blasphemy: that our Lord and Savior, the Second member of the most Holy Trinity, the Word of God, the one sinless human being who ever lived, fell in love with a woman of dubious character, had sexual intercourse, and fathered children. The theological implications are, of course enormous - no real resurrection, no ascension, no real deity of Christ.

But I used the term "blasphemy." It is a Greek word meaning to injure another's reputation. With regard to religion, it is to deny or withhold the honor due to God, or to speak heresy, malicious or hateful speech directed at God, the Church, or the Christian faith. The penalty for blasphemy in the Old Testament was death (Leviticus 24:15f.). Since God is infinitely holy, any sin, no matter how small, is infinitely offensive and deserving of eternal damnation. How despicable, then, is the sin of blasphemy! And yet, how often do we tolerate or even use blasphemous speech in our daily lives? How have we allowed the sacred name of Jesus Christ to become a swear word?

When Martin Scorcese released his film, The Passion, in 1988, there was mass outrage over the mere implication that Jesus was attracted to Mary Magdalene. Will there be outrage this time around, or has our "Christian nation" tired of defending the holiness of its Savior? Will there be calls for boycotting this film? Will there be protests of Sony Pictures, and boycotts of its products, etc.? The issue at stake is the honor of the Savior, but also one wonders how many Christians will begin to question their faith, and how many others will dismiss Christianity as a fraud.


Blogger Ehud would said...

Here, here. I agree whole-heartedly w/your assesment & aproach: We ought to reject false teaching & heresy based upon its aversion to Scripture, not the teachings of the secular Historian. Afterall, our axiomatic precommitments lie w/God's Word, not the Idol of autonomous scholarship. Let us not plant our Faith one ioda in the shifting sands of Anthropology, for the Christian does not reconcile the Bible to history; rather, he reconciles history to the Bible. "Though every man be a liar, God be found true."

11:09 AM  
Blogger Scribe said...

Amen. And in this case the secular "scholarship" is so poor as to be laughable. People will believe almost anything as long as it is not the gospel which indicts them and calls them to repentance.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Herman said...

Unfortunately, the Christian boycott of "The Last Temptation" put it on the media map and made it more money than Hollywood could have ever hoped for.

An alternative is to see this film as an opportunity to engage people about the truth of the gospel and the reliability of the scriptures. One reason such a poorly written book became so popular is that people just don't know how the Bible came to be, nor if it truly is a reliable witness. Rather than expending energy apposing the film, maybe we should spend the energy engaging the people who go to see it. (Its the old analogy about training bank tellers to spot counterfeits. Don't show them all the ways the bad bills are false, have them handle the true bills until they can automatically tell the difference between the real and the fake.)

1:59 PM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

First, Scorcese's film was The Last Temptation Of Christ I remember all the protests with Christians of all types out protesting. They were in the news constantly, and many people were interviewed concerning why they considered the film so evil. Through all of that what happened was the lines for that movie were huge. Many people who would never have seen it, went to see it merely because of the publicity of the protests. They wanted to see what had people so offended.

Overall that film was mediocer at best. I watched it for an apoligetics class, and as a person with a BA in film I was amazed that as many people saw it as had. Normally a film of that type would have disappeared in a week at most simply through word of mouth, maybe a little bit longer because the the big name of Martin Scorcese. Instead because of the protests it lasted for much longer than it ever should have.

So, back to the Da Vinci Code. How should we best respond to it? Protest would be fitting considering the utter blaspheme that it presents, but would that backfire and result in many people seeing this film who would not have otherwise gone? That is a real danger. Another option would be to present the truth in contrast to the lie, to present Jesus Christ in all the glory recorded in both Testaments of the Bible, to spend time in evangelism and apologetics outside of those very theatres that show this film so that the truth will be shown. It may still look like a protest, but instead it would people presenting the gospel to people.

Frankly, I don't know what would come from this, but it may bear more fruit than protest.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Da Vinci will not be a 3rd rate production. Tom Hanks is the star. So don't worry about drawing additional attention to it by protesting.

The issue is, HOW do we speak truth here?

11:38 AM  
Blogger Rileysowner said...

Just because Tom Hanks is in it, does not mean it will be good. Scosese was a very popular and successful director, Willem Defoe was a young but popular and up and coming actor at the time. I wouldn't have expected The Last Temptation of Christ to be a bad movie either. Yet, it was.

Since, by many accounts, The DiVinci Code is not a very good book, all be it popular; I hesitate to think that one big name actor will guarentee that it will be a good movie. That is why I question protest, and encourage preparing to be apoligists for the truth of the gospel.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Steve said...


I didn't say it quite right, I guess. I didn't mean it will be good b/c of Tom Hanks. I meant it will be popular.

It was the protests that made Temptation popular. Da Vinci is going to be popular, so there's no concern with making it popular.

[I love html!]

Still there are always concerns about protesting in a turn-off way...

9:33 AM  

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