It’s only fiction, but “The Da Vinci Code” garbles Christian dogma so convincingly that church groups are countering with point-by-point rebuttals in Web sites and books, as well as in presentations by experts such as Mike Licona.
“Christianity is rooted in history, and we have very good evidence for the truth of Christianity and even the resurrection of Jesus,” said Licona, director of apologetics and interfaith evangelism for the North American Missions Board. The board is an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
As a Christian apologist – someone who makes a case for the truth of the religion – Licona has crisscrossed the country in the past 18 months, speaking to church and secular groups about doctrinal errors in “The Da Vinci Code.” He said these are the book’s most blatant fallacies :
Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and they had a child.
The marriage claim is based on an inventive and erroneous reading of the noncanonical gospel of Philip , Licona said. “There’s no good evidence,” he said. “This is just fabricated nonsense.”
The doctrine of Jesus’ divinity as the son of God was not accepted until an all-church gathering, the Council of Nicea, in the year 325.
The book suggests that the early church saw Jesus as merely a great but mortal prophet. “That’s false,” Licona said. The New Testament, which scholars say was composed in the first century, clearly refer to Jesus’ divinity, especially in the letters of the apostle Paul, Licona said.
Christian tenets, including a resurrected leader, were borrowed from other religions.
Licona said Christianity’s distinctive themes developed before similar ideas were found in other religions. “Nearly every scholar who studies the subject would say that the closest parallel to Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t appear until more than 100 years after Jesus’ death,” he said.
The New Testament as it currently is written is different from its original form.
Licona said thousands of old original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament show that the modern-day Scripture is nearly unchanged from its earliest versions.
The Bible as canonical Scripture was created by the Roman emperor Constantine, who sorted through scores of gospel accounts to sift out those citing Jesus’ traits.
Licona said the Gospels and Pauline letters that ended up in the New Testament were considered to be scripturally authoritative long before Constantine’s rule in the fourth century. “Constantine did not select the books of the Bible,” he said.
Licona, who will speak about “The Da Vinci Code” on May 21 at two churches in Virginia Beach, said the book’s irreverence is, ironically, a great opportunity for Christians.
“By learning to answer the major claims of ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ Christians will come to appreciate the foundations of their faith,” he said.