Sunday, April 02, 2006

Secrets Of The Da Vinci Code

Was Jesus Married?

One of the most amazing claims of The Da Vinci Code is that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, and she then became the most important of the apostles. If this is true, then the New Testament cannot be trusted, and its entire inspiration is in question.

There can be no serious question about the marital status of Jesus. The canonical gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) preclude any option of understanding Jesus as married. He operates as an unmarried teacher with a band of devoted disciples. He is not the head of a household, but builds a household of faith--the church. At the crucifixion, he assigns John responsibility for caring for Mary, his mother. There is no mention of any wife, certainly no mention of children.

This is no problem for Dan Brown and others who promote their invented Christology. According to Brown and author Margaret Starbird, Jesus not only married Mary Magdalene, but also fathered a child who became the head of the Merovingian royal dynasty.

So, how can Brown and others promote this theory? Simply by asserting that the marital status of Jesus was hidden by Christian leaders by means of a vast conspiracy. This conspiracy, we are told, explains the absence of any mention of Jesus' marriage in the New Testament and the church's denial of any such suggestion throughout its history. What evidence would Brown and Starbird produce in order to buttress their case?

Starbird points to Jesus' instruction to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, as recorded in John's gospel. When Jesus tells Mary not to touch Him, Starbird claims that this actually means, "do not cling to me," which is further asserted to mean that they were married. As Vargas explains by means of a question: "and that kind of embrace would have been unusual if it were not between a man and a woman, husband and wife?"

Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, countered Starbird's assertion. "Its just her single act of devotion," Bock explained, "given to him without concern about what people are thinking about what she's doing." Vargas then conceded that the majority of biblical scholars consulted for the program agreed with Professor Bock's assessment. Nevertheless, don't count that as a complete loss, for she did find one biblical scholar who thought that the scene in the garden might "point to an intimate relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus."

Father Richard McBrien of the University of Notre Dame quickly confirmed that if Jesus had married, it would have been to Mary Magdalene. "If he was married, it was obviously...oh, yeah, it was obviously Mary Magdalene." Father McBrien evidently confuses romance novels with the New Testament.

One of the central arguments found in The Da Vinci Code is that certain leading figures in history have always known the truth. The "Priory of Sion," asserted to be a cabal of the illuminated ones, is central to Brown's plot. The Priory is claimed to involve a host of luminaries from European history including, of course, Leonardo Da Vinci. According to Brown's thesis, Da Vinci hid hints of Jesus' marriage in works of art such as his famous masterpiece, "The Last Supper." Brown argues that one of the figures in the fresco standing next to Jesus isn't a man at all, but Mary Magdalene.

Jack Wasserman of Temple University isn't buying that argument. A prominent art historian, Wasserman simply countered that the figure doesn't even look like a woman, once we understand the artistic style of the era.

As a matter of fact, art historians have poked holes in most of Dan Brown's interpretations found in The Da Vinci Code. Of course, if you are promoting a conspiracy theory, you just make this part of the conspiracy. When Elizabeth Vargas asked Dan Brown why so many art historians dismiss his theories "as absolutely bizarre and crazy," Brown explained: "I think its because we see what we've been told we see." Oh, now we see. Instead of seeing what we've been told we should see, we should now see what Dan Brown wants us to see. See?

The most fascinating insights revealed in the "Prime Time Monday" broadcast had actually very little to do with The Da Vinci Code itself. Of far greater interest to thinking Christians were the arguments made by liberal theologians and divinity school professors that directly attacked the truthfulness of the Bible. This is, of course, of much greater concern than the interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpieces.

In introducing this material, Vargas argued: "If you look at the Christian Bible, it's clear that there are large holes in the stories we have about the life of Jesus. The church chose four gospels that tell his story in the New Testament. But there were other stories written about Jesus, other gospels so controversial the Church ordered them destroyed. And they were, except for one set of copies. And it remained hidden in Egypt until about fifty years ago." Ah ha! The conspiracy deepens.

Vargas' hyped introduction referred to the Nag Hammadi scrolls found around the time of World War II. These Gnostic gospels were heretical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Early Christians were aware of these spurious writings and rightly rejected them as sub-biblical and erroneous.

Of course, Dan Brown and company are now ready to tout the Gnostic gospels as even more reliable than the New Testament. These documents and fragments are not older than the canonical Gospels, as is often claimed. They are examples of the false gospels that were recognized as such by the early church.

Father Richard McBrien, well known as a liberal Roman Catholic academic, is ready to elevate Mary Magdalene to the status of an apostle. As he claimed, "She really was every bit as much an apostle, a companion, spokesperson for Jesus and his gospel as any of the men were." Of course, this assertion denies the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and the consensus of all branches of Christianity throughout the last two thousand years.

Karen King of the Harvard Divinity School argues that the denial of Jesus' marital status and the marginalization of Mary Magdalene are the result of a male conspiracy to deny the equality of women and the rightful place of female leadership in the church. Of course, since she sees Christianity as something that human beings have made, she would now call for the church to remake itself in a way more to her liking.

"Sometimes religion is presented as something that's fixed and stable," King explained, "where you have to accept it or reject it." But, as you might now suspect, professor King does not see Christianity as anything fixed or stable. To the contrary, as she asserted: "But the fact is that religious traditions, and certainly Christianity among them, is very diverse, very filled with possibilities. And we need to take responsibility for the kind of religion we make."

That final sentence is a quintessential statement of liberal theology. According to professors like Karen King, we "make up" Christianity as we go along. Now, informed by feminism and New Age spirituality, we can remake Christianity and leave behind all that tired, stale, orthodoxy that has been handed down to us.

The evidence against these revisionist forms of Christianity is massive. Belief in the veracity and historical credibility of the New Testament is the great dividing line between Christianity and this new religion posing as Christianity. According to John 3:16, Jesus is "the only begotten" Son of God. He came to redeem sinners by His atoning death and resurrection in order that we might become adopted as the sons and daughters of God. Jesus Christ did not marry and did not beget any children of the flesh. Through faith, we become the sons and daughters of God through Christ's accomplished work of salvation.

All these revisionist versions of Christianity are rejections of the Gospel handed down from the apostles and honored by faithful Christians in every generation. Dan Brown has written a suspense thriller that ABC News has taken as a serious historical argument. They were able to find a host of liberal enablers to help push the case and hype the story. But, in the end, we have to choose between the Christ of the New Testament and the Christ of The Da Vinci Code.

Check it out for yourself, and read the New Testament. Truth is far more interesting than fiction. The mythical Christ of The Da Vinci Code is no match for the authentic Christ of the Bible.

Do you know what the message of the Bible is?

It tells us that God is good by nature, and because of His goodness He will make sure that justice is eventually done. For example, there were more than 150,000 unsolved murders in the U.S. during the last 20 years — however, those unpunished murderers will receive justice by being sent to God's "prison" — a place called "Hell." But God is so good He will also punish rapists, thieves, liars, adulterers, blasphemers, and fornicators (those who have had sex before marriage).

How will you do on Judgment Day? Ask yourself a few questions: Have you ever lied (even once) or stolen (regardless of value)? Have you ever used God’s name in vain, or had sexual thoughts about someone to whom you are not married? Have you ever hated someone? The shocking truth is that if you said yes to those questions, on Judgment Day God will see you as a lying thief . . . a blasphemer . . . an adulterer . . . and even a murderer. Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart," and Scripture also says that if you hate someone, you are a murderer.

This is the Bible’s warning — if God gives you justice on Judgment Day, you will end up in Hell. However, God is rich in mercy, and He made a way for you to be forgiven: "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus suffered and died on the cross, taking the punishment for your sins. Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. If you repent and trust in Jesus, God will forgive you and grant you eternal life. Then read the Bible daily and obey what you read (see John 14:21).

If you choose to ignore the Bible's warning, and instead believe the fantasies of The Da Vinci Code, then be aware that you have joined the "Elvis is Alive!" crowd. You've included yourself in the ranks of the wide-eyed and faithful tabloid customers. The choice, however, is yours. It's your eternity. So think it through carefully. There's nothing more important than where you spend eternity.

The Da Vinci tract pictured above is available from:

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