Distinguishing fact and fiction
Pastor Paul Friberg, Berean Baptist Church, Glencoe
The “Da Vinci Code” has already made a big splash at the movies. It is now being passed by other summer blockbusters. Yet, it still has an effect on what people believe about Jesus and Bible.
It’s easy to be troubled by the claims the movie makes: namely, that Jesus never said He was divine; that the four gospels are not a reliable witness to the real history of Jesus and of Christianity; and that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a family with her.
Pretty outlandish stuff. You may think these ideas deserve to be labeled “fiction.” But, here’s the problem. Someone switched the labels.
Dan Brown says in the introduction to the book, that his story is based on solid, historical facts (“The Da Vinci Code,” page 3). Brown is a great storyteller, but somewhere we lose the line that divides fact and fiction.
One of the falsehoods that was put forth by Brown is that Jesus’ deity was decided by a “close vote” in the fourth century (“The Da Vinci Code,” page 233). Brown claims that the Council of Nicea, in AD 325, decided, by a narrow margin, for the first time, that Jesus was the Son of God.
History shows that this is just not true. It is true the counsel did gather, but not to declare the divinity of Jesus; rather, to decide how Jesus was divine. For instance: was He the first created being (according to Arius), or was He eternally related to God as His Son (as stated in the Nicene Creed)?
Jesus as the Son of God was always a core belief of the earliest church. The Nicene Creed merely served to put into precise philosophical and theological language what had been expressed in more general terms for years.
The vote at Nicea, rather than establishing the church’s beliefs, affirmed and officially recognized what was already the church’s dominant view.
The council had about 216 bishops, representing most of Christendom, in attendance, but only two out of the entire group refused to accept this affirmation of the Christian faith. Hardly a close decision. Brown’s claim, then, is false.
Consider this verse from the Bible: “But in your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)