(The Gnostic Character of) _The Da Vinci Code_

It seems to me that the most fruitful way for a Christian to process this book / film is to see it through the grid of Gnosticism, even if this is not the standard evangelical response to this attack on the historic faith. (For an excellent primer on Gnosticism, see Philip J. Lee’s Against the Protestant Gnostics.)

 

Gnosticism disdains the public nature of religion. Despite the fictionalized suggestions of the book / film, the Christian church does not, in the main, seek to hide the real facts about the identity (ie, two natures, divine and human) or the work (ie, the resurrection from the dead) of Jesus Christ. As the work of NT Wright, for example, demonstrates, these aspects of the life of Jesus are radically open to the normal canons of history. As Paul told Festus in Acts 26, the life and resurrection of Jesus “did not take place in a corner.” Contrast this with The Code’s “Priory of Sion,” which tightly guards the private secret of the alleged real truth about Jesus, completely sealed off from the public investigation of historical inquiry.

 

In addition, Gnosticism scorns sex. There is much irony here, for the book / film attacks the Christian faith for the latter’s supposed prudishness. (One wonders if Dan Brown is aware of the Song of Solomon.) Contrast, however, what the Bible teaches about sex and the role of sex as portrayed in the Da Vinci Code (see chapter 74 of the book). The Christian tradition, based on Scripture, says that Christian men should strive to please their wives sexually in the marriage bed, and vice-versa. (See, for example, I Cor 7:1-5.) In the Priory of Sion, however, the role of sex is to afford the male participant an unmediated vision of God, via his union / intercourse with “the Sacred Feminine” (ie, his sexual partner in the context of tantric, pagan ritual). Nevermind the sexist way in which the Priory (and the Gnostic tradition) denies women sexual pleasure and an active role in sex. Here sex is merely a means to a “spiritual” end. The human, fleshly, embodied side of sexual love is eclipsed, in quintessentially Gnostic fashion. Against this, the Christian vision is one of celebration: sexual love within marriage is one of God’s best gifts!

 

Finally, as alluded to above, the Gnostic experience of Godis unmediated and direct. Ultimate bliss is to behold the naked God with the bare human intellect. Rejecting the elitism inherent in this view (only the smartest and richest, eg, the Leonardo DaVinci’s of the world, can possibly achieve such a climactic experience, even if it were valid and real), the Christian faith teaches that we find God through the means he has provided: word, water, wine, warm community. Thankfully, even (or especially) the poorest and most uneducated have free access to these effectual means of grace.

 

Let us not stand in fear of The Da Vinci Code. Let us not (even worse) fight Gnosticism with Gnostic responses. Instead, let us situate the Da Vinci Code as the latest installment of the oldest, most dangerous heresy the world has ever known: Gnosticism. Let us expose the counterfeit by learning, loving, and living out genuine Christian orthodoxy, the real thing.

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