Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 20, 2006

'Da Vinci' not worth our wrath

By Rev. Dr. Nicholas V. Gamvas

If we are secure in our Christian faith, then certainly a fictional novel should not be offensive.

However, Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" has prompted attention in the entire Christian community.

People, Brown's novel is in the fiction section. It is riddled with dubious historical Christian heresy that causes mind-boggling intrigue to a public looking for action and the latest trend. Yes, most Christian churches are offended and should be. But we must remember, the book is a fictional expression of the author's freedom of speech and brilliance to laugh all the way to the bank.

In reality, it is not prompting American Christians to waver from their churches. If anything, the book and movie will call for an awareness of research for the curious and a rediscovery of faith with even deeper beliefs for the faithful.

Let us look at what is positive about "The DaVinci Code."

Brown brings out a true significant historical fact of Christian history and the church. In the course of Christian history, few events are larger than the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. When St. Constantine, the newly converted Roman emperor and a canonized saint of the Orthodox Church, calls bishops from around the world to Nicea in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and convenes the First Ecumenical Council (sometimes called Synod), the church had reached monumental theological crossroads. This council in Nicea defeated the Arian heresy and produced the Nicene Creed, recited in Orthodox churches to this day. Some form from the original text is used in other Christian churches as well. By the time of Nicea, church leaders debated the legitimacy of only a few books that we accept today in the Bible. Chief among them were Hebrews and Revelation, because their authorship was in doubt.

There were numerous heresies in the early church defeated by Ecumenical Councils based on the apostles' teachings, the church fathers and the oral tradition of the early church. Those witnesses have attested that Jesus Christ was an equal part of the Holy Trinity, yesterday, today, and forever. The pseudo-historical claims of a modern novel or movie cannot make this false.

The movie based on the blockbuster novel opened at theaters yesterday. Many Christian leaders are preparing themselves for battle over the controversy expressed in the fictional "Da Vinci Code." Whether Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant, all churches agree that the book and movie attack Christianity by raising doubts in scripture and church history. Christians have not been this worked up since Martin Scorsese's Jesus stepped down off the crucifix in "The Last Temptation of Christ" in l988.

To be sure, many Christians do not regard this movie as a threat. It is threaded with heresy but with some accurate descriptions of artwork, documents and rituals.

The debate is even being colored by the Muslim riots over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Christian leaders are asking, why would Christians be expected to sit by and watch while the media promotes a movie that insults Christianity? In America, it seems that most Christian leaders have opted for an educational approach, to decipher what is true and what is false. "The Da Vinci Code" opens the doors to the curious and the faithful to research religion and to learn more.

This book and this movie give Christians more strength to challenge ourselves, our prejudices and the imperfections of humanity, in a perfection only found in Christ's church. It is an occasion to strengthen our faith and deepen our beliefs.

The novel helps us realize that both men and women make up the church. It helps us to see female sainthood and the role of Jesus' mother, the Theotokos and ever-Virgin Mary, as the bridge between heaven and earth.

When Christ was crucified, scripture tells us, Peter denied Christ three times, the apostles were confused and scattered because of fear for safety. Who was at the cross? Who was first at Christ's tomb? The mother of God, Mary Magdalene and the other myrrh-bearing women. The women who followed Christ were there. It is an affirmation of the courage and positive roles that women have carried out throughout the centuries of the Christian church.

The Rev. Dr. Nicholas V. Gamvas is dean of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Pacific in Honolulu.