Most Christians, on this side of the pond at least, don't seem to realise how big Dan Brown's best selling novel, the 'Da Vinci Code', is. It is a publishing phenomenon - 36 million copies in print (as of August 2005), translated into 44 languages.
It is a very readable novel that combines a fast paced action thriller with a series of claims that undermine historic Christianity. True, it contains nothing that is new - many of these claims have been bandied about for years, but now everyone is reading them.
It is easy to read the book and dismiss it as nothing to worry about. But although there is nothing here to worry the believer, there is another, very real, danger. Someone once said, possibly Goebbels (Hitler's propaganda minister), "If you repeat a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it". Therein lies the danger of "The Da Vinci Code". Many people will read the Da Vinci Code yet never lift the Bible to verify the claims made.
Here is a fantastic witnessing opportunity for Christians. Next year the film will be released. Now is the time to get your head around some of the facts. Already it has been a topic for discussion in numerous places.
Here are a couple of books (a third book will follow later, DV) that will get you started. You only need to read one of them - that will give you enough to work from!
The Da Vinci Code on Trial
Stephen Clark was a solicitor before becoming a minister. In this book he places a very different defendant on trial: Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code".
At 90 pages, this is a short, but very readable book that highlights many of the errors in the Da Vinci Code. It deals specifically with the aspects that relate to Christianity, and provides solid answers to many of the claims in the book. Areas outside of scripture and Christianity are largely left untouched, such as the Priory of Sion hoax. Clark also includes a chapter at the start giving an overview of the book, and its key claims.
Clark states his intention in the introduction:
"I wish to demonstrate that real Christian faith is passionate about the truth. Far from encouraging or confirming a closed mind, the exact opposite is the case: real Christianity engages the mind and intellect."This is excellent and would also be suitable for giving away.
Cracking Da Vinci's Code
James Garlow & Peter Jones
At 240 pages this is a longer book than Clark's and covers the Da Vinci Code in more in-depth fashion.
Jones and Garlow have taken a leaf out of Brown's book and sought to interweave a fictional story throughout their book, in an attempt to personalise some of the questions that readers of the Da Vinci Code might have.
The strength of this book over Clark's is also its weakness: It has more detail and covers more aspects of the novel, and so takes longer to read. However it gives the reader a broader knowledge of the Bible's teaching on different topics, the history of the church, the reliability of scripture etc. Scattered throughout the book are sidebars that discuss some of the side issues raised by Brown.
Again this is an easy-to-read book.
It comes with a pull-out copy of Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' which is subject to many claims in the Da Vinci Code. Also included is a discussion guide. On their website they have provided an index to the book to make it easier to reference.
At this stage I am 'over read' on the Code - so don't buy any more than one of these, one is enough!