Articles and Outlines - Contemporary Issues - Da Vinciís Sacred Feminine and Gnosticism

Da Vinciís Sacred Feminine and Gnosticism

Author: Russ Wise
Date: 4/14/2006 12:55:00 PM

By Russ Wise

Leonardo’s secret is out! His Code has been broken and the “true” meaning of his work is now known. To date the writing about The Da Vinci Code has largely been centered on the presupposed Facts or “truths” offered by Dan Brown in the beginning of his book – The Priory of Scion and Opus Dei. However, there is a much deeper concern that should arrest the interest of the Christian community: the linkage between the teachings found in The Da Vinci Code and those taught in Gnosticism.

The critical issues that should alarm the Christian are as follows: Brown offers his reader a different Jesus than the one found in the Scriptures, his Jesus never claimed to be Divine, nor did he ever resurrect from the dead. Brown’s Jesus was a married man who fathered a child and later created a movement – Christianity – based on lies and deception. Brown’s novel more closely reflects ancient Gnosticism than early Christianity. The focus of our discussion will center on Brown’s use of Gnosticism as a tool by which he can reconstruct authentic Christianity. Brown’s message is clear; he wants to reinvent the Christian faith by going back to the early writings of the Apostles and rewrite or reinterpret their message to suit his purposes. The test is simple for the modern Christian - will the 21st century Christian be able to adequately discern the heresies of our day as the early Church Fathers were able to recognize the heresies of theirs? Our ability to correctly do so is central to the future of Christianity.

            The Gnostics held several views that were opposed to biblical Christianity. They believed there was a “sacred relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.”1 They also accepted the idea that Goddess worship was central to understanding man’s spiritual destiny and that the ‘sacred feminine’ (or the ‘divine goddess’ as Brown puts it), is the foundation stone that Christianity is built on, even though it has been obscured. This knowledge is gained by attaining wisdom through the teachings of Sophia – the Goddess of Wisdom – and her counterparts within the church.

Christian Gnosticism is said to have emerged in the seventh century and it has gained a growing popularity over the centuries. It is currently known as Sophian Gnosticism2 and has found followers among many of the churches of our day.

            The Goddess Sophia has gained notice in recent years through the Re-Imaging Movement.3 This movement has made inroads into many Christian denominations: United Methodist, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, Baptist, Episcopalian, Mennonite, United Church of Canada, the church of the Brethren and the Church Women United. This movement to establish the Goddess Sophia as a co-equal to God has its origin in ancient Gnosticism and is now being reintroduced to a new audience through the literary work of Dan Brown.

The Da Vinci Code is just another attempt to further the idea that women hold the keys to true spirituality and that mankind would be better served if they returned to the pre-Christian order of spiritual observance. At the very least, the goddess as the consort of God is recognized as a co-creator and co-equal.

            Before we can understand the connection between The Da Vinci Code and Gnosticism it would serve our interests to more fully understand the teachings of Gnosticism.*


*If you have previously read The Da Vinci Code an understanding of Gnosticism will help you recognize the Pagan/Occult influence of the novel. If you have not yet read it this paper will help you see the non-Christian influence the novel may have on the biblically naive.

Gnostic Teachings

            The word Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge. However, the Gnostics “gave a special twist to the word, so that for them gnosis meant a special type of revealed knowledge without which human beings could not attain salvation.”4 In short, the Gnostics saw themselves as a religious movement where salvation was dependent on knowledge. This revealed knowledge gave them a sense of superiority over the ignorant masses.

            There has been much debate between scholars about Gnosticism and its origin and how to properly, (read “academically”), define it. It is not our intention to climb that Ivory Tower here; our focus is set on better understanding how Dan Brown and his novel have negatively influenced those in the church and how he has subverted the Truth of the Bible. It will also be instructive to see how he uses occultic/pagan teachings to further blur the Truth of Scripture.

            Our discussion will center on the second century Christian heresy and how it has gained prominence in the 21st century through a best selling novel. The Da Vinci Code has caused confusion among those who are not fully grounded in biblical Christianity. In other words, some individuals have been seduced by the seemingly academic, thus unquestionable, approach used by Brown in his novel to introduce false precepts regarding the Bible, the Apostles, the role of Mary Magdalene, and early Christian ritual. Brown has cleverly used Gnosticism as his tool of choice to undermine each of these precepts. In my view The Da Vinci Code appears to be nothing more than a Gnostic Primer for the masses.

            The Gnostics held certain beliefs that were common among them. One commonly held belief is dualism. In other words, reality is dual in nature: light and dark, good and evil, spirit and matter. There is also a good god and an inferior god. Matter or the material world is considered evil and devoid of light. “Given the good god’s opposition to matter, it is impossible that he could have anything to do with bringing such a world into existence. The material world must be the work either of evil demons or of an inferior god, akin to Plato’s Demiurge, whom heretical Christian Gnostics viewed as the Yahweh of the Old Testament.”5

            “The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil.”6 Therefore, God created lesser divinities, or intermediary beings known as Aeons. One of these emanations was Sophia the Goddess of Wisdom. These “intermediate deific beings who exist between the ultimate True God and ourselves”7 is another core belief of Gnosticism. The Gnostic view taught that the biblical God was an inferior god who created the earth and denied that Jesus was God’s begotten Son. Jesus was considered “a great teacher” and one who shows mankind his true self. “Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption.8 In essence, Jesus was nothing more than a messenger.

            The Gnostic saw Jesus as the one who would show them their true selves as divine. The search for gnosis is founded in experience. Gnosticism is a world view based on the spiritual “experience of Gnosis” that ushers one into right understanding or right knowledge. This experiential knowledge leads one to believe that each individual is a “divine spark”. According to Stephan Hoeller, a Gnostic Bishop, “humans are generally ignorant of the divine spark resident within them. This ignorance is fostered in human nature by the influence of the false creator and his Archons, who together are intent upon keeping men and women ignorant of their true nature and destiny. Death releases the divine spark . . . if there has not been any substantial work of Gnosis undertaken by the soul prior to death, it becomes likely that the divine spark will be hurled back into, and then re-embodied within, the physical world.”9 More simply, if the individual had not done sufficient spiritual work needed in this lifetime he is then reincarnated to complete the task.

            Elaine Pagels, a history of religions professor at Princeton University and author of The Gnostic Gospels, had an epiphany when she was “reading the Gospel of Thomas [and] came across this saying of Jesus: ‘If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.’ She comments: ‘The strength of this saying is that it does not tell us what to believe but challenges us to discover what lies hidden within ourselves; and with a shock of recognition, I realized that this perspective seemed to me self evidently true.”10

            The achievement of spiritual growth and man’s attainment of knowledge was seen as the greatest accomplishment man could acquire; his doing so would bring salvation. However, man had a problem! He was ignorant of his true origin and was in need of right understanding.

            “From the earliest of times Messengers of the Light have come forth from the True God in order to assist humans in their quest for Gnosis. Only a few of these salvific figures are mentioned in Gnostic scripture; some of the most important are Seth (the third Son of Adam) and Jesus.”11 Gnostics do not view salvation as redemption for one’s sin, but as an escape from ignorance which causes sin. This deliverance from ignorance is largely gained through the Gnostic Jesus in his role as a Messenger of Light.

            Ronald Nash, the author of Christianity & the Hellenistic World, makes this observation: “Christ came into the world, not in order to suffer and die, but in order to release the divine spark of light imprisoned in matter. The Gnostic Jesus was not a savior; he was a revealer. He came for the express purpose of communicating his secret gnosis.”12

            Another example of this Gnostic teaching is found in the Mind Science cults.13 One particular example is found in the teachings of Unity School of Christianity. Eric Butterworth, a Unity minister, agrees with the Gnostic belief that Jesus gained salvation by self-discovery. “We must see Jesus as the great discoverer of the Divinity of Man, the pioneer and way-shower in the great world of the within. We must carefully and then emphatically reject our historical tendency to worship Jesus. When He becomes the object of worship, he ceases to be the way-shower for our own self-realization and self-unfoldment.”14

            Gnosticism, Hinduism, and Dan Brown’s character, Langdon, agree with the Hindu legend that man’s innate divinity is hidden deep within his understanding. The legend says that Brahma taught that man abused his divinity in his pre-mortal life and he decided to take it away and hide it where man would never again find it. So Brahma said, “Here is what I will do with man’s divinity. We will hide it deep down in man himself, for he will never think to look for it there.”15 According to the gurus of India and those who practice New Age spirituality, man’s primary work in this life is to regain the hidden knowledge that will lead him to his “Divine Self”.

            Butterworth believes that Jesus made this great discovery and claimed his divinity and by doing so opened the door for all humanity to cross over the threshold to self-discovery as well. Butterworth clarifies his point by saying, “Jesus is the man who became divine through discovery of the dynamic that is innate within all men.”16 We are gods having a physical experience seeking to reconnect with our true selves. Butterworth continues, “Obviously, this is a long-range goal. We are not going to achieve this divine fulfillment in a day or a year, or in a lifetime.”17 Here again he agrees with the Gnostic. “Those who have not attained to a liberating Gnosis while they were in embodiment may become trapped in existence once more. It is likely that this might occur by way of the cycle of rebirths.”18 So, not unlike the Gnostic or the Wiccan, he introduces reincarnation as the wheel by which man ultimately reaches his destination.

            Butterworth closes his tome with this last statement about sin: “The great sin of mankind is not to know the divinity that lies unexpressed within every individual.”19 He could have just as easily added that mankind’s greatest sin included the fact that he has also not recognized “that powerful men of the early Christian church ‘conned’ the world by propagating lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine.”20 The Gnostics blurred the distinction between male and female by seeing humanity as androgynous and therefore revered the female over the male by worshipping the sacred feminine, the goddess. Likewise, the Wiccan tradition also recognizes the sacred feminine as the true source of spirituality.

The great sin against the goddess was misogyny. Elinor Gadon in her text, The Once & Future Goddess, echoes the accepted history among the Pagan world when she tells of the takeover of the peaceful Goddess cultures by the warlike Indo-European patriarchal cultures. She forlornly tells of “the new divine order” that “led to far-reaching changes in the social fabric, in the relations of men and women with their gods, with each other, and with nature. It seems that everywhere that the sky gods took over, life became less free, less creative, and less joyful.”21

Sacred Marriage – Herios Gamos

            Brown uses the symbolism of sacred marriage in his novel as a doctrinal point that needs to be understood within the context of da Vinci’s work. He puts forth the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and this idea is exposed in his masterpiece, The Last Supper.

            Sacred marriage is not simply a literary device used by Brown. It is a historical rite found in Goddess lore and witchcraft. Sacred marriage, or herios gamos, is a central tenet of the sacred feminine as it relates to the Goddess. Gadon makes the point clearer by stating, “Union with the goddess was of paramount importance for rule on earth. The sacred marriage rites between the Goddess and the Sumerian king were to secure the fertility of the land and to legitimize the king’s rule.”22

            The Wiccan tradition referred to herios gamos or sacred marriage as the Great Rite. This rite was practiced physically, as in Brown’s usage, or symbolically. As in the goddess tradition the Great Rite was seen as a ritual to ensure fertility, in this case agricultural. It was practiced in the spring as Brown observed it23 and it was seen as “an essential half of spiritual enlightenment.”24 According to Brown, “The once hallowed act of Herios Gamos – the natural sexual union between man and woman through which each became spiritually whole – had been recast as a shameful act.”25 Brown goes on to underscore his point by commenting further, “It (Herios Gamos) was a spiritual act. Historically, intercourse was the act through which male and female experienced God. The ancients believed that the male was spiritually incomplete until he had carnal knowledge of the sacred feminine. Physical union with the female remained the sole means through which man could become spiritually complete and ultimately achieve gnosis – knowledge of the divine.”26 Langdon, one of the central characters of Brown’s novel, concluded his thought by adding, “man could achieve a climatic instant when his mind went totally blank and he could see God.”

            The concept of sex as a pathway to God is also found in Hinduism as a form of yoga called tantra.  “Tantra is a spiritual tradition that originated in India some 4,000 years ago. It is a way of life that celebrates and strives for the union of body, mind and spirit . . .  all forms of sacred sexuality have in common the intentional cultivation and use of sexual energy for spiritual growth. The ultimate purpose of Tantra is a union of lovers, and union with the divine, with God.”27 As stated earlier, The Great Rite is practiced physically and “the couple enacting the Great Rite are offering themselves, with reverence and joy, as expressions of the Goddess aspects of the Ultimate Source . . . They are making themselves, to the best of their ability, channels for that divine polarity on all levels, from physical to spiritual. That is why it is called the Great Rite.”28

Answering The Da Vinci Code

            Dan Brown’s novel has stirred a blizzard of controversy within the Christian community. Much of the controversy has centered around the idea that the Catholic Church and others within organized Christianity have suppressed the teachings and importance of the sacred feminine and in particularly the role of Mary Magdalene as the consort of Jesus Christ.

            The controversy has also included the influence of the Catholic group Opus Dei and its involvement in the suppression. The Catholic Church has taken great offense at such a notion and has mounted a strong defense of the church and its veracity. Another of the organizations that Brown subverts in his scheme is The Priory of Scion, the guardians of the secret and the sacred feminine.29

            The controversy is rooted in the fact that Brown makes an emphatic statement in the opening pages of his text that his descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in his novel are accurate and thereby subtly causes the reader to falsely accept his premise. He also makes the bold statement that the organizations he uses as the suppressors or carriers of his truths are indeed factual as well.

            Even though the reader knows he is about to read a novel, Brown’s “Fact” statement cements in the reader’s mind that the novel he is about to read is set in a non-fictitious, historically accurate world and based on sound research. A problem occurs when a reader is incapable of discerning the text’s veracity because of the author’s persuasiveness and literary prowess. Too many folks are unable to distinguish between fiction and reality, “especially when it comes to claims related to God, gender, and the history of faith.”30

The underlying concern that true believers – Christians – should have is that Brown’s book causes unfounded confusion regarding the life of Christ and who he really is. This possibility is exacerbated because many people don’t believe that religion has anything to do with objective truth anymore.

            Brown makes gratuitous assaults on the integrity of the faith then attempts to support them by using falsehoods and outright lies. Yet, his defense is that “it’s just a novel!” However, we accept his ruse at our own peril. Brown appears to have an agenda and craftily expresses it through his characters, Langdon and Teabing.

The Rise of Patriarchy

            Professor Langdon mentions Brown’s first egregious “truth”. He speaks, noting the Priory of Scion’s teaching that “Constantine and his male successors successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity by waging a program of propaganda that demonized the sacred feminine, obliterating the goddess from modern religion forever.”31 The subtle implication here is: matriarchy good, patriarchy evil.

            Earlier we noted Gadon’s premise that the warlike Indo-European culture overran the peace-loving matriarchy and ultimately brought devastation. Garlow and Jones make an astute observation regarding this cultural shift. They strengthen their view by quoting Steven Goldberg, chairman of the Department of Sociology at City College, City University of New York, “The point is that authority and leadership are, and always have been, associated with the male in every society, and I refer to this when I say that patriarchy is universal and that there has never been a matriarchy . . . the findings of the past 50 years failed to include a single shred of evidence that such matriarchies had ever existed . . . [Of the h]undreds of societies we have studied in this century . . . Without exception [they] have been patriarchal . . . [Margaret] Mead acknowledged that ‘It is true . . . that all the claims so glibly made about societies ruled by women are nonsense. We have no reason to believe that they ever existed.’”32 This distortion of history is commonly used within the Wiccan tradition as well. Several years ago I interviewed a Dianic Witch after she had spoken at a large denominational university in Dallas, Texas. She had grown up in the Christian faith, but as a young woman she began to study Wiccan and Pagan traditions and her[his]story as she called it. Linda went to great lengths to underscore the legitimacy of her “truth” regarding this “cultural shift” by quoting Starhawk (Miriam Simos) and Marija Gimbutas among others.33

Spiritual Wholeness and Worthiness

             Another of Langdon’s “truths” was that men and women were able to reach spiritual wholeness through herios gamos. We have given sufficient treatment of this topic earlier. Langdon makes an interesting comment regarding the worthiness of those who seek high office within the Priory of Scion. They were given a test to prove their trustworthiness. It is interesting to note that tests of worthiness are common in the Wiccan/Pagan tradition. It seems as if Brown is implying that those who seek “true” spirituality must prove themselves as ones who are worthy of these hidden secrets and thereby gain salvation.

Scriptural Integrity Questioned

            Teabing makes, in my mind, one of the most egregious statements when he calls the Scriptures into question. He declares that, “The Bible is a product of man . . . Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions.”34 Here Brown, through Teabing, brings the veracity of the Bible into question and begins a campaign to undermine its integrity and reliability.

            The Bible is the most scrutinized book in history. There is more manuscript evidence35 for it than any other book in history, yet there are those who would disparage it to further their personal agenda. The Gnostics (along with others who seek to advance their interpretation of “truth”) need to create unanswerable doubts regarding the Bible in order to fully establish their plan. The Gnostics provided other gospels to bring confusion to the common man about God, man, and salvation. Teabing makes a further claim that “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion.”36 However, when a timeline is established indicating the authorship of all the gospels under “consideration” it becomes apparent that those gospels chosen for inclusion in the Bible and those that were not had not only time separating them, but general acceptance.

            The books of the New Testament were written between AD 40-90. In AD 110 the John Rylands fragment, P52, the oldest known New Testament manuscript fragment, was discovered. Also in the year AD 110 Papias mentioned the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In AD 130 the four gospels along with thirteen of Paul’s letters were accepted as authoritative by many of the early churches. Between AD 125-150 Gnosticism begins to spread throughout the ancient world. In AD 150 Clement refers to Jesus as God and the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas was written. AD 180-188, Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons, writes Against Heresies where he condemns Gnosticism and mentions all four Gospels as authoritative. AD 180-200, The Gnostic Gospel of Mary Magdalene is written. AD 250-450, the rest of the Gnostic Nag Hammadi documents are written and begin circulation. It becomes apparent with the timeline above that the New Testament gospels were widely in use and fully accepted long before the Gnostic texts were in circulation. Then in AD 325 the Council of Nicaea denounced the Arian heresy and agreed on the divinity of Christ.

            The canonized gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were fully accepted by those in the early church. They had apostolic authorship and were readily used as Scripture. The Gnostic Gospels, on the other hand, were written 60-100 years after those revered by the church. As an example, the authorship of the Gospel of Thomas, written AD 150, is unknown. “New Testament scholars generally agree that none of the gospels were written by people who had ever met Jesus of Nazareth during his lifetime. But at a later date names were assigned to them that were associated with famous individuals in the earliest church. The name of the person who supposedly wrote the Gospel of Thomas is given in the first lines of the text as "didymos Judas thomas." The word "didymos" is Greek for twin and the word "thomas" is Aramaic for twin.”37

Another key to understanding the trustworthiness of the canonized gospels is the apostle Paul. He wrote the earliest writings that were accepted by the young church as being authentic. His writings were in doctrinal agreement with the accepted gospels, whereas the Gnostic texts were troublesome in that they often contradicted known or verifiable teaching. Paul stands alone as the true arbiter of holy writ. He had an intimate understanding of the teachings given the apostles who came before him and he was generally accepted by friend and foe alike.

Teabing offers another potential roadblock to Scriptural reliability by suggesting that the Roman emperor Constantine the Great took matters into his own hands and forced a unified religion on the region by calling a council to settle the issue. In 325 A.D., he held the Council of Nicaea to establish Christianity as the sole faith to be recognized by Rome.

Teabing disparages the council by stating that the gathering debated and voted upon a number of issues including “the divinity of Jesus.”38 Teabing adds that “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet . . . a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”39 Teabing’s reasoning was that “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.”40

Once again Teabing (read Brown) got it all wrong. The church council at Nicaea was “held to determine important doctrinal matters” and they were not uncommon. “We read in Acts 15 how the church leaders came together to decide how Gentiles were to be treated. Councils were important in order to maintain an orthodox faith and prevent the spread of false teaching.”41

As noted by Brown, one of the most controversial issues to be considered before the council was the church’s teaching regarding Jesus. According to history, Arius was ordained as a priest in Alexandria in 311. He taught that Jesus was a created being not unlike other humans. Arius did not consider Jesus to be the Son of God, but simply a man and certainly not divine. He taught that Jesus “acts as a bridge between God the Father and the rest of the created world. Although the Son is not God, he has become divine because of his moral purity. The Son, who became incarnated as Christ, serves as the example for all people: If we become morally pure, we, too, can become divine.”42

Constantine called more than 300 bishops to consider the aberrant teaching of Arius. “The Arians submitted their statement of doctrine that flatly denied the divinity of Christ. It was soundly rejected. The bishops, led by Athanasius, considered what was taught by the original church in the writings of the New Testament”43 and found no agreement with the teachings of Arius. The matter was closed. Yes, they did vote and the outcome was not even close. Only two bishops dissented. Yet, in an alternative universe, Teabing called the vote by a narrow margin. Implying that Jesus’ deity was without doubt still in question.

Arius did, however, provide an important stimulus in the formation of early church doctrine. It is plausible that without his errant teaching regarding the nature of Christ the Council of Nicaea may not have fully come to a timely resolution concerning Jesus’ deity.

Rewriting History

            Teabing makes a compelling argument for the reason the Bible was retranslated, added to, and revised. He and Langdon spin the theory that “the modern Bible was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda – to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base.”44 This statement on its face is ludicrous! The theory promoted by Brown, via Teabing and Langdon, is that Constantine had the Bible rewritten to accommodate the needed changes brought about in the Council of Nicaea.

            The Bible went through a canonical process and only those Scriptures that met strict guidelines were included in the canon. These requirements included a distinct proximity to apostolic authorship among the following. (1) “Because the apostles were the trusted eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, the writing had to be directly connected to an apostle. (2) The writing had to be ‘orthodox’ – it could not contradict the teachings of the Jewish Scriptures or of the apostles. (3) The writing had to be accepted in churches throughout the known world – it could not be accepted only by one group of Christians. These requirements specifically prevented the manipulation of the canon by any one group.”45

            The Council of Nicaea and its three hundred members were not easily swayed by Rome. These men, many of whom had suffered for the faith prior to Constantine bringing normalcy to the region, did not create new theologies from whole cloth, but simply formalized and further defined the beliefs already in use. It is not so much that the Gnostic gospels were excluded from canonization, but the fact that they were never serious contenders for inclusion. They were unable to stand up to the test of canonicity.

            Anglican theologian, evangelist and author, the Rev. Dr. Michael Green, argues the fact, “Since Jesus himself left nothing in writing, the most authoritative documents, writings, available to the Christian community were those which came from his immediate circle. ‘They were the guarantors of the continuity between the incarnate Jesus who walked the streets of Palestine and the glorified Jesus whom the church worshipped.’”46

Dr. Green adds, "The church developed a rule of faith, a summary of the tenets of the apostolic gospel. It is sometimes called 'the rule of faith' or 'the canon of truth', and the second-century writers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Dionysius of Corinth and Hippolytus were keen to insist that it is the truth itself that is the standard by which any teaching is to be judged. Writings that had any pretension to be authoritative had to be judged on the nature of their contents."47 The evidence is clearly in favor of the New Testament documents as being reliable and authenticated by those who walked with Jesus. Their relationship with Christ and the fact that they literally spent three years of their lives listening to him and seeing Jesus live out his teachings before them establishes his disciples as the ones who can most authoritatively speak for Christianity.

Concluding Thoughts

            Gnosticism continues to play a major role in shaping the heresies of the 21st century. It underlies the teachings found in Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Wicca, Pagan Occultism, and New Age belief. Gnosticism gave Dan Brown ample material for his novel as he weaved his deceptive “truths” with its teachings.

            There is more that could be said about Brown’s deception; however, the evidence presented above should prove sufficient for the informed Christian to realize the dangers of his work as it relates to our Lord. Ben Witherington, a scholar of New Testament Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary, makes this observation, “What counts in a post-modern culture is the power of your rhetoric, not the accuracy of your reporting or analysis.” It seems that Dan Brown has proven himself to be a suitable warrior in the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity. He has woven a pseudo-believable tale for those who lack knowledge and biblical understanding and are unable to rightly discern the available evidence. Tom Maurstad, the Pop Culture critic for the Dallas Morning News, made this observation. “Thanks to the way Mr. Brown draws from art, literature and history to tell his story, readers can feel that not only are they being entertained, they are being educated.” Maurstad’s conclusion regarding education might have merit if Brown’s novel was historically accurate. The point is – the only historical fact throughout the book that Brown got correct is that the Louvre is in Paris, France. The ugly truth about his historicity is that the premise of his work is based on a falsehood48 and theological deception.

            The real concern related to revisionism should be laid at Brown’s feet rather than Constantine and the Council of Nicaea as Brown attempts. Constantine proved to be a facilitator rather than a religious dictator demanding certain outcomes. The Council of Nicaea, through arduous work and great – even heroic – effort, laid the groundwork for biblical orthodoxy and canon of Scripture that would unite Christendom. In the final analysis it was Brown who was the revisionist rather than the church.

“The tragedy of books like The Da Vinci Code is not so much their error as their persuasiveness. Men and women are being lured into believing a lie, the ancient Gnostic lie which the early church fought so tenaciously to suppress. Brown is offering men and women a spirituality that does not work. He is proffering sex and ‘the Force’ instead of relationship with a transcendent Lord. People are being sold a lie that will never provide the satisfaction for which they hunger and thirst.”49

            Brown has been reluctant to do interviews, but he has done several. He has consistently mentioned that he began his research as a skeptic. In an interview with Charlie Gibson of ABC Good Morning America he says, “I began as a skeptic. As I started researching The Da Vinci Code I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer.”50 In the interview, Gibson asked Brown, “If you were writing it [The Da Vinci Code] as a nonfiction book, how would it have been different?” Brown responded, “I don’t think it would have . . . it is important to remember this is a novel about a theory that has been out there for a long time. When I first heard of it, I said this is a crackpot theory. I began researching it; after two years I decided this theory makes more sense to me than what I was taught as a child.”51 On another occasion Brown told an interviewer with the National Geographic Channel that he believed that every one of his claims were true. He stated, “As I started researching I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood. But I became a believer.” As I close this paper I can’t help but quote Teabing (Brown) one last time. He is making a remark about the Bible and its ability to indoctrinate. The truth is that Brown is the indoctrinator himself. “Nobody is more indoctrinated than the indoctrinator.”52

On a positive note, if the novel continues to cause a controversy and I believe it will, it will certainly open the door for the informed Christian to help others reexamine the truth about Christ and his gospel. The question we need to ask ourselves is this, Am I prepared to offer an answer to any one who asks about my faith as it relates to the errors found in The Da Vinci Code?


  1. Tau Malachi, The Gnostic Revelation,

  2. Ibid.

  3. In November 1993, the World Council of Churches sponsored a Re-imaging conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some 2,000 women "seeking to change Christianity" attended, and the most radical women in apostate Christendom pontificated on every sort of weird and unscriptural subject imaginable. Speakers included Chung Hyung Kyung, Korean "theologian" who equates the Holy Spirit with ancient Asian deities; Virginia Mollenkott, an avowed pro-abortion lesbian; Elizabeth Bettenhausen, professor at Harvard Divinity School; Lois Wilson, a United Church of Canada "minister" and Sister Jose Hobday, a Roman Catholic nun who works with Starhawk and Matthew Fox and his Creation Spirituality Institute at Holy Names College. The Nov. 3, 1993, Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that "throughout the conference worship experiences will celebrate Sophia, the biblical goddess of creation." Sue Seid-Martin of the University of St. Thomas School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn., claimed that this Sophia is "the suppressed part of the biblical tradition, and clearly the female face of the human psyche." David W. Cloud,

  4. Ronald H. Nash, Christianity & the Hellenistic World, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI., Probe Ministries, Dallas, TX., 1984, p. 213.

  5. Ibid., p. 220.


  7. Stephan A. Hoeller, Gnostic Bishop,


  9. Hoeller,

  10. Witherington III, Ben, Why the ‘Lost Gospels’ Lost Out,

  11. Hoeller,

  12. Nash, p. 222.

  13. Mind Science cults like Unity School of Christianity, Church of Religious Science, and Christian Science.

  14. Eric Butterworth, Discover The Power Within You, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, N.Y., 1968, p. 10, 25.

  15. Butterworth, Prologue.

  16. Ibid., p. 26.

  17. Ibid., p. 13.

  18. Hoeller,

  19. Butterworth, p. 233.

  20. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Doubleday, New York, N.Y., 2003, p. 124.

  21. Elinor Gadon, The Once & Future Goddess, HarperCollins, New York, N.Y., 1989, p. 110.

  22. Ibid., p. 116. Also see: Brown, p. 125.

  23. Brown, p. 308-309.

  24. Ibid., p. 125.

  25. Ibid., p. 125.

  26. Ibid., p. 308.

  27. Al Link and Pala Copeland, Tantra Sacred Loving, Brown adopts the spiritual aspects of Tantra without identifying his source. He simply introduces it as being a legitimate source of spiritual growth.

  28. Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches Bible Compleat, Magickal Childe Publishing, New York, N.Y., 1984, p. 49. Also see Herios Gamos: Farrar, p. 74.

  29. James L. Garlow, and Peter Jones, Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, Victor, Colorado Springs, CO., 2004, p. 112-113.

  30. Darrell L. Bock, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN., 2004, p. 2.

  31. Brown, p. 124.

  32. Garlow and Jones, p. 61.

  33. Starhawk-Simos, Miriam, Spiral Dance, Harper & Row Publishers, San Francisco, CA., 1989, p. 18-19. Also see: Gnosis, A Journal of the Western Inner Tradition, No. 48, Summer, 1998, p. 12-13.

  34. Brown, p. 231.

  35. See: Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN., 1999, p. 3-68. McDowell offers a comprehensive analysis of the New Testament documents. Highly recommended.

  36. Brown, p. 231.


  38. Brown, p. 233.

  39. Ibid., p. 233.

  40. Ibid., p. 233.

  41. Garlow and Jones, p. 95.

  42. Leonard George, The Encyclopedia Of Heresies and Heretics, Robson Books, London, England, 1995, p. 32.

  43. Garlow and Jones, p. 96.

  44. Brown, p. 234.

  45. Timothy Paul Jones, Ed.D, Answers To The Da Vinci Code, Rose Publishing, 2005, Torrance, CA.

  46. David W. Virtue,  quoting Dr. Michael Green, author of, The Books the Church Suppressed.

  47. Ibid.

  48. Garlow and Jones, p. 112-113. The Priory Hoax. The facts regarding The Priory are quite different than Brown’s tale. Brown states that The Priory began keeping the secret of the true Holy Grail in 1099. He relies on the 1982 publication of Holy Blood, Holy Grail for his information on The Priory of Scion. The authors (Who have now sued Brown for plagiarism) of Holy Blood, Holy Grail used an illegitimate source for their research. This illegitimate source is a Frenchman by the name of Pierre Plantard who spent time in jail for fraud in 1953. The Priory of Scion, the keepers of the great secret, was started by Plantard and three other men in 1954 as a social club. The club dissolved in 1957. Suffice it to say, there is absolutely no historical evidence for the existence of The Priory related to the Holy Grail, cup or not!

  49. Virtue,

  50. Bob Waldrep, The Da Vinci Code: The Facts Behind The Fiction,

  51. Charlie Gibson, Good Morning America, American Broadcasting Company, ABC, 11/3/2003.

  52. Brown, p. 235.


Author's Comments:
The Da Vinci Code has gained unprecedented influence over those who claim Christianity as their faith. Dan Brown's novel has served as a source of spiritual confusion and in some cases a loss of faith. Our goal in the above piece is to identify the points of confusion and offer a biblical rebuttal that will strengthen the Christian's understanding and their faith.

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