Priscilla greeted me with a sense of urgency that morning. I knew something was wrong. ³My brother-in-law has just read a book attacking the Bible and Jesus, and he believes the book.² ³What book?² I asked. ³The Da Vinci Code,² she exclaimed, continuing, ³And furthermore it claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had a child.² I had never heard of the book, though it was just starting to be felt by the novel-reading public. ³If it¹s a novel, don¹t worry about it. No one will ever believe it!² I was wrong.
First of 3-Part Series
This novel exploded around the world – selling well over 40 million copies in 43 languages, resulting in a major motion picture. More than merely a best seller, The Da Vinci Code became the No. 1 bestselling adult fiction novel of all time.
In the next few weeks following my conversation with Priscilla, I encountered more people who had friends and family that believed the historical and theological concepts in Dan Brown¹s The Da Vinci Code. They reported to me that these people were willing to abandon their Christian faith in favor of the core themes of a novel.
Unsolicited, a call came from a publisher, asking me to author a book responding to The Da Vinci Code. At first I declined, but then agreed – if Peter Jones (professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido) would co-author the book with me. He agreed.
Within a couple weeks, Peter, Jeff (editor) and I met in a hotel room for two days – outlining the key issues to be addressed. A few weeks later, Cracking Da Vinci¹s Code (Cook Communications, 2004) was on the shelves.
What happened next was something neither Peter nor I had anticipated. Suddenly, Peter and I were off to New York City for interviews at CNN and Fox. A front page article on the New York Times opened doors to every major news outlet in the nation — more than a dozen TV appearances, on NBC, MSNBC, CNN, Fox, etc, – along with countless radio interviews, and interviews with national magazines and several foreign newspapers. Meanwhile our book became No. 17 on the New York Times Bestseller List — Paperback-Nonfiction.
While this response indicated the desire to know more about Dan Brown¹s claims in The Da Vinci Code, the book signings were more revealing. As I was signing the book, the recipient would lean over and say, ³I am getting this book for my…² And then they would say, for my son or daughter, or mother, or nephew or niece, or ³someone.² The next phrase was one that I heard hundreds of times: ³he (or she) believes The Da Vinci Code.² That explanation became so predictable, as they explained that their relative or friend believed Dan Brown¹s claims — whether historical or theological. These book signings only confirmed that which had caused us to write the book in the first place.
Radio interviews confirmed the same thing. When talk show hosts opened the lines for questions, once again callers predictably referred to those who believed Dan Brown¹s book. One radio talk show host began chiding me, ³why on earth did you write a book against a novel?² After he asked it a third time, almost mockingly, I asked him, ³have you read Dan Brown¹s The Da Vinci Code?² Hesitantly, he admitted he had not. That accounted for the fact that he could not understand why I (and others) were writing against a novel.
Dan Brown¹s writing style mixes fact (very little of this) with fiction (much) in such a way that the uninitiated cannot distinguish the two. I call this style of writing ³fact-ion.² After I was interviewed by Linda Vester on Fox¹s DaySide Show, the guest with an opposing view scoffed at the idea that people could not sort out fact from fiction. Linda Vester, wanting to see which one of us was right, turned to her studio audience and asked, ³how many of you have read The Da Vinci Code? Many hands were raised. She looked at the woman near her and asked, ³could you tell the difference between fact and fiction when you read it?² ³Absolutely not,² the woman forcefully responded. My point exactly.
As you read The Da Vinci Code and as you watch the upcoming movie, remember, it is fiction. There is virtually no factual basis — at all. Don¹t confuse fact with fiction.
By Dr. Jim Garlow is senior pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa. He is author of Cracking Da Vinci¹s Code and The Da Vinci CodeBreaker.