Two years after Dan Brown released The Da Vinci Code, most Christians are still unclear about the book's claims.
That's why Probe Ministries holds conferences regularly to debunk The Da Vinci Code, according to Sue Bohlin, associate speaker of the Richardson, Texas-based apologetics ministry. So far this year, the ministry has held ten conferences to equip Christians to engage the world and defend their faith, with over 1,500 attendants total. The most recent "Decoding the Da Vinci Code Conference" was held in Dallas, Texas.
According to Pat Zukeran, a Probes Ministries research associate who spoke during the Oct. 14-16 event at The Chapel of the Cross in Dallas, Brown has based all of his claims on two texts the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi. While both texts do exist, Zukeran pointed out that Browns claims of the "secrets" that are contained within the two texts, however, are untrue.
Brown claims that the two ancient texts reveal that Jesus was married to Mary of Magdalene and the Christian Canon was concocted by Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea and that the other gospels were suppressed for centuries. According to The Da Vinci Code, it was the Council of Nicaea that voted Jesus Christ to be the divine Son of God.
After research, Zukeran found that "The Dead Sea Scrolls have no New Testament documents."
"They are documents of the Old Testament only," he said. "There are no gospels, no documents claiming to be gospels, and no documents referring to Jesus, though there are documents referring to the coming Messiah."
Regarding Browns claims that the oldest records of Jesus are Nag Hammadi text, Zukeran said the text was not written earlier than the four gospels.
"We have very compelling evidence that [the four gospels] were written in the first century. [The texts of the Nag Hammadi] were written in the second century, and they reflect Gnostic heresy," he said. "They represent more pantheism than Jesus. We've known about them for centuries. The early church fathers wrote about these guys and rejected their work from the very beginning."
Also speaking at the "Decoding the Da Vinci Code Conference," was Sue Bohlin, who presented "Goddess Worship and the Sacred Feminine," and National Director of Probe Ministries Kerby Anderson, who presented "The Secret Marriage of Jesus." The Da Vinci Code claims that the early church devalued the women and contends Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a child with her.
In her presentation, Bohlin demonstrated that neither Goddess Worship nor the Sacred Feminine is consistent with a biblical worldview.
This concept of woman as life-bringer was the foundation of ancient religion, Brown claims in The Da Vinci Code. Childbirth was mystical and powerful. Sadly, Christian philosophy decided to embezzle the female's creative power by ignoring biological truth and making man the Creator."
Bohlin, however, contends that women were equal in the Bible.
The claim that the female half of all things is the sacred feminine or divine goddess holds no truth when held to scriptures, said Bohlin.
The truth is that God made one creation which is not divided into two male/female parts or dualism. The beauty and power of the feminine is a reflection of God's attributes; we are made in His image."
"[The Da Vinci Code] is functioning as a false teacher, Bohlin said later. People read it and their views are swayed, particularly against the church and against the trustworthiness of the Bible.
"It is eating away at the confidence that people can have in the Word of God and in God himself."
While Bohlin believes the book may breed discussions, Zukeran admits that he has been allowed into various venues to refute the claims.
"I've been to all kinds of settings that would've never allowed me to go before," said Zukeran. "Law schools, campuses, you name it, I can go there and refute the challenges brought by this book and present a case for the Bible and the divine nature of Christ."
Published in 2003 by Doubleday Fiction, Dan Browns The Da Vinci Code currently has 36 million copies in print and has been translated into 44 languages as of August 2005. It is a sequel to Brown's 2000 novel Angels and Demons.