More than 40 million hardcover copies of The Da Vinci Code have been sold worldwide and just days after the release of the paperback edition, the controversial novel is set to top the bestseller list of the world's largest bookseller - Barnes & Noble.
Soon to hit the movie screen, the New York Times bestseller is challenging Christians to gear up for a wider spread of questions and discussions that the film is expected to provoke.
"It would not be possible for you and your congregation to ignore what people are going to be talking about," said Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, author of The Da Vinci Deception and senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, according to Tyndale House Publishers. "When you think of the impact of the movie, millions of people going to see the movie and learning about Jesus ... this is something that we cannot ignore."
Tyndale, an evangelical Christian publisher, launched a national campaign early February to help people discover the truth about Jesus and Christianity, as the publisher president, Mark D. Taylor, said in a released statement. The "DaVinci Didn't Convince Me" campaign provides biblically-centered products that "refute the false claims of The Da Vinci Code."
With millions expected to join the whole discussion of Dan Brown's novel upon the release of the film on May 19, Tyndale's marketing campaign has a line-up of books to help Christians and churches gain understanding and prepare to address stirred questions. Its products will hit stores in April and articles and other new information will be updated on its website - www.davincideception.com.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Catholics have signed up to protest against the film release. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign have collected 60,057 signatures petitioning the "blasphemous" film, as America Needs Fatima director Robert Ritchie noted. The organization is confident it will gather at least 100,000 protest letters and e-mails before the film releases and recruit protestors on the release day.
Seeing that millions will nevertheless swarm the theaters to watch the novel-based movie, evangelicals have increasingly begun campaigning to arm Christians with facts and encourage them to see the movie.
Lutzer, who had preached on The Da Vinci Code to his Moody congregation over two years ago, highlighted three key words ahead of the film release: educate, motivate and stimulate. Saying it is very important that Christians speak to themselves and to congregations, Lutzer urges believers to relearn church history, instruct and be instructed on how to answer raised questions, and to use this opportunity for the furtherance of the Gospel.
"Can we at this time this critical time of history use this tide, this tsunami ... to turn it around for good?" he posed. "I think so; with God's help.
"Make sure that the real Jesus is heard in our culture."
The Da Vinci Code, now number three on the New York Times Bestsellers list, has been translated into more than 40 languages. More than 5 million copies of the Da Vinci paperback went on sale Tuesday.