Lackluster, bloated, and lifeless were just some of the words critics used to describe the Da Vinci Code movie that opened this week in theaters and film festivals worldwide. This comes as no surprise. After all, what more could be expected from a theatrical attempt to substantiate implausible claims from a book based on half-truths and lies?
No real Christian believes Dan Browns ridiculous allegations that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that her womb is the Holy Grail. The critics cold responses merely affirm what we knew all along: there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
However, the popularity of the best-selling book and the likely box office hit confirms another fact that we also know but try to avoid: American Christianity has become lukewarm and stale, and believers are starting to look elsewhere for answers they havent found in our churches.
According to the Encyclopedia of World Religions, about 75 percent of Americans claim to be Christian. However, other polls consistently show that only 36 percent of Americans regularly attend Sunday Services and only 33 percent believe the Bible is inerrant.
In a book entitled Reforming Fundamentalism, author and professor George M. Marsden referred to a poll of 10,000 seminary students revealing that 85 percent do not believe the Scriptures are the "inspired and inerrant word of God in faith and history."
Furthermore, a national poll by the Barna research group found that 39 percent of Americans are notional Christians those who do not believe that eternal life comes through grace by Jesus Christ. This means more than half of Americas Christians are Christians by name-only, which explains why so many of us are interested in learning about a conspiracy theory challenging the nature of Jesus Christ.
Reading Dan Browns book or watching Ron Howards film will not likely convince even these nominal Christian that the descendents of Jesus are walking in our midst.
However, with so many pastors and seminary professors failing to teach correctly about the basic spiritual laws, it will not be long before Christianity in America, like Christendom in Europe, becomes nothing more than a cultural identity inherited through tradition.
The same book by Professor Marsden also quoted a 1987 survey revealing that up to 95 percent of pastors in certain denominations do not believe in the Bible as inerrant and inspired. While a more recent poll by Barna Research resulted in less extreme figures (the highest unbelieving pastors were among Episcopalians at 78 percent and Catholics at 74 percent), it shines some light as to why such a baseless attack against the Christian faith became the best-selling fiction novel in the worlds largest Christian nation. Once the Bible becomes a relative story open to analysis, there will be no end to questioning the veracity of Gods truths.
Therefore, as leaders of our faith, we should take this chance to go beyond merely debunking or decoding the Da Vinci fiction. Instead, we must make an offensive strike, hitting at the heart of our arrogance toward the Word of God and reassessing our own faith in the greatest Truth ever told.
If we fail, we will have to ready ourselves for endless rounds of Da Vinci Code attacks and Gospel of Judas blasphemies that challenge the answers already given to us by God through His Holy Word.