Having just seen the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’, I must say I’m a bit surprised.
I’m surprised because I found the book to be childishly written and the screenplay worked out better, which never happens.
Also, while the story has clearly been sensationalized to the point of a number of people believing it to be true, or at least worthy of discussion as a serious, non-fictional topic, some of the ideas expressed are distorted realities.
A central theme of the movie is the fact that Jesus’ teachings were reworked and outright contradicted by a Christian Church that had apostatised and sought only to promote its own agenda of maintaining ideological, social and political power over its adherents. This fictional representation of the Church employs discrete shadow organisations and holds secret rituals steeped in pagan hedonism. This is of course a distortion of reality, but, like looking at a reflection of your face in a snowflake, it has a hint of recognisable truth to it.
One item mentioned which challenges modern Christianity but has a basis in history is the debate over the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is commonly recognized among scholars that the early Christians did not venerate Jesus as God himself but as the ‘firstborn of all Creation’, and that his divinity or equality with God was a new truth canonized by the Council of Nicaea, as presided over by the pagan Emperor Constantine. The Encyclopædia Britannica relates:
“Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”
The Egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus. Many pre-Christian religions worship triads, including Greek mythology, Hinduism, and Egyptian theology.
Another item of truth used as plot advancement for the fictional story of the Da Vinci Code is the heavy integration of pagan beliefs, culture and ritual into Christianity. But while portrayed in the movie as practiced only by secret societies behind closed doors, the pagan beliefs and rituals that form the foundation of modern Christian teachings are practiced by all Christians today.
The birth of Christ was established by the Christian Church as December 25th in the 3rd and 4th centuries, adopting the traditions of Mithraism, this being the same date of birth of the pagan God Mithras.
Indeed, the Bible canon gives no indication that a celebration of Jesus’ birth should be observed – the only tradition the Bible commands to early Christian believers is a remembrance of his Death, which brings us to Easter. Pope Gregory I wrote to Saint Mellitus on his mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons regarding the adoption of their traditions:
“to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God.”
Worship of the virgin Mary (not Mary Magdalene, the central figure next to Jesus in the film) is another example of doctrine adopted by the Christian Church centuries after the foundations of Christian teaching had been laid down. The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say:
Devotion to Our Blessed Lady in this ultimate analysis must be regarded as a practical application of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Seeing that this doctrine is not contained, at least explicitly, in the earlier forms of the Apostles’ Creed, there is perhaps no ground for surprise if we do not meet with any clear traces of the cults of the Blessed Virgin in the first Christian centuries, the worship of Mary being a later development.
Semaramis, wife of Baal, worshipped as “Mother of God” and “the hope of the whole world”
The New Testament is filled with letters from the original 12 Apostles to various congregations in the newly formed Christian religion, distributed throughout the near middle east and parts of Europe. These letters contain a lot of stern admonishment against the integration of paganism into Christian belief. They speak out against such things as veneration of images (cross, saints, images of God or Jesus), separation of the clergy from the congregation as a division of power, celibacy among Church elders, and other things. This is a clear indication that a great deal of divisiveness existed in the early Church, and many people were trying to create doctrinal change.
So, was Mary Magdalene the wife of Jesus, and was this secret covered up by sinister groups? No.
But does the church employ regular use of pagan ritual? Does it contradict early Christian beliefs on many occasions? Has the Church used its far-reaching power to promote its revised view of Christianity over the beliefs of others, silencing dissenters by force? Certainly.
And so one has to ask, what is the quality of the Christian faith? If its purpose was to be handed down from God, what place does its modern incarnation have?
Was the council of Nicaea a great apostasy? Many say it was.
Will there be a second great reformation? Probably not.
Entertaining movie though.