News With Views (Link) - Debra Rae (April 29, 2009)
Where’s the Hope in 2009?
Last-day theology is a major theme throughout the Bible’s poetic books, major- and minor- prophets, Pauline- and general- epistles, the Gospels and the Book of Revelation. The Bible answers humanity’s age-abiding question, “What does the future hold?” And today vigilant believers witness the wrap-up of human history as signaled by economic and political upheavals, a series of armed conflicts, intensified natural disasters, increasing immorality, religious deception and persecution. Despite manifest hostility toward them, the faithful are called and destined to be diligent “keepers of our Lord’s goods.”
“Faithful Keepers of His Goods” (Matthew 24:47)
Some such “keepers” are unlikely fellows. Take, for example, Palestinian Yusef Hassan. In January 2009, Jonathan Hunt told his remarkable story on Fox news with Bill Hemmer.
It goes like this: In December 1987 the first intifada (uprising) began. At the tender age of ten, Hassan believed this to be his destiny. Heir apparent to his father—an associate of the Muslim Brotherhood and founder of HAMAS—Hassan participated in the Islamic Youth Movement and served as president of the Islamic Student Union.
Eventually, Hassan turned against HAMAS when he witnessed its membership torture and kill their own. That his “heroes” placed so little value on human life shattered Hassan’s faith until his secret, side-by-side study of the Bible with the Qu’ran resulted in Hassan’s conversion to evangelical Christianity. Although a death sentence followed Hassan to America, he nonetheless applied for political asylum, was baptized in the Pacific Ocean and joined fellow believers in “keeping the Lord’s goods.” Weapons of Hassan’s warfare are no longer of the carnal variety.
“His Goods” or Counterfeits?
Author Dan Brown has his own take on matters of “keeping faith,” torture and death—inflicted by the fearful, power-hungry Christian church in his scenario. With that in mind, come May 2009, Brown’s best-selling novel Angels and Demons will take to the big screen. Its predecessor, the Da Vinci Code, likewise featured Tom Hanks, whose expert styling under directorship of Ron Howard put legs to “the biggest selling adult hardback fiction book of all time.”
Admittedly, Brown’s novel is a clever, smart, riddle-filled thriller. While its plot formula is predictable, suspenseful cliff hangers beg resolution that, more often than not, lends an element of surprise. Herein is the problem: Although Brown’s work is fiction, it’s packaged and served up as historically and theologically intact nonfiction. Only to discerning viewers do the ancient signs, symbols, code names and mystic elements belie its presumed-to-be “Christian” facade. Less astute fans are likely to find their core convictions challenged while themselves becoming entangled in a dark web of esoteric delusion.
In Angels and Demons, a theo-physicist is perceived as an oxymoron; and deified science is destined to demote all gods to the inglorious status of false idols. Since Brown portrays loss of generic faith as more consequential than its fundamental nature, religious lies are justified to preserve any semblance of conviction, whether with merit or not. By example, the singular “religious experience” of protagonist Robert Langdon is characterized as “a perfect moment of glorious rapture” when a beautiful seductress (a yoga master no less!) slips off her robe to bed him.
Similarly, in the Da Vinci Code, Christ’s spiritual enlightenment allegedly results from sexual union with Mary Magdalene. Fruitful sex purportedly perpetuates royal bloodlines—his (Judah) and hers (Benjamin). Be sure, Professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University Paul L. Maier soundly debunks such poppycock. Indeed, there exists no record of Mary’s Jewish tribal affiliation, nor do members of the Tribe of Benjamin have rightful claim to royal blood.
A “Keeper” or “Counterfeiter”?
Unlike Palestinian Yusef Hassan, once converted to Christ, those portrayed as “keepers” in Brown’s worldview are religious secret societies—namely, the Priory of Sion (Da Vinci Code) and illumined scientists (Angels and Demons). All undermine the Christian faith; many inflict gruesome torture and commit multiple acts of murder in the name of “truth.”
On Good Morning America, Charlie Gibson asked Brown: “If you had written [your novel] as a non-fiction book, how would it have been different?” Brown’s response: It wouldn’t. He explained further that he began his research as a skeptic; but following numerous trips to Europe and about two years of research, he became “a believer”—but in what?
In Brown’s world, the deity of Jesus Christ and inspiration of Scripture are shams. Jesus was a mere mortal, not God. When He died, his wife Mary Magdalene was pregnant with his only child, a daughter named Sarah. Keepers of this alleged “truth” are either fictitious or counterfeit. Either way, historical documentation is no where to be found.
Despite his unorthodoxy, Brown claims to be a Christian, yet distinguishes himself from those who accept “the Bible as absolute historical fact.” A self-proclaimed “student of many religions” following his own path of enlightenment, Brown obsesses on ancient occult mysteries. Go figure why Emerging Church leader Brian McClaren dismisses Brown’s plunge into the arcane as “no more damaging than the popular Left Behind novels.”
Innocent Fun or Blasphemy?
In Breaking the Da Vinci Code (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2004), Darrell L. Bock insists that The Code is “not a mere work of fiction dressed in the clothes of quasi nonfiction.” Instead, he explains, “It reflects an effort to represent and, in some cases, rewrite history with a selective use of ancient evidence.” The same applies to Angels and Demons.
So compelling is Brown’s work that many a Christian has toppled under the weight of his bogus claim to absolute accuracy respecting “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals.” Not long ago, Time Magazine named Brown one of the World's 100 Most Influential People. So, then, we have a highly influential writer of “fictional” novels that meld revisionist history with “hidden secrets” the author himself believes to be true. Brown’s is a brilliant formula for heresy.
Accordingly, Brown’s characters advance lessons that stray far from sound historical evidence and canonized text of Scripture. In Brown’s world, faith in “man’s inherent goodness,” iconology and sacred symbols embody truth; sometimes lying is good and praying to “every god one can think of” makes sense. To Brown, cosmic symmetry speaks to karma (cause and effect); yin/yang (horror and hope). Hence, he offsets grotesque scenes of bodily mutilation and debauchery with mindless hope in “Christian” orthodoxy that reeks of obsolescence.
True to popular culture, Brown exposes those presumed to be devout as frauds and hypocrites who, through force and terror, hide essential facts for self-interest. On the other hand, Brown’s skewed history shows Satanists to be educated, enlightened (albeit lawless) men who rightfully oppose Church brutality.
Controversy or No?
On his official web page, Brown says he can't imagine why his writing might be considered controversial. Yet the most “authoritative figure” in the Da Vinci Code claims that our Bible “was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda to solidify their own power base.” As a result, “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” Not least of which: the deity of Christ.
To the contrary, the apostle Paul, whose epistles predate the Gospels, called Jesus “Lord through whom all things came”; “the image of the invisible God” and “creator of all things.” Furthermore, in his seminal work, Early Christian Doctrines, Dr. Kelly affirms that “the all but universal Christian conviction in the preceding centuries to Nicaea had been that Jesus Christ was divine as well as human.”
Fact is, the Emperor Constantine did not “fix” the Canon of Scripture, nor was Jesus’ divinity determined by vote at Nicaea. Parchments dating prior to AD 325 and fragments of John’s Gospel dating around AD 130 indicate no such embellishment (Nicky Gumbel, Alpha International). Composed of key Christian leaders of the time, the Nicaea Council actually confirmed longstanding belief in Christ’s divinity by an overwhelming vote of 316 to two.
Applying the rule of direct- or indirect- apostolicity, the four gospels and thirteen letters of Paul were placed on the same footing as the Old Testament between AD 170 and AD 220—about one hundred years before Constantine was born!
Where’s the Hope?
If zealous keepers of dark, alternative “truths” (i.e., matriarchal paganism and deified science) and spiritual deception characterize 2009, as surely they do, the question remains: “Where’s hope to be found”?
Truth be told, the church has been under attack for over two millennia, but by the grace of God has prevailed and will triumph. While deceit gives form to a wayward world system united by a clandestine agenda of occult globalism and a central theme of universality, Bible believers are “begotten to a lively hope laid up for them in heaven.” In this, they take heart: “Other foundation can no man lay,” for the “foundation of God stands sure.” Despite confusing winds of deceptive doctrine at odds with “the more sure Word,” the Old Covenant book of Job assures the faithful that security and hope remain life’s steadfast companions.