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The Da Vinci Code no more harmful than Left Behind
By Jason Carlson
In a recent interview with Sojourners, Brian McLaren, the leading spokesman for the Emergent Church movement weighed in on the controversial book and soon to be released movie The Da Vinci Code.[i] To his credit, McLaren recognizes and declares in the interview that The Da Vinci Code is "fiction and it's filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked."
Now I know that for many of you who are familiar with Emergent, your jaw might have just hit the floor, reading about an Emergent Church leader actually taking a stand against a false teaching? This might be a first as far as I'm aware, but at the very least it's good to know that discernment hasn't been completely thrown out the window by this bunch. I'm going to wait and see though before I get too hopeful, once McLaren realizes that this statement isn't very inclusive or tolerant, we might witness a retraction. After all, this is a pretty absolute declaration from McLaren, based on objective historical truths (and we all know how distasteful Emergents find absolutes and objective standards); it doesn't leave much room for "conversation".
But, regardless of the outcome, McLaren does take a rare apologetic stance in this interview and for that he should be applauded. However, before we invite McLaren to speak at the next Worldview Weekend conference, look what he has to say next. With his very next breath McLaren states, "But frankly, I don't think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels."
What?! Did I read that correctly? Is he serious? Did McLaren really say that The Da Vinci Code has no more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels?
Now, I recognize that there is a diversity of viewpoints in regards to Christian eschatology, the various theories for how and when the "end times" will play out. And I recognize that the Left Behind series portrays one particular position within Christian eschatological thinking. And I also recognize that not every believer agrees with the position taken by Left Behind authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. But to make the claim that The Da Vinci Code has no more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels is simply outrageous.
Let's just take a quick reality check. Whether you agree with their theology or not, the Left Behind novels are based on legitimate biblical scholarship. They promote a theory of Christian eschatology that is embraced by millions of believers today and a multitude of highly respected scholars, theologians, and pastors. No serious student of Christian history or theology would question the validity of the Left Behind series' place at the table of biblically feasible eschatological positions.
On the other hand we have The Da Vinci Code. As McLaren himself rightly noted, The Da Vinci Code has no basis in historical fact and no serious scholar would attempt to defend its bogus claims. The Da Vinci Code promotes a false Jesus. It claims that the Church invented Jesus' deity in 325 A.D. It claims that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and bore children with her. And it claims that the Bible's history has been corrupted and falsified to intentionally mislead people and keep them captive to the Roman Catholic Church. And yet, McLaren has the audacity to claim that The Da Vinci Code is no more harmful than the Left Behind novels!
Let's see here, Left Behind embraces a universally recognized legitimate eschatological position, which deals with the peripheral theological question of the end times. The Da Vinci Code lies about historical facts, guts Jesus of his divinity, and denies the reliability of biblical revelation, but I guess it's no more harmful than the Left Behind novels unbelievable.
I have no idea how anyone within the Emergent Church movement can take this guy seriously. It was garbage statements like these, along with other aberrant beliefs and practices that drove me out of participation in Emergent a few years ago.[ii] And not only is this a garbage statement, but it again demonstrates Emergent's proclivity towards taking cheap shots at mainstream conservative evangelicalism. They just can't resist. Emergent loves to characterize itself as a "conversation" and a "generative friendship" embracing all traditions of the Christian faith, but if you're a conservative or fundamentalist evangelical, well, the "conversation" typically looks more like a roast.
I have little use for the Emergent "conversation"; and I hope that statements like these will help the evangelical church to wake-up to the absurdities coming out of this movement. Seriously, how much more do we need to see?[iii] Emergent is not a helpful partner for the advance of biblical Christianity; we can do better.
[ii] See my article, "My Journey Into and Out of the Emergent Church"
[iii] See my other articles on Emergent and the Emerging Church
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