ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Did Jesus Christ have a wife? Is the Bible a mere compilation of ancient manuscripts? Will the upcoming Sony release of “The DaVinci Code” create a panic in the Christian community?
To confront these questions regarding “The DaVinci Code,” the Louisiana Baptist Convention formed a cooperative partnership with Louisiana College to produce a DVD titled, “The DaVinci Code: Faith, Fact or Fiction?” The DVD — which is available to Southern Baptist pastors both inside and outside Louisiana — features Charles (Chuck) Quarles of Louisiana College in Pineville, La., who previously served on the faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary as associate professor of New Testament and Greek. Quarles is the vice president for integration of faith and learning and associate professor of religion at Louisiana College.
The Louisiana Baptist Convention produced the DVD in its studio and mailed a copy April 4 to each of the convention’s 1,456 churches in order to equip pastors and members for the release of the movie, which is based on the major themes of Dan Brown’s work of fiction and best seller, “The DaVinci Code.” Brown’s novel was listed for months as No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and its popularity led to Brown being named one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard, the movie will be released May 19, and given the popularity of the book, almost certainly will be a box office hit.
The book and the upcoming film are a concern to the Christian community primarily because of a dialogue between characters Langdon, Sophie, and Sir Leigh Teabing. Teabing is described as a “religious historian” whose life’s passion is research of the Holy Grail. In this dialogue, Teabing claims that the Gospels are unreliable accounts that pervert the true story of Jesus. He insists that Jesus was a mere mortal prophet who was deified by Constantine as part of a political ploy for consolidating his own power. Teabing also asserts that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that they conceived and bore children and that this sacred bloodline is the true Holy Grail.
“Since this dialogue is fictional and contained in a novel, we might be tempted to ignore Teabing’s challenges to our faith,” Quarles said. “Unfortunately, many readers are taking Teabing’s remarks very seriously. Since Brown claims that all descriptions of documents are accurate, many have concluded that Brown has carefully researched the issues that Teabing discusses and since this dialogue is from the lips of a Harvard professor and British Royal historian it must surely be an accurate presentation of the real facts about the origins of the Christian faith.
“This fact, coupled with the enormous popularity of the book and the expectation that the upcoming film will be a box office smash, requires thoughtful believers to prepare to respond intelligently to the claims of the Code.”
Wayne Jenkins, director of the LBC evangelism/church growth team, said the movie could open doors for Christians to share their faith.
“People are already talking about the book and now the movie,” Jenkins said. “Questions raised by the film provide believers an excellent opportunity to present the historical evidence for our Christian faith.”
The DVD includes an extended version (approximately one hour) and a condensed version that’s a few minutes shorter. Each one ends with an invitation to receive Christ. The DVD also includes a message to pastors.
“The DVD will allow people in the church to engage unbelievers in discussions about spiritual matters and the potential for sharing the Gospel,” Jenkins said.
Quarles is an avid researcher and has articles published in New Testament Studies, Novum Testamentum, the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus and the Bulletin for Biblical Research. Last year, Quarles was involved in two different debates with John Dominic Crossan, co-founder of the Jesus Seminar, on the issue of the historical reliability of the Gospels.
The Louisiana Baptist Convention is making “The DaVinci Code: Fact, Faith or Fiction” DVD available for a cost recovery fee of $5. Discounts are available for bulk orders.
The DVD can be purchased by calling 318.449.4254, during business hours.
John L. Yeats is director of the communications team for the Louisiana Baptist Convention and is the recording secretary for the Southern Baptist Convention.