Kasperian Moving Parts

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The Da Vinci Code

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DaVinci_code So, my sister Jenny was reading The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown when she came out for her vacation and since she bought the bigger version (with pictures), she gave me her old one. And thus I got hooked. She had me read a couple of pages in the middle of the book, and my first reaction was a strong distaste. I mean, this is Jesus the story is meddling with. Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, my Lord and Savior–you’ve heard of Him, surely.

I started reading, though, and was immediately caught into the story, and as is usual with good stories, I couldn’t put it down until I had read it all. Mr. Brown does an excellent job as a storyteller, and the story he tells is intriguing and captivating. I am a sucker for Grail stories, and love all things to do with Knights, secret societies, conspiracies, Renaissance art, history, and mostly everything else that comprises The Da Vinci Code.

And as Mr. Brown mentions, the underyling theme isn’t something that he made up. There have been conspiracy stories about the Bible, Jesus’s life, the Hebrew God of the Old Testament, and everything else that comprises The Da Vinci Code for many hundreds of years. In fact, I was exposed to these theories in college a few years back when I took a course that was titled “Poetry in the Old Testament” iirc, and was quite shocked (along with everyone else in the class) to discover that the intentionally mis-named course was really all about goddess/feminine theories with regard to the Old Testament and the very names of God (Jehovah and Yahweh). Interesting theories, to be sure, but I don’t claim to have researched the topic enough to debate it. What little I have read, however, refutes the theories popularized in The Da Vinci Code.

I also really appreciate the online resources Mr. Brown has provided to complement the book, such as the gallery, and his Frequently Asked Questions.

Which brings me to something that concerns me a little. In his FAQ, Mr. Brown is asked the question “ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?” His answer leaves me unsure that he understands the question, and as I agree with him that it’s an important question, I wanted to point it out:

ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?
Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious–that is, that we are all trying to decipher life’s big mysteries, and we’re each following our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress.

See, the word Christian is a special word that was first used in the first-century city of Antioch, and it described Jesus’s followers (disciples) who were subsequently killed for their beliefs–namely, that Jesus is the Son of God who was crucified, died to pay the price for our sins, and was raised to life after 3 days. Webster’s dictionary defines “Christian” as:

1) One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. 2) One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Unfortunately, the word Christian has been watered down through the years so that now, many people say they are Christians because they live in America, etc. The thing is… the word Christian itself shouldn’t be open to interpretation. It has a definite meaning. You either believe Jesus is the promised Christ (Messiah) or you don’t. You either live your life according to the teachings of Jesus or you don’t. And Jesus didn’t allow for wishy-washy interpretation of who He said he was or how we should live. You’ll recall that NONE of his contemporaries were able to refer to Jesus as a “good teacher” or “nice man.” To quote C.S. Lewis,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)

As to Mr. Brown’s statement:

The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress.

I pray that Mr. Brown will continue to earnestly seek the truth and that he will find it. Towards that end, I believe that The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict is an excellent resource for this. As for me, my curiosity is piqued about these theories. I’d like to learn more about them and be able to discuss them intelligently. I think I’ll take a look through the copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls I still have from the odd little college course I mistakenly took. Maybe I’ll investigate the Gnostic Gospels some too (I’ve not even heard of them up till now).

Here’s to God’s truth for both of us, Mr. Brown. =:)

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Nerd. These are our stories....

5 Comments

  1. Well, you see, the thing is that *all* words *are* open to interpretation, at least if you accept the direction of literary theory over the past 30 years. What is a word except a symbol? Where do you assign the meaning for that symbol? It comes from you, the viewer–a vastly complex thinking being different from anybody else.

    Of course, I’m trying to summarize here and probably have it all wrong anyway, so better Wiki if you’re still interested. There’s a ton of mind blowing stuff in Semiotics, Structuralism, Post-Structualism, Post-modernism, and a bunch of other stuff it would take a lifetime to grasp.

    The point is it’s not enough to look up a word in the dictionary. And the word “Christian” may be one of the most loaded words in use today. I know from a cultural standpoint what it’s supposed to mean in post 9/11 America but I don’t really accept it, much like I haven’t really self-identified as that other loaded word “liberal” until recently for reasons of my own. The only point there being that meaning often shifts as power and underlying structures change.

    Our founding fathers, for instance, lived during the time of Enlightenment and while most believed that Jesus was an exemplary human being who acted with a code of conduct everyone should follow, they rejected all the mystical aspects of the Bible story (walking on water, a Virgin birth, rising from the dead, etc.). Thomas Jefferson is said to have carried his own Bible in which he edited out all references to the supernatural. Now they were considered bleeding-edge Deists at the time but they also engaged in a lot of Christian conventions. Depending on who you talk to today , some people still consider them “Christians.” But they would probably be wrong.

    So, anyways, I’m rambling now and potentially careening way off course.

    Yes, Da Vinci Code – good story.

  2. I definitely agree–I don’t accept what most people today mean when they use the word “Christian”. That was my point exactly. It has sadly become a political tool, thrown about with the intent of gathering votes and voters, among the other things it has been misused as. Not at all what the word was intended to mean.

    However, I don’t agree that all words are open to the interpretation of the viewer. For instance, if I stated that I am a potato, I could rightly be judged as making an incorrect statement based on my not actually being what the word is defined to mean. Likewise my stating that I’m a Psychiatrist (thanks for the recent tirade, Tom).

    As to the founding fathers, I’d be very interested in reading about what you’re referring to. I’ve not ever heard mention of this before. Do you have any factual references about our founding fathers not believing that Jesus was who he claimed to be–the Son of God? Actually, I just did a quick search and found this interesting page which refutes the “miracles-free version of the Scriptures” as a myth. A section from the page:

    So what about the Jefferson Bible, that miracles-free version of the Scriptures? That, too, is a myth. It is not a Bible, but an abridgement of the Gospels created by Jefferson in 1804 for the benefit of the Indians. Jefferson’s “Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted From the New Testament for the Use of the Indians” was a tool to evangelize and educate American Indians. There is no evidence that it was an expression of his skepticism.

    However, the author of the article does agree with your comment as to Thomas Jefferson’s truly being a follower of Jesus the Christ, since it states that “In 1813, after his public career was over, Jefferson rejected the deity of Christ,” unfortunately. Quite tragic. Maybe it does explain the “miracles-free” book Mr. Jefferson used. I don’t understand how not including Jesus’s miracles in explaining Jesus to the Indians would be helpful. ???

    So, all in all, I agree–a good story–and oddly enough I agree with Mr. Brown in that “passionate debate is a superb antidote” for apathy. Now, whether to read his other books…. I think I’m leaning towards reading his next book, but I’m not sure if his previous books are in the same vein and/or worth reading at all. =:)

  3. Well, I’m just sharing some of my limited knowledge. Draw your own conclusions. I will say that it’s a shame the professor of your college class decided to put two of her own books in the course syllabus. That’s stacking the deck as far as I’m concerned and probably ended up turning off the democratic process of learning before you even got started. My guess is that you probably would have been much more engaged otherwise.

  4. Hm. Well, I’m very interested in what you’re saying, I just have never heard of it before and was hoping you’d have some proof to back up your statements. =;) URLs or some-such (or I could come to your desk when you’re in and look at books you have =:) ).

    And yeah, I think that was a good 25% of what irritated me about that class. I don’t remember the syllabus completely, to be honest, but I remember seeing at least one of the professor’s books in the list that I had to buy and thinking “my gosh, the gall of this woman–inflating her own book sales by forcing college students to buy them!!!” Some of the books included The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Dead Sea Scrolls, and… I can’t remember any more, shame. I think it might have been the 100-level class here.

    And to be fair, I don’t think anything the woman said would have been received with an open ear. At that point in my life, I had no clue about who/what/where I was, let alone have enough self-confidence to discuss matters of such importance with a college professor (pushing her own schlock upon me) in front of other people who probably couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, Mr. Shaw was correct in saying “youth is wasted on the young.” =:/

  5. Yes, Americans definitely misinterpret the word “Christian.” That’s one reason why our church calls true biblical Christians a term you mentioned earlier–“followers of Christ.” We don’t ask, “Are you a Christian?” We ask, “Are you following Jesus?” I think that’s a distinction that needs to be made more and more by the American church.

    There’s also another reason we use that term: the word “Christian” appears only twice in the New Testament, “being saved” appears only a few times more, but words to the effect of “following Christ” appear some 300-plus times. Following Christ is an action, not a state, and too many Americans think it’s just a status.

    Oh, I have heard of the Founding Fathers being deists. I don’t have sources off-hand (and it’s way too early in the morning for a night-owl college student like me), but I think mschindler isn’t far off of the truth.

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