Evangelicals seek to ‘un-code’ Da Vinci

by Amy Kingsley

The makers of The Da Vinci Code hit box office gold last weekend, raking in almost $30 million on opening night alone.

But some local pastors, playing to an audience angered by the successful thriller, hope to transform the controversial film into a spiritual windfall of their own.

At Gate City Baptist Church Sunday, Rev. David Horton introduced the first of a four-part series, ‘“The Da Vinci Code Un-coded,’” sermons intended to refute the film’s more heretical claims. Other churches in the Triad have already used the series, which combines a multimedia presentation with traditional preaching.

‘“This movie has the audacity to say ‘seek the truth,”” Horton said. ‘“Well, ladies and gents, the truth is on our side. We are here to expose the lies of Satan and the lies of [author] Dan Brown.’”

Horton stopped short of calling for a boycott, although he urged his parishioners to avoid both the film and bestselling novel. Instead, he recommended that the members of his congregation use discussions of the film as opportunities to proselytize.

Gate City Baptist is one of a few area churches tackling the claims of The Da Vinci Code, including assertions that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered children. In the first sermon, Horton offered a counterargument for the book’s assertion that Da Vinci painted Magdalene next to Jesus in his depiction of the Last Supper. Horton displayed a close-up of the painting that revealed an effeminate-looking apostle John.

‘“This shows that Da Vinci may have known about painting, but he did not know much about the Bible,’” Horton said. ‘“James and John were nicknamed the ‘Sons of Thunder.’ Now, what kind of person has a nickname like ‘Sons of Thunder’? Not a sissy!’”

Horton’s rebuttal relied entirely upon the historical accuracy of the Bible, although the program listed a number of outside resources bolstering his claims. Brown’s book has most directly affronted the beliefs of Catholics and evangelical Christians, but they are not the only people skeptical of its assertions. Biblical scholar and agnostic Bart Ehrman recently went public with revelations of the book’s many historical inaccuracies.

At least one Vatican official urged a boycott of the film, but members of Greensboro’s Catholic community have not issued any public statements or organized protests. No mention of the film or the book appears on the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s website.

Horton dismissed the option of ignoring the film, describing it instead as a frontal assault on the Christian faith that must be answered. The pastor also trivialized the novel, at one point comparing its claims to those of a supermarket tabloid.

‘“This is not a time to retreat,’” he said. ‘“This is a time to cry ‘Charge!””

Horton’s audience ‘— about 100 people occupied the pews for the early service ‘— pales in comparison to Brown’s global following. But it is his intention to send this small army of evangelicals out to combat the Brown’s popular message.

‘“The only credible answers to these questions will be offered by Christians,’” he said. ‘“If there’s one thing this book might prove, it’s that people are interested in spiritual things.’”

At the end of the service, the congregants bowed their heads as Horton led them in prayer for the souls of those enticed by this most controversial of spring blockbusters.

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