The Paradoxical Nature of The Da Vinci Code

by Tim Chaffey

     Dan Brown’s best-selling The Da Vinci Code is definitely a page-turner.  Brown has crafted an adventurous, action-packed novel full of intrigue, suspense, mystery and conspiracy.  Unfortunately, in this work of fiction, the author makes numerous inflammatory claims about church history, the Bible, and Jesus Christ that simply are not true.  These views will not be discussed in detail at this point.[1]  For now we will look at four paradoxical beliefs advanced by Dan Brown in this book.

     As you may already be aware, the novel centers on a search for the so-called Holy Grail[2] but with a twist.  As the story goes, the Grail is not the cup that Jesus drank from but it was Mary Magdalene – the supposed wife of Jesus Himself.  Allegedly, the early church attempted to destroy any knowledge of this information in an effort to deify Jesus.  Throughout history, a secret society has struggled against all odds to keep this “truth” alive.  Brown also makes the claim that Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton were leaders of this secret society and that the historical evidence corroborates his whole story.  These claims are patently false and Brown’s entire storyline is based on four paradoxical beliefs.

     The first issue to examine is the not-so-secret secret society at the center of this book.  Robert Langdon and Leigh Teabing are two of the world’s foremost authorities on this secret society.  Throughout their quest these two men are continually stumped by the clues left for them yet somehow they always manage to have enough information about these “secret” societies to figure things out.  Of course, this makes for good reading but lacks any credibility in the real world in which Brown is making his slanderous comments.  The problem with these claims is that if this information were available to Teabing and Langdon then others would have certainly figured out the clues long before.  If this society was so secretive there would be no way for Teabing and Langdon to have known so much about them.[3]

     The second issue to look at is the role of Mary Magdalene.  The Bible portrays Mary as a devout follower of Christ and the first witness of the Resurrection.  The Da Vinci Code elevates her to the level of a goddess because she was allegedly married to Christ and bore His child.  For this she should be venerated and/or worshiped by any who learn the “truth.”  The problem with this whole scenario (besides its complete fabrication) is that if “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is a lie” then why is Mary Magdalene so special?  In other words, if Jesus were not the Son of God but just an ordinary human being what would make his wife so special?  The problem for Dan Brown is that Jesus very clearly stated His deity on numerous occasions (cf. John 8: 58).  If Jesus was a mere mortal then He was either a liar or a lunatic.  If that is the case then Mary Magdalene was married to a complete fraud and should never be revered by anyone. 

     Third, Dan Brown claims that the Church has sought to suppress women throughout history (the truth is that the Church has done more to elevate women than any other organization or society).  By restoring the idea of “the sacred feminine” women will be viewed rightly.  Sadly, Brown’s ideal of “the sacred feminine” has done and will do more to suppress women than anything the church has ever done.  The Da Vinci Code states that a man can only achieve union with the Divine during sexual intercourse with a woman.  While this may sound like it places women at a higher level it is actually extremely demeaning.  Any man who is inclined to follow Brown’s views will look at women as a means to an end rather than from a biblical perspective – that they are equal yet different.

     Finally, The Da Vinci Code spends a great deal of time promoting goddess worship.  At the same time, Brown continually attacks the Roman Catholic Church through the character of Leigh Teabing.  Ironically, Roman Catholicism has done more than any other group to promote goddess worship through their devotion to and elevation of the Virgin Mary.[4]  If anything, Dan Brown should thank the Roman Catholic Church rather than bash it.[5]

     Dan Brown’s best-selling novel is based on numerous paradoxical claims.  All the while, Brown claims his views are well documented by competent historians.  In reality, Brown has sought to undermine the church, the Bible, and the person and work of Jesus Christ.  His views, expressed through Langdon and Teabing, are extremely anti-Christian and inflammatory.  This is not the work of an unbiased historian seeking to share the truth.  It is the result of biased research, outright lies, and deception. 

     One may ask, “If it is not a scholarly work then why are you spending time critiquing it?  Aren’t you granting it credibility by spending so much time on it?”  These are fair questions but there are several good reasons to critique this book.  First, it has become so popular and millions are being misinformed.  Second, its views are a direct assault on two thousand years of Church history.  Third, Christians should be aware of this work since they will undoubtedly be dealing with people who have read this book.  Finally, Brown’s claims to the story’s historicity require a response.  We cannot simply sit back and allow the enemy to deceive millions of people without saying something.  As someone once said, “For evil to triumph all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing.”

[1] Look for a lengthier critique of this novel in the near future.  You may want to check out some of our reviews of some critiques of The Da Vinci Code

[2] It should be noted that the Bible never places any emphasis on the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper nor did the early church seek after such a relic.  Certainly some Christians throughout history have sought after it but the so-called “Grail Quest” is the stuff of legends – not biblical Christianity.

[3] Of course, by the end of the novel one is able to understand why one of these characters has some inside information but it would not explain everything.  I don’t want to “ruin” the story by telling the end of it in case you would like to read it for yourself.

[4] We are not accusing all Roman Catholics of goddess worship; nevertheless, certain dogmas of Roman Catholicism (Mary’s sinless life, immaculate conception, perpetual virginity, ability to respond to prayer, etc.) lead many members to worship Mary.  Undoubtedly, many Roman Catholics do not engage in goddess worship. 

[5] Brown makes numerous false claims in his attacks on Roman Catholicism.  In the coming weeks we hope to provide a more detailed critique of this book and correct many of these attacks.



(back to articles)