Two years ago Mel Gibson's record-breaking movie, The Passion of the Christ created a major impact on viewers around the world. On May 19 The Da Vinci Code opened in theaters around the world, grossing $224 million in ticket sales, the second largest global movie debut in history. Total ticket sales were anticipated to ultimately reach 30 million people, based on $300 million box office sales, which will obviously soar much higher.
Many, including actor Tom Hanks who plays a leading role in the movie, see interest in the book and movie as an opportunity to reach more people with the truth of the Bible. Gibson's movie was met with the same expectation, but for very different reasons.
The Passion of the Christ was carefully researched and produced to uphold the teachings of the Bible and the facts of history regarding Jesus Christ. Some details may have been incorrect, and others speculative and possibly not accurate. However, most people considered the movie as a largely accurate portrayal of the facts of the suffering and death of Jesus the Christ.
By contrast, The Da Vinci Code poses as a historical novel but offers a blasphemous plot contradictory to the scriptural record. Most disturbing is the claim that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, fathered a child and planned for Mary to lead the Church after His death.
While the story is presented as a novel, the author claims that the historical backdrop is accurate. However, many historians have taken issue with this assertion and have written to set the record straight. The whole movie is so fictional that some have complained that a disclaimer should have been included at the beginning of the movie or flashed on the screen in theaters prior to the showings. Of course that is not going to happen.
The Barna Group estimates that some 45 million U.S. adults (20% of the population) have read the book. The book and movie are certain to raise questions in the minds of many readers and viewers. So you are likely to encounter a discussion of the book and/or movie and related topics. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to, "…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…." The Friberg lexicon defines the word defense as, "defense of the gospel message from false teaching."
The Barna poll also found that about 25% of those who read the book considered it helpful spiritually. Some 5% said that reading the book resulted in changing some of their religious beliefs. Although the percentage is small, this amounts to some 2 million people.
Barna estimates about two thirds of those expected to see the movie will have already read the book. That means that the total number of adults who go to the movie will include at least 10 million who have not read it. This would result in an additional half million people changing their beliefs as result of seeing the movie, based on the 5% of book readers cited above.
However, the percentage could run even higher for these moviegoers, because the combined audio-visual effect usually has more impact than simply reading written words. So even some who have read the book will likely be more affected by the movie, resulting in a skewed perspective of the Bible.
Add to this total the impact of DVD sales after the movie is no longer showing in theaters. People who buy movies in this format often view them numerous times, thus compounding the effect.
Young people, whose beliefs and values are still being formed, are especially vulnerable. Thus it behooves parents to follow even more diligently the admonition to, "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4, NIV).
This movie is not the first challenge to the Christian faith, nor will it be the last. So it is important to be well-grounded in the truth of the Bible for our own protection as well as for our children and to be able to defend the truth of the Bible.
I encourage you to request or download from our web site (www.ucg.org) our free booklets, Jesus Christ, the Real Story and Is the Bible True? You can also request your free subscription to the Good News magazine. The May issue includes the article, "The Da Vinci Code, Christianity and the Bible."