Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Have We Lost More than a Symbol?

I recently read Dan Brown’s newest thriller, The Lost Symbol. I read it partly because I like a good page-turner, and partly because I wanted to see if Brown would continue the anti-Christian tone of The DaVinci Code.

So did he? It depends on your definition of anti-Christian. Where DaVinci struck at the core of orthodox Christian beliefs, Lost Symbol was more subtle but perhaps even more insidious. Brown weaves spiritual references throughout the dialogue of his main characters, but it’s a new age, universalism that is advocated. In doing so, they clearly communicate that any intelligent person will agree with this “enlightened” view.

So why is this even worthy of a blog? After all, we shouldn’t be surprised that Brown does this, and plenty of others in the spotlight have similar viewpoints. What struck me was Brown’s use (or misuse) of Scripture to try to undermine Christian teaching. Three times one of his characters quotes Luke 17:21, where Jesus says “the kingdom of God is within you.” Each time this reference is used to claim that the Bible actually teaches a new age philosophy that we are all gods or can all become gods.

Again, this may not be surprising coming from Brown. But I found myself wondering, “How many of the people in my church could refute this teaching? How many are shaky enough in their faith and knowledge of Scripture that they would say, ‘That’s an interesting interpretation’ rather than simply declaring it as wrong?” I don’t know the answer, but I’m almost afraid to ask. My hunch is that biblical literacy, not just in my congregation but throughout the Church in North America, is sadly lacking. For those of us in the Protestant tradition, perhaps it’s time to reclaim a core belief: “Sola Scriptura.”


Anonymous said...

Since this is a leadership blog, I've also tried to discern the leadership message you're coveying with this comment. Here's what I see: if someone raises a point-of-view contrary to your interpretation of orthodox Christian teaching, you should immediately point out where that person is wrong and your are right (and thus clearly more enlightened). Is that how you, as a teacher of leadership, advocate engaging those with whom we disagree? Brown builds his case on the power of human reason, and you build yours on orthodox Christian interpretations, and neither thinks much of the other and indeed dismisses the other out-of-hand. Where do we build bridges instead of walls...or don't we?

linda said...

Anonymous beat me to the question about how is this connected to the leadership blog. Although, for those that are leaders, I will say this - remember that the Brown books are labeled as "fiction" for a reason. Just stay true to what you do and who you are. And dare I remind folks that the Brown books sit on the same shelf with the Left Behind series.

Mike Bonem said...

I didn't realize that I was limited to leadership posts on this blog. But ultimately the issue that I've addressed is about leadership. As leaders in the church, I believe that one of our greatest responsibilities is to foster the spiritual growth of those in our congregations, and there's no better way to do that than in the study of Scripture. If I'm not encouraging the study of the Bible in my church, then I'm failing as a leader.