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The church and the code

By Mark Christensen - posted Thursday, 18 May 2006

People aren’t stupid. The idea the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity may have embellished events, or that initial followers of Jesus were led by a woman, are entirely feasible. Short of having a time machine, the church can’t really refute them anymore than Brown can prove them.

Christians seem anxious to obliterate the mystery conjured by The Da Vinci Code because they need others to believe in their version of the unknowable truth.

There’s a perverse kind of logic in this weight-of-numbers philosophy. If Aquinas is right, the church is stuck with trying to confirm something that cannot really be confirmed. Having everyone agree with you is one way of minimising doubt, though the process of indoctrination has been shown to unleash a range of other painful conflicts.


The Da Vinci Code challenges Christians (and the rest of us) to let go of literalism, words and even sacred scripture in order to find the mysterious essence of the truth.

It asks: is what truly matters really dependent on our perception of the facts?

What if Jesus did marry Mary Magdalene? Would it change the unknowable answer for humanity? Would it alter anything about the message we can take from Jesus’ sacrifices, as portrayed in the gospels? Does it mean we are now unforgiven? Is there no longer value in being virtuous for its own sake?

Dan Brown’s book has sold over 40 million copies because it confirms - not denies - the kind of wonder we are all missing in our hectic, structured lives. The church should get over its defensiveness, let go of the detail and share in the mystery.

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First published in The Courier-Mail on May 18, 2006.

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About the Author

Mark is a social and political commentator, with a background in economics. He also has an abiding interest in philosophy and theology, and is trying to write a book on the nature of reality. He blogs here.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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