As The Da Vinci Code, the fast-paced thriller by novelist Dan Brown, marks nearly a year atop the New York Times best-seller list, critics have staged a counteroffensive.
Christians from a variety of church circles have been disconcerted by the book’s claims that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child, and that the Bible was commissioned and manipulated by the Roman emperor Constantine for political purposes.
In one sense, the effort is the flip side of the evangelizing coin for conservative evangelicals in the winter of 2003-2004. The other side is Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, which premiered on Ash Wednesday amid promotions by leading evangelical pastors and organizations. While mainline and Catholic church bodies issued cautionary guidelines regarding the film’s graphic violence and harsh portrayal of Jewish persecutors, most evangelical leaders welcomed the movie as a conversion tool.