Dan Brown's international best-seller The Da Vinci Code
has been soundly debunked by both academic historians and exegetical scholars--as well as by the learned clergy-- not long after it made its explosive literary debut in 2003 (which was not the first time such notions were debunked: similar contentions were set forth--and debunked-- in the 1982 book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
, but, as they say, "If at first you don't succeed..."), but the arguments had been more or less confined to scholarly journals and ecclesiastical denunciations.
The defensive reaction from the faithful in Christendom with the release of the film adaptation this May of 2006 is not because it is a fictional, "fun," religious romp--as now defensively asserted by its self-consciously guilt-ridden promoters--but because it has "fun" with foundational Christian tenets by undermining them with fiction premised as history (or at least "quite possible"--if not "probable"--history, and in any case leaving the historical veracity of the entire New Testament open to question and even endowing the time-told idiom of "the gospel truth" with a tongue-in-cheek quality, if not an anachronistic hokeyness).
Republicus will now have his own fun and turn the tables by using real history--and common sense-- to undermine the foundations of the fiction on the two most salient--and controversial--points (and consider it all in the context of the Culture War in the process):
1)The contention that Christ's divinity was not widely accepted until the Roman Emperor Constantine and the First Council of Nicaea he convened in 325 imperiously made it so (Part One)
[Constantine, incidentally, has the same birthday as Republicus]
2) The notion that Christ indulged his sexual desire, married, and procreated (Part Two)I. Was Jesus Christ as Son of God a Late--and Novel--Fourth Century Contention?
True: There were competing schools of thought at the first ecumenical conference in 325, but Jesus' exceptional, superhuman status--i.e. Him being the prophecied messiah and the Son of God--was not in question.
Rather, the debates were about such metaphysical niceties as to whether Jesus as the Son of Man was--as the Son of God-- the same or of similar
substance with God the Father.
The Arians argued on behalf of the latter.
They lost the debate and became the first official heretics after co-substantiality with the Father was rubber-stamped.
Brown uses that conference as the Scene of the Crime of the Millennia, where the Great Cover-Up was supposed to have been orchestrated to put forth and notarize the allegedly novel, minority notion--which supposedly came as somewhat of a surprise to many of the bishops there-- that Jesus of Nazareth was Jehovah, the Son of God.
But you don't need to go sleuthing through secret Vatican vaults and catacombs and the Musee du Louvre
to get an idea of what the first generation Early Church thought.
You can figure it out in The Bible (which is the last place anti-Christian secularists care to look, kind of like the old joke of the filthy, smelly house-burglar unable to locate the key to a safe because it was hidden under a bar of soap).
In exegetical academia--which is hardly an ecclesiastical ally-- the earliest text in the New Testament is roundly believed to be The First Letter of Paul To The Thessalonians, calculated to have been written--or at least dictated-- by Paul himself (an academic conclusion not extended to all of the epistles traditionally attributed to him), well within the First Century, around year 50, less than a generation after the crucifixion of Jesus, and 275 years before the First Council of Nicaea.
He opens his letter with this greeting (bold by Republicus):
FROM PAUL, Silvanus, and Timothy to the congregation of Thessalonians who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and Peace.
Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians 1:1
And here he says:
We believe that Jesus died and rose again.
Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians
So the belief that Jesus was the Divine, Resurrected Christ was already at the vanguard of the Christian Movement very early on, with Peter--who had been the chief disciple of Jesus-- and the apostle Paul (both of whom were the "Boys-on-the-Board," if you will) the authoritative copywriters of the Faith.
True, there were plenty of competing--and outright alien-- takes on the young, revolutionary movement at its earliest phase (even Peter and Paul had their differences) producing sub-sects of what was originally a Jewish sect, cults (like Gnosticism), and money-making counterfeit movements, but orthodox Christianity--as agreed to by Peter and Paul--won out and was formally notarized over two centuries later at the First Council of Nicaea.
[Christianity was indeed, originally, a sect of Judaism, and in the earliest days of Palestinian Christianity (headquartered in the Jerusalem church and presided over by Peter and James, the very brother--or half-brother-- of Jesus) the Christians worshipped in Herod's Temple. The irreconciliable differences with the conservative Judaic religious establishment and the fledling--but rapidly growing--movement, and the parting of ways, was partly because the Christians (the earliest of whom were Jewish, like Jesus himself and his disciples) indeed believed that Christ was not only the prophecied political
Messiah for the Jews, but a cosmic one for all mankind, the manifestation of God as Man, which was anathema to strict, monotheistic Judaism.]
But what Brown does--as do many others in his train of thought before him and will continue to do so after him--is recognize the existence of the sub-sects and cults and say: "Ah! These rejected and suppressed heresies are the true
Christianity, or are 'just as true,' and were rejected and condemned not because they were 'false,' but, maybe--who knows?--because they were the true
Christianity and rubbed against the grain of what it was radically transmogrifying into!"
And, at the time, they were the mainstream keepers of the faith!
(Yeah! Like the Gnostics!)
After all, isn't that why it took so long to make Christ's theogony and/or theophany
official, because it took that long to make a minority belief a majority, abruptly accelerated and helped along by imperial decree, i.e. because the Emperor Constantine wished it?
No. It was not made "official" for so long simply because the belief was taken for granted while the faith grew in power--as driven by that very
belief-- albeit lacking a coherent creed and "constitution."
True, the trinitarian Father, Son, Holy Spirit credo came out of the First Nicene Council, but again, that was just a formal meeting of monotheistic minds to reconcile theological conundrums (e.g. How can God be One and simultaneously Three?) and to formally notarize the phrasing (hence the Nicene Creed).
The historical dynamic is similar to this:
The United States of America was originally a set of thirteen British colonies that overwhelmingly spoke English.
In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was written, in English, by speakers of English (i.e. Thomas Jefferson, with suggestions by Benjamin Franklin).
The United States Constitution, ratified in 1789, was likewise written in English by a speaker of English (i.e. James Madison).
True, there were plenty of Dutch, French and Spanish speakers even then (here and there), but English was the primary--though not "official"-- language.
It was taken for granted.
And yet, today-- well over two centuries later--with the undermining of English primacy by alien influences--we have the United States Congress finally coming around and trying to make English "the official language"...
...with detractors arguing on behalf of the "equal legitimacy" of 18th, 19th, and 20th Century multilingualism.
Christianity, like any organization, went--and still goes--through the same pressures by competing interests and reactionary, streamlining processes.
Others--within as well as from without Congress, and among the American population, Leftists all-- are arguing in much the same way as to the historical "legitimacy" of English as Brown in his book and others argue about the historical "legitimacy" of the belief that Jesus was Jehovah the Christ:
They're arguing on behalf of minority--even anomalous--opinion that had been rejected but are now crying foul about conspiratorial "oppression" and blaming that for its own inferior status.
In short, the Son-of-God Constantine crowd must have cheated, and, of course, lied, to put forth their credo.
Isn't that the only possible reason why anti-Christian and anti-conservative liberalism is on the losing end, because it would otherwise "win" in a "fair fight" of ideas?
And isn't that how they justify their own cheating and lying, because the conservatives "started it?"
This is all part of the times, a cultural current among the loud, Leftist segment of the population that is angrily anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-war, anti-conservative, anti-Christian, anti-English, and all-in-all anti-American mainstream and made more noisy because that left-bank rivulet was backed up and now spins in an eddy and frothily churns and foams behind the dam made by the four boulders of the historic takeover of the U.S. Congress in 1994, Clinton's Impeachment in 1999, and Bush's election and re-election to the presidency in 2000 & 2004...
...all enabled--in part--by the conservative "Red-Staters..."
And so the legitimacy of the mainstream, majority establishment--its political (conservative) and religious (Judeo-Christian) ideology and value system--is now peevishly challenged and undermined for the sake of the legitimacy of a social-climbing minority-- i.e. leftist, liberal, and anti-Western secularists (who have the decibel advantage of the "mainstream" media being liberal).
This is not new.
Jesus Christ has always stood in the way of Leftists--Conservative
Jesus, that is, the pious Jew who championed the glory of the Living God and the Ten Commandments and Promised Justice--which necessitates Judgement--before being crucified and then Resurrecting (as Justified).
Liberal Jesus they have no problem with, who is--supposedly-- an anti-establishment hippy of sorts (he was actually a straight-laced conservative in his behavior and understanding of Scripture), who hung out with prostitutes and other riff-raff (though he didn't really "hang out" with them--especially if they were unrepentant), championed wretchedness and poverty (no he didn't--he assured the wretched and poor that they had the power to uplift themselves), said "Do not judge" (although he said that in the context of not being hypocritical when judging), married a prostitute (whatever), and was a victim of cruel and unusual Capital Punishment as imposed by imperial, militant fascists because they didn't like his subversive, antiwar, "Peace & Love, dudes!" shtick (again, whatever).
That's liberal Jesus.
It's the liberals making God in their own image--whereupon, of course, he ceases to be godly.
And that's why he's dead (if he ever existed, that is).
We are indeed in the midst of the Culture War, and the most anti-Christian of Leftist among The Da Vinci Code
defenders and cheerleaders know very damn well--like the Church does-- that it is more than a "fictional, 'fun,' religious thriller" and is actually an insidious undermining of foundational, conservative
Christian tenets by presenting the fiction --with not too subtle subtlety-- as the "quite possible" and even "probable" non-fictional situation that the fictional drama plays on.
Republicus is not accusing Brown, Howard, or even Hanks of colluding with some Vast, Left-Wing Conspiracy to undermine the conservative, Judeo-Christian fabric of American society (Hanks, like Republicus, is a Greek Orthodox Christian, and the Greek Orthodox Church recently followed up on the Roman Catholic Church's call for a boycott with its own), only that the source of that line of thinking indeed comes out of the Left, which views the "legitimacy" of the conservative establishment itself in much the same way as the book and film view the religious establishment:
"Al Gore (i.e. analagous here to Brown's "Holy Grail Magdalene" crowd) would've been president if the Supreme Court didn't contrive a deus ex machina
fiat and intervene-- a la the political machinery of Constantine's flexing of cuius regio eius religio
muscle on behalf of the "minority" Jesus-Son-Of-God crowd at Nicaea...
...and Kerry would've won out if it wasn't for those blasted Diebold machines!
Like the conservative Christian Church, the conservative Republicans--from the very beginning-- must have "Cheated" and "Lied" to advance their agenda and gain supremacy, just like all must who manage to get ahead in a corrupt system--i.e. the American one-- that favors liars and cheats!
It's all done in a spirit of peeved sore-loserness and anti-Americanism.
Bush won Florida fair and square in 2000.
He won Ohio fair and square in 2004.
And the belief that Christ is the same substance as God the Father won out fair and square in 325.
And all three of those events were enabled by popular precedent and majority consensus...
...pushed over the top by groundswells of conservative Christians, who therefore must be undermined and discredited religiously as well as politically.
Note that of all the 50-million-plus fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, neoconservatives, Reagan Democrats, libertarians, moderates, Republican loyalists, etc
. who voted for Bush, it was the "Red-State Religious Right" who were viciously attacked and maligned by the Left for "causing" Bush to win.
The Left was so hatefully unhinged by the debacle of the 2004 campaign that there was internet chatter--astonishingly quite serious "discussions"-- about "Red-Staters" being henceforth forbidden from deciding the nation's president (because they're "stupid, homophobic, racist, Christo-fascists"), the "Blue-States" spitefully seceding from the "Red-States," the Left's willingness to foment and fight a Civil War (against the hated "Red-State Religious Right"), etc
They presented calculations on which states--blue or red--had the wealthiest residents (the Blue States!) and paid the most in taxes (the Blue States!), where the most educated resided (the Blue States!) etc
, as if they were generals sizing up the enemy and his resources.
It's true. They were seething like that for a long time.
Meanwhile, they blame Bush--and his Religious Right constituency, of course--for being "hateful" and "divisive."
But that's just all crazy lefty talk.
First of all, the margin of victory by the popular vote was thin enough (like 3-4% or something very close to that) to spread the blame around to all of the other voting blocs (i.e. anyone of them could have made the difference if they stayed home or voted for Kerry), but the Left chose to scape-goat the conservative, Religious Right.
Second of all, a conservative would whup a liberal in a fight any day.
So they should shaddup.
Anyway, that's what's going on here. The leftist can not hope to scale and overcome the towering, cultural bulwarks of Western, Judeo-Christian Civilization constructed--by trial and error-- over millennia, so they dig tunnels underground (where they feel most at home) and try to sap the foundations and replace the anchored feet of bronze with feet of clay and hope for a collapse of the entire superstructure.To be continued in Part Two