Power of Prayer: The Da Vinci Code

With Ron Howard behind the camera, Tom Hanks in front and a controversy brewing, it will likely the first hit of the summer. The Da Vinci Code, both book and movie, are supposed to be works of fiction. But author Dan Brown claims his story is based on some fact. The most controversial, Jesus was merely a man, who was married, had children and the early church conspired to cover it up.

Dr. Warren Johnson teaches biblical studies at East Texas Baptist University. He says Brown's "facts" just don't hold up to biblical or historical scrutiny. "His portrait of how the books of the new testament come to be collected together, which ones are accepted as authoritative and which ones are rejected, it has a number of historical flaws in it," says Dr. Johnson. "There are objective reasons to believe that what we have in the new testament is at least a reliable record of the origins of Christianity.  The debate, the dispute that is going on now, the real question is what was Christianity at its beginning, and we have historical reasons for believing the Bible is an accurate record of those beginnings of Christianity."

The release of the movie has spawned dozens books and web sites "de-coding" the Da Vinci Code. At the local church, most ministers agree the Da Vinci code presents a challenge to the faithful to understand more about the origins of what the believe... none more than those of the Catholic faith, who are the center of the conspiracy theory in the movie.

Rev. Msgr. Joseph E. Strickland has read the book. "I guess I would describe it as kind of playing fast and loose with history, with the Bible, with who Christ is, with the Catholic church, with Christianity," says Father Strickland. Both Father Strickland and Dr. Johnson agree that may not be a bad thing.

If the movie does nothing else it has created a discussion about Jesus, something both men believe Christians should embrace as an opportunity. "I guess the thrust that we are encouraging is taking it as an educational opportunity, to look at some of the early history of the church and how the scriptures came together how the Bible really formed," says Father Strickland. "I think one dangerous thing for Christians to do would be attempt to run from the Da Vinci Code. Because it has become such a noticeable part of at least our popular culture today. But if we appear to be afraid of it we appear to give credence to it. I would prefer to confront it and say this is what the book or movie say and here is what we know from history," says Dr. Johnson.

Clint Yeatts reporting, cyeatts@kltv.com