The controversial movie Da Vinci Code will be shown in theaters of most Asian countries today. Churches have expressed deep concerns as it challenges the basic teachings of Christian faith.
Originally taken from the best-selling novel written by Dan Brown with the same title, the contents of the movie have given rise to controversy and speculation especially in regard to the traditional teachings of the church concerning Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.
In Malaysia, though it is an Islamic country, the small Christian community has responded vigorously to the crisis. In a statement released by the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM), Bishop Tan Sri Dr. Lim Cheng Ean strictly declared that "all mysterious speculations are in complete variance to the claims of the New Testament and the teachings of the church."
Some of the very controversial points entailed in the novel included "Mary Magdalene represented the feminine cult and the Holy Grail of traditional lore," "Jesus is alleged to have been married to Mary Magdalene and had children," and "Jesus was not seen as divine by His followers until Emperor Constantine declared him so for his own purposes."
CCM suggested the Christians who read the book or see the forthcoming movie to consider the book as "a fictional novel" only. Churches are also advised to hold special forums or give sermons to educate Christians on the fallacy of claims arising from the plot of the story. Furthermore, with the aid of books or websites, Christians should be well-informed and counter the inaccurate claims of Da Vinci Code.
Seminari Theologi Malaysia (STM) will be organizing seminars on April 23 at KL Wesley church in Jalan Wesley, Kuala Lumpur, and on April 24 at the STM multi-purpose hall in Jalan Tampin Lama, Seremban, from 3: 30 to 5: 30 p.m., to provide answers to the controversies.
In the predominately Catholic Philippines, there is a mounting pressure to ban the controversial film. A biblical expert Fr. Regino Cortes, a professor of Sacred Scripture at the University of Santo Tomas, has published a 131-pages book, "The Da Vinci Code: An Exegetical Review," seeking to rectify what the author of the Da Vinci Code claims are apparent inaccuracies.
"The faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, co-substantial with the Father (Yahweh), has been part of the Christian conviction since the beginning," Cortes writes, according to the ING7.net. He notes that the affirmation was clearly in the prologue of the Gospel of St. John at the beginning of the second century.
Cortes, even though has strictly rebuked the fantasies the book was trying to show, he pointed out that the final judgment on what the author claimed should be left to the public.
"Let the reader and movie audience enjoy the thrill of the chase and suspense," he writes in his book. "But let the objective reality about God and His communication to mankind remain intact to guide every soul toward one's final destiny."
Consoliza Laguardia, head of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), said a local anti-pornography group has sought the banning of the film, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
"There is pressure," she said. "But we have to see it first and see the context in its entirety."