NEW YORK - Dan Brown's conspiracy-theory thriller makes its world premier at the Cannes Film Festival in France next week. It's a movie opening that has the entire world talking. So what exactly is producing so much commotion and drawing people to a fictional story that has sold more than 40 million copies, ask religious scholars.
"I think there's a simple answer to that question," said Dr. Darrell Bock, author of Breaking the Da Vinci Code, "and that is for most people, early Christian history is a large black hole."
Many Christians and educators have alluded to a large ignorance among the people of faith on church history that have led professing believers to doubt and question Jesus' divinity, Scripture and what the Church has been teaching for thousands of years.
"Dan Brown is capable of passing fiction for fact because Christians don’t know their faith — what and why they believe," commented Fr. Jonathan Morris on a web page created by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Grace Hill Media in respect to the religious concerns raised by the film.
According to a poll commissioned by the North American Mission Board and conducted by the research firm Zogby International, the more a person knew of The Da Vinci Code – whether by having read the book or being familiar with its content – the more likely they were to consider the claims of the novel to be true. And the more familiar they were with the content, the more likely they are to believe that Christianity is suppressing the "truth."
After Bock announced the one of a kind global debate on The Da Vinci Code set for May 15 in Manhattan at a press conference on Thursday, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, London Times Preacher of the Year, praised best-selling author Brown in response to the widespread discussions triggered by the novel.
On a positive note, 44 percent of Americans who had read or heard about The Da Vinci Code said they are more likely to seek truth through studying the Bible. Additionally, 72 percent said they consider the Bible closer to the truth than Brown's novel.
"Any book that causes the public to want to inform itself about great historical issues is to be praised and Dan Brown, therefore, is to be praised," said Shmuley, a past speaker of the successful Passion of the Christ debate that drew a jam-packed house to hear religious scholars duel it out on "Who Really Killed Jesus?"
The same sell-out audience is expected for The Da Vinci Code Debate that will be held Monday at the Hilton New York Hotel with live video-streaming available at www.DaVinciDebateNY.com. Along with an Orthodox Rabbi and a Messianic Jew, both of whom contested each other two years ago, Chosen People Ministries has added an Evangelical Christian to the mix.
Bock plans to look at the novel from a Christian angle but also from a Jewish perspective, pointing out the anti-Jewish elements in the religious thriller that have not been recognized or fully addressed.
Amid the large anticipation for the film release of The Da Vinci Code on May 19, most religious scholars including the three debaters agree that Christians are largely uneducated in their faith history. Dr. Michael Brown, founder and president of ICN Ministries, nevertheless is unconcerned with the film's impact on the faith of Christians.
"This has revealed some of the faulty foundations and faith ... of many professing Christians and therefore, once the shaking is through, that which is unshakable will remain," said Brown. "So I welcome the shaking because it's actually going to ultimately lead to deeper questions which will lead to more solid foundations."
"I'm completely unconcerned that The Da Vinci Code is actually going to damage people's faith in a lasting way," the ministry head stated. "Let that which is fragile be shaken."