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With the movie version of “The Da Vinci Code” opening in theaters, I thought it good to share some factual background and expose some excesses of the story.

Nothing in recent history has sold like Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. Based on a fable that has been around for ages, it sold 12 million copies in the United States and more than 40 million worldwide.

Brown took advantage of a money-making machine when he put his mystery together–hinting it was based on facts, history and “truths the Catholic Church did not want us to know.” As such he misrepresents the truth and promotes doubt in the minds of religious-seeking people.

Rather than go through the book’s premise I will use this space to outline the five greatest and misleading lies.

Number One: In the story The Priory of Sion is supposed to be a group that protects the secret of the Holy Grail. This is how Leonardo da Vinci gets involved. He is said to have once been the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion.

This is pure fiction. The Priory of Sion was established in 1956 by a crackpot Frenchman. He has been exposed time and again as a fraud. Leonardo could not have been a part of the Priory of Sion.

Number Two: Brown claims that politics of the time determined what went into the New Testament.

This is laughable. By mid-second century the four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were widely accepted as the foundations of Christianity. The Catholic Church was yet to develop and Rome’s laws said that Christianity was an illegal religion.

Number Three: Detractors of Christianity have long claimed that Emperor Constantine invented the idea that Christ was divine in the year A.D. 325.

Constantine died in A.D. 337, 12 years after he is supposed to have come up with the idea of declaring Jesus the Christ as being divine. He was baptized on his deathbed. Had he believed earlier that Christ was divine, why wait so long to join the faith? All religions have myths clinging to them, Christianity is no exception.

Number Four: Brown’s simple research tells him Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married.

Brown research did not cover much authentic ground. He cherry-picked myths that fit his premise. Sex sells, and especially if it involves a cover-up. Jesus’ words and mission, recorded by people who knew him, could not have overlooked any such wedding had it taken place.

Number Five: Mary Magdalene was demonized, made a prostitute, to suppress her and other women’s influence in the growth of Christianity.

The truth of Mary Magdalene is easily discovered in the New Testament’s four Gospels. Actually, she was the first Christian preacher. She was the one who found the tomb empty.

It was a male-dominated world, so she immediately went to the disciples telling them the Good News. For following the crucifixion the disciple’s fears led them to hide from both Romans and Jews.

Mary Magdalene, after Jesus’ mother, was the second most revered saint of the Middle Ages. “That’s an odd way to demonize,” wrote Amy Welborn

The spiritual hunger of the world has helped create this clamor for such a story. People are tired, indifferent and confused and looking for something they can trust. That is why the New Age junk-religions are so popular. Junk religion like junk food lacks nutrition. A humble, sincere and seeking heart is all that is needed to find the loving God Jesus came to reveal.

Britt Towery is a retired Baptist missionary. His column appears each Friday in the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.

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