Outreach in the Wake of 'Da Vinci'
by Lee Strobel from this link
I'll be honest: my first reaction to Dan Brown's red-hot page-turner, The Da Vinci Code, was unmitigated anger. At its core, the novel's message is that Jesus is not the Son of God and that Christianity is a fraud.
While the book is appropriately labeled fiction, its clever blending of fact and fantasy has managed to convince many people that its underlying premise is true. For example, one out of every three Canadian readers of the book now believes Jesus has descendants walking around today.
The book's claims about Christianity are so outrageous, so convoluted, so contradictory and so demonstrably false that the novel has spawned a mini-industry of books debunking it. Yet that doesn't seem to have settled the matter.
The solution, I came to realize, is to stop getting angry and start using the book as a positive impetus for spiritual discussions. Now that the movie version is close to hitting the silver screen, these opportunities are going to proliferate in the coming months.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the book that sought so fervently to discredit Christianity ended up spurring countless seekers on a spiritual journey that ultimately took them to the real Jesus? We can help accomplish that spiritual jujitsu, but only if we're thoughtful about how we interact with friends and neighbors. Here are some thoughts:
- Dive into the adventure. Getting into spiritual conversations about this movie is going to be one of the easiest evangelistic endeavors in memory. People love to talk about this story.
- Read the book, see the movie. Okay, I don't like putting money into Brown's pocket any more than you do. So instead of buying the book, borrow it from the library and watch the movie at a lower-priced matinee. You'll find yourself simultaneously fascinated by the story line and frustrated by its mangling of history. Still, you've got zero credibility if you try to interact with someone without knowing firsthand what the controversy is about.
- Prepare yourself. Pick from one of the slew of Christian books that sets the historical record straight and get educated about the flaws — both obvious and subtle — in the Da Vinci story.
- Speak with gentleness and respect. After all, that's what we're told to do in 1 Peter 3:15. If we caustically criticize our friends for naively buying into the book's phony history, we're insulting them and putting them on the defensive.
- Don't assume anything. Just because your friend has read the book or seen the flick, don't presume he has bought into the story's claims. Maybe he realizes it's bunk. Ask diagnostic questions to determine the influence the book or movie had on him, such as: "What did you learn about history that surprised you?" Or, "How did the story affect your personal beliefs?" This way you can pinpoint problem areas.
- Don't major on the minors. The big issue is the way the book undercuts trust in the gospels and Jesus' deity. When time is limited, focus on these topics rather than try resolve every peripheral point.
- Partner with your church. Take advantage of outreach events, sermons, discussion groups and other initiatives your church might be undertaking. For example, invite your seeking friend to a local church on Sunday evening, May 21, to view the telecast of Dr. Erwin Lutzer dissecting the Da Vinci phenomenon. (See ccn.tv for details.)
- Remember: you're not alone. God is the Great Evangelist. Invite Him to empower and equip you — and then proceed with confidence and courage.
In a real sense, the end of The Da Vinci Code hasn't been written yet. What has wrought so much ill may very well be used by God to create great good. And the best news: He's going to use you and me to be part of His solution.
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Lee Strobel is co-author of Discussing the Da Vinci Code, a seeker-friendly, DVD-driven curriculum from Zondervan (2006).