June 9, 2006

Letters to the Editor

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Da Vinci craze presents opportunity to explain Catholic faith to others

Like many other Christians, I am appalled at the popularity of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

However, as a Catholic Christian, I think it may provide an opportunity to clear up a few of the misconceptions about what Catholics believe, and why.

The Da Vinci Code portrays Jesus Christ as a married man, a notion that almost all Christians consider blasphemous. Catholics and Protestants agree on this point. But—as Brown’s book correctly implies—the Bible does not specifically state that Jesus was not married.

We know that Jesus wasn’t married because every generation of Christians since the Apostles has believed and taught that he wasn’t. (This teaching of beliefs not explicitly stated in the Bible is called “tradition.” Whether Protestants realize it or not, Catholics and Protestants have many such shared traditions.)

The Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, and Christian truth can never contradict it. But it is incorrect to say that all Christian truth is explicitly written in the Bible. In fact, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 specifically says, “… hold to the teachings we [Paul and the Apostles] passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.”

The Da Vinci Code controversy may also inspire some Christians to consider how Catholic doctrine is formulated. New doctrines are not periodically “invented.” A particular point of faith (such as Jesus remaining unmarried) may be taught for thousands of years without being formally defined. It is only formally defined when it is challenged by heretical ideas.

For example: If the “Jesus was married” error ever becomes widespread, the Catholic Church will eventually call a council to formally decree what Christianity has always taught—that Jesus was not married. Generations later, other Christians may claim that Catholics “invented the doctrine” of Jesus’ celibacy at (for example) the Council of Rome in the year 2010.

Maybe Catholics shouldn’t view The Da Vinci Code, with all its errors, as a stumbling block. Maybe we should see it instead as a golden opportunity to explain our faith to other Christians. God can bring good out of any circumstance (see Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50, especially Genesis 50:20).

- Lynne O’Brien, Whiteland

Reader: Brown mastered the art of lying to make millions for himself

When Jesus asked his Apostles, “But who do you say I am?” Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).

As Christians, we hold to this truth of the divinity of Christ. He is our Lord and our God. May his name be praised forever.

Recently, I heard a preacher say regarding Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code: “Folks, it’s only a novel.”

But how can we underestimate the influence of a novel for good or for evil? Many novels have opened our minds to truth. For example, The Color Purple revealed the horrible conditions of slavery.

If you make a lie outrageous enough, it will be believed. Brown has mastered this art.

By the way, Judas received 30 pieces of silver for his betrayal of Christ. Evidently, the monetary rewards for such transactions have skyrocketed since Brown has received millions for his works.

-Eileen M. Cassidy, Indianapolis


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