As I said, I was one of the folks in the pews recently at a DVC event at a local Evangelical church. The funniest part of the night (and scariest...but if you don't laugh that only leaves screaming as an appropriate response) came after several of the Evangelical panel guys had gone through long speeches about how Christians should welcome DVC as an opportunity for dialogue. Then, they opened the floor up for questions and the first women querier did a version of, "I don't have any problem with the fact that Jesus had sex." HA!
Unbelievable! Let's all march our troops into dialogue. The fact that our troops are completely disarmed for a fight seems to be irrelevent!
Particularly Evangelical sheep will be ripe for slaughter from DVC. All they have to go to battle with is the Bible. But DVC undermines Biblical authorityby saying that the Bible was the product of a purely political process. So, now, sola-Scriptura sheep have no posture in the DVC infected pasture.
I had a long conversation with a magazine reporter this morning about the appeal and impact of this, in which I reiterated the points I made in my piece at the Jesus Decoded website - that there are levels to readers' "belief" in DVC. Of those who buy the history presented within, there are those who indeed believe the Jesus/MM - bloodline business. There are more, however who fit it into what they've picked up from pop culture and even from their church's "religious education" - that the "real Jesus" is essentially unknowable, a construct of various communities, who all had different views and experiences, so this story is as good as any other. A third group cares not whit about the details, but about the general principle. I regularly get emails from readers with the title "Your Da Vinci review" or something, and the email goes on to never mention DVC once- it's all about "Your religious faith is blinding you to the real nature of Christianity and the evil that the Catholic Church has propogated over two thousand years."
As many of us have been saying - this is an opportunity of sorts. We've gone over that here over and over. But there's a different kind of opportunity as well: for Christian preachers and teachers to realize and admit that they've failed. That throwing a Scripture passage at someone and asking them to reflect on what it means to them or sharing what it means to you in the here and now does nothing to communicate the truth and power of the Gospel. It becomes just one more story, just one more gift book of wise sayings to flip through, "get something out of" and forget.
I hesitate to link to the dreadful sell-out "Da Vinci Dialogue" website run by Grace Hill Media, paid by Sony, with the intention of selling this movie to Christians, but I did check it out this morning and happened upon two articles on the Jesus/Mary issue, one by Catholic Sister Rose Pacatte, and the other by Tony Compolo. Both of them, unfortunately, miss the point completely, a point that's been made by Michael here - in part, though..and I really, really wish he would finish it because this is just a key point that no one is making. Compolo says:
What should not upset Christians is the idea that Jesus, whom they believe to be God incarnate, could not have been married and have had children, which the plot of the movie contends, and still have been divine. I must raise the question: “Why not?”
Is there something sinful about having sexual intercourse?
Is marriage something that lessens a person’s spirituality?
Is having children something that would keep the Son of God from being wholly submissive to His Father?
The answer to all of these questions is “No.”
I have asked several prominent theologians if getting married, having sexual intercourse, and fathering a child would have diminished, in any way, the sacredness of Jesus. There was unified agreement that there is no reason to suppose that it would have. To answer otherwise would be to suggest that there was something inherently evil about marriage. To propose that sexual intercourse cannot be a holy act would be to contradict all the good things that Christian ethicists have been trying to tell us about sex for the last several centuries. But, in spite of what these scholars say, there are still negative connotations to sexuality in the minds of most Christians, and that is why so many are angry about a movie that makes Jesus into a married man.
Tony Compolo is a Christian, yes? Coming from a strand of Christianity that suggests it knows Scripture better than anyone, yes?
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God). He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, (for) the old order has passed away."
The sniffing at the "offense" at a Jesus/MM marriage does not indicate an enlightened view of sexuality. It indicates an ignorance of Scripture and a startlingly low Christology, if you even want to call it "Christology." Jesus is married. His bride has a name: Church. In the mystery of this union, we are all wedded to Christ, we all have the holy bloodline coursing through our veins.
When we were at St. Peter's, Katie commented that the baldacchino over the altar looked like a 4-poster bed.
Our guide, seminarian Jeff Kirby from Charleston, said, "Exactly." That is not the whole point - but it certainly part of the imagery. Here, God and His people enter into intimate Communion, becoming, in a sense, one.
A wedding of Jesus and MM isn't "offensive." It's diminished. It's a crude, shrunken imaging of the truth, and to discuss it without the greater theological truth at hand is to bear out Barb's point perfectly. Do we even know what we're talking about, as we enter this...er..."dialogue?"