Subscribe to our email list and receive discounts and special offers from Watchman


New--Now Available

The Profile Notebook on CD-ROM
The Profile Notebook on CD-ROM

Also available by download for $9.95!

Donate Online

Quick Links

New Age

Members of:

Profile Notebook

Profile NotebookOnly $39.95, this 312 page-plus binder includes over 75 Profiles. Also available as CD-ROM or Download!

YOU ARE HERE:   Home >  Articles >  New Age >  The Da Vinci “CON”troversy

For more information on the New Age and Postmodernism movements, please visit our web catalog; or click here to order a free information packet.

The Da Vinci “CON”troversy

By Bob Waldrep

Since its release in 2003, over forty million copies of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown have been sold worldwide. An incredible run of over 59 weeks on the bestsellers list means it is one of the most financially successful novels ever. Though primarily due to an effective marketing strategy, part of its success must also be attributed to the controversy it created; one that has carried over to the film version released by Sony Pictures on May 19. Realizing the controversy, Sony hired two consultants to help address concerns. One, Grace Hill Media, developed two Internet sites ( and with articles challenging the book’s questionable views. Such a move might seem counterproductive were it not for the fact that Sony, like Brown, realized that controversy sells. Hollywood notables Ron Howard, directing, and Tom Hanks, starring in the movie, should also assure it of blockbuster status.

As the book increased in popularity, and with the film’s release, many Christian leaders, including, theologians, historians, and apologists realized the need to address the book’s incredulous claims. These responses caused others to wonder why so many Christians were upset about a mystery novel? “After all,” they would say, “it’s just a fictional book.” But is it?

Why the Controversy

Though presented as a work of fiction, the book is filled with religious themes and set in a historical context that tends to make its shocking claims about Jesus and the Church seem more real and credible to the reader. In fact, Brown said, "I began as a skeptic. As I started researching The Da Vinci Code I really thought I would disprove a lot of this theory about Mary Magdalene and holy blood and all of that. I became a believer." 1

Click here to see the interview with Dan Brown!

Many of these beliefs are expressed through the book’s principle characters. Brown said as much in a statement given in a suit over intellectual property rights filed against Brown’s publisher by the authors of one of Brown’s source books, Holy Blood Holy Grail.

“Characters in my novels often speak for me, or reflect my experiences.” 2

“My hope in writing this novel [The Da Vinci Code] was that the story would serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith, religion, and history.” 3

These “important topics” can be summed up in, at least, three primary assertions made by the book that are in opposition to the beliefs held by the Christian Church:

  1. The Bible cannot be trusted
  2. Jesus is not God, nor did the first century church believe him to be God
  3. Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and intended to restore the worship of the goddess

The Bible Cannot be Trusted

“At the outset of the project [writing The Da Vinci Code], one of my desires was to explore the origin of the Bible...[this] took me to the Gnostic Gospels (essentially those parts of the Bible that were drafted, but ultimately did not appear in the final version)…the story we read in the Bible is a partial story and it is an edited story. Many historians believe that the Gnostic Gospels are one of the missing pieces.” Dan Brown 4

One of Brown’s characters, Leigh Teabing, a renowned religious historian, shares this view held by the author:

"The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not God." 5 "More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion...Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ's human traits and embellished those gospels that made him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned." 6

Jesus is not God

That is not all Brown believes happened at the Council of Nicea, as further attested to by Teabing.

“At this gathering [Council of Nicea] many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon [including] the divinity of Jesus...until that moment in history [325 AD], Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet...Jesus' establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council...A relatively close vote at that.” 7

Does Teabing truly express Brown’s belief about the Council of Nicea and the divinity of Jesus? Here is what Brown had to say on this:

As soon as The Da Vinci Code was published and had become a runaway success, I found myself in a firestorm of controversy…I remember being attacked by one man over my description of the Council of Nicea (specifically the claim that there had been a vote on Jesus' divinity), and I recall feeling defenceless (sic) because more than a year had passed since I'd researched and written the novel, and the precise names, dates, places, and facts had faded somewhat in my memory...if I were going to effectively discuss my work on an international stage, I would need...’a refresher course.’ This involved going back to our original resource materials and memorising (sic) the details surrounding those ideas about which critics were most upset - the bloodline, the Council of Nicea, Jesus as a husband, etc. 8

If Brown truly doesn’t intend for the theories in his book to be taken as factual, he could have easily dismissed this critic by reminding him this is a fictional account and, therefore, should not be considered an accurate description of the Council of Nicea. Instead, Brown returns to his “resources” to better prepare to defend his account against future critics; hardly the action of a man who does not believe in the accuracy of these claims.

Jesus, Magdalene and Goddess Worship

Perhaps the most controversial of Brown’s assertions is his belief that Jesus was married and on a mission to restore the worship of the sacred feminine. In support of this, Brown’s characters put forth the idea that Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail, the lost chalice.

"...the greatest cover-up in human history. Not only was Jesus Christ married, but He was a father. My dear, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Vessel. She was the chalice that bore the royal bloodline of Jesus Christ. She was the womb that bore the lineage, and the vine from which the sacred fruit sprang forth.” 9

" was not Peter to whom Christ gave directions with which to establish the Christian Church. It was Mary Magdalene...Jesus was the original feminist. He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene." 10

"The Priory of Sion, to this day, still worships Mary Magdalene as the Goddess, the Holy Grail, the Rose, and the Divine Mother." 11

Comments made by Brown indicate this is not just a fictional concept for him, but represent his personal beliefs that have been carefully and skillfully woven into the fabric of the book.

Margaret Starbird's books [The Woman With the Alabaster Jar and The Goddess In the Gospels] opened our eyes to the concept of the Church's subjugation of the sacred feminine...”I began to realize that history barely mentioned the Church's systemic subjugation of the sacred feminine.

My eyes were now wide open to the idea of the suppression of the sacred feminine. My reading convinced me that there was a great case to be put forward that woman had been unfairly treated in the eyes of society for hundreds of years if not longer, and that religion had played a big part in this. 13 I could not imagine how this information about suppressing the sacred feminine had been done or why it was not known in the mainstream. Blythe…encouraged me to incorporate the theme of the sacred feminine and the goddess. 14

This concept of the lost sacred feminine became the backbone of The Da Vinci Code and would become the central theme of the novel...the novel 'draws heavily on the sacred feminine.'" 15

I also decided to describe the Priory as "the pagan goddess worship cult" in order to further steer the emphasis of the novel towards Mary Magdalene and the lost feminine. This portrayal of the role and ideology of the Priory was my personal interpretation. 16

Interestingly, a prominent scene used in promoting the movie has the lead characters standing before a cryptic phrase, “SO DARK THE CON OF MAN,” written on the protective glass of the Mona Lisa. (This is also a website –—promoting the movie). Its meaning is very telling. Concerning it, the book’s principle character, Robert Langdon, states it is a “proclamation of one of the Priory’s most fundamental philosophies!”...a belief that powerful men in the early Christian church ‘conned’ the world by propagating lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine.” 17

Fiction or Historical

Though The Da Vinci Code markets itself as fiction, many of the books referenced in it are real and are claimed to be historical. For example, to substantiate his claims, Teabing appeals to his “fictional” library and cites real books found on its “fictional” shelves:

“The royal bloodline of Jesus Christ has been chronicled in exhaustive detail by scores of historians [in books such as] ...The Templar Revelation, The Woman With the Alabaster Jar, The Goddess in the Gospels, [and] ...perhaps the best known tome…Holy Blood, Holy Grail.” 18

From Brown’s court statement, it is apparent he gleaned much of the information, regarding the theories in The Da Vinci Code, from these same books and wants his readers to seriously consider their claims.

“I chose to include the title of Holy Blood, Holy Grail in this chapter (along with three other non-fiction books - The Templar Revelation, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar, and The Goddess in the Gospels in the hope that any readers who became curious about some of the ideas in my book, a fictional thriller, would know where to turn to find jump-off points for additional reading material and more details...Offering the reader a glance at someone else's bookshelf seemed like an entertaining way to offer other reading material.” 19

Were the reader to “jump-off” into The Templar Revelation, as Brown suggests, he would find it not only supports Brown’s assertions about Jesus and Mary but, more clearly defines them. For example, The Templar Revelation makes the following claims:

“Jesus and Mary Magdalene were initiates of the Isis and Osiris mysteries...” 20

"Jesus was an Isian priest who was trying to present an acceptable version of the Isis/Osiris religion to the Jews..." 21

"...he [Jesus] was using the Messianic mania current at the reintroduce goddess worship..." 22

Incredibly, Brown promotes books, such as The Templar Revelation, that have no basis in fact while dismissing the Bible as being false. Note the view expressed about the New Testament and faith as discussed in the following conversation in The Da Vinci Code:

“‘But you told me the New Testament is based on fabrications.’ Langdon smiled. ‘Sophie, every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith – acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove.’” 23

Nowhere does Brown, or his characters, suggest the reader "jump-off" into the Bible for the facts about Jesus. Why not? Because the Jesus of the Bible, his mission, and the Church portrayed there, stand in stark contrast to the Jesus that Dan Brown wants his readers to embrace.

Engaging the Culture

It is important to remember that while Brown is wrong on who Jesus is and what His mission is, Christians can agree with him in hoping “the story would serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith, religion, and history.” The book and the movie provide a wonderful opportunity to engage the culture with the “facts” about Jesus, His mission, and the Bible. It is not enough simply to disagree with Brown; one must also be prepared to discuss the errors in the context of presenting the truth. While the interest level is high, Christians should be determined and prepared to utilize the opportunities it presents to discuss and share the real Jesus and the real Gospel with those in need.

Obviously, not every Christian is mature enough and/or knowledgeable enough to respond to the false claims of The Da Vinci Code. Those who are should be ready to give an answer; those who are not should take the time to learn from some of the excellent resources now available.

The facts are: the Bible is trustworthy, Jesus is God and the mission of Jesus, as taught by Him and understood by his followers, is not about the sacred feminine, it is about knowing and having a relationship with the only true God.

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. John 3:17 NAS

Sources Cited

  1. ABC News Primetime SpecialJesus, Mary and Da Vinci, airdate 11/03/03
  2. Baigent and Leigh v. The Random House Group Limited, High Court of Justice Chancery Division, First Witness Statement of Dan Brown, 21 December 2005. Paragraph 146
  3. Ibid Paragraph 217
  4. Ibid Paragraph 91-92
  5. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown, Doubleday, 2003. p. 231
  6. Ibid pp. 231, 234
  7. Ibid p. 233
  8. Ibid First Witness Statement of Dan Brown. Paragraph 195-196
  9. Ibid The Da Vinci Code p. 249
  10. Ibid p. 248
  11. Ibid p. 255
  12. Ibid First Witness Statement of Dan Brown. Paragraph 111
  13. Ibid Paragraph 112
  14. Ibid Paragraph 113
  15. Ibid Paragraph 114
  16. Ibid Paragraph 115
  17. Ibid The Da Vinci Code p. 124
  18. Ibid p. 253
  19. Ibid First Witness Statement of Dan Brown. Paragraph 147
  20. The Templar Revelation - Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, Touchstone, 1998. p. 293
  21. Ibid p. 297
  22. Ibid p. 296
  23. Ibid p. 341

Rev. Bob Waldrep, MRE, serves as State Director—Alabama at Watchman Fellowship’s Birmingham, AL office. Bob is also an ordained Southern Baptist Minister and serves as Lay Pastor for the Church at Brook Hills. You can email Bob by clicking here.

For more information on the New Age and Postmodernism movements, please visit our web catalog; or click here to order a free information packet.