22 May 2006
The Da Vinci Code
The identity of Jesus of Nazareth is at the heart of the controversy created by The Da Vinci Code.
Once Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" Just as it was back then, there are also many people today who, like Dan Brown, say that Jesus was just one of the prophets, a mere man.
Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, "But who do you say that I am?" That is the crucial question we must answer.
In his "fiction based on fact," Dan Brown claims that the Deity of Christ was a new doctrine invented at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. "Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet … a great and powerful man, but man nonetheless … Jesus' establishment as 'the Son of God' was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea … A relatively close vote at that."
Is that true? Let's take a look at the facts. I give a short sample of quotations from the writings of the early Christians, all of whom lived at least 100 years before the Council of Nicea. This is what they believed:
"For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God's plan." (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians. A.D. 110).
"[Christ] we worship as the Son of God." (The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp. A.D. 155/157).
"He that came down from heaven in the Holy Spirit for the salvation of men is confessed to be the Son of the Most High God." (Aristides of Athens, Apology. A.D. 140).
"We will prove that we worship Him reasonably; for we have learned that He is the Son of the True God Himself." (St Justin Martyr, First Apology. A.D. 148-155).
"We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in the form of a man." (Tatian the Syrian, Address to the Greeks. A.D. 165/175).
"For Christ is the God over all; who has arranged to wash away sin from mankind, rendering the old man new." (Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies. A.D. 222).
"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation." (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies. A.D. 189/199).
"God alone is without sin. The only man without sin is Christ; for Christ is also God." (Tertullian, The Soul. A.D. 208/212).
"He alone is both God and man, and the source of all our good things." (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks. A.D. 200).
These early Christians witnessed to the faith of the universal church before Nicea: with one mouth they confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!
The Council was convoked because Arius begun to teach that the Son was a created being. The bishops reaffirmed the faith embraced by the church from the very beginning because it was the clear teaching of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Only two out of about 300 bishops failed to sign the creed. Hardly a cliffhanger!
To Jesus' question, the apostle Peter replied for the whole church, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." That is our confession too. Dan Brown novel is fiction based on falsehood; it will not shake the Rock on which our faith is securely built!