Barbara Nicolsi, a writer for Christianity Today, suggests a different strategy for the release of The Da Vinci Code (2 weeks away at the time of this post). Nicolsi says don't boycott the movie, don't use it as a means for evangelism, instead ... othercott it.
Go to another movie on the heavily scrutinized opening weekend. Cast your vote at the ticket box. That is what Hollywood pays attention to anyway.
She's got a point, I must admit. Maybe it would be a good time to go see United 93 if you haven't already.
Nicolsi makes an interesting argument. She says don't debate the devil. Don't start out on his ground. Nicolsi compiles what she thinks will be a typical dialog about DVC.
Here's a typical DVC-inspired dialogue. See if you can find a search for truth in it.Nicolsi's other concern is that some sheep will be led away by this tripe. The church is vulnerable to heresy due to a climate of biblical illiteracy and anti-intellectualism that infects the modern evangelical church. Maybe. But is running away the best strategy?
It usually starts with something like this: "Everybody knows that the Church Fathers were liars. Can you prove the compilation of the Bible wasn't pure politics?"
And just when you start saying, "Well, I don't agree that the Church Fathers were--", the questioner moves on with eyes flashing unnaturally, "Why is the Church so afraid of women, huh? Why has it suppressed them since the beginning? Answer THAT!"
You clear your throat and say, "Well, I wouldn't say that the Church is afr--"
But they've moved on: "The fact is, there is no evidence for the Resurrection. Have you ever read the Gospel of Mary Magdalene?"
"Well, no, but--"
"See you people are all brain-washed." [Exhalation of disgust.] "How so many people could be so stupid is amazing to me."
When you debate with Satan, there is no opportunity for anything but people digging their heels into the sludge of chaos and confusion.
Now, juxtapose Nicolsi's strategy with a comment I received yesterday on my blog.
A commenter named Sonia writes :
"The book and the movie have created an incredible opportunity for Christians to discuss history, church history, art and scriptures with the average Joe on the streets. I can't tell you how many times I've had conversations with co-workers or other folks I rub shoulders with that normally wouldn't touch conversations of the "religious" type with a ten-foot pole.Right on! This Sunday School teacher / engineer is to be commended. Instead of running from heresy, he chose to equip to engage. Debates in a Sunday School -- I love it! That'll wake up the sleepy heads, right?
I have to admit, while I was more prepared than some to handle the questions, I could not have done it without the extra preparation provided by our Sunday School teacher at church - an engineer who holds a degree in Christian Thought. We held debates and even had homework. We've dug through the Council of Nicaea, Constantine, historicity of scriptures (in comparison with other historical documents) as well as having had to read several Gnostic Gospels.
Let's use this to our advantage!"
So what to do?
Nicolsi is right that DVC enthusiasts are not exactly on a search for truth. They are on a hunt for vindication. Trying to winsomely engage such types borders on throwing pearls before the swine.
For example, I had someone challenge me recently on evidence for the resurrection. I responded and then got some snarky comments thrown back in my face. I then asked, how would it change his life if he got a video tape of the resurrection and knew for a fact that it really happened. He answered honestly. It wouldn't change a thing. And then he proceeded to tell me why he thought God was unfair and unjust. Bingo. The real issue surfaced. Evidence was not the real issue and never was. Now we can make some progress. What spawned this discussion? A post on the Da Vinci Code ;)
So Nicolsi is right ... and we definitely do NOT need to spend hours throwing pearls before the swine. Let's go watch another movie on May 19th (she suggests a Dreamworks flick for the kids called Over The Hedge). I am okay with that. But let's follow the example of Sonia's Sunday School teacher and equip folks with good answers ... and prepare them for how to deal with hostile people. Perhaps a list of good questions to ask would be in order.
Like ... "How about if you got a DVD from God, which was authentic, and it showed that the resurrection of Christ really happened, how would it change your life?"