How to use The Da Vinci Code to share the good news with others
By George P. Wood
The Da Vinci Code is not the best mystery I’ve ever read. And its historical information is inaccurate. But it gives me the opportunity to talk about Jesus with unchurched friends.
How can we use The Da Vinci Code to share the good news with others? In Acts 17:16-34, Paul talks about Jesus with people in Athens. Like many Da Vinci Code readers, the Athenians are “spiritual” but not Christian. Paul’s example suggests seven relevant evangelistic principles.
First, be reasonable. Paul is “greatly distressed” by the idols in Athens (verse 16, NIV). Instead of berating the Athenians for idolatry, however, he “reasoned” with them about it (verse 17). Similarly, some ideas in The Da Vinci Code are offensive to Christians. But those ideas are great conversation starters. So, use them as reasons to talk about Jesus.
Second, keep the focus on Jesus. Luke describes Paul’s message as “the good news about Jesus and the resurrection” (verse 18). The Da Vinci Code talks about many subjects, including, art, architecture and ancient history. You don’t need to be an expert about all of them to share your faith with others. You only need to know the historical facts about Jesus, as well as what He’s done in your own life.
Third, honor spiritual curiosity. Paul doesn’t denounce the idolatry he sees in Athens. Instead of insulting the Athenians’ religion, he honors the spiritual curiosity that motivates it. “I see that in every way you are very religious” (verse 22). We ought to show the same respect to unchurched friends who read The Da Vinci Code. It has excited their interest in spiritual matters. We can build on that curiosity, but only if we honor it first.
Fourth, provide good information. As Paul walks around Athens, he finds an idol dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” (verse 23). Instead of making fun of the Athenians for their ignorance, he shares the truth about God with them. “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you” (verse 23). The Da Vinci Code is filled with errors about Jesus, the Bible and church history. Some are big errors, others are small. Take time to provide people with the facts.
Fifth, know something about the book. In his speech at the Areopagus, Paul quotes the ideas of two Greek “poets” (verse 28). By doing so, he demonstrates to the Athenians that he is an informed and intelligent debate partner. If you want your unchurched friends to listen to your good news about Jesus, you need to listen to their ideas too. So, research The Da Vinci Code. There are plenty of detailed analyses of the book in Time, Newsweek and other news outlets. Numbers of Christian magazines have also critiqued the book in detail. Remember, uninformed critics aren’t credible evangelists.
Sixth, commit to ongoing conversation. Some of the Athenians ignore Paul, but others say, “We want to hear you again on this subject” (verse 32). People need time to make up their minds. Every time you give them good answers about The Da Vinci Code, they will come up with new and better questions. So, be patient, and keep the lines of communication open.
Finally, build relationships. Verse 34 mentions “Dionysius,” “Damaris,” and “a number of others.” These Athenians believe in Jesus because Paul informs and befriends them. He knows them by name. Sharing your faith is equal parts information and relationship. People need to hear the truth, but they also need to be loved. So, tell your unchurched friends about the love of Jesus, but show it to them as well.
George P. Wood is an associate pastor at SeaCoast Grace Church in Cypress, Calif., and an adjunct professor of religion at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif.
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