CUNNINGLY DEVISED FABLES
The first apostles of Christ knew the difference between fact and fiction. The New Testament writer we know as the apostle Peter wrote:
We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Pet. 1:16).
Peter affirmed that the historic Christian faith does not rest on cleverly invented stories that have no basis in fact. “Cunningly devised” could literally be translated “artfully framed by human cleverness.”
The Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament makes the following observation:
Certain unspecified Gnostic teachings are in view in 2 Peter 1:16, but the warning is a general one to shun contact with all false doctrines, which can pass on only myths and not the realities of revelation.
Notice that this biblical dictionary identifies Gnostic teaching and myths that are not consistent with events recorded in Scripture as “cunningly devised fables.”
The word fables is literally mythos, from which we get the word myth. Other commentators see a connection with Gnostic teachings as well. For example:
The reference here may be . . . to Gnostic speculations about aeons or emanations which rose from the eternal abyss (Vincent and Wuest).
This is not to say that all fiction or myth is wrong. Some ancient myths, such as Aesop’s fables or Zen parables, have stood the test of time as fictional morality lessons. They are not written to make claims about history but to illustrate principles that speak to the human heart. Likewise, well-written novels can use imagination combined with a historical backdrop to tell a gripping and insightful story. The Da Vinci Code, however, alters the facts of history to promote a Gnostic and fanciful portrait of Jesus. The result is a bestselling “cunningly devised fable.”
The New Testament warns:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).
Down through the centuries, what Paul called “doctrines of demons” have been competing with the truth for the minds and hearts of each generation.
In 1942, an Oxford scholar and Christian apologist named C. S. Lewis tried to imagine the mindset and strategies of such demons in a book called Screwtape Letters. It’s a collection of fictional letters from a senior demon named Screwtape to a novice demon named Wormwood, his nephew and protégé. Screwtape gives his nephew advice about how to use lies and deception to keep the young man he was assigned to from seeing the truth about “the enemy.”
In one exchange, Screwtape encourages Wormwood to try to distract his “patient” from the real Jesus by using the idea of “a historical Jesus.” Screwtape says:
In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a “historical Jesus” on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new “historical Jesus” on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct men’s devotion to something which does not exist, for each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical. The documents [the New Testament Gospels] say what they say and cannot be added to; each new “historical Jesus” therefore has to be got out of [the Scriptures] by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another (pp.123-124).
The Jesus of The Da Vinci Code is an alleged “historical Jesus.” The book calls Christ a wonderful man while denying that He was anything more. Brown’s fictional Grail hunter for instance, says, “Nobody is saying Christ was a fraud, or denying that He walked the earth and inspired millions to better lives. All we are saying is that Constantine took advantage of Christ’s substantial influence and importance. And in doing so, he shaped the face of Christianity as we know it today” (p.234).
As we have seen, there is no evidence that Constantine tried to alter the record of the Old or New Testament Scriptures. And because of the way the Scriptures had been copied, distributed, and written about, Constantine could not have altered the existing biblical record even if he had wanted to.
Anyone who calls Jesus a good teacher, but not God and Savior, can do so only by ignoring or dismissing the combined evidence. The Jewish prophets, apostolic eyewitnesses, church fathers, and hundreds of millions of people over the last 2,000 years have followed Christ long enough to find the truth in Him.
By contrast, The Da Vinci Code combines fiction with distortion of fact, referencing second- and third-century writings of known enemies of the church, a conspiracy theory, and unproven claims of “genealogical documents” that have never been found.
The truth about Christ is more amazing than fiction— and far more believable.