Hey, you know, we're all aware that Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code has been a marketing sensation, and the movie has brought in over $315 million in the first two weekends. Now, one of the amazing things, though, is the tremendous amount of literature that has been generated against this book and against this movie. Writing in an article in the Washington Post several weeks ago, one reporter said, and I quote, Hundreds of churches are using debunking kits and at least seven television specials in which historians, theologians, and archaeologists take issue with The Da Vinci Code are scheduled to air this month. The reporter went on to say whether Brown's thriller deserves to be taken so seriously by religious leaders is unclear, end of quote.
Well, it's not unclear to me. You see, friends, by undermining the public's confidence in the integrity of the Bible, by planting doubt in people's minds about whether the Bible presents a true and accurate picture of Jesus Christ, by saying that Christianity as we know it today was the product of a bunch of power-hungry bishops that twisted Christianity into a male-dominated religion that suppresses and represses women, Dan Brown, by doing this, is attacking the very foundations of the Christian faith. And because of this, I believe it's imperative for us as the true church to stand up and to confront the lies of Dan Brown with biblical truth and to do so without timidity and without compromise. And so that's why we're finishing up today a three-part series entitled Cracking the Da Vinci Code. In part one, we talked about the integrity of the Bible. In part two, we talked about the true nature of Jesus Christ.
Today, we want to go on and finish this series with part three. And in part three, we want to look at this idea by Dan Brown that in 325 AD, a bunch of male chauvinist bishops twisted Christianity into a religion that devalues and represses women. The title of my message today is Christianity is the best friend women ever had.
Now, what is the issue here? Well, the issue is that Dan Brown in his book makes some pretty tall claims. He claims, number one, that all early human religions were centered around women, the sacred feminine as he calls it, including Judaism. He claims, number two, that all early human cultures were matriarchal. He claims, third, that this was all a threat to the power of the male bishops who led the early church. And therefore, number four, he claims that these bishops twisted the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis chapter three to make Eve look like the bad guy. And then they used this to create a new Christian religion that glorified male leadership and subjugated and repressed women.
Now, let's hear Dan Brown say it himself, shall we? And I quote, he says, the earliest Jewish tradition involved ritualistic sex in the temple, no less. Early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple housed not only God, but also his powerful female equal Shekinah.
Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the temple to visit priestesses with whom they made love and experience the divine through physical union with the sacred feminine. For the early church, this sacred female presence posed a serious threat to the church's power base. So, powerful men in the early church propagated lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the male. It was man, not God, who created the concept of original sin whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. They, the bishops, did this because the power of the female posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male church. Finally, Dan Brown says, Constantine and the bishops successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity and then used this to subjugate women. You might say, wow, that's a mouthful.
Yeah, it is. In fact, there is so much error in this, error historically, theologically, sociologically, and archaeologically. There is so much error here that it's hard to know where to even start dealing with it.
But let's try. OK, we have four questions we want to answer today based on this theory of Dan Brown. Question number one, did the original Judeo-Christian faith worship the sacred feminine? Number two, were all early human societies matriarchal and did the leaders of early Christianity change this in a cheap grab for power? Number three, did the early Christian bishops twist the account of the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis to denigrate Eve and thereby vilify women? And finally, number four, and most importantly, does Christianity devalue, repress, and subjugate women? Now, you guys, you guys still with me? Yeah? OK, I'm going to drop a lot of hay on the horses here now, so you all ready?
All right, here we go. First question, did the original Judeo-Christian faith really worship the sacred feminine? Let me remind you what Dan Brown said, and I quote, The early Jewish tradition involved ritualistic sects. In the Temple, no less, early Jews believed that the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple housed not only God, but also his powerful female equal Shekinah.
Men seeking spiritual wholeness came to the Temple to visit priestesses with whom they made love and experience the divine through physical union with the sacred feminine. End of quote. Now, this claim by Dan Brown is so preposterous and so outrageous that I question whether it was even worth dignifying what he said with a response.
But so that no one here thinks that there's any truth to his claim, let me say this. A, the Shekinah that Dan Brown mentions here is a Hebrew word that refers to the glorious shining of God when he would appear in the Temple. It does not refer to a female goddess. B, let me say that even the most radical enemies of Judaism and the Bible have never suggested that ritualistic sects was carried out in the Temple or anywhere else in Jewish history. And finally, C, let me say that there has never been a female goddess in Judaism ever. Friends, from the point of view of history, Dan Brown's claims about the original Judeo-Christian faith worshipping the sacred feminine is utterly baseless. Which leads us to question number two. What about his claim that all early human societies were matriarchal and that the bishops in 325 AD changed the world into a patriarchal world so that they could subjugate and repress women.
What about that? Well, let me remind you what Dan Brown says and I quote. He said, for the early church, this sacred female presence posed a serious threat to the church's power base. So powerful men in the early church propagated lies that devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine. Constantine and the bishops successfully converted the world from matriarchal paganism to patriarchal Christianity and then used this to subjugate women, end of quote. Now, were all early human societies matriarchal in character as Dan Brown claims they were? And is there any historical evidence to indicate that in the fourth century AD there was a radical shift in the societies of the world to patriarchal societies that was carried out in cahoots with the church?
Well, the answer is absolutely none. No evidence. Dr. Steven Goldberg, Chairman, Department of Sociology, City College of New York, and I quote. Authority and leadership are and always have been associated with the male in every society. And I refer to this when I say that patriarchy is universal and that there has never been a matriarchy. He continues, theories that hypothesized the matriarchal form of society at an earlier stage of history made a certain sense until the findings of the past 50 years failed to include a single shred of evidence that such matriarchies had ever existed. And that evidence demonstrated the inability of all such matriarchal theories to deal with reality, end of quote.
Many of us here know who Margaret Mead was, perhaps the most famous anthropologist of the modern era. Dr. Margaret Mead said, and I quote, all the claims so glibly made about societies ruled by women are nonsense. We have no reason to believe that those matriarchies ever existed, end of quote. In other words, the entire premise of Dan Brown's theory that power hungry bishops in the fourth century AD used Christianity to convert the world from matriarchal forms of government to patriarchal forms of government so that they could put down women and control women. Friends, to put it kindly, his theory is anthropological and sociological rubbish.
And I said that. So, all right, question number three. Did the early Christian leaders twist the Garden of Eden story in the Bible in Genesis three so that they could denigrate Eve and vilify women? Well, remember what Dan Brown said, and I quote, he said it was man, not God, who created the concept of original sin whereby Eve tasted of the apple and caused the downfall of the human race. They, the bishops, did this because the power of the female posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male church, end of quote. In other words, what Dan Brown's really saying is that in the fourth century AD at the Council of Nicaea, the bishops went back and rewrote chapter three of the Book of Genesis to give the events of Genesis chapter three a decidedly masculine bias. They went back and made Eve look like the bad guy.
They went back and made Adam look like the hero so that they could, according to Dan Brown, and I quote, devalue the female and tip the scales in favor of the masculine, end of quote. Now, is that possible? Could these folks have gone back in the fourth century AD and changed Genesis chapter three? Well, the answer is absolutely not.
And I'll tell you why. The reason why is because we have copies of Genesis chapter three that are centuries older than the Council of Nicaea. And in every one of those copies, Genesis chapter three reads the exact way it does in your English Bible today. For example, from 250 BC, we have the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. From somewhere between 50 and 100 BC, we have two copies of Genesis chapter three from K4 and Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls. And from 110 AD, we have the Targum on Kalas.
A Targum was an Aramaic translation of the Old Testament so people who couldn't read Hebrew anymore could read and understand it in Aramaic. And all three of these documents predating the Council of Nicaea by centuries have Exodus chapter three exactly the way it is in your Bible with Eve being tempted first and succumbing to the enemy first based on archaeology. My point is, it is absolutely indefensible to claim that anybody in 325 AD could have gone back and rewritten the book of Genesis. And that brings us to our last question, and really the most important one. And that is, does Christianity devalue, repress, and subjugate women?
Dan Brown, let me remind you what he said one more time. The early church, he said, devalued the female and tipped the scales in favor of the masculine. The early church subjugated women because they posed a threat to the rise of the predominantly male church. Woman was now the enemy, end of quote. Now friends, is this true? I mean, is there any truth at all to this?
Well, the answer is categorically no. First of all, the Bible is clear about how God wants women to be treated. Listen to some of these verses. Galatians 3, 28. In Christ there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. In Ephesians chapter 5, God instructs husbands how to treat their wives. He says, husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Verse 28, husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies. In 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 7, men, the Bible says, are to grant women honor because they are equal heirs of the grace of life. And if you don't, God says, your prayers will be hindered without equivocation.
The Bible is clear. It calls for women to be treated with dignity. It calls for women to be treated with respect. It calls for women to be treated with tenderness and equality and esteem. The Bible is clear on that. And may I say second of all, that when we look at our world, we find without fail, that those cultures in our world where Christianity has been the dominant religious force in society, these are the cultures where women have had the greatest opportunity, the greatest protection, and the greatest esteem.
And conversely, we find that those cultures where Christianity has not been the dominant religious force in society, that these are the cultures where women have suffered the greatest amount of repression, abuse, violence, and devaluation, a process that continues right up to this very day in certain societies in our world. You say, well, Lon, that's a big statement you just made. Can you back that up? Can you prove that?
Well, you bet your bippy I can, and I'm going to do it right now. Here we go. Let's go back in history, back to ancient Greece. Ancient Greece is held up as a paragon of democracy and equality. Well, listen, it might have been that way for the men in ancient Greece, but it was not that way for the women in ancient Greece. In ancient Greece, Greek wives were not permitted to leave their homes unless they were accompanied by a male escort of her husband's choosing. Greek women were not allowed to own property. They were never allowed to speak in public. They couldn't even eat dinner with their guests, their husband's dinner guests. She could fix the meal. She just wasn't allowed to come in and eat it. There was a whole host of other restrictions on Greek women.
According to Dr. F.A. Wright in his book Feminism in Greek Literature, he says, and I quote, the average Athenian woman had the social status of a slave, end of quote. Now let's go to ancient Rome. Friends, in ancient Rome, before Christianity became the dominant religion, women were utterly disenfranchised, utterly disrespected. Cicero, the famous poet and senator, said, and I quote, our fathers, in their wisdom, considered that all women, because of their innate weakness, should be under the control of a male guardian, end of quote. Women in Roman society before Christianity took over as the state religion, they had none of the rights that men had in society. They could not own property. There was a whole host of other rights that were denied them. A husband had the right to divorce his wife for any reason. He could beat her in public. And if she were accused of adultery, he could kill her in public. And there was absolutely no judicial penalty at all.
And then there was the practice of pater familias in ancient Rome. This is when a daughter was born. A father had the right to go thumbs up or thumbs down for the little baby that had just been born. And if he went thumbs down, a slave would take that little baby girl out and drown her in the river. And there was absolutely no jurisprudence. There was absolutely no culpability.
He was never charged with a crime as the father. But if he did that to a baby boy, he was taken to court for murder. You can kill a girl, no problem.
But you better not kill a boy. Hey, in ancient Hindu culture, things were worse, if you can believe that. If a wife left the house without her husband's permission, an ancient Hindu man had the right to cut off her nose and her ears.
If the bride's dowry was too small, a Hindu man could burn her at the stake to death. If a woman was accused of adultery in the ancient Hindu culture, she was made to walk through blazing fire. And if there was the slightest trace of burns on her after she did that, well, duh.
How are you going to walk through burning fire and there wouldn't be any trace on you? If there was, it proves she was guilty and they murdered her right on the spot. And then there was the custom of suti. That's the custom that when a husband died, his wife was expected voluntarily to climb onto his funeral pyre and be cremated along with him. And when women weren't willing to do that voluntarily, they were tied up and thrown on the funeral pyre where they liked it or not.
How about ancient China? We're all familiar with the foot binding that the Chinese did, the little girls. But I don't think any of us understand the violence and the awfulness of that practice. Howard S. Levy writing in his book Chinese Foot Binding said, and I quote, the flesh often became putrescent, infected during the binding and portions of the foot often separated from the surrounding tissue of the soul.
Sometimes one or more toes dropped off, frequently gangrene set in, leading to leg amputation or even death. This practice went on for thousands of years until Christian missionaries were successful in getting China to end this practice in 1912. And why did they do this to these poor little girls? One reason only, friends, because it caused Chinese women to walk in a way that was erotic to Chinese men.
That's why they did it. Let's move into our modern world, shall we, to tribal African culture today. Today in the tribal countries of Africa, there is the practice of female circumcision. This is an unspeakable degradation, an unspeakable abuse of women in which a young girl's genitalia are cut away to make sure that she can never experience sexual pleasure in her life.
It's often done by the girl's own parents who tie her down and do the deed with a razor blade. And this horrific custom is still practiced today in 26 tribal African nations in our world today. And finally, we turn to the Islamic culture in the world today. Whether it be fundamentalist or moderate Islamic cultures, women are treated like dirt in both. In fundamentalist Islamic societies, you know this, women are not allowed to reveal any part of their body.
They have to wear black robes, head coverings, even in the heat that goes over a hundred degrees. In Afghanistan, under the Taliban, women accused of adultery were dragged into stadiums of cheering men, crowds of men, forced to their knees with their arms tied behind them and routinely shot in the head without a trial. In fact, a couple of years ago, I was sitting home one evening watching the Discovery Channel about the Taliban and there on this channel, I was horrified. They had an actual film record of these women being dragged by their hair into this stadium. I'm sitting just watching it on TV, put on their knees, blindfolded, and some guy walks behind them casually. Boom, boom, boom, shooting these women in the head from behind. I'm sitting home in my chair horrified. I'm like, oh my gosh, this can't be the modern world.
Well, yes it was. Then there are honor killings in Islamic society. This is when a woman who dishonors her family in any way, usually by adultery, these women are killed by male relatives and it's not just a right that male relatives have, it is considered a duty that they have to kill their sister. And in fact, there was just a case of this in the West Bank in Israel in one of the Islamic towns just a couple of weeks ago where some young lady, 19 years old, did something to dishonor her family and her brother took her out in the street and stabbed her to death in front of witnesses and nobody raised their hands and did anything and he was never prosecuted by the Islamic authorities. In moderate Islamic cultures, women are discriminated against in every phase of life. I was watching PBS's Religion and Ethics last week and Bob Abernathy reported that in Saudi Arabia today, modern Saudi Arabia, textbooks that are used in the public high schools of Saudi Arabia have this quote in the textbook and I quote, the life of a woman has only a fraction of the value of the life of a Muslim man, end of quote.
That's in Saudi Arabia today. That's what they're taught in school. Now friends, may I go back and repeat for emphasis what I said a few moments ago? Look at all the societies today where women are treated with dignity and where they are allowed to be all they can be and you will find that every one of these societies has been shaped by the influence of Christianity and the Bible. And conversely, look at all the cultures in our world today where Christianity and the Bible has had little or no influence and you will find societies where women are disenfranchised, where they are abused, where they are disrespected, repressed and treated like dirt.
To repeat my main point for this morning. Christianity is the best friend women on this planet have ever had. Now, let's conclude our three part series by saying this. Over the last three weeks we've conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Dan Brown's three most outrageous theories relating to the Christian faith. Theory number one, that the bishops at the Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, rewrote the Bible for devious personal motives. Theory number two, that the bishops at the Council of Nicaea reinvented Jesus Christ as a divine being in order to solidify their own human power base. And theory number three, that bishops at the Council of Nicaea converted the world from matriarchy to patriarchy and then used that to subjugate women. And after careful examination of the evidence over the last three weeks, we've looked at the historical evidence, the archaeological evidence, the anthropological evidence, the sociological evidence and the theological evidence. After evaluating all of the evidence, we've discovered that all three of Dan Brown's theories are total and complete rubbish.
So, let me conclude by saying this. Dan Brown may be a good writer, but he is a bad historian. He is an ill-informed sociologist. He is a terrible archaeologist and he is a miserable theologian. In short, he's just plain wrong. So please don't let anything you've read in his book or anything you've seen in his movie negatively affect your confidence in the Bible and what the Bible tells you about Jesus Christ and the integrity of the Christian faith.
Folks, I'm here to tell you that he's wrong, pure and simple, and the evidence proves it. Now you say, well, Lon, can any good thing come out of The Da Vinci Code? Well, yeah, maybe. You know, Dan Brown has said on numerous television and radio programs that one of the reasons he wrote The Da Vinci Code was so people would begin exploring their faith again and asking questions about God again.
All right, maybe you're here today and you've actually started doing that. Maybe The Da Vinci Code was something that got you thinking again about Jesus Christ and God and the Bible. Well, if that's true, let me say that you won't find the answers to those questions in The Da Vinci Code, but you will find the answers to those questions in the Word of God. Friends, let me just say in closing, the Bible is trustworthy. The Bible gives us a true picture of Jesus Christ. And finally, Christianity values not only women, but Christianity values men. Christianity values young people, disabled people, poor people, black people, white people, yellow people, green people. We value them all. And you know why? One simple reason. Jesus died on the cross for all people.
And that gives all people an inherent dignity and an inherent value and worth in the sight of Almighty God that no church and no person can ever take away. And that's the truth. And I hope you'll take these three CDs. We're going to put them in a little album. And I hope you'll use this album as an evangelistic tool if somebody ever comes up to you and says, hey, I saw that movie or I read that book and I'm really confused. I hope you'll be able to say, ooh, have I got something for you. Ooh, I got something for you.
And I hope you'll give them those three CDs. And we can use this to spread the real truth about Jesus Christ here in Washington, D.C. Let's close in prayer. Heavenly Father, thanks for real truth today.
Truth that will stand up to the most intense examination of the evidence. We thank you that the Bible is trustworthy. Jesus really is who he says he is.
That Christianity is not a religion that suppresses women or anybody else. And Father, I pray that you would take this truth and help to use it here in Washington, D.C. to lift up Jesus Christ so that he may, as he said, draw all men and women to him if he is lifted up. Lord, help us be that shining light, that lighthouse here in Washington, that place that lifts up the true and risen Christ that people might be drawn to a life-changing relationship with him. We commit this series to you and pray it would be used in a mighty way in this town to help people understand the real truth of God. And we pray this in Jesus' name. And God's people said... Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-02 11:48:20 / 2022-12-02 11:58:51 / 11