Conspiracy Theories;

Don't Believe Everything You Read!

Da Vinci Codes, 'Knights Templar' Intrigues, 'Illuminati' Tales,
Jesus' 'Secret Marriage', 'Barred Scripture' Conspiracies...

Don't Believe a Word Of It!!

'We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.' (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV).

E verybody should understand by now that people have made a fortune by writing books based on conspiracies - whether religious, political or any other kind! Yet honest and sincere people still seem to fall for these things - in their tens of thousands! Let us face it: People love intrigues and conspiracies and writers can attain huge wealth by tapping into this. Moreover, a good part of the success of the cults and sects is based on their promulgation of a huge conspiracy theory: that established Christianity is a satanic plot which exists to cover up "the truth."

Just to take The DaVinci Code, the original work of fiction has apparently captivated the minds of something in excess of 30 million readers. The film, which was made of the book, featured a huge budget and some of Hollywood's top actors, it promised to intrigue audiences and to challenge people's long-held perceptions of the Christian faith. Like the book, you could say that the film only really suffered from one problem, and it is a very simple problem: It was the most monumental hogwash, indeed, perhaps hogwash of a scale rarely achieved even by Hollywood! One of my biggest problems with this pure fiction is that it is made to appear as 'good history which had previously been covered up' - enter the intrigues and conspiracy plots! But the truth is that sometimes people are not uncovering history with a zeal to get at the untarnished, pure truth at all, but they come to it with an already decided agenda and they want to see what they can dig out which can be profitably distorted to fit that agenda.

The book made many claims that are at odds with Christian teachings. Author Dan Brown's conspiracy fantasy has Jesus married to Mary Magdalene and the father of a few children; he has the Bible being 'doctored' by church leaders at the Nicaean Council in 325 A.D. in order to control the Roman Empire and for the purpose of oppressing women (a particularly strange claim since even the most agnostic historians usually note how Christianity led to many rights and privileges being granted to women which had always been denied them). Brown's fictional scenario also claims that the idea of Jesus' divinity was fabricated for purely political reasons; and he asserts that the Roman Catholic Church has conspired for centuries to keep the full historical details of such religious scandals a secret. But numerous writers (not only Christian writers), have now 'blown the whistle' on some of these historical distortions. As Ian Ellis-Jones points out,

Conspiracy Theories Which Christians Have Fallen For

* In the early 80s, the periodic alignment of the planets was going to torque the earth, causing earthquakes, tidal waves, etc. Have the pastors and teachers who promoted this bogus theory apologized or repented? The fact that those who made an industry of this error are still revered as established prophecy "experts" among us, showing no sign of repentance, circumspection, or humility, is perhaps the greatest scandal of this unfortunate episode.

* Another recurrent Christian legend is that of the "beast" computer in Brussels (or wherever). This first surfaced in the late 1970s, where the idea was to track every person in the entire world as a fulfillment of the 666 prophecy. We can now assess this from the cooler position of hindsight. Consider that the educational computers used in modern elementary schools NOW would run circles around the best computer technology available back THEN, in speed, memory, reliability, and disc storage. Imagine running the world from the paltry PC that your kid learns his math on! It was no less absurd back in the 1970s to people who knew better. But to point this out made you either not "in the know" or part of the "conspiracy."

* In the mid 80s, a new threat emerged in the "ten nation" European Economic Community (EEC), now termed the European Union (EU). This was portrayed as everything from a trade-war juggernaut to a fulfillment of prophecy. Despite all the hype, the economic progress after a decade has been modest, to put it generously. It actually started with six member nations and, eventually, passed through ten; when the eleventh and twelfth nations joined, it did not stop the interpretation of the EU as the nefarious "ten horn" alliance prophesied in Scripture. Luckily, the USA started with thirteen, not having to pass through the dreaded number ten, or we might also have been identified with Daniel 7 and Revelation 17. Unfortunately for the EU the stigma of this "teaching" absurdly persists. In the minds of some evangelical Christians, the EU sort of got "stuck" at ten, even though they now have fifteen member states. Again, the teachers who promote/promoted this error show no signs of remorse or humility, but are now well established as prophecy "experts" in the body of Christ.

(These examples come from the excellent 'Christians and Conspiracy Theories: A Call to Repentance' which is available in full here).

"Brown ... asserts that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and sired a royal bloodline (Sang RĂ©al) that survives in secret to this day. He also asserts that the early church enjoyed sexual ceremonies in celebration of Mary Magdalene, and that Jesus wanted his supposed wife to lead the Church after his death, but Peter (who supposedly became the first Pope) had other plans and took over instead. Brown also claims that the “real” Holy Grail is the earthly remains of Mary Magdalene. In Brown's novel, it is hinted that those remains were long buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh but in recent decades were relocated to a secret chamber embedded in the floor beneath the Inverted Pyramid near the Louvre Museum. This supposed “secret” is supposedly the “real” Holy Grail. Not the cup supposedly used by Jesus at the Last Supper. Not the cup supposedly used to catch Jesus’ blood whilst he was dying on the Cross. Brown goes further and asserts that the Jesus-Mary royal bloodline has been protected by such esoteric societies as the Knights Templar and the so-called Priory of Sion, one of whose “Grand Masters” was supposedly none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.

These assertions are nothing new: see, for example, the 1982 best-seller, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln). Those writers unsuccessfully sued Brown for plagiarism. Such is the law. The Holy Blood authors pointed out, among other things, that the name of Brown’s character Leigh Teabing is made up from the name of one of the three authors, plus an anagram of another."

(The Da Vinci Code, by Ian Ellis-Jones. 2 July, 2006).

Now, there is absolutely no historical evidence whatsoever to support any of this plain nonsense. Indeed, the facts are altogether to the contrary. As for Jesus having been married (whether to Mary Magdalene or to anybody else), the New Testament makes no mention of a wife and the inferred confirming extra-Biblical texts do not actually exist - not even in the "Gnostic gospels" which Brown makes so much of. Author Brown cites the Gospel of Philip (which almost certainly derives from a Gnostic source) to support this claim. But please bear in mind that 'Gnosticism' was a cult which combined parts of Christian teaching with asceticism and elements of eastern mysticism. Why should anybody assume that a cult on the outside of true Christian teaching should in any way express orthodox Christian doctrine of the time? Its a bit like somebody researching into the Christian teaching of our day 1,000 years into the future, discovering some leaflets from the Watchtower Society and insisting that they truthfully represent normative Christian beliefs in 2007! But with regard to the Gospel of Philip, the truth is that only fragments of the text which Brown uses can even be correctly discerned. It reads like this,

“And the companion of the…Mary Magdalene…her more than…the disciples…kiss her…on her…” (Philip 63:33-36).

Verses 58 and 59 tend to suggest that the kiss would have been on the lips. In 1 Corinthians 16:20 the apostle Paul makes mention of the kiss of fellowship (“Greet one another with a holy kiss”), and this is most likely what is meant here. However, The Da Vinci Code claims that the word “companion” in this verse actually means 'spouse' because, supposedly, that’s what the Aramaic word really means. But - as in so many places - Brown reveals his serious lack of in-depth knowledge here. The Gospel of Philip was not even written in Aramaic but in Coptic.The word used for 'companion' is 'koinonos' (meaning companion, not spouse). However, we are here dealing with a document of a cultic group so even if there were an intention to suggest romantic love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene it would mean little. Although Gnosticism strongly promoted celibacy (is that why they are so few on the ground today??!!), some experts believe that elements of Gnosticism preferred a powerful woman as a mystic religious figure-head and this could also be the reason for suggesting greater intimacy between Jesus and Mary Magdalene; however, it should again be stressed that no single authenticated document ever states that Jesus was overly intimate with Magdalene.To infer any sort of documented support for a supposed love affair between Jesus and Mary Magdalene from the widely available evidence is to extrapolate into the fantasy realm of Alice in Wonderland!

Brown has claimed many other things which should be rejected as being unhistorical, I am not going into these in detail here because so many others have done that quite successfully (links at article ending for those wanting to go into the errors of the 'Da Vinci Code' in detail), but I will just mention one other thing here:

It is not true that the 4th century Nicaean Council took a vote to decide upon the divinity of Jesus. That was already established by the New Testament writings and by the early 'church fathers.' But the council wished to establish what was normative because of the influence of heretics. Also, the council did not only narrowly decide in favour of Jesus being divine (the Son of God), as has been suggested, but decided by a vote of 316 against 2 that the divinity of Jesus was indeed an essential of Christianity.

But whether it is matters like the Da Vinci Code or something else, I am frequently perturbed that otherwise intelligent people seem so prepared to believe almost anything - especially if it is of a conspirational nature! One guy told me that some crazy and unhistorical anti-Christian claim "must be true" because he heard it on both the National Geographic and Discovery cable channels! Hmmm!!..... Do I really need say more?

To be frank, the general public can be very naive in this area. There are people out there - yes, these are intelligent people - who will cynically make truly outrageous claims (which they themselves know are hogwash), in a most disgraceful attempt to acquire wealth through the naiveity and credulity of the masses. But conspiracy theories are as old as politics. Hitler was a master at weaving conspiracy tales, he blamed the Jews for all the problems of Germany. For Hitler, Germany was the target of a Zionist plot. Nero famously invented one to shift the blame to Christians for the burning of Rome. Those who rejected the resurrection of Jesus quickly came up with a Conspiracy Theory to explain the empty tomb and His many appearances. And so it continues.

The amazing thing is that the truth of the Gospel really is an incredible story all on it's own, but it is apparently not exciting and conspirational enough for some. Think of it: genuine Christianity presents a claim that a true 'God-Man' called Jesus Christ came to earth and died a hideous death in order that Mankind can be restored to God; the message is that that supreme sacrifice by the God-Man simply has to be individually claimed and embraced - by the particular individual - to become applicable to them. This claim and appropriation then guarantees Eternal Life in God's kingdom for that person. Is this not a truly incredible message - all on it's own? Do we need more? And yet there are even some nominal or lapsed 'Christians' who have jumped on the Da Vinci code and similar bandwagons and (all too rapidly, it seems to me), come to believe claims which are not even supportable through the records of human history. (Please ensure that you also read the inset article for examples of 'conspiracy theories' which Christians have been too quick to fall for).

Robin A. Brace, 2007.

For extra reading on the 'Da Vinci Code,' go to the following:
The Truth About DaVinci
Not InDaVincible!
Was There a Da Vinci Conspiracy?