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CW: DaVinci Code: Can intelligent people have faith?

Last Sunday, my church (Frazer UMC) began a six-week contemporary worship series on the Da Vinci Code—and our first service in the series acted as a kind of intro. (Why do I blog about contemporary worship? See Doing worship in the Heart of Dixie.)

Why are we doing this series to begin with?
How can we not?! Our worship leader (Rob) and pastor (John) both reiterated that the novel and film carry serious allegations wrapped up in a clever story. Both the novel and film generate many questions, and through this series we want to answer as many of them as we can.

Supporting elements
As I’ve said before, we try to gear every element in each service to support and enhance the main theme of both the series and the message for the day. As people walked in they were handed the sermon outline and a ticket-sized paper with artwork from the series and a map to Frazer on the back (designed to give to friends and co-workers to invite them to the series). I thought the set was spectacular: the facades of a cathedral facing each other on either side of the stage (see picture). In back, our stage screen ran shifting pictures of Leonardo Da Vinci’s art (designed by Rob) with the title in a cryptic scroll until it spell out our series title: “The Da Vinci Code: What is the REAL truth?” The service began with an in-house-created (again, by Rob) 10-second video and a worship music set (ack, I didn’t write the titles of the songs, sorry!). For the offertory, the worship band sang Common Creed and just before the message we ran several minutes from Lee Strobel’s video series, which nicely intro’d the plot of the book and captured scenes from the Louver and other places in the film. After the message (see below), John led us in reading the Apostles Creed (which I thought a very effective use of an ancient text).

The Message: Can intelligent people have faith?
Here’s a link to John’s message outline, which focused primarily on debunking the premise in the novel that faith is an unreasonable choice for intelligent people—and that the Christian faith in particular is faith in a myth (something that’s not true). I found the strengths of this message in two areas: first, that faith is something every person uses each day of their life; second, that Christian faith is a reasonable faith.

First, you can’t live in this world without faith, which essentially is believing and trusting in something you expect and shows itself to be true (Heb. 11:1). For example, when you turn the key in your car, you expect it to start (even if you can’t explain how the process of turning the key makes the engine work). When you get on a plane, you trust that it will fly (even if you don’t know how) and that the pilot will take you where you are supposed to go (even if you can’t see the ground beneath the clouds). [I would also add that faith is used in science every day: we can’t prove anything to be true—only that it appears to be so through consistent patterns and reapplication.]

Faith is also essential in relationships and love (1 Cor. 12:7). You can’t have a marriage with our trusting and believing the other person will remain faithful to you. And God designed faith to be an essential part of our relationship with him as well (Heb. 11:6; Exod. 34:14). He wants us to trust him—and he gives us plenty of evidence about how trustworthy he is (which we will look at throughout the series).

Second, our faith in a miracle-working God is a reasonable one. It is based on historical fact that Jesus is who he said (Heb. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:14), the testimony of reliable witnesses (2 Pet. 1:16) and changed lives—both others and our own (Col 1:6; John 9:24-25). These points will be developed further on in the series. (Heh, I thought John used a great example regarding the first two points. He pulled a dollar bill out of his pocket and asked us who is on its face. George Washington. How do we know? Because we’ve seen pictures of him. How do we know those pictures are really of George Washington? Because we have reliable testimony. Which is the same principle applied throughout history—and that can be applied to the testimony in the Bible as well.)

The last point in the message emphasized that we shouldn’t be surprised when the Christian faith is challenged. First, they don’t know Jesus (1 Cor. 2:13-16). It’s like trying to ask someone to trust his wife with a large sum of money, says John. They don’t know her so why would they trust her? He must introduce people to her and let them get to know her so that they will trust her too. And so it is with Jesus. We must introduce people to him, let them meet Jesus through us. In order to do that, we must know what we believe and why we believe it (Matt 22:37; Eph 4:11-15) and be ready to explain our beliefs to our friends, family and co-workers (1 Pe. 3:15-16).

All in all, a solid service. Next week: Where did the Bible come from?

(Image: Taken during worship on May 21, 2006, by Lee Werling)