Yes, I'm still "Da Vincied" out (see May 31 column). But even after weeks of personal study, group discussion and quiet pondering, I still wonder why the fascination with Dan Brown's momentary best-seller. At last, I think I know the answer to this "code."
Flashing back to my college years, I recall one day in Philosophy 101:
"Class," our professor began, "do you understand the problem of 'the one in the many'?"
I wasn't the only one who didn't understand the question. One in the many what?
It wasn't long before we all understood both the question and the reason this course would become an important building block in our still-maturing lives. "The many" were the abundance of belief systems available to us before we chose "the one" that would guide us for a lifetime. Since ours was a Christian college, and I had grown up in a similar environment, it was pretty well determined that my "one" would have something to do with the Christian faith.
End of story? Hardly. Life in a secluded classroom soon ended, and I emerged from my cocoon into the world of work and relationships with those whose "ones" were not the same as mine.
"You believe what? Where did you say you went to college?"
Perhaps that's when my education really began. My foundation didn't crumble, but it took some mighty blows then, and periodically up to the present, Da Vinci Code day.
Although I continued my church activities and maintained a circle of Christian friends, I never returned to that college-classroom cocoon. But that doesn't mean my faith has diminished or my education has stopped. On the contrary, whenever I encounter criticism or a passionate argument against what I believe, I run for the books - including the Scriptures - seek advice from those more knowledgeable than I, and I learn more.
I think I've always known this, but nothing in the current controversy between The Da Vinci Code and the church has become clearer to me than the fact that, of the many belief systems one could choose to live by, only the Christian faith is unique. All the others are branches of the same, less-God philosophy. This fact is no "code," no puzzle to spend a lifetime to discern. It's been explained for centuries by those who believed it before we did, as revealed in that other best seller, the Bible.
And what is it that makes Christianity unique - and gives me courage to risk being called arrogant or intolerant to claim that it is? Only Christianity is redemptive. In all other faiths, salvation, heaven or any form of an afterlife, depends on man's efforts, not God's.
Just skimming the Bible reveals how even God's methods of letting mankind "save" itself failed. From the Garden of Eden to Noah's new start, from the promised land to a succession of leaders, kings, and prophets, every system failed to convince God's people to follow his plan and, thereby, earn their way into heaven. And we know what happened next: God paid the entrance fee himself (John 3:16).
For nearly 2,600 years, since the earliest Old Testament canons were established, movements like Gnosticism (featured in The Da Vinci Code) have periodically attempted to destroy this unique faith and make it like all the others. The primary goal of the Gnostic gospels, for example, is to reduce God's power and make Jesus more human than divine - if, in fact he ever was divine. "God, please," says a proud world, "I'd rather - I can - do it myself."
It takes faith, an admission that there is something - someone - higher than ourselves, to believe such a "one in the many" could exist in our enlightened, "New Age" philosophy, even though "there's nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
There's also nothing new about the resistance we find to God's redemptive plan today. It wasn't invented by Dan Brown; it's always been there. Fact is, if followed, such a plan remove that one last "way" (John 14:6) for mankind to achieve his full potential: an eternity free of pain, sorrow, and judgment for the sins and missteps we can't erase or forgive ourselves.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.