|An excerpt from this article was published in the front page story "Is Seeing
Believing" by Michelle Bearden in the May 16, 2006 issue of Tampa Tribune.
The excerpt is given below.
Autar Kaw, 46, said theologians will have to work with historians to set
the record straight, but "one's faith should always stay intact."
"The Bible has stood the test of time, and salvation by grace and
resurrection of Christ will continue to be its unique tenets," said Kaw,
who attends Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church in New Tampa. "Faith
cannot be deduced, and if it could be deduced, then it is not faith."
Many preachers in Tampa will be devoting their Sunday, May 21 sermon to
dispelling myths propagated by the book – The Da Vinci Code. The book
has been on the bestseller list for 162 weeks, and now the much-
anticipated movie based on the book is opening on May 19. Many books
have already been on the market discrediting The Da Vinci Code, while
preachers have been attending short courses to learn how to talk to their
congregations about the popular book. I find this to be unsettling as The
Da Vinci Code is a piece of fiction – just look at category in which it is listed.
It is my belief that the church is paying unnecessary attention to the book
because it is easy to discredit a fictional novel as it’s just that - a piece of
fiction. The biggest threats to the future of Christianity are other
missionary religions, cults, and not in the least our own false teachers.
What is going to be challenging for the Church in the coming months is
how theologians and historians will work together to treat four of the top
twenty best nonfiction sellers.
These books include 1) The Gospel of Judas where Judas is being viewed
as the best apostle because he betrayed Jesus as he was supposed to, 2)
The Jesus Papers which claims that Jesus survived crucifixion, 3) The Lost
Gospel which is another book about Judas, and 4) Misquoting Jesus which
claims that changes and mistakes were made when the Bible was
Even with these historical books in the market, one’s faith should not be
shaken. Faith cannot be deduced, and if it could be deduced, then it is not
faith. The Bible has stood the test of time, and salvation by grace and
resurrection of Christ will continue to be its unique tenements.
If Martin Luther could change how the Bible should be interpreted more
than 1400 years later, we as followers in the 21st century with advances
in archaeology and technology should not simply take the short cut of
discrediting these books by considering them as the latest fad or attack on
Two other books are going to present a bigger challenge to conservative
Christians. A historical book Jesus the Dynasty claims that Jesus did not
want salvation to become the core concept of the religion. This claim is
reinforced further in the salvaged parts of the Book of Mary. Both books
conclude that Jesus wanted us to be enlightened by following his
teachings. Say the word “enlightenment” in the conservative Christian
world and you can be accused of blasphemy.
However, I believe that this claim of enlightenment is not dichotomous
with what we already accept from the Bible. As the Bible says - Faith
without works is dead: James 2:20. Therefore, works are a necessary
condition for faith and hence salvation. The difference with other religions
such as Hinduism is that good works are considered a sufficient condition
for salvation (in Hinduism, complete surrender to God leads to “moksha” –
freedom from the cycle of rebirth and becoming one with God). However,
who are we to judge the level and quality of works Jesus expects for our
faith to stay alive. Most of us doubt our faith, especially during times of
trial and tribulation; ironically, this doubt is what strengthens our faith.
PS. One other thing is clear – the Church should stop calling Mary
Magdalene a prostitute and treat her with the respect she deserves.
Nowhere in the books of the Bible is she called a prostitute. After all, she
was the first one to see the resurrected Christ. Why choose her for such
an important revelation if He did not know that she held a special place in
spreading His message?