I notice that the response to The Da Vinci Code seems to focus on the 'fact OR fiction' choice. I remain unconvinced that this is the core issue. Some is fact. Some is fiction. But like the movie JFK, the difficulty is not that some is fact and some is fiction but in knowing which is which. The line between the two is difficult to draw as there is this seamless movement between the two. And so what happens is that a cloud of uncertainty settles in over everything - even the facts! The really real begins to be doubted. The truly true begins to crumble. People begin to hold their convictions like they are holding fog.
I see this all the time. People have heaps of questions. That's good. Creating a safe place to ask hard questions is an essential feature of Christian community today. The ?s must not be dismissed...
However, something must keep flowing alongside the ?s. These are the affirmations, the things we know for sure. The !s... I am alarmed by how much conversation among Christians focuses on what we do not know, rather than on what we do know.
Here are three ways in which I like to respond to this:
(a) I like the content and structure of a hymn. Each verse opens up with 'I cannot tell' (or, 'I don't understand') ... but then further down, half way through each verse comes the same response each time: 'But this I know' (or, 'I am sure'; 'I rest my life on this'; 'I am convinced of this'). This mirrors life. Up front there are so many things that we just don't know (the ?s), but deeper than these things - every single time - are things we do know (the !s). This is how life needs to be lived. We recognise that these two coexist - but we learn to live with one deeper down than the other.
(b) I like to keep an eye out for the things that the Bible tells us that 'we know'. I save these passages and go over them again and again. Here are a few for the eager among you: Deuteronomy 7:7-9; Psalm 100 and Psalm 139; Isaiah 40 (particularly the closing verses); Job 19:25-27; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ecclesiastes 11; all of John's gospel and all of 1 John (they are full of things we know to be true); Romans 5:1-5; 8:18-39; 1 Corinthians 13:8-13; 15:58; 2 Corinthians 5:1-11; 8:9; Ephesians 1:15-23; 2 Timothy 1:12...
(c) Always remember that the 'magic' in the Christian life begins not so much with the fact that I can know God, but that I am known by God.
We need to let these !s be an antidote to the ?s which things like the Da Vinci Code spark and spread through our lives.