Only the most dedicated musicologists out there would recognize the name "Bash 'N The Code" as the name of a mid-Eighties Christian rock band formed by the talented Greg and Rebecca Sparks -- folks to this day make great music and are musicians I can highly recommend to you. But really, the title was merely a lead in to a comment on The Da Vinci Code stimulated by an interview with Ben Witherington that I listened to today on Issue 79 of the audio-journal Mars Hill Audio Journal. Witherington, New Testament scholar and author of The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci, commented that we live in a "Christ-haunted yet biblically illiterate culture." That phrase -- "Christ-haunted" -- caught my ear, as it is one well know in the South as descriptive of much a significant segment of Southern literature as reflected in writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, or, in modern days, Reynolds Price or Doris Betts. The term refers to the fact that Christian faith inhabits the work of their writing and, more broadly, the culture of the South, though it is ill-defined, enigmatic, or even unbiblical at times.
But enough about that. What Witherington is referring to is our fascination with Jesus and, yet, our woefully inadequate or nonexistent understanding of the Bible, church history, and doctrine. He laments the fact that apparently many Christians believe Dan Brown's revisionist version of church history because they distrust authority, are fascinated with conspiracy theories, and lack the facts (and inclination to study the facts). Brown is easily debunked, but many won't take the time to investigate his claims. Furthermore, apparently a significant number will say that all that church history stuff really doesn't matter anyway, that what matters is my personal relationship with Jesus. I believe what he says, and yet I have not experienced much of it as I find myself in a church with many people who do think about things, who take doctrine and church history seriously.
There are lots of resources on the issue, but not all of us have time to read an entire book bash 'n the code, so I recommend the MP3 of a lecture called "Fact and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code" by Ben Wilder, of the Center for Christian Study, found here, or a great website run by Westminster Seminary, here. We may live in a Christ-haunted region (and better haunted by Christ, I suppose, than another), but what we really need is to know the One who lived and walked among us, for real.
Now, I'm going to see if I can dig up on of those old Bash 'N The Code records, just for fun. . . .