Cultural Apologetics in Action: DaVinci Code and “Hurt”
by Mark Farnham
Cultural apologetics is a response to the questions that our culture is posing. It seizes upon cultural statements (art, architecture, film, novels, etc.) and evaluates them in light of Scripture. It “gives an answer” to cultural expressions that pose an alternate explanation for who we are, why we are here, what’s wrong with this world, and where we are going. It points to the work of unbelievers that suppresses the truth in order to show the myriad ways in which suppression of the truth happens. It also identifies the expressions of unbelievers in which the truth breaks through, even in the midst of their depravity. Cultural apologetics seeks to illustrate that the unbeliever knows God even as he seeks to suppress that knowledge.
A number of gifted theologians and apologists in the 20th century have demonstrated various approaches to the task of cultural apologetics (Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, William Edgar, and Tim Keller among others). In a later post I will take the time to highlight the work of several of these.
But first some examples.
When The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown appeared in print, conversations about the novel were ubiquitous. About that time I sat next to a liberal feminist from San Francisco on a five-hour flight, and she challenged the reliability of the Bible and the development of theology, primarily drawing her objection from The DaVinci Code. I wasn’t prepared for her objections, as many of Brown’s quasi-historical accounts in the book were new to me. I determined to read the book so I could converse about it and give an answer to the challenges it presented. This was a departure for me. Previously I had avoided cultural expressions that challenged the Christian faith, as I had been taught growing up.
As I read the book I began to think, “Every Christian should be reading this book!” Why did I think this? Because here was a cultural expression that addressed a topic directly related to the gospel. In the ensuing months I had numerous gospel conversations with unbelievers whom I saw reading the book. Having read the book and worked on a rebuttal to the fictitious accounts of church history alleged by Brown, I felt confident to engage total strangers in conversation about the claims of the book concerning Jesus…
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