15 Jun 2006

Your God Doesn’t Forgive …

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Christian hope, Culture, DaVinci Code, Grace, Jesus, Ministry, Preaching

Your God Doesn’t Forgive . . .

A couple weeks ago I went, like many of you, to see that movie The Da Vinci Code. I had in fact read the book in the fall of 2004 and hoped it would go the way of all bad literature. But that was not the case. There was one arresting scene in the movie that I did not recall in the book however.

Professor Langdon, Sophie Neveu, and Professor Teabag (I mean Teabing) are escaping France on Teabing’s private jet. During the flight Sophie interrogates the monk, Silas, on his culpability in her father’s death. After a semi-violent exchange Neveu says “Your God does not forgive murderers, he burns them.”

It was a dramatic moment in the movie and it made quite an impression on me. The God she refers to is the “Christian” God regardless of Silas’ abuse of the word. Is this what Dan Brown thinks of the Christian God? Is it true that the Christian God does not forgive murderers? Is he a merciful God? Is the view that Sophie reflects one that is common to our “Christian” America?

Does that assertion represent simply an emotional outburst on Sophie’s part or does it truly reflect her worldview? Given the context, however, of the book/movie I can only draw the conclusion that it truly reflects her worldview. This is, it seems to me, to be a bold theological statement about the character of God.

But is it true? Does it reflect anything at like the character of God revealed in Scripture and supremely in the life of Jesus of Nazareth? I have to say once again that this is one of Dan’s biggest hooters (see the previous post Dan Brown’s Top 10 Hooters)

The Torah relates the story of a man by the name of Moses. Exodus 2.11-15 tells us that Moses took justice into his own hands and murdered an Egyptian task master, becoming a fugitive of the law. The Lord saw fit to make this man, next to Jesus, the greatest mortal to walk the face of the earth. We will be singing the “Song of Moses and the Lamb” for eternity. What mercy was shown.

Classic “Secular” Lament by Metallica

Dr. Luke tells the story of a man named Saul. This man was the ancient counter part to Osama bin laden — a religious terrorist. Luke gives us but one example of his calculating coolness in the face of the death of one follower of the Way (Acts 7.54-8.1). Saul would later tell us that he was give grace by God and made an apostle for the cause of the Nazarene. He became the pattern of grace for all (1 Timothy 1.12-17).

But perhaps the greatest rebuttle to Sophie’s theological judgment of the character of God is seen in the Gospels Brown wishes to cast aside. Jesus was dragged before a packed court, arraigned on bogus charges, brutally beaten, hauled through the streets, and nailed to a cross. As he hung exposed before all the world, to die due to jealousy and hate, the crowd still taunted him

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23.34)

Those are, perhaps, the most amazing . . . and thus the most unbelievable words . . . in the entire canon of Scripture!

Sophie was wrong. Sadly, her theology is embraced by many who would follow the Nazarene. But if her theology were true, what would have happened to Moses? to Saul? and the jeering crowd before the Cross?

Perhaps another more disturbing question would also be: Are we Christians proclaiming a message that is more in tune with what Sophie hears or what Jesus says on the Cross?

Stoned-Campbell Disciple

16 Responses to “Your God Doesn’t Forgive …”

  1. Steve Puckett Says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Steve Puckett Says:

    I am profoundly moved by the fact that our God is always more loving and more forgiving than I deserve or can imagine. He is always more accepting and forgiving of others than I am. In fact he forgives the very ones who see him as a “Let’s burn’em in Hell” God.


  3. preacherman Says:

    I don’t think we can begin to grasp the depth of God grace in the Old Testament with the Israelites, Other Nations, Moses, David, King Manassah, and other. As well as the grace of the New Testament, Saul or Paul and others. I think we should demonstrate the grace of God to the world they will understand that he is a loving and forgive God to a thousand generations.
    I thank God daily for his love and grace.

  4. cwinwc Says:

    Because God’s grace can forgive murderers there is hope for me and all of us who, apart from the blood of Jesus, stand eternally separated from God.

  5. Ben Overby Says:

    I think Sophie had more than theological problems. She’d heard of an imposter, not the real God. As someone once said, God made us in His image and then we made Him in ours. What a tragedy that we project our own fallen nature onto the One who is Holy. At some point, our mere misunderstandings of God morph from theological quirk to simple idolatry. There’s a difference between making a God in our own image and getting the wrong answer to a question about one of God’s attributes. The fact is, God does burn muderers (Re. 21). And the fact is, He does forgive those who’ve been guilty of murder. How He forgives the guilty is precisely what Glorifies Christ and reveals the True God.


  6. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    I have no doubt that God does indeed punish sinners. That is not the issue, at least not for me.

    I also do not think Sophie had a mere misunderstanding of an attribute of God. As the plot develops in the book she might be described as agnostic at best.

    The God of Silas is not the Christian God. But Sophie (Brown) seems to think it is. Her judgement is regarding that image, an image I reject as the idolatry you have eloquently warned us about.

    Bobby Valentine

  7. Stoogelover Says:

    While discussing Abraham as an illustration of a man justified by faith and declared righteous by faith, Paul brings up David. Three sins for which there was no sacrifice (thus, forgiveness) under the Old Law were murder, adultery, and homosexuality. David was guilty on two of the three counts! To suggest that David could be declared righteous would infuriate the Pharisees. Seems it still does.

  8. Ancient Wanderer Says:

    There are at least two instances where Jesus appeals to the righteousness of David before an audience of Pharisees and they seem to take David’s righteousness very well {Mt 12.3ff; 22.41ff}.

    It would seem that condoning those who think like me and condemning those who don’t think like me is as Pharisee-like as anything else. I try to live my life serving God. I try to help others in their journey with God. But the fact is (facts are), those outside of Christ (the world) can’t fully/truly love or understand the love of God until they come to Christ. Jesus seemed to think the world hated Him and His disciples loved Him…maybe He was delusional and those in the world are really good people at heart and those in Christ for the most part are hate-mongers who cause more ill than well in this world?

    Then again maybe He was God in the flesh and understood the difference between sympathy and empathy for the lost. I know He loves the lost but He never condones or excuses their actions.

    I think until you help the world (one person at a time) understand who God is and their [present] relationship with Him needs to be imporved you won’t get very far with the world. Jesus went about doing good…they rejected Him and crucified Him. The world will never get it until they get Christ and those in the church who want the world to “get it” first so they can come to Christ….God love ’em (and He does).

  9. preacherman Says:

    Bobby good comments.
    Did you see Jay Leno’s headlines: “Ron Howard starts religous group: Opie Dei”.?
    Silas had some issues too, being taken advantage of and used by the church for the churches agenda. I did find it interesting the churches view of women in the movie. What did you think?
    Thanks Bobby, again great post as always.

  10. CFOURMAY Says:

    I guess I took that line totally wrong. I made an assupmtion I probably often make and shouldn’t. I was thinking Sophie knew how merciful and graceful God was and she was saying that because of the Opus Dei view of God, that Silas’ God doesn’t forgive murderers. It is interesting to hear peoples different views on things.

  11. hermit greg Says:

    I’d lean more toward cfourmay’s interpretation of the scene. The bigger problem is Ron Howard’s minimizing the character of Neveau (not that there was much to minimize, but he managed it) into a sort of retarded foil for Langdon’s brilliance. That she would understand a minority Catholic sect’s God is not necessarily that of the majority, or for that matter of Godself, comes across not at all in the film. But her novelistic character is more sophisticated than her filmic one, and this seems to be a time when that sophistication comes out, in spite of Howard. Now, whether viewers would catch that difference is a valid question, but that would be a valid question even if Howard himself had come out and said, in an aside, “Look, people! She’s talking about Opus Dei and the albino’s God, not yours!”

  12. Danny Says:

    I think your last paragraph really nails it.

    It is not really about the character of God (He is faithful regardless)- it is about how we portray Him against the skepticism of a world attracted by Brown’s spiritual mumbo-jumbo.

    For Him to be authentic to them, we must be authentic to them.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    I’m always surprised at the things Christian support financially.
    The host of the blog commented “A couple weeks ago I went, like many of you, to see that movie The Da Vinci Code. I had in fact read the book in the fall of 2004 and hoped it would go the way of all bad literature.”
    I think much of this garbage such as “The Da Vinci Code” would go the way of bad literature if Christians would not throw millions and millions of dollars at the authors via the purchase of movie tickets and books. We don’t have to commit adultry to know it’s wrong and we don’t have to see the movie to know it’s wrong.

  14. CFOURMAY Says:

    To Anonymous,

    Going to see a movie or buying a book that has a different look on Christianity is no different than going to a movie such as Gladiator that talks of many gods. Did you see Gladiator? or any of the other thousands of movies that talk about God or gods in various ways? Either way, if you know something about the subject it is easy to defend true Christianity when the subject comes up. Bobby has a good example of that that occured on a recent trip on an airplane. I see no difference in studying this subject and studying say the mormon belief or the catholic belief or the belief of any individual. Anyway, I am sure you have heard all the arguements for both sides. Look at it this way, if it is just a bunch of Christins going to see it then we have nothing to worry about.

  15. Ancient Wanderer Says:

    i understand and agree with your comment when it comes to the ‘masses’… but unfortunately some have to see such nonsense in order to be able to answer some questions.
    I don’t have to commit adultery to know it’s wrong but I do have to know what adultery is [please let’s not go there]. I don’t have to read TDVC but if I don’t I am speaking from a less than informed position.
    This whole “where can God’s money go” thing is a real black hole because face it ANON the internet’s #1 cash-cow is porn and obviously we all have thrown some money into the internet kitty or we wouldn’t be having this discussion….but I agree that MOST brethren should stay away from the likes of DaVinci Code for conscience sake :). I for one went to the library and checked the book out.
    But even that is an individual’s choice (to a point). I still don’t allow 99% of the R rated movies in my house…got to watch PATRIOT. See i make “allowances” for violence. Some don’t make any allowances and that is A.O.K. with me too.

  16. J. Kevin Parker Says:

    I’m really late on this bandwagon, but I plan to read/see TDVC sometime this summer precisely because the world is gobbling this stuff up, and if I don’t know what I’m talking about, I have no voice. It’s the same with topics like the Gospel of Judas or the Gospel of Thomas–If you know something about them and can refute their “authority” on Christianity, then you are much more likely to get an audience with a world who is hungry for God but sitting at the fast-food buffet of religions. Thanks, Bobby, for having this discussion.

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