The Da Vinci Factor<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Josh McDowell
Fast forward to May 19, 2006 at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />9:48 PM in Sometown, Anywhere, U.S.A.
"Well, Sarah, did you like it?" sixteen-year-old Caleb asked his girlfriend as they walked out of the theater.
"Yeah, it kept me on the edge of my seat," Sarah replied.
"I knew you'd like it."
"But I didn't know there were all these secret organizations hiding things like Jesus getting married and stuff like that," Sarah said as they walked toward Caleb's car.
"I didn't either," Caleb responded. "And I didn't know that it was just a few people who came up with what we have in the Bible and that so many other books were left out."
"Yeah, it makes you wonder what else they're not telling us about Jesus, the Bible and everything."
Mark it down. May 19, 2006 may well be the beginning of one of the most controversial periods the Church has faced in years. On May 19th The Da Vinci Code movie will be released in theatres across the country. Even the solid Christian will find it challenging to distinguish fact from fiction. If left unequipped, this movie could turn seekers into skeptics and undermine the faith of believers. Our young people are even more at risk. I say that because currently the majority of our kids' beliefs are already critically distorted.
From Bad to Worse
It's not that the majority of our churched young people aren't interested in spiritual things and don't want a relationship with God. They do. But they hold distorted views about God, truth, the Bible, and what it actually means to be a true follower of Christ. Consider, for example, what our churched kids do and do not believe:
· 63% don't believe Jesus is the Son of the one true God;
· 81% believe all truth is relative to the individual and his/her circumstances;
· 51% don't believe Jesus rose from the dead;
· 68% don't believe the Holy Spirit is a real entity;
· 65% don't believe Satan is a real entity.
Much of what they believe about Christ, truth, and the Bible comes from a view they have gleaned from the world around them. And when they are exposed to the distortions about Christ and the Bible from The Da Vinci Code movie, their already distorted views will go from bad to worse.
But Does It Really Matter?
Some may ask: "What harm is there if our kids get a little confused and adopt a few distorted beliefs as long as they remain Christians?" There is great harm. You see, what we believe reflects the values we adopt, and our values in turn dictate our behavior. Research shows that when young people lack a basic belief system, it negatively affects their attitudes. As a result they are:
· 225% more likely to be angry with life
· 216% more likely to be resentful
· 210% more likely to lack purpose in life
· 200% more likely to be disappointed in life.
The research also shows that our young people's failure to adopt a foundational Christian belief system negatively impacts their behavior and causes them to be:
· 48% more likely to cheat on an exam
· 200% more likely to steal
· 200% more likely to physically hurt someone
· 300% more likely to use illegal drugs
· 600% more likely to attempt suicide.
What Can We Do?
The Da Vinci Code book and movie provides a golden opportunity for every family to address some critical and foundational beliefs about Christ and his Word. Questions will be raised and we as parents have an opportunity to be equipped ourselves and equip our young people with clear and correct answers.
Meeting the Immediate Need
Recently I was asked by Campus Crusade for Christ to write a book that addresses the questions and issues raised by The Da Vinci Code. The criteria I was given was to make a clear and easy-to-understand short book that corrected the distortions presented in Dan Brown's book, without being defensive or attacking. Our team responded and we created The Da Vinci Code A Quest for Answers, a 128-page book with a companion study guide for youth and adults.
In just three sessions, a small group or Sunday School class, can be equipped with answers to questions raised by The Da Vinci Code. Seize this as an opportunity to address the critical issues of the faith that have needed to be addressed for a long time. Visit www.davinciquest.org for downloadable tools and printed resources.
Meeting the Long-Term Need
Parents and church leaders must also take the initiative to move their people through a spiritual formation process that grounds them firmly in the faith. It is going to require more than getting our kids to attend youth group or church summer camp. Often youth leaders do little more than move our kids from one hot topic to another and from one emotion-charging event to the next. Chad Childress, Student Evangelism Director of the Southern Baptist Convention made an insightful observation when he said:
"We are easily consumed and distracted by current trends and how best to respond to them I am not advocating putting our heads in the sand, but we need to focus more on what we know never changes that this culture is in need of Jesus Christ and that students need to be valued, loved and have a place of significance. We are programming, planning and playing great; but we are not instructing, implanting and imparting God's Word very well. We must set firm foundations!"
The very foundations of what makes Christianity a vibrant relationship with God and transforms a person into a committed follower of Christ has largely eluded this generation. Chad is right, many of us are not doing a great job of "instructing, implanting and imparting." I for one want to do my part to help change that. That is why I have written the book The Last Christian Generation. It not only identifies where our young people are and how they got there, but what we as parents and church leaders need to do to reclaim our children and young people for Christ. More information is available at www.davinciquest.org.
My prayer is that together we can seize the immediate opportunities God has given us regarding The Da Vinci Code. And for the long-term? Let's ground our young people upon the true foundations of the faith so they can stand strong in a godless culture.
JOSH McDOWELL, founder of Josh McDowell Ministry, is an internationally known speaker and author whose most recent book The Last Christian Generation is due for release in March 2006.
 Barna Research Group, "Life Goals of American Teens," study commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry (Ventura, CA: The Barna Research Group, Ltd., 2001), 6.
 Ibid, 65.
 Ibid, 43.
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