My Dear Friends,
I was asked recently to give a talk on the DVC (the Da Vinci Code for the uninitiated). To be honest, I was in two minds whether to agree to the request. The DVC is a phenomenon, but a phenomenon that will soon disappear over the horizon. Like a shooting star it has grabbed the attention for a moment, but soon it will die. However, because the Code is a tool of “disinformation” (the amount of sheer nonsense in the book is astonishing) and people everywhere are talking about it, I thought it wiser to agree to speak on its claims. I did.
All of that is a preface to this. Just before I gave my talk I was sitting in Starbucks (as ministers frequently do) reading an article on the latest new age book that, like the DVC, taps into the ineradicable sense of “the Other” that God has engraved on our hearts. The “Cosmic Ordering Service” makes Dan Brown seem relatively normal. The thesis of the COS is this: Write down a list of your deepest desires; tell them to the Universe (sincerely); and, hey presto, soon, perhaps even the next day, the Universe will give you your desires. No, I am not making this up. This is the world we live in. This is the world that, having abandoned the God of the Bible, is now a prey to every nonsense under the sun.
It would be only too easy for us to ridicule the DVC and the COS, and the spiritual gobbledygook they recite - and perhaps there is a place for mocking such nonsense the way Elijah mocked the pathetic prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. What, however, struck me as I was reflecting on these books, was their “search for significance.” I hope I am not trying to give popular nonsense some kind of credibility, but these books, and thousands like them, remind us that God truly has set eternity in our hearts. The people you and I meet with and mix with every day are spiritual beings. No matter how hard they try, they cannot eradicate the sense of God and eternity from their lives. They know that God is, they know that life is more than meets the eye, but sin’s twistedness makes them look to satisfy their spiritual hunger everywhere and anywhere other than in our Lord Jesus Christ.
It would be only too easy for us to almost despair as we look out and see the lostness, the intellectual and spiritual lostness, of our world. And yet, God has not left himself without a witness in our world. Creation shouts out that he is and that he is great; and in every human heart there is an echo of the divine, broken, discordant, but there nonetheless. When Paul arrived in Athens, he was “greatly distressed to see that the city was so full of idols” (Acts 17:16). Spirituality was everywhere, but it was twisted, corrupted, Godless. What happened next is a model to us of how to engage with a spiritually all-at-sea culture. Paul said to them, “I see that in every way you are very religious.” He did not first attack them and write them off. He started where they were. He then told them about the true God who “made the world and everything in it.” He then quoted one of their own (pagan) poets who said, “We are his offspring.” It was only then that Paul confronted them with their spiritual stupidity and “ignorance”, called them in God’s name to repent, and proclaimed Jesus and the resurrection. Some “sneered” (as some always will), but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
When asked to speak on the DVC, I should not have hesitated. Here was an opportunity to engage with “the sacred feminine” and to tell people, after I had told them that they were “very religious”, of Jesus, the sacred Saviour, and the resurrection. I think on reflection that my initial double-mindedness was a kind of intellectual pride - speaking about Dan Brown and the literary and spiritual nonsense that is the DVC (word might get around!). I don’t think Paul would have been in two minds for a moment; I can almost hear him say, “lead on.” Grasp every opportunity that comes your way to engage with people where they are, and to lead them from where they are to where our Saviour Jesus Christ is. This is not a day for being defensive, but for confronting our spiritually wayward and lost culture with true spirituality, spirituality that is anchored in a risen, exalted Saviour.
Yours as ever in the fellowship of God’s Son,