Sunday, May 21, 2006

da code

Saw The Da Vinci Code tonight. Jack and I caught the 8:50. The reviews were right, it is the first movie adaptation of a book that takes longer to watch than to read. But even so, the movie was better than the book. Opie is a better director, and everyone in the film are better actors than Dan Brown is a writer.
This afternoon when I googled theatres and show times, I landed on one of the Debunking websites that was exposing Brown’s conspiracy theory sources and quoting from them. Of course, one is a book that Brown places in Lee Teabing’s library and that was published in 1997. This website pointed out also, mistakes in Brown’s citing of the passages and translations of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi. He refers to them in the wrong language. Anyway, that’s not my point, I just thought that was interesting. My point is a passage from the book that Jack and I were discussing on the way home, and that Gandalf delivers verbatim in the movie. The scene has Teabing explaining that Constantine was responsible for the proposition that Jesus was divine, the canonization of scripture, etc. He states that Constantine was a lifelong pagan who claimed Christianity for political reasons, and was baptized on his deathbed against his will. Apparently Constantine was baptized on his deathbed, but not against his will. Evidently it was common to be baptized late because it was taught that baptism washes away sins, and that caused people to wait to be baptized so that more of their sins would be washed away. I guess a deathbed baptism guaranteed all were taken care of.
As Jack and I discussed this, I began to think about the theology behind a teaching that could lead to such a tendency, and of course it made me think about something I talk about a lot, and about which I’ve blogged several times. It’s one of those word pairs in which one begins to take on the meaning of the other, or one is eventually assumed to take on the role of the other. The concepts or words here are confession and repentance. Now I’m not saying that I don’t think deathbed conversions are real, but for a Christian to put off baptism til then implies that he has confused confession with repentance. Perhaps it’s not his own confusion, but the fault of how he was taught. But the bible says John the baptizer came preaching a baptism of repentence for the forgiveness sin. Jesus set about preaching “repent and believe the good news of God.”
Repentance, no doubt includes confession, but confession doesn’t necessarily imply repentance. Repentance means to turn from your sinful ways. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that he didn’t condemn her, and to go and stop sinning.
I have spoken here before that honesty seems to have replaced integrity in meaning and discipline, and I believe that confession falls short of repentance in the same way that honesty falls short of integrity. It is much easier to admit what you’ve done wrong than it is to stop doing wrong, but we’ve basically decided its enough. Yes, we learn to sin more so that grace may abound.

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