It's been a while since Christian History got an online response to rival the emails that poured in after Behind the News Christian History Corner. We enjoyed reading your responses to staff writer Collin Hansen's fact-checking piece on Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.
One thing that encouraged us about your letters is this: In the face of spurious claims from a man who poses himself as a historian even as he writes a novel ("All descriptions of … documents … in this novel are accurate"), some of you turned to the apostles and church fathers, to see what they and their Bible really had to say about the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Anything that leads people back to those dynamic early centuries of the church can only help the Christian cause. Obviously no human untruth can obscure the truth of the Gospel. And the first thing you notice when you read the early "church fathers" is that they are completely convinced Jesus is God himself. I'm talking about those bishops and teachers from the 100s and 200s too—long before the Nicean council (Brown claims) enforced on the church the supposedly minority position of Christ's divinity.
True, few Christians need the knock-down argument that these earliest teachers provide—at least, to convince themselves that Jesus is God. We may find that early testimony helpful in talking with those who have become muddled by Brown's book. Or to respond to those who have grabbed hold of that book's "historical" arguments as a blunt instrument against a faith they already dislike.
But the church's earliest teachers—Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others—provide us with many more valuable things.
These were, after all, the church's "founding fathers." I don't mean that in the precise political ...1