On the night train to Romania

June 13, 2005

CONVERSATIONS IN HUNGARIAN AND ROMANIAN SWIRL AROUND ME on the night train from Sopron in Hungary to Medias in Romania. Nothing is intelligible to me until suddenly I heard the words, ‘Da Vinci Code’. I prick up my ears but of course cannot understand anything except the occasional accented phrase, ‘Da Vinci Code’.

Two days ago I heard a fascinating analysis of Dan Brown’s global best-seller by theologian Dr Darrel Bock, author of Breaking the De Vinci Code. This was one of many most stimulating and instructive seminars and workshops offered at this year’s Apologetic Network leadership forum in Sopron (see www.Euroleadership.org) I have just attended.

Brown’s thesis, that power politics at the Council of Nicea in AD325 had made Jesus divine despite earlier traditions and secret ‘gospels’ that claimed he was only human, was patently false. Most ‘secret gospels’ had a divine Jesus who was not human. The earliest Christian documents reflected the belief that Jesus was divine and was worshipped from the start.

The novel also claimed these ‘secret gospels’ to be pro-women. That, said Bock, was also simply not true. The Gospel of Thomas (114) reads: “Simon Peter said to them: ‘Let Mary go away from us, for women are not worthy of life.’ Jesus said: ‘Lo, I shall lead her, so that I may make her a male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself a male will enter the kingdom of heaven.'” And this is the the earliest, most respected and closest to ‘secret’ gospel to the four canonical gospels included in Bible.

Bock’s workshop was a timely refresher for myself. Months ago I had been scheduled to look at the Da Vinci Code phenomenon sweeping the world this coming Sunday back in Holland in our monthly ‘Gospel and society’ evening. This railroad conversation happening somewhere in the Hungarian countryside reminds me of the global audience this new form of gnosticism is receiving. I learnt from another snippet of conversation at the Sopron forum that the book is hugely popular in India right now.

The train is a welcome forced break after the intensity of Sopron. I reflect on personal highlights: the evening ‘Heaven in a nightclub’ session with Bill Edgar on the Christian roots of jazz in the black American community; catching up with old friend and Hope for Europe colleague, Stuart McAllister; a fascinating talk on Dostoevsky’s influence on the 20th century; and meeting and hearing Dr Charles Thaxton, ‘grandfather’ of the Intelligent Design movement.

Train travel is also an opportunity to catch up on emails. One has come in response to my request for an update on a young woman we wrote about back in December (see: A real-life dilemma). Natasha, as we called her, works with a YWAM crisis pregnancy centre in St Petersburg. She is being falsely accused of being an extortion ringleader, and of bringing two men with knives to an apartment to extort money from a policeman living there. Natasha’s aunt had asked for help concerning a neighbour who was trying to scare off the other apartment tenants and ‘privatise’ the place for himself. After trying to talk with the neighbour in a pre-arranged cafe, Natasha found herself and two companions arrested and handcuffed and taken to a militia station. It appears a number of corrupt police are involved.

The email reported no significant further developments. Natasha is still facing the court case, but these things drag on in Russia. She senses God’s peace, but finds the waiting stressful and has moments of anxiety. Please continue to pray for her, for a just outcome and that what Satan meant for bad, God will use for good.

Other emails just in related to final registrations and logistics for the Share the Heritage tour Romkje and I host beginning in less than two weeks, on June 26. Wim Rietkerk of L’Abri kindly offered at the Sopron event to give the group a guided tour around Utrecht when we visit there. The group will probably be 24-strong, from Norway, Korea, the US and Holland. Several have indicated they would be interested in future tours. Let me know if this interests you and I’ll put you on the list too.

Well, this is a night train and it’s time for lights out.

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

Till next week,

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