Brown’s novel paints a background of suppression and oppression by an all- powerful Roman Catholic Church (Brown, Chapter 60). This is yet another of Brown’s assumptions that need qualification and historical perspective. Neither before nor after the Council of Nicea has the Church, i.e. “The Vatican” (p.254) ever exercised the kind of monolithic control which Brown requires for the premise of his story to be sustained. A big reason is that the Church has never enjoyed the kind of unity, either structurally or theologically, that would fit Brown’s premises.
Protestants and their important subset, evangelicals, figure nowhere in his discussions. This is perhaps understandable, since they occupy only the most recent one-fourth of two thousands years of church history. Yet the Reformation itself demonstrates that even when the Roman Catholic Church was at the height of its power, it could not manage the religious affairs of western Europe without the consent of its princes and populations. Attempts to enforce its doctrines through inquisitions did not develop until the late middle-ages and is evidence of desperation in its losing struggle to crush dissent.
I speak as an Evangelical Protestant. In no way do I approve of the Medieval Roman Catholic Church’s violence. Yet these measures were relatively short-lived compared to Church history, and these measures obviously failed, as can be seen by the profligate presence of Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, Anabaptist, evangelical and charismatic Christian groups.
As an Evangelical Protestant, there is much that I have in dispute with Roman Catholic dogma. My interest is not to defend the Roman Catholic Church, and I have no interest at all in defending the Roman Catholic Church of the high middle ages which existed when these esoteric Grail societies formed. I would be the first to say that it is this Roman Catholic Church of the 11th through 16th centuries that needed “reformation.”
The issues between Catholic and Protestant are deep and plentiful without groundless accusations clouding the discussion. I am happy to confess that after five hundred years there has been progress towards rapprochement in the Spirit of Christ and to the glory of God: Many Catholics have returned to the Bible and many evangelicals have learned to nuance their convictions with the love and empathy commanded by Christ. The answer to rapprochement is not found where the Grail societies would have it, in rejecting the Bible for their own alternative history. Unity is found in Jesus Christ, his resurrection, his Holy Spirit, and our eternal life.