Literature Commentary: The Lost Symbol

20 Sep

Dan Brown, author of the notorious “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” hasn’t published a new book in six years. After reading the aforementioned books during this past Apologetics season, I thought it might be time to try out his latest thriller, “The Lost Symbol.” Maybe he’d returned to his roots…after all, his early books “Deception Point” and “Digital Fortress” were pretty run-of-the-mill action novels without any philosophical underpinnings. And after all, what better way to spend a birthday than engaged in worldview analysis? 😉

But as it turns out, Brown’s anti-Christian agenda is back…just in time to ensnare a new generation of readers.

Robert Langdon, the protagonist of both “Angels and Demons” and “The Da Vinci Code,” turns up at the Capitol for a meeting with his former colleague Peter Solomon. It just so happens that Solomon has been kidnapped…and his severed hand – marked with strange symbols – has been left behind as a warning. Langdon quickly ascertains that Solomon was on the trail of recovering the Washington Pyramid, an ancient Freemason artifact that holds the key to unlocking unspeakable power.

Meanwhile, Solomon’s sister Katherine works as a specialist in Noetic Science – essentially, the study of psychic abilities and how they affect the material world. When a hideously tattooed Masonic cultist breaks into her laboratory – destroying her research and attempting to kill her – she is inadvertently thrust into Langdon’s search for answers.

As the book progresses, Langdon discovers that the Pyramid contains a code leading to the “Ancient Mysteries” – a reserve of knowledge somehow linked to the Noetic Science that Katherine has been studying. He follows the clues around Washington D.C. in true “National Treasure” style, unscrambling a series of puzzles that lead to the Ancient Mysteries.

So what’s the big revelation? The answer is stunning. According to Brown, the truth of the Ancient Mysteries is that “man is God.” The vault of secret wisdom is, in fact, none other than the…Bible.

What? After “The Da Vinci Code,” wasn’t it obvious that Brown didn’t think much of the Bible?

Here is where “The Lost Symbol” outstrips its predecessors. Brown cunningly avoids making controversial statements designed to polarize the religious community – in fact, the fictional Langdon even makes an offhand mention of how his book on the Sacred Feminine (a key “Da Vinci Code” concept) caused a stir among some book groups. Of course, Brown hastily continues, it wasn’t meant to spark such ill feeling.

As the final pages of “The Lost Symbol” make clear, Brown believes that there is indeed spiritual wisdom contained in the Bible…but that the Church has twisted the underlying meaning of the Scriptures. He cites familiar Christian passages to support his “theory” that man is a god-in-embryo: “The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” is understood to mean “the body is merely a vessel of the god-force.” “The Kingdom of God is within you” is interpreted as “man himself is God.” Even Christian words such as “atonement” are given twisted meanings: according to Brown, “atonement” really means “at-one-ment” – essentially, man becoming a deity in his own right. The Hebrew word “Elohim” – a plural form of God’s name that Christians understand to be referencing the Trinity – is construed to mean that all the individuals in the world are parts of the same God consciousness.

But that’s not all. He goes on to argue that this concept is found in American symbols as well. “E Pluribus Unum” – Latin for “one out of many” – is read to mean that there is one unifying God-force-spirit that proceeds from the collective minds of humanity.

It’s pure Cosmic Humanist propaganda. In fact, Dan Brown and William P. Young (author of “The Shack”) would probably get along rather well together. The scary part is that it’s…good.

If I did not understand the real meaning of the Biblical passages Brown cites – or have an understanding of our Founding Fathers’ beliefs – I’d be sold on Brown’s theory. He is persuasive, convincing, authoritative, and direct…unashamedly proclaiming his message that all religions essentially worship the same God, the “God within.” He doesn’t deny the reality of a spiritual world – not at all – but instead assumes that God is somehow an emanation of humankind’s united consciousness.

From a literary standpoint, the book is excellent. It’s a smart, sophisticated thriller that clips along at a breakneck pace. The symbol search is ingeniously conceived…it’s fascinating to follow Langdon and Katherine as they try to solve the mystery before time runs out. But Brown’s lastest book is far, far more than just an adventure story…”The Lost Symbol” is a savvy work that will likely undermine the faith of Christians for months and years to come. (Columbia Pictures has already acquired the film rights.)

So should Christians read it?

For starters, don’t buy it. I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to invest $30 in Brown’s humanistic agenda. If you’re like me, and curious about what it has to say, read it at the bookstore or borrow it from the library. (You might have to wait a while to get one from the library…last time I checked there were 387 holds on it.)

I cannot recommend this book to anyone who is not fully convinced of the validity of Scripture, and that faith in Jesus is the only means of salvation. Mature Christians may find it informative, thought-provoking, and even engrossing at parts. It’s a good story. Too bad it’s not true.

VERDICT: 7.5/10
A good book. A devastating worldview.

Side note: Brown’s own story is convicting for Christians. In a recent PARADE magazine interview, the controversial author shed some light on the reason he writes such skeptical, anti-Christian books. As a young teenager, he learned about evolution and the Big Bang and found them to be diametrically opposed to the faith he was taught at church. When he asked his pastor for a Christian response to these atheistic claims, he received the terse response, “Nice boys don’t ask those kinds of questions.” What an inappropriate and confusing thing to say to a young man wavering in his faith!

I pray that Brown can one day embrace the true God, and begin to start reversing the damage he has done through his books. I would encourage all Christians reading this to pray for his soul…because I wouldn’t want to be in his place when he answers to God for what he’s done.


Posted by on September 20, 2009 in Thrillers


2 responses to “Literature Commentary: The Lost Symbol

  1. cescamelia

    May 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I’m not a Christian and I am analyzing this novel as my final project. It’s a good book, confusing, yet I’ve found it challenging to analyze.
    By the way, you’ve made a great literary commentary. 🙂

  2. Buddhist

    September 12, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Looks like somebody has forgotten about those who aren’t Christians, but still know a lot about, uh, well, religions. From an unbiased viewpoint, let me tell you that there’s nothing wrong with Brown’s works, they don’t really claim to be anything that they are not. I agree with him, all religions are essentially the same, it is fanatics and orthodoxes like you who tend to distort it for others. In case you wish to question my credibility, I belong to a country that is a shelter of literally every religion in the world. That’s all I can give away right now. For starters, this book is definitely very engaging. Isn’t it the mature Christians who find their feelings so deeply hurt by Brown that they don’t leave any chance to slander him?


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