Dan Brown, Dante’s Inferno and the Missio Dei

English: Dante Alighieri's portrait by Sandro ...

English: Dante Alighieri’s portrait by Sandro Botticelli. Tempera 54,7 x 47,5 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 27  God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple. That is the substance of our Message. 28  We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. 29  That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.   Colossians 1:27-29 (MSG)

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. (Dante)  For Langdon, the meaning of these words had never felt so clear: In dangerous times, there is no sin greater than inaction. (1)

Throughout Dan’s Brown’s latest novel, the above italicized words are repeated, over and over.  ( I happen to like this one – even though it’s attack on the church was much more… veiled)

There is something to be said for those who are inactive in the face of a crisis, in the face of a moral crisis.  To passively live as if there was not some looming disaster that would come is simply wrong.

Most of us would look at this and think of things like war, abortion, racism and other forms of discrimination, political corruption, slavery.

In view of the book though – and the crisis there and the so-called “solution”, I kept coming back to the cause of all sin – including inaction.  Idolatry, especially that of Narcissism. It is encoded in us, as surely as if it was part of our DNA.  Spiritual leaders, self help authors and counselors of many types make money – many of them with great sincerity.

But the answer isn’t found in growth, or development in the way we set our minds to it and grow.  The way is through dependence, through recognition of our weakness, through something that radically changes us, radically transforms us.

In church language, the concept is what Peter talked of at Pentecost. “Repent (literally – to have a changed mind) and be Baptized (see Ezekiel 36:25 and following to see how the Holy Spirit works there )  In both cases, the work is beyond us, it is beyond our ability, and it is the work of God.  We have to, however, trust Him.  We have to die to ourselves – as the Spirit unites us to Christ’s death on the cross, so that we can be born again, that we can come to life.  It is their (not in purgatorio ) that we are purged of our sin. We trust God to do this – to cleanse us, to give us life.  This is basic Christianity…. and once alive – we dwell – even now, in the presence of God.

Back to Dan Brown and Dante’s quote about inaction.

The world’s population is growing – for sure.  I don’t think to the extend of Brown’s theories, but it is growing none the less. Even so, there is a crisis more severe than that of Brown’s thoughts – it is the crisis of faith – that much of the world is unaware of God’s heart toward them, His desire for a relationship with them, and the extent of God’s work to see that happen.

We who know this – do have an obligation – that of loving our neighbor – to share with them that which we know.  Know legalitically, nor condemning their symptomatic demonstration of sin in a way that gives them no hope.  Rather, our job is to share why we, who also sin – have more than “just” hope.  We have Him

Let us not dwell in the sin on inaction – but with Paul, let us share God’s love, with the power and strength God gives us.  AMEN.


(1)Brown, Dan (2013-05-14). Inferno: A Novel (Robert Langdon) (p. 464). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on May 28, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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