“I’m definitely a Christian — I would label myself a Gnostic Christian,” said Cliff Jacobs, 52, deputy executive director at Queens Public Television, as he left a screening of “The Da Vinci Code” Thursday night. He was referring to early Christians known as Gnostics, many of whom rejected the divinity of Jesus, but who left behind gospels that resurfaced in the last 60 years.

“I don’t need someone to interpret God for me,” Mr. Jacobs said. “When I want to commune with others, I go to church.”

Maria Bolden, 42, a customer service representative for a cable company, said after seeing the movie, “If marriage is such a sacred sacrament, why is it such a problem for Jesus to have married?” ~Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

I’m sure Ms. Bolden means well (most who entertain heresies mean well), but how poor must her understanding of Christianity be to ask this question? One point, and a rather crucial one at that, is that the Gospels tell us no such thing.

Second, what possible need or reason would be there be for Christ to marry when He possesses all things in Himself? What reason would He have to marry if He only possesses blameless passions and His human will is in perfect obedience to the will of the Father? He possesses the fullness of human nature already, so why would he need to join together with what was never separated from Him? He does not need to marry to express kenotic love, as He has done this in abundance for us already in the Incarnation and in the extreme humiliation of His Death. If He is making all those who are united to Him sons and daughters by adoption, why would He beget children of the flesh? If He is the New Adam, embodying the fullness of human nature without taint of sin, He will witness to the life of the Kingdom to come in which none marries or is given in marriage.

But the problem isn’t just a lack of knowledge, though this is considerable. It is also willful disregard of what orthodox Christianity teaches:

Polls have shown that one in five adults in the United States has read “The Da Vinci Code,” and many more are familiar with its themes. George Barna, a pollster in California, says 25 percent of those who had read the book said it helped them achieve personal growth or understanding. “Few people said that reading the book had actually changed any of their beliefs,” he said. “That was only 5 percent. Most people said that it essentially reinforced what they believed coming into the book.”

What they believe is what Mr. Barna calls “pick and choose theology.” It’s a trend that Christian conservatives find scary and maddening, but that liberals tend to embrace as “big tent” inclusiveness.

“Americans by and large consider themselves to be Christian, but when you try to drill down to figure out what they believe, you find that among those who call themselves Christian, 59 percent don’t believe in Satan, 42 percent believe Jesus sinned during his time on Earth, and only 11 percent believe the Bible is the source of absolute moral truth,” said Mr. Barna, a conservative evangelical who regards these as troubling indicators.

42% believe Jesus sinned on earth? What redemption could these people possibly be hoping for? Mr. Barna isn’t the only one who is troubled.

Nevermind that Ms. Goldstein and the new Gnostics don’t seem to know who the Gnostics were or what they believed. It is unfortunate if people believe that the occult knowledge of a pneumatikos will free them from the bonds of material existence, but it is even more unfortunate if people claiming to be Gnostic are astonishingly ignorant of what it means to be Gnostic.

Denying Christ’s divinity was not the issue for most Gnostics at all. In fact, it was usually just the opposite problem–they could not fathom how the Logos could become flesh. Indeed, they could not fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to escape from the bonds of flesh through their brand of spiritual knowledge–how absurd would it be for them to embrace a merely human Jesus, when they didn’t much like being in the human condition? They found the humanity of the God-man offensive enough. For the Upper West Side set of second century, something as empyrean as the Logos could not have anything to do with flesh. But what particularly troubled the Orthodox about the Gnostics was their contempt for creation and their very old Greek sense that the body was a prison. Well, it was that and also their congery of ridiculous Aeons playing the central roles in elaborate mythologies of generation.