The Adventist Review’s response (by David Marshall) to The Da Vinci Code is critical of the book/movie, but still continues on to agree with it on matters that have long formed part of Adventist mythology.
Yes, Constantine created a religion that represented a mix of Christian and pagan practice. No, he did not rewrite the New Testament.
No, Constantine didn’t create a new religion. Historians today do not subscribe to that opinion, which has long since been condemned to the archives of mythology. However, because it helps support the anti-Catholic position of Adventism, it’s accepted by many Adventists.
Bill Cork writes on his blog:
Fortunately, the church historians I had as professors at Atlantic Union College and Loma Linda University knew better.
So not all Adventist historians subscribe to this view.
But of those who do, what exactly did Constantine add?
The Trinity? Some Adventists are Arian or semi-Arian, and non-Trinitarian, and would accept this position. Adventism, as a whole, is Trinitarian, although this took a few decades to reach formal consensus. Although Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in 324 AD, he did not dictate its outcome. The Trinity had been developing in clarity long before Nicaea in the writings of early Christians, and what needed to be done at Nicaea was decide between two views – the older view that Jesus was fully God, and the later view that he was not.
Sunday observance? Samuele Bacchiocchi leads the Adventist voice of disagreement here. No credible historians claim this any more – it’s left for those who avoid historical facts because they disrupt their world-views.
Infant baptism? This can be dated to long before Constantine in the early Christian writings.
The Catholic clergy? The basis for deacons, priests, and bishops in a ministerial role is strongly supported by the Bible. All three words are derived from words used to describe the ministry of Christian leaders in the New Testament. And Christian witnesses from long before Constantine show that this leadership was recognised from the start. Not to mention the witness of the New Testament.
I would say that while Dan Brown has rewritten history, so have Adventists. It was not Constantine that fashioned a new religion out of Christianity and paganism, but Adventism, and other similar fundamentalist groups, who have fashioned a new religion for themselves – out of historical Christianity, adding in myths and legends to support whatever views have no real historical support, and removing history from the equation.