7 Things Yo’ Momma Never
Told You About Church History
(Written Transcript Part 2)
The Destruction of Jerusalem
It’s mentioned 78 times in the gospels. Here are some instances of that.
Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.
And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you truth, all this will come upon this generation.”
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
And you know what comes next? New chapter.
I don’t know how you can possibly argue that the gospels were written after the temple was destroyed. If you have a theological understanding of the book of Matthew, you know that it was written to Jews. If Matthew was written to Jews after 70 AD, where are the Jews it was written to?
The gospels were written before 70 AD. They don’t mention any events that happened after that.
Q” & Mark Theory
There are some theories about how the gospels were put together. One theory is called Q theory, which is that there was a document which Matthew and Luke copied, and then Mark copied all three. There’s another theory that Mark was first. This theory did not appear until 1786.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the phrase “early church fathers.” I think it’s one of the most important concepts in church history, which is that there were a group of people who were the leading lights in the early church.
Papias, Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, and Augustine – all of these guys say that Matthew was written first, all of them. In order to come up with a theory that Mark or something else was written first, you have to dismiss the most reliable early authors in regards to the early church. What kind of historical scholarship is that?
You go, “Oh, well, they were biased, so we’re not going to listen to them,” but I want to show you what they said. Here’s what Irenaeus said. Irenaeus lived from 130-200.
So Matthew brought out a written gospel among the Jews in their own style when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel at Rome and founding the church. But after their demise, Mark himself, the disciple and recorder of Peter, has also handed on to us in writing what had been proclaimed by Peter. And Luke, the follower of Paul, set forth in a book the gospel that was proclaimed by him. Later John, the disciple of the Lord and the one who leaned against his chest, also put out a gospel while residing in Ephesus of Asia.”
So a guy writing in 150 or 170, somewhere in there, this is what he said. He said Matthew was first, and then Mark, and then Luke, and then John. Guess what? That’s the order they’re in the Bible. There’s a reason for that.
Clement of Alexandria in roughly 200 AD says –
Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter was publicly preaching the gospel at Rome in the presence of some of Caesar’s knights and uttering many testimonies of Christ, on their asking him to let them have a written record of the things what had been said, wrote the gospel, which is called the Gospel of Mark, from the things said by Peter; just as Luke is recognized as the pen that wrote the Acts of the Apostles and as the translator of the Letter of Paul to the Hebrews.
Origen’s a really interesting guy. By the way, it’s not hard to go read what these guys wrote. I’ve got a great book here called Faith of the Early Fathers by Jurgens. This particular book goes from 80 AD to 400 AD. Then there’s another book, volume 2, which goes from like 400 AD to 800 AD, then there’s volume 3. It’s all the most important writings of the early church fathers all collected.
One of the things you find if you open this is on page 7 is a letter to the Corinthians from St. Clement of Rome. This is dated somewhere between 80 and 90 AD. When you go to the end of this section, it’s got references to all the Bible verses he quotes.
This is proof that the Bible was already there. Constantine didn’t write it. And you know what, even if we did not have the New Testament at all, we could reconstruct all but 11 verses of the New Testament just from commentaries written before 300 AD. There’s a paper trail.
The paper itself goes all the way back to before the second century, and then we have the evidence within the text. Acts does not describe anything that happened after I think 62 AD or so, and that’s how you come up with a date. This stuff is early.
My father-in-law has a book called Return of the Enola Gay by Paul Tibbets. The Enola Gay is the airplane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Paul Tibbets dropped the bomb in 1945, and in roughly 1990 he wrote an autobiography of what that whole experience was like – getting on the plane, “Good grief, I’m going to drop an atomic bomb,” and the whole thing.
The reason he wrote the book was there were all these people starting to say, “Hey, you know, we were too mean to the Japanese. We should have just talked to them a little longer and we should have had some negotiation,” and he’s like, “I’m telling you, they couldn’t be negotiated with, they couldn’t be reasoned with, we had no choice. We had to do that. I have to write this book.”
He wrote the book and I think it was published in the late 90’s, so he wrote the book almost 50 years after this stuff happened, and he died not too long after that.
Now is anybody reasonably going to doubt that he remembers what happened? I think he can remember what happened. Some of the details might be a little off, but he’s got the story straight.
If Paul Tibbets can remember dropping a bomb on Hiroshima 50 years later, is it at all unreasonable to think that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John can tell you what happened 30-40 years later?
Audience: What are you trying to say actually, that the gospels were written sooner than that and they’re more valid
Yeah, I’m saying the gospels were written before 70 AD. Secular scholars will always try to pull the date – “Oh no, it’s 80, it’s 90, it’s 100” – but their arguments are based on Jesus making a statement about the temple. “Jesus couldn’t have known that.”
That’s the whole premise of secular scholarship. “Jesus couldn’t possibly have known that, because we know there’s no such thing as prophets.” That’s the whole premise of secular scholarship. “He couldn’t have possibly known that,” so they put that in later.
But when you look at how stories are told, you look at the structure, how is the foreshadowing handled by the authors – compare Judas to Jerusalem and you’re like, “These guys didn’t know Jerusalem was destroyed when they wrote this. There’s no way.” So the gospels date between 60 and 70. That’s what I’m saying.
Audience:Why do you suppose the Jews were so hated?
Great question. Why were the Jews so hated? You mean by the Romans? I want to read you a verse from the Apocrypha. I’m going to talk about the Apocrypha.
Audience: The Jews were making Jesus very uncomfortable.
Look, they said, “The blood of his head be on us and our children,” right? He also said, “All of the blood from Abel to every prophet you’ve ever killed, all the judgment for that is going to be poured out on this generation.” Jesus said that.
This is from Wisdom of Solomon, and I’ll talk about the Apocrypha in a little while. This is chapter 2, verse 10, a prophetic statement about Jesus, and I want you to hear what it says. It’s very insightful. This is the voice of Jesus’ persecutors.
Down with the poor and honest man. Let us tread him underfoot. Let us show no mercy to the widow and no reference to the gray hairs of old age, for let might be right. Weakness has proved to be good for nothing.
Let us lay a trap for the just man. He stands in our way, a check to us at every turn. He girds at us lawbreakers. He calls us traitors to our upbringing. He knows God, so he styles himself as the servant of the Lord.
He is a living condemnation of all our ideas. The very sight of him is an affliction to us because his life is not like other people’s and his ways are different.
He rejects us like base coin, avoids us and our ways as if we were filth. He says, “The just die happy,” and boasts that God is his Father. Let us test the truth of his words. Let us see what will happen to him in the end, for if the just man is God’s son, God will stretch out a hand to him and save him from the clutches of his enemies.
Outrage and torment are the means to try him with, to measure his forbearance and learn how long his patience lasts. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for on his own showing he will have a protector.
So they argued, and very wrong they were, blinded by their own malevolence. They did not understand God’s hidden plan. They never expected that holiness of life would have its recompense. They thought that innocence had no reward.
But God created man for immortality and made him the image of His own eternal self. It was the devil’s spite that brought death into the world, and the experience of it is reserved for those who take his side.
This is Wisdom of Solomon, chapter 2, verses 10-24, which is in the Catholic Bible.
What this is saying is they reason, “If this is the son of God, God will save him,” and God’s logic was, “No, I’m not going to save him. I’m going to show you what meekness does.” Meekness is strength under control, what a human being under complete control of the Holy Spirit can do. And of course they didn’t expect a resurrection either. We’ll get to that.
I want to give you some lowest common denominators of the gospels. The next section is stuff that almost all scholars agree on, regardless of their point of view or their religious orientation.
- The gospels differ too much in their details of the resurrection to have been deliberately harmonized.
There is an argument out there that the gospels contradict each other about the empty tomb. Depending on what assumptions you make, you could argue that there’s contradictions, or you can harmonize them by making a few assumptions, but they’re clearly and obviously not deliberately harmonized, which means it is four independent accounts of the resurrection, not one but four.
You could throw out one, but you can’t throw out four, especially when you know that they don’t completely agree. You can argue that the gospels are contradictory, or you can argue that they’re dependent on each other, but you can’t make both arguments at the same time, so pick your poison. Either way, the skeptic has a real problem with his view.
- All four gospels tell the same essential story.
- All four gospels explicitly speak of an empty tomb.
- Nobody ever produced Jesus’ body.
- Paul’s letters are dated 40-55 AD. Acts is dated 65-80 AD.
- Belief in the divinity of Christ is found in the earliest known Christian creeds.
And here’s another thing. People will often say, “Jesus is never mentioned outside of the Bible.” Wrong.
- Classical historical references to Jesus outside the New Testament include: Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, and Celcus.
- Jewish references to Jesus outside the New Testament: Josephus, rabbinic tradition, Toledot Yeshu, and they describe Jesus as a cult leader and a magician.
- All early sources treat Jesus as a real historical person. There’s not one single ancient document that says that Jesus was some kind of myth, not one.
Resurrection of Jesus
Almost all scholars, regardless of their orientation, agree on six things.
- First century Jews expected a Messiah, but did not expect a dying/rising Messiah.
- Jesus died and was buried.
- After this happened, the disciples were discouraged and dejected.
- Soon after Jesus’ burial, the tomb was claimed to be empty, and some disciples had experiences they took to be encounters with a risen Jesus.
- These experiences caused them to believe Jesus rose from the dead.
- They started a massive worldwide movement based on the idea that Jesus rose from the dead.
All scholars agree on this pretty much. Now the question is, what is the best explanation? We have the explanation that Jesus really did rise from the dead, and then you have no other single explanation that has ever gained widespread acceptance.
Oh, Jesus was nourished by the cool air of the tomb, and because of the amazing healing technology that they had at the time from the Egyptians, which we don’t really have any more, they were able to heal him and he rose from the dead.”
Well, Jesus didn’t really die on the cross. There’s a long history of guys who survived crucifixions and went on to do great things.”
Come on! Do you really believe that? Have you ever seen a crucifixion? There is actually a report of a guy who survived a crucifixion. He was already crucified and somebody goes, “Wait a minute! He’s not guilty!”
They take him down and he died a week later or something, adding insult to injury, but yes, we do have a record of a guy who survived a crucifixion. He didn’t inspire a worldwide movement and hope in the hearts of people, like, “Boy, Jesus. You really look like you need to get some rest.”
I got this from the world’s #1 atheist website. This is an article written about 15 years ago. Just before this paragraph he says, “Okay, there are people in the world who reject miracles and there are people in the world who accept miracles, and that’s a whole philosophical argument and it’s not settled,” – he’s just being real honest – “so how you see the resurrection depends on which camp you’re in.”
Then he says,
I think it’s rational to both accept and reject the resurrection. I think there are strong historical arguments for the resurrection, like William Lane Craig [and if you want to read about it, read William Lane Craig, he’s great], but I also think there are good reasons to reject such arguments. I realize this may sound like a cop-out to some, but I think it’s quite reasonable, especially when the issue of prior probability is taken into consideration.”
He’s basically admitting that if your worldview allows for miracles, then the resurrection of Jesus is a very logical conclusion based on the facts. If your worldview excludes the possibility of miracles ever happening, then you’ll find a way to explain it away. That’s what he’s saying.
Audience: What do you think?
Perry: I absolutely think Jesus wrote from the dead. Jesus stepped into the world and split time in half: BC and AD. You can’t go to his grave. He’s the most written about, most talked about, most argued about, most controversial person in human history, and it’s the only resurrection story that stuck.
Audience: But what about all the TV shows now or all the notions now? People are seeing dead people everywhere and we’re having TV shows about it and all kinds of things. Now all kinds of people are seeing dead people. They’re even solving problems.
Perry: You mean dead people risen from the dead?
Audience: Yeah, like the guy who goes across the country, I forget what his name is, and tells all the relatives, “Oh, it’s your grandma…”
It’s one thing if people say they’re communicating with the dead. It’s another thing if somebody got crucified and tortured to death and they’re walking around and giving people fish and having conversations and appearing to 500 people and inspiring a worldwide movement where everybody is absolutely convinced that he rose from the dead.
You have to explain how did Christianity just become this tsunami force overnight?
Audience: Why does it matter if he rose from the dead or not?
Perry: Because if he rose from the dead, he was the Son of God and Christianity is true. Christianity rests on the resurrection. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then Christianity is BS, and if the resurrection happened, then Christianity is legit. It all stands or falls on that.
Audience: I’ll tell you why I left seminary. If he rose from the dead or not, [inaudible] but whether you believe he did – I’ve met a lot of people who’ve cared less about anything who did believe he rose from the dead. I guess I’m with, “If you have not love, it profits you nothing.”
Perry: Oh, I’ll agree with that.
Audience: If you can’t live what Jesus did, because there’s so many people putting faith in the resurrection without doing the work of God on earth, and that just gets scary for me.
Perry: Absolutely. James said, “Faith without works is dead.” Yeah, I’m with you.
Now I want to talk about the Apocrypha. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the Apocrypha. How many of you have a level of familiarity with the Apocrypha? How many of you honestly have never read any of it and hardly know a thing about it? Most people.
The Protestant Bible has 66 books and the Catholic Bible has 78. The stuff that the Catholics teach and the Protestants reject is called the Apocrypha. In 1517 Martin Luther nailed his objections to the door in Wittenberg and he started this huge movement. He started the Protestant Reformation. We’ll talk about that a little later, but Luther rejected the Apocrypha.
He said, “This does not make the cut. It’s not good enough.” So he got rid of it and Protestantism took off like a rocket, so now most people don’t really know anything about the Apocryphal books.
A few years ago I started reading them, and it was like, “Dang, there’s some really interesting stuff here, really interesting, so why did they get rid of this?”
I’m going to give you a flavor for some of the stuff that’s in the Apocrypha. The ideas about purgatory are in the Apocrypha. They’re in Macabees. I’ve never made a study of the whole purgatory thing. I don’t really have much of an opinion about it. It’s one of the reasons why Luther didn’t like it. He’s like, “This doesn’t make sense to me.”
Also there’s something you have to understand. I think most Catholic scholars would tell you that Catholics do not necessarily consider the Apocrypha to be infallible. As a matter of fact, let me talk about this idea of infallibility, and this is definitely the Planet Perry department and you decide what you think.
The idea of infallibility, the idea that the Bible is perfect or that it is without error – you’ll find a lot of Protestant churches will have a doctrinal statement that says something like, “We believe that the Scriptures are inerrant or infallible in their original documents.” You’ll find a lot of churches that say that.
So here’s a question. Do we have the original documents? No. Do we know that there are some problems in the documents we have? Yes. So the Bible we actually have is fallible, not to mention it was translated from Greek into English or Hebrew into English, and translations are never perfect, so this is not infallible.
Now can we be okay with that? Can you live with that? What happens if you pretend this is infallible, but it’s got some stuff that you’re not quite sure about?
Islam has a very interesting view of infallibility with the Koran. The Koran was written in Arabic, and Muslims believe if you want to believe the Koran you have to read it in Arabic. As a matter of fact, they don’t really go to that much effort making really good translations into English or Spanish or all these other languages because they want you to learn Arabic.
They want you to go to Mecca, they want you to do the pilgrimage, they want you to go to mosque, they want you to say prayers in Arabic, they want you to read the Koran in Arabic – the beauty of the Koran in Arabic is held out as one of the evidences that it is inspired by Allah, and they have a very brittle definition in infallibility.
Now Christianity has never viewed the Bible that way. Nobody’s ever said, “You’re really probably not even a legitimate Christian until you learn Hebrew.” When has anybody ever told you that? The Bible is freely and indiscriminately translated into everything.
I think if you really go back to the church fathers, I think it’s because in the way that Christianity has expressed itself, we believe in the inspiration of the ideas, not so much the inspiration of this particular word on page 874 that was translated into English.
Now my brother who I referred to, when he was in seminary he takes this New Testament Greek class. Now these are tough classes. You’ve got to learn this language, and then they’re going to give you, “Here’s this Greek text and here’s this other one and here’s this other one and here’s this other one. There’s differences between them and you have to figure out what you think the original actually said, based on this one, this one, this one, and this one,” and doing that kind of funnel thing I was talking about.
So they’re in class and the professor is talking about how you piece it all together. One of the students goes, “Professor, what are you saying?” and he’s like, “What do you mean?”
“What do you mean by this?”
“Well, we have to take the documents that we have and figure out what we think the original said.”
And this guy’s worldview is just blown apart, because he’s like, “I thought it was all on an Excel spreadsheet with 12 decimals of precision and it was all figured out!”
If your belief system is that brittle, sooner or later somebody’s going to change one of those entries in the spreadsheet, and it’s going to change this other one, and it’s going to change this other one, and your whole belief system is going to fall apart because you have no sense of, “These things are central and really important and non-negotiable, and then we have these other things.”
You get into wider and wider circles, and you’re less and less willing to die on some hill over some issue.
You all know the Nicene Creed? “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and Jesus his son, only begotten, born of the virgin Mary….”
The Council of Nicea in 300 AD said, “That’s the hill we’ll die on. That’s what we believe. That’s the innermost circle right there.”
You get further and further out, and you get all these denominations, and some denominations sort of do this, and some denominations do this, and some of them do this. But unless you’re a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon, pretty much you hold to this. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, or Episcopal.
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and I went to this independent Bible church that had Mennonite roots, so they were just a little to the left of ladies wearing white hats on their heads. It was really conservative, and it was a very intellectually-exacting environment.
When my pastor went through Romans, which is the most theologically sophisticated book in the Bible, the first sermon was Romans 1:1, or maybe 1:1 and 1:2, and he references every word.
This word appears in this scripture, this scripture, this scripture,” and you turn to all of them and you read all of them, and you go back and forth through the Bible, and he preaches for 50 minutes on Romans 1:1 and 1:2.
By the time he’s done, you have this whole hyperlinked picture of this refers to this, this refers to this, this refers to this, this refers to this, this refers to this, and next week you come back and he does verses 3, 4, and 5.
It took him five years to get through Romans. That’s my education. That’s what I grew up under. What they basically told me there was Catholics are baaaad.
I was on vacation someplace on the east coast and we’re walking through this town and there’s all these posters and some guy’s handing out flyers like, “The Pope is the anti-christ and the Catholic church is the horror in the book of Revelation. They’re all evil!” and all this Catholic paranoia. “Bad, bad, bad!”
Now I’ve got this theological education and I go to school, and to me Catholics are like little rabbit foo-foo. You go bop them on the head, and we’re so much better than them, and we rock! You know how that is. “We’re better than them!”
My brother-in-law, Allen, Laura’s brother, got his Ph.D. in church history, so he knows all this stuff. If he was giving this lecture, who knows what he’d tell you about. I’m giving you the sort of Perry Renegade Guerrilla version of church history. Allen would give you the official one.
But it was really interesting because we like to talk and we’re always having a philosophical conversation – “What about euthanasia or what about this or what about?” – and every time you’d bring up a subject, he would say, “Oh, well, it was the monks in northern Italy in 750 AD that were the first people to really study that issue really hard, and they wrote all these books.”
Then you bring something else up and he’ll go, “Well, you know there was a monastery in 1346 in Serbia and they studied that, and St. Anselm said blah blah blah.” And what you start to figure out is there’s hardly been an original idea in Christianity in at least 500 years. There’s nothing new under the sun!
Audience:Not only that, but before it ever got to be, the rabbi I had said when they first started transcribing the Bible, he said Jewish vowels depending on where you put the dots to make a word, and then the letter and the dots make the vowels. He said they’d transcribe them and it got dusty in those old caves and they’d go [blow] and he said that that’s spelled somewhere else and then their meaning is…[laughing]
Perry: Right. So people have been wrestling with this stuff for years. There’s this modern idea that because we have this technology and we have all this sophistication, we confuse information and knowledge with wisdom and insight, and they’re two completely different things. So I began to develop an appreciation for the church fathers.