Several years ago I visited a museum and saw the skeleton of a dinosaur. As I read the plaque, I learned only a handful of the bones were original, that the remainder had been fabricated based on a paleontologist’s extrapolation from the authentic bones. In many ways, this is similar to what the church has done. There are only two passages in one gospel (Matthew 16:18 and 18:17) where Jesus mentions the church, and even those references are dubious. Many scholars suspect the Matthean verses were not original to Jesus but were written back into the text by persons hoping to bolster their theological and ecclesial positions by placing them in the mouth of Jesus. From those two verses, we have built a vast institution based on these “hints” Jesus gave us. But we should never delude ourselves into thinking that today’s church sprang directly from the mind and witness of Jesus. All we have is extrapolation, a few bones upon which have been erected a larger organism. If Jesus intended to create the church, he did a questionable job. He left no clear directions about its structure or purpose.
Mr. Gulley seems to come down in the camp that today’s Christian church was fabricated by Jesus’ followers (ie. Paul and a few others) and not Jesus himself. By his actions and not his words, Jesus set in place the cornerstone and left it up to us to build the structure. I’m not sure I really buy into this entirely but it is interesting speculation.