A report released in 2005 by an organization called the Bible Literacy Project suggested that young Americans know very little about the Bible. That probably did not come as much of a shock. And while the report has importance, but then first things first, another fair number of Americans do not see why teenagers need to know anything at all about the Bible. And some of these same people may profess to be Christians.
Here is one listing from an external historical record of the NT. This is from a fellow named Clement, who had lived from 30 to 100 AD. This is a piece of his first letter to the Corinthian church. It was not included in the NT because God did not see fit to include it (dare I say such a thing!), and because some other scholarly folks saw some reason not to as well. But it is in part an eyewitness record (at least it purports to be). In other places Clement stated that he had personally known the apostle John. The letter is supposed to have been written around 68 AD. There are several copies available and it is also partially quoted in numerous other historical writings. No such records exist for the suggested references to Mr. Brown’s books (at least that have to do with the things he lists and theorizes on).
But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, who through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
There are literally hundreds of such records, and hundreds more of quotations gleaned from the various writers of the NT. There was no secret society and no wizard behind the curtain.