I may be in a unique position to comment on the following because I stepped back from Christianity, indeed all religion, from what I had been taught and went on a quest for the truth. In short, I came back to belief in Jesus. But here is the reality, and it is partly exemplified on this forum: There is no agreement on just what the Gospel is! Oh sure, every one who professes faith in Jesus thinks he/she is following the Gospel, but just look at how many different versions of that Gospel that there are even on this forum! And everyone believes he/she is correct. Now expand that out to cover all of Christianity, with all the denominations, systematic theologies, teachers, ministers, laity, etc. Every group thinks it is right and is faithfully presenting the Gospel. That cannot be true. I believe what Paul said, that no one sees everything clearly. But I have studied all these systems, and I have come to see that doctrine does matter. I have seen how doctrines and practices can do great good but also cause great harm. Just imagine a person exploring Christianity to find out what it teaches. Just look at all the different versions of it out there! Many times I believe new converts believe the doctrines of whoever was instrumental in their conversion. I wonder how many people actually take the time to explore all the different belief systems in an objective way, like I did. Doctrine does matter, so, an interested inquirer might ask, how does one sift through all the different versions of Christianity and find the truth about God, man, creation, salvation, the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His work? How would you direct such a person? Would you tell him/her to sit down with a Bible and determine what to believe from there? People have done this and come to diametrically opposite conclusions of what is taught there. The same with "Tradition". People disagree which tradition is true and which is not. The same could be said of reason and experience. I am comfortable with differences in doctrine. What I am not comfortable with is doctrine that is harmful, or that distorts and clouds the true nature of God, man, the creation, redemption, salvation. I do not think denominations are bad, like the ecumenists and Roman Catholics do. I think everyone should be allowed to believe according to the dictates of his/her own conscience. But here is a crucial question for me: How do we objectively determine what doctrines and practices are harmful? What are the results of harmful doctrines and practices? I would say that doctrines and practices are harmful if they contradict the life, teachings, and example of Jesus. Jesus is Who all our beliefs and philosophies about God, man, sin, salvation, and redemption should point to. If a doctrine is not reflective of Jesus - his life, teachings, how He lived - then I would say it is false and harmful. If a doctrine or practice clouds the character and nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, then to me it must be considered false and harmful. This is how I determine what the Gospel is: I filter everything through the life and message of Jesus Christ. He is the Lord, the Author, and Founder of our faith. Anything that does not line up with His life and teachings is false and harmful. That is why I like the most literal Bible translations I can find: to see what the original words meant, and to take them in their context. I am not naive enough to think all the differences will ever end, and I am not in favor of ending all the different denominations. But I do think it is very important that the Gospel we present should actually conform to the life and teachings of Jesus! To that end, I must consider that anything that causes pride, arrogance, unnecessary divisiveness, exclusivity, elitism, pomposity, legalism, or that clouds God's character or misrepresents His love, mercy, justice, and compassion must be opposed with all our being, but with love for others at heart. There are doctrines that I see presented on this forum that I consider harmful, and therefore I must write in opposition to them. Everyone thinks his/her version of the Gospel is correct and Bible-based; I simply plead with everybody to compare your beliefs and the fruits those beliefs have produced with the message and example of Jesus Himself, and see if you think they line up with the life of Jesus Christ. Those that do not (and I have seen such) must be considered false and harmful and should be opposed and discarded. Using that criteria helps me to determine which individual doctrines are in error and also sometimes entire systems. I try to avoid those and tell this to others. I'll have to say also that using this criteria kept me out of certain denominations when I was looking for somewhere to be a member and "belong". There is no perfect church or denomination, none that has the truth 100%, but some are much closer than others! Well, just some of my thoughts on the Gospel and its message late on this Friday night. I welcome any of your thoughts, as well.