As in the last article, Christians are called to be one in Jesus, and that's how He wants us to live. There seems to be a trend in the Church of more focus on fellowship than labels, and this can be a good thing. There is also a major trend toward setting aside doctrinal differences and gathering around the name of Jesus. This can also be a good thing, but often it has caused a bigger problem than it has solved, and we need to solve that problem.
Paul wrote in Romans that the Gospel of Christ is God's power to save the whole world. The potential is there, but it must be delivered, received, and acted on. Now it doesn't seem he was talking about the book of Matthew, or Luke, or the back page of a salvation tract, but to the message itself. Peter later wrote that we have, "all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him Who has called us to glory and virtue." We need the full message, just like we need to be fully saved.
Before the Cross, the best picture we have of Christian salvation is of Mary when she said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to thy word." From this, the very life of God grew in her, and came forth for the salvation of the whole world! How much is conversion like pregnancy? That might be good for another post!
The biggest hazard today is the idea that "doctrine doesn't matter," as long as we love Jesus. If you love someone, don't you want to know them? How can Jesus say, "My sheep hear my voice," if His sheep don't know anything about Him? He said, "If you love Me you will obey," simply as evidence, or proof, of that love, so how important is it to know what His plan is?
It is great today to be able to use the Internet "Christian-ly." For the first time we have access to the thoughts and prayers of Christian teachers dating all the way back to the Apostles. We can learn from Anselm, Ambrose, Athanasius, Augustine (amazing how many names started with "A!"), Gregory of Nyssa, Ignatius, Polycarp, and so many others from such giant sites as Christian Classics and any number of others. We even have accredited seminaries with online classes. Why is this such a good thing? For one, the early "Fathers and Mothers" lived in a day, and in a culture, closer to the New Testament and had a closer view of what things really meant, and how they applied, than we have looking at things through 1800 years, more or less, of history and cultural changes Today's churches generally have their "core doctrines" based on their reading of their own founding preachers, and many of them only date back as far as the 1840's or even well into the 20th Century, and their doctrines tend to come from questions that people were dealing with then. Some time with these "Originals" can give us a deeper view of God's nature, and of human nature, than we're ever likely to find without them.
Am I talking about adding to the Bible? Not at all! I'ts all about getting a clearer view of the actual plan that is there. If the Bible can be compared to a piece of fine woodwork, then the picture I'm setting out is of peeling back years of paint to see it through the varnish that was first put there to help us to see the texture and direction of the grain. The most important thing the "Early Fathers" did was to lay that varnish down to give us, through all the ages, a clear picture of the Faith that we all share as Christians so that we don't fall into some of the same errors that they (sometimes literally) gave their lives to correct, but rather find a whole new appreciation of just how great our Lord really is!