Jesus is Christianity 101. The thief on the cross wasn’t saved by Scripture or a salvation prayer. He was saved by believing Jesus is who He said He is. The disciples didn’t have a Bible. They had the life of Jesus. The apostles didn’t preach Romans 3. They preached Jesus. Everything that is essential to the faith can be found in Jesus.
Paul is Christianity 202. His letters articulate the importance of Jesus. His words apply what Jesus taught to how we live and follow and church together in Jesus’ name. His arguments are the highest defense of Jesus and faith and the Kingdom way of life. But Paul is not Jesus.
Your denomination is Christianity 303. Sprinkling or immersion baptism, short or long liturgies, systematic or narrative theologies — all of these concerns are aspects of Christian culture that believers over the years have formed strong opinions on. But these opinions are the decorations and not the substance of Christianity.
All modern writers are supplemental studies. Paul Bunyan is a good supplement for understanding the walk of faith. CS Lewis is a good supplement for Western apologetics. Oswald Chambers is a good supplement for understanding holiness. But there is not an ounce of the supplemental that is fundamental for the Christian life.
I used to be a disciple of supplemental studies. I could quote Andy Crouch on culture-making and Bob Goff on Love. My bookshelf was filled authors like Brueggemann, Peterson, and Wright.
I used to be a disciple of both Calvin and the Charismatic tradition. I could talk at length of the merits for and against T.U.L.I.P., whether the gifts of the Holy Spirit were still active, and the place that glossolalia held in the modern church.
I used to be a disciple of Paul of Tarsus. I spent 70 weeks studying the book of Romans. I could quote Galatians, Philippians, Corinthians, Thessalonians, and Philemon too. I knew more of Paul’s words by heart than I did Jesus’.
When I majored in supplemental studies, Christianity 303, and Christianity 202, I wasn’t majoring in Christianity 101. I couldn’t quote the 3 chapters (2,412 words) of The Sermon on The Mount. I didn’t have long conversations about the nature of Jesus’ parables or the beauty of how He interacted with people. My bookshelf didn’t contain titles like Jesus Manifesto, The Jesus I Never Knew, and Jesus: A Pilgrimage.
When I get to heaven, I don’t want to say that I majored in supplemental studies. I don’t want to say that I majored in Calvinism. I don’t want to say that I majored in Paul. I want to say that I majored in Jesus.