THE ESSENTIALS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
The core value here at rebootchristianity is to have unity on the essentials of the faith, and liberty on the non-essentials. This of course raises the question--what are the essentials? Or, to put it another way: what are the things which are truly necessary beliefs for the Christian?
Doctrinally, I think the discussion of Essentials really was worked out pretty well during the creeds and councils of the early church. I would define a Christian as one who is Chalcedonian--that is, follows at least the creeds prior to, and including the Chalcedonain Creed. After that I would say that we start getting into the "non-essentials" about which honest Christians can disagree. For more, see my post on Christian Councils and Creeds.
From this, I would say that the key essentials are listed below.
THE TWENTY-FIVE ESSENTIALS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH
1. We believe that all people (Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free) can be followers of Christ.
2. We believe that Gentile converts are not bound by the Mosaic Law.
3. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty.
4. We believe that God created all things that are visible or invisible.
5. We believe Jesus Christ, the Lord, is the only Son of God.
6. We believe Jesus was not made by God but begotten by Him.
7. We believe Jesus Christ is God just as the Father is God.
8. We believe Jesus is made of both the same substance of God and the same substance of Man.
9. We believe Jesus was truly fully man and truly fully God simultaneously, possessing a soul and a physical body.
10. We believe the two natures of Jesus were inseparably combined in the same person, not parted or divided, nor was nature one superior to the other.
11. We believe that all things made by the Father were made through the Christ.
12. We believe that Jesus was made incarnate in human flesh and became a man.
13. We believe that Jesus was born to Mary, a Virgin.
14. We believe that Mary was the Theotokos, and truly bore God in her womb.
15. We believe that Jesus became man in order to bring us our salvation.
16. We believe that Jesus lived a life like us in all ways except that He did so without committing sin.
17. We believe that Jesus suffered and was crucified at the hands of Pontius Pilate.
18. We believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the grave on the third day.
19. We believe that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
20. We believe that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead and establish an everlasting kingdom.
21. We believe in the Holy Ghost who speaks through the prophets.
22. We believe that the Holy Ghost is the Lord and is rightly worshipped with the Father and the Son.
23. We believe in a holy, universal Church.
24. We believe in one baptism for the remission of sins.
25. We believe in a resurrection of the dead, and eternal life.
INTERPRETING THE SCRIPTURE
After the Chalcedonian Creed, you end up finding that most further disagreements come from differing interpretations of how the Word was revealed to us.
Regarding interpretation of a passage, my suggestion is to constantly ask yourself this question: "Is the Bible true IF AND ONLY IF my interpretation is true?" If it is possible for the Bible to still be the true and revealed word of God without your particular interpretation being true...well then, you shouldn't get so bent out of shape about your interpretation! You see, the 25 points above pass the above IF AND ONLY IF test...that is, the Bible can be true only if the above Essentials are also true.
But things like Calvinism/Arminianism, age of the earth, eschatological theology, teetotalling versus drinking in moderation, Republican vs. Democrat, etc., have no impact to the validity of Scripture: the Bible can be true regardless of the interpretations you take in those cases. And therefore, in those cases, we must give grace to each other and seek the unity of our church, as Christ Himself prayed for.