Many years ago I was sitting in my room in the attic of the office I built for my father reading the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans. Near the beginning he declares that he is "not ashamed of the gospel." It dawned on me that I was ashamed of the gospel. At the same time I realized that a very large proportion of other christians seem to be as well. This realization came from looking at how that passage is often preached and accepted as a demand to stop being ashamed of the gospel and to go out on the street corners (proverbial or otherwise) and "witness" or proclaim that gospel. This was particularly prevalent at youth conferences and meetings.
Something new happened that evening as I wondered about this. For the first time I looked at what Paul said, took seriously the obvious intelligence of the man and realized that he must be talking about something other than what I thought the gospel was. I realized that I didn't know what he was talking about.
Now, the gospel is central to the meaning of Christianity.
I grew up in the church. I could preach and pray and debate. I could use all the words. It hit me that if I didn't know what the gospel was how could I think I had any clue what this christian thing even meant. I could use the words but I didn't really know what they meant, I didn't know the actual content of the terms.
I had to start from scratch.
All I had was, "I wonder what Paul was on about."