I regard the teaching and work of Jesus Christ as having been encapsulated by the Fourth Gospel (of 'John') and confirmed by reflection and intuition.
Yet this is extremely different from recorded historical Christianity - which therefore suggests that the 'true' message has been greatly distorted (and also over-complexified); and from a very early stage after the death of Jesus.
The two great distorters have been the Old Testament and Ancient Hebrew Jewish religion in one direction; and, in another direction, the Greek and Roman ('classical') philosophy, especially that of Pythagoras, Plato and the Neo-Platonists and the 'Gnostics' - which comprise what modern Men call the Perennial Philosophy.
The Hebrew distortion is to regard Christianity as a development of Ancient Judaism, that preserves its Laws, is lived in accordance with Law, and remains guided by the ancient teachings, wisdom, prophecy etc.
It regards Christians as a tribe, and salvation as happening at a group (i.e. church) level ('no salvation outside the church'); it regards the Old Testament as true (inerrant) - just as true and important as any of the New Testament.
This Old Testament distortion came very early, and is most evident in the Gospel of Matthew; but also permeates Paul's letters - and indeed is mainstream among Christianity through its history.
The distortion from classical philosophy assimilates Christianity within pre-existent philosophical and abstract concepts of God (as the 'Omni-God'), a (modified) concept of the ultimate oneness of all things, and the idea that time (and mortal life) is an earthly and mortal illusion and a period of trial and suffering merely - such that divine reality is beyond time, and experiences all simultaneously; and the aim of a Christian should be to die and escape this illusory and essentially evil mortal life.
This distortion came in mainly with some of the early church leaders (church fathers). The Gnostics (who pre-dated the life of Christ, and continued afterwards) were, I believe, merely a more extreme version of the same distortion that afflicts mainstream Christianity: the distortion towards oneness and abstraction, the need for expert philosophical knowledge - the belief that the spiritual is higher than the material; a powerful aversion to the personal and to the incarnated a tendency to regard this mortal life as essentially evil, including our-selves, with the idea of Original Sin (the Gnostics went further to believe the mortal life and world was created by 'the devil' equivalent).
All of these Gnostic features were incorporated, to varying degrees, in mainstream Christianity (some via Paul, in particular; but mainly embedded by later theologians); and led to the powerful strand of asceticism and 'negative theology' (via negativa) which remains strong among intellectual Christians.
These distortions were probably inevitable, and perhaps necessary, to the history of Christianity; because Men saw themselves as members of a group; and therefore naturally saw and experienced salvation in a groupish way.
And the church leaders justified their role (and the dependence of laity upon them) mainly by their superior expertise and intellectual capacity - rather like Plato's philosopher-kings or Gnostic initiates.
But now that modern Men experience themselves as individuals, and the Christian churches and their leadership are corrupt, and mainstream secular discourse is almost wholly abstract - the time has come to take Christianity 'straight'...
I think more people need to focus upon Christ's message as it was taught and lived by Jesus Christ; as described by the only eye-witness to his ministry; the disciple who Jesus loved; and the first Man to experience resurrection - that is to say the account by Lazarus: the author of the Fourth Gospel.