Last week-end, Vox had a theological post regarding (historic) fundamentalism, Trinitarianism, and other holy alphabet soups. I only participated with one comment out of 383. I am not...sophisticated enough for the ilk where theology is concerned. Those who know me may start at that thought, as I can hold my own in theological debates, but, no, I have a problem. I am eschewing doctrinal sophistication; I, who at one time held Calvin and Arminius in his 'varky noddle at the same time!
It is because I have noted that the farther the church got from the simplicity of the gospel message (and I am including Paul in that simplicity), the more involved, and complicated doctrine (teaching) became. One might say Byzantine. The attempts to dissect, parse, and even avoid inconvenient truths led the church leaders after the first century down tortured paths of logic and rationalisation until the church that grew to fill the ancient world ceased to resemble the template very much. From simple apostolic commands to "repent, be baptised (baptizo - immersed) in Jesus' name for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the formula morphed to include year-long catechumen classes before the person could even be baptised. A simple system of church leadership consisting of elders (men who met specific character attributes, who were overseers of the flock of the local church) and deacons (men who dealt with more mundane concerns of the church, benevolences and the like, who were also of specific character!) was stuccoed with a system of priests, bishops, archbishops and such. The churches, which were local and autonomous, became The Church, hierarchical and overarching. Theological entropy reigned, partially from trying to apprehend an Eastern Hebraic gospel message using Western Greek thinking, while fighting off encroachment by heretical teachings and philosophies. The historic creeds were developed as a circling of theological wagons against predation by gnostics and other weirdos. The local churches maintained their collections of gospels and epistles until the valued ones were assembled into the New Testament. (The Nicaean Council did not invent the NT, they pulled together what was accepted by the churches.) The Church appears to have been playing a defensive game by this time, and you tend not to win with defense. You take no new ground on defense. Along came Constantine, wedding the Church and State, and the damage was almost irreparable. The great theologians wedded Greek Philosophy and the Bible into a chimaeric monstrosity, little resembling the "as a child" nature of Jesus' teaching.
East split from West, Protestant from Catholic, Presbyterian from Lutheran, Pentecostal from Baptist.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity! Reformers and restorers came and went, all with a similar theme: return to the simplicity of the New Testament teachings. This worked for a generation or so (like Israel's history), a doctrinal Occam's Razor snicker-snacked through the baroque crenelations of man's theologies, paring them back to more primitive, basic dimensions. Then the gingerbread began to overtake the refreshed church's facade, and what was a small, inviting, homely dwelling of God's people became again a Barnumesque parade of innovation and thrill-packed canonical acts, with credal clown cars, and theological trapeze acts.
I am not a sacerdotal sophisticate, because I have come to see the divisions in the church not as a good thing, not as spiritual smorgasbord where one can glut on his favorite bits (no brussels sprouts, thank you!) and leave the rest, but as a stiff, quivering digitus sinistrus in the face of God. The unity which we are commanded to walk is ignored in light of tony something-for-everyone-ism.
Paul wrote to strive (to fight, ain't that a giggle?) for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. You fight the things that divide, and be at peace with one another. He lists the seven unities around which we should meet:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
This is simple. Jesus' teachings are simple. The epistles are largely ways to apply the gospel to life.
We have made this wa-a-a-a-y more complex than it needs to be. If we read the Word with no agenda, we stand a greater chance of apprehending the truth than if we go at it with preset conditions and assumptions. Exegesis vs. eisegesis.
Trinity? God's word refers to the Godhead. We can better rally around the Spirit's speech than our own. May not be as urbane as playing doctrinal Scrabble, but it is simple, perhaps easier to understand. Peter (whose Greek was so odd that translators called it "Baboo Greek") said to "speak as the oracles of God", that is, speak what God says. The church might take a memo.