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For those of us who are scratching our head... an overview.

Okay. So what exactly did I learn?

1. A Christian -- Catholic or Protestant -- who does not shrink back from believing in miracles, the resurrection, etc. One doesn't rule out things as "unlikely" or "probably mythological" simply because it seems bizarre. That is why I instinctively chose to search for a Bible-believing church rather than a church that would deny the historical reality of miracles, the resurrection, etc.

2. Another way of referring to this "bizarre yet true information from God about the nature of reality" is revealed truth.

3. Since this revealed truth includes insights into the nature of humanity, the nature of God, and how we may know and love God, this is the most important information we could possibly obtain.

4. God has unveiled this revealed truth to humanity in various ways down through history, but the Christian has become convinced that God's ultimate act of self-expression is found in the life and words of Jesus Christ.

And yet the Trinity is one of the central doctrines of the faith. In fact, as I listened to Gus's theory in the car that day, I recalled that if some group is considered a "cult" it is largely because they flat-out deny the Trinity or water it down to make it less bizarre.

That conversation never left me. Years later, I realized it pointed out an apparent exception to "private interpretation" in Bible-only churches. All of Protestantism affirms that the Trinity is central to Christianity. Yet, this doctrinal perspective did not come to us via our own "private interpretation". Instead, it came to us from tradition. First, we accepted the doctrine as having the weight of authority, then we looked into the Scripture and said, "Yeah, I can see how this passage supports this Trinity idea."

This was not the usual thing. When it came to passages on Baptism, the Lord's Supper, etc., we insisted no church authority had any business influencing our own private, prayerful interpretation of Scripture. The result? There was widespread disagreement regarding Baptism, Communion, even Salvation -- but we all agreed on the Trinity.

What did this mean? It had been proposed to me that church authority was the enemy of truth ­ that bishops and such, given the final say, had plunged Christianity into error. But was utter individualism any more trustworthy an approach? Would there come a day when Bible-only Christians scoffed at "trinitarianism" and cheerfully spread "authentic biblical modalism"?