There are some things that become more obvious over time as they move apart and become more pronounced: the move from laundry powder to liquid, the preference for texting over talking, and parks for dogs and people versus just parks for people. Hopefully, you get my drift.
Divergence seems like a natural and evolutionary process sometimes and then sometimes is seems more like a dangerous mutation from the norm. I have been watching for over 30 years now a most interesting movement in Christian Theology. The divergence best I can tell occurs as a result of a change in motivation and filters.
For lack of better labels, let me call these two divergent paths in Christian doctrine the authority of Scripture and the authority of interpretation. Those familiar with doctrine and theology might quickly argue that there is no divergence in the path of the authority of Scripture. Ontologically, Scriputre is simply because God created and inspired His Word as the norm. Thus, any divergence created would occur as simply an emanation from this norm as a deviation the authority of Scripture.
But we live in a day when the privilege of interpretation has muscled its way to the forefront. Why? Possibly because the strong drive of the human will to choose fuels our desire to declare our interpretation as valid, and sometimes even as the right interpretation. And yet the forces of pluralism discourage anyone from declaring anyone elses interpretation as invalid. It’s a very interesting study to examine this divergence throughout church and human history.
Marcion, for instance, was a second century theologian who took a divergent posture on and began a dualistic path forging his own interpretative Scriptures. But he was different from say Wesley, Calvin, and Luther in terms of the kind of divergence that led them to establish movements that have a common mission but with different interpretations. It will be most interesting to see where the current culture of divergence takes us in the years to come. It will be challenging to determine what is the definition of orthodoxy for that day, and when has the path crossed the line into heresy and produced apostasy.
My prayer is simply that God will lead us by the Holy Spirit to be willing to let God guide us into all truth just as Jesus promised in John 16:13. I think we are better off not venturing down a path where we inform God’s Scriptures through our experience and interpretation. May God give grace to us all!