A theological tradition, if allowed to develop internally in cultural isolation, is apt to become overly refined. It becomes quirky and absurd.
The examples are almost endless. You end up with quaint, legalistic dress codes which were originally well-intentioned, but have hardened into dogma.
You end up with violent schisms over the one true way to pronounced the name of Jesus or make the sign of the cross.
You end up with communion tokens.
You end up with gilded shrines encasing the finger bone of a legendary saint.
The altar call becomes the central sacrament in fundamentalism. The altar call is to fundamentalism what the Mass is to Catholicism.
I could multiply examples, and my examples would reflect my own theological bias. But I say all that to make this point: theological competition is healthy, because theological competition has a pruning effect on theological eccentricities.
When a particular tradition enjoys an unchallenged monopoly, it becomes inbred and overbred—like a hairless dog the size of a kitten. Isolated theological traditions either go from good to bad or bad to worse. It’s only a matter of time before rite makes right.
But competition purifies the competition. When one tradition shines a spotlight on a rival tradition, that makes it more difficult for an idiosyncrasy or historical accident to graduate into an article of faith.
By itself, competition doesn’t prevent theological quirks and curiosities from mutating into pious dogmas, but it exposes them for what they are, and offers an escape route for those who have the ears to hear.
Is there too much theological diversity in Christendom? Undoubtedly. But I’d much rather have a healthy dose of theological competition than allow a doctrinal or ecclesiastical monopoly to go unchecked until it perfects a false premise or optimizes a primitive corruption—leaving us fettered and shackled in a dungeon of dogmatic decadence.
All who advocate allegience to religious traditions above Scripture should let out a collective ouch.