Go read "Rescuing the faith once delivered to all the saints," written by an unnamed friend of Katie Sherrod (a leader of the loyalist faction in the secessionist Diocese of Fort Worth) and posted on her blog. The piece marvelously demonstrates how, when traditionalists bemoan the abandonment of the faith "believed by all people in all places at all times," they're indulging in wishful thinking and even in willful self-delusion.
The piece sketches the main theological parties of the early church, whose various doctrines were often mutually exclusive:
• Primitive Jerusalem Christianity: "... the final age has begun ... history will close upon [Jesus'] imminent return; ... Jesus seen more as messiah than divine being ...."
• Primitive gentile Christianity: "the concept of messiah means nothing; ... Jesus the son of God came to earth, died, was resurrected and restored, is now Lord and present to his worshippers ...."
• Pauline Christianity: "... life in Christ produces what the law cannot but with few hard and fast ethical rules; love, not law: little interest in Jesus’ life, emphasis on him as Second Adam ...."
• Johannine Christianity: "Jesus’ life [was] secondary to his relation to the Father and the divine nature of Christ ...."
• Jewish Christianity: "... a continuation of Judaism, Jesus is messiah in succession to the prophets, not divine, not virgin born, will be Messiah/Son of Man at return; ... an ethnic religion; they loathed Paul."
• Gnostic Christianity: "gnosticism antedates Christianity, has roots all over the place and a vast literature ...."
The piece also recaps how, around 300 years after Jesus' death, the Emperor Constantine knocked heads in the church leadership, provoking the production of the Nicene Creed as a brokered compromise:
[Constantine] gave the various church parties an ultimatum: clean up your act and give me a church that knows what it believes, an instrument of unity and centralization instead of the morass of claim and counter-claim and diversity and uncertainty I see now.
So the church did what it always does: it held conventions—or councils or synods as they called them—meetings where people met and argued and voted. [Extra paragraphing added.]