Getting the doctrinal content of faith right is much more important in Christianity than, say, in Judaism, where the focus is on action rather than creedal belief. Granted, Christian faith is not just creedal belief, but normally Christian faith includes creedal belief. But consider the following serious problem. If you ask the ordinary believer (and maybe not just the ordinary believer), whether Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, etc. to explain the content of the doctrine of the Trinity, if the believer says anything at all, it is not unlikely that she will say something seriously heterodox. She might affirm a view on which the divine persons are not individually God, but are parts of God, or give an account that entails modalism or tritheism (or both). The same goes for the doctrine of the Incarnation. All of this seems to seriously endanger the idea that such an ordinary believer has genuinely Christian faith. After all, if her beliefs are in fact not monotheistic or not Trinitarian, it is difficult to see her as having recognizably Christian faith. Moreover, when the ordinary believer recites a creed, it seems that she understands the creed in a sense different from that which the creed's authors gave it, and so she might as well not bother reciting the creed.
One solution to this problem of the ordinary believer is to lower the doctrinal requirements needed for Christian faith. For instance, one might simply think that it suffices to affirm that Jesus is Lord. I think this solution fails for two reasons. The first is that it goes against the universal tradition of the Church which from the beginning has held that getting the doctrinal content of the faith right and avoiding heresy is important. The second is that belief is not a matter of words. If Sally takes "Jesus is Lord" to mean just that Jesus is her feudal master, she surely does not express the same thing that St. Paul meant when he said that Jesus is Lord. A heretical account of the Trinity or of the Incarnation seems to affect the content of one's professing "Jesus is Lord"—it may affect the meaning of each of the three words.
Here is a better solution. (It is not very original, of course.) A part of Christian faith is the humility that the doctrine one believes is not one's own. A humble believer when asked about what she means by the words "one in being with the Father" in the Nicene Creed might give some explanation, and that explanation might be inadequate or even heretical, but she will qualify her explanation in some way that indicates that her explanation is not authoritative. This is an odd thing. After all, if I utter a sentence, then typically my understanding of what the sentence means is authoritative as to what I meant, pace deconstructionists. But that is not the only mode of speaking. Thus, I might be a messenger or an interpreter, passing on another's message. In this case, my understanding of what the words mean is not at all authoritative. I think that is how we speak the doctrines of faith if we are humble.
More strongly, I think there is a mode of belief like that, where the content of my belief comes from some other source than myself, and I can be mistaken in my explanations of it. To some extent, this is already true in Kripkean cases of beliefs referring to natural kinds or proper names. I may mistakenly think water to be H3O2, but nonetheless my belief that water is a drinkable liquid is true, because I am not the one who is authoritative as to the referrent of "water", even if it is a matter of my thinking (this may require some externalism). When an orthodox Christian believes that the Son is "one in being with the Father", while she may have theories as to what that means, what she is firmly committed to is not the theories, but the meaning which the Church—the mystical body of Christ—attaches to these words.
Thus in an important sense, then, the believer does firmly believe the orthodox doctrine if she firmly trusts the Church that originates the doctrine. I suspect this kind of trust and ceding of authority over the interpretation of one's own beliefs only works well if one thinks that the authors of the creedal affirmations that one accepts were fallible. This means if one thinks only Scripture is infallible, this will only work for close paraphrases of biblical affirmations.
What I said so far is not, I think, complete. For if one qualifies one's explanations of Trinitarian doctrine with a seemingly humble: "Of course, that's just how I see it, but what I truly, hand-on-my-heart, believe is that which the originators of the doctrine meant", there will be something hollow about the qualification if it is not in some way reflected in one's intellectual life. A disclaimer added on to every claim quickly loses meaning.
I think that the way that the disclaimer can be reflected in one's intellectual life is through a willingness to reject one's interpretation of the doctrine as soon as it is seen that the originators meant something else. But this, too, can come cheaply. If the doctrine is a Scriptural "Jesus is Lord" or even a conciliar "his only Son ... [is] one in being with the Father", it seems one does not risk much in being willing to reject one's interpretation. It seems unlikely that St. Paul or St. Athanasius will show up and tell one that one had misinterpreted the text, and historical evidence can often be read in multiple ways. But if there is not much risk, then the disclaimer does not affect one's intellectual life very much.
But if one is Catholic, there really is a risk of being taken up on one's disclaimer. For then the primary originator of the doctrine is not some individual who has died, but the Church that continues to be alive, and continually, through the centuries, has clarified her own teaching. There, there really is a risk that one will come across some other authoritative teaching that contradicts one's interpretation of the doctrine, and there is even a danger that a future teaching of the Church will contradict one's interpretation. In the face of such a risk, the disclaimer that one submits one's understanding to the judgment of the Church has real meat: it would not at all be surprising if one were called on this.
This post should be read in conjunction with the preceding one.